Monday, March 19, 2012

McGuire Tours Joliet Illinois Youth Center, Urges Governor to Reconsider Closing

Joliet - State Senator Pat McGuire (D-Joliet) this afternoon toured the Illinois Youth Center (IYC) Joliet.  He was joined by a number of his colleagues, including State Senator Sue Rezin; State Representatives Jack McGuire, Emily McAsey, and Renée Kosel; Will County Executive Larry Walsh; and a representative from House Minority Leader Tom Cross' office.  After talking to Youth Center workers and discussing the likely consequences of closing the facility, Senator McGuire is urging the governor to reconsider his plan to close the juvenile detention center.

"The Illinois Youth Center Joliet is the state's only maximum security facility for young men," McGuire said.  "The Quinn administration's reasoning for closing it is that it is the 'most like an adult prison.'  But, the young men at IYC are behind bars for a reason.  They need to pay their debt to society, be held securely, and receive services to turn them away from a life of crime."

Governor Quinn included IYC Joliet in a list of dozens of facility closings in his budget proposal last month.  The governor's administration contends that closing the Joliet facility will save the state approximately $17 million per year.  The closing also would result in up to 235 area residents losing their jobs.

"There's no question we must cut spending this year," continued McGuire, who reduced his office's spending by approximately 10% when he served as Will County Treasurer.  "The question is are we making smart cuts?  Are we setting the right priorities?  Before we consider closing facilities, we need a firm plan to deal with the consequences.  I haven't yet received any such plan.  I have, however, spoken with IYC staff, whose skill and dedication impress me.  Both IYC staff and members of the public have told me that they worry about what closing IYC Joliet will do to community safety."

McGuire believes that the full General Assembly should have meaningful impact on the closure process, which is not currently the case.

"I am co-sponsoring legislation that will allow the General Assembly to vote on facility closures," McGuire said.  "The General Assembly currently has no substantive authority over closing multi-million dollar state facilities that employ hundreds of people."

Under current law, the governor proposes facility closures.  Then, the 12-member, bipartisan Commission on Government Forecasting and Accountability (CoGFA) makes a non-binding recommendation to accept or reject the governor's plan.  This recommendation is the only official input the General Assembly is allowed to make on facility closures.  The legislation McGuire is sponsoring, Senate Bill 3564, requires the General Assembly to approve or deny CoGFA's recommendation.  The General Assembly's decision would be final.