SPRINGFIELD — In a sign state prison officials are moving forward with the controversial closure of an all-female prison in Dwight, more than four dozen inmates were transferred Tuesday from a Logan County lock-up.
Although the Illinois Department of Corrections has not said when the Dwight Correctional Center will be shuttered, the transfer of 50 male inmates from Logan Correctional Center to the Sheridan Correctional Center represents a step in that direction.
Logan is scheduled to eventually become the new home of the state’s all-women maximum- and medium- security prison.
“At this time, the department is still determining the closure timeline for Dwight,” Corrections spokeswoman Stacey Solano said.
The planned closure of Dwight is part of Gov. Pat Quinn’s push to save an estimated $37 million annually. The Chicago Democrat already has moved forward with the closure of the Tamms Correctional Center in southern Illinois and has shuttered adult transition centers in Carbondale and Decatur and a youth prison in Murphysboro.
While Quinn said all of the moves will save about $100 million annually, critics question whether it is safe to close prisons when the system is overcrowded.
The American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees union continues to pursue a lawsuit aimed at blocking the closures. Spokesman Anders Lindall said it is “preposterous” that the officials would be reshuffling inmates when the system is still dealing with an influx of prisoners who previously were being housed in now-closed prisons and transition centers.
Under the governor’s plan, male inmates at Logan Correctional Center will be moved out of the facility to make room for the female prisoners from Dwight. Some of the male inmates eventually will be moved into the adjoining Lincoln Correctional Center, while others will be moved to prisons such as Sheridan.
Get news headlines sent daily to your inbox
The musical chairs-style movement of inmates isn’t the only sign that Dwight’s long history as a prison town may be coming to an end.
State officials are on track to spend more than $140,000 on repairs and upgrades at Logan in order to handle female prisoners.
In all, Dwight has about 900 inmates. Logan also will take in female prisoners now held in Lincoln, resulting in a prison more than double the population of Dwight.
Sheridan, meanwhile, also was overcrowded before the addition of the Logan inmates Tuesday. The LaSalle County facility was built to hold about 1,300 inmates, but currently houses about 1,800 prisoners.