Springfield- A bipartisan, bicameral legislative commission this morning refused to endorse Governor Pat Quinn's proposal to close Illinois Youth Center (IYC) Joliet, the state's only maximum security facility for young men.
"The commission agreed with us that closing the state's only maximum security youth center doesn't make sense when it comes to public safety or savings," said State Senator Pat McGuire (D-Joliet). "This is a victory for the Joliet area. IYC employs 219 people, indirectly supports almost 100 more jobs, contributes more than $30 million to our local economy, and provides youthful offenders one last chance to go straight."
The legislative panel-the Commission on Government Forecasting and Accountability (CoGFA)-was created to provide the General Assembly with a reliable, accurate source of budget-related information. Analyzing governors' proposals to close state facilities is one of CoGFA's most important duties. Though CoGFA's recommendations are not legally binding, no governor has ever closed a state facility over CoGFA's objections.
"We must make some tough budget decisions this year, and I respect the governor's good intentions," McGuire continued, "but closing IYC Joliet would result in mixing older, more dangerous youth with younger, more vulnerable youth, increasing safety risks to both residents and staff. It also threatens to thwart the younger offenders' rehabilitation as they are diverted from corrective behaviors by the older offenders."
IYC Joliet's final fate won't be decided until after the state passes a budget for the fiscal year that begins July 1. McGuire vowed to work with legislators and the governor's office to guarantee funding.
"I urge the governor to heed the voices of elected officials, law enforcement, and religious leaders and to abide by today's bipartisan decision," McGuire said. "No other state facility has the skilled staff IYC does, nor the location and recent capital improvements."