Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Senator Pat McGuire: Quinn Does Not Need to Close IYC-Joliet to Balance State Budget

Press Release from State Senator Pat McGuire on Governor Quinn's decision to close Illinois Youth Center-Joliet:

"Joliet, IL – State Senator Pat McGuire (D-Joliet) is expressing dismay over Governor Pat Quinn’s decision, leaked late Tuesday to close Illinois Youth Center (IYC) Joliet, despite the General Assembly having passed a balanced budget which includes funds to keep the facility open.

“My colleagues and I in the General Assembly believe keeping IYC Joliet open is a priority,” McGuire said.  “The governor claims that he needs to close IYC Joliet to balance the budget. Truth is, the budget adopted by the legislature is balanced. Furthermore, the funds appropriated for IYC Joliet can’t be spent on anything but corrections without the legislature’s permission. ”

IYC Joliet is the state’s only maximum-security facility for young male offenders, most of whom come from the Chicago area. “We need IYC Joliet to keep the public safe. The staff provides young men the services needed to turn away from a life of crime.  Proximity to Chicago makes trips to court and family visits feasible. The governor’s move to close IYC Joliet is risky, and it threatens hundreds of local residents’ jobs.” McGuire said.

Governor Quinn first proposed closing IYC Joliet in his February budget address.  Dozens of area elected leaders and community residents testified against the closing at an April 4 hearing in Joliet, and a bipartisan legislative commission later voted to keep the facility open. The General Assembly on the final day of its spring session passed a budget with money specifically earmarked to fund IYC Joliet for another year. 

The Quinn administration became embroiled in controversy when it violated state law by spending state money on closing IYC Joliet before the legislative commission’s vote.  The latest twist came June 19 when the governor’s Department of Corrections head sent out a memo announcing that Quinn intended to ignore the General Assembly and proceed with closing IYC Joliet, along with several other adult and youth correctional facilities.  That memo was later obtained by legislators and members of the press.

“I encourage the governor to visit IYC Joliet and the other facilities he wishes to close,” McGuire said. “The view from the governor’s office on the second floor of the State Capitol can be limiting. The governor needs to meet the staff and the families of the residents of these facilities and reconsider his decision to thwart the will of the General Assembly and the affected communities.”