Sitting in the circular center of Stateville Correctional Center’s F House, a lone watchman gave prisoners the sense that they were all being watched at once.
Built in Joliet, Illinois, in 1922, the infamous roundhouse ranks as one of the oldest and costliest in the state. According to Chicagoist, the unit has been called one of the “wildest and most violent” in the country.
Gov. Bruce Rauner plans to close it. In a Chicago Sun-Times op-ed, he described the F House as having a “loud, chaotic environment,” ineffective and inhumane for staff and prisoners alike. The “antiquated” unit, he wrote, threatened over $10 million in upcoming maintenance fees.
“Illinois is better served by investing its limited resources into housing units and community-based programs that meet current national best practices and help reduce recidivism,” wrote Gov. Rauner.
In line with that effort, the governor also announced that the Illinois Youth Center at Murphysboro would be converted into a minimum-security prison focused on reentry support. The center, which has sat empty since July 2012, will offer educational, vocational, and life-skills training to prisoners approaching release.
These measures reflect a continuing trend toward criminal justice reform in Illinois. The Illinois DOC has begun expanding their use of data to enact more restorative policies. Just last year, Gov. Rauner created a commission to reduce the prison population by 25 percent by 2025.
What’s the main goal of all this? To “balance punishment with rehabilitation,” the governor wrote—to stop warehousing people and start restoring them.
“The people of Illinois believe in redemption,” wrote Gov. Rauner. “We believe in second chances.”
Prison Fellowship shares this belief in redemption, knowing that all people have God-given value and the potential to change. By laying the foundation for justice that restores, we can offer people the chance to be transformed, to lead new lives, and to start giving back to their communities upon release.
To find out how you can advocate for justice that restores, click here.