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Illinois taxpayers footing bill for juvie detention center work

1 year, 5 months ago From Pantagraph.com

From From Pantagraph.com:

When Gov. Pat Quinn launched a controversial plan last year to close two juvenile detention facilities, one that he picked was the 16-year-old youth center in Murphysboro.

One he kept open was a 109-year-old facility in St. Charles.

The decision to keep the older facility open, however, has meant taxpayers have had to foot the bill for more than $4.5 million in repairs and upgrades at the suburban Chicago detention center.

From fixing a failing drinking water system to replacing leaky roofs, the state has been scrambling for the past year to keep St. Charles livable for the 320 male juveniles who are incarcerated there.

The newer youth center in Murphysboro, once touted as a gem in the state’s fleet of youth prisons, sits empty.

State officials said there is no irony in the situation.

“This would have occurred whether Murphysboro was open or not,” said Alka Nayyar, a spokeswoman for the Illinois Department of Juvenile Justice.

The latest repairs at St. Charles include the $315,000 purchase of a modular office building to replace an older building that had been deemed unfit for occupancy.

A review of state contracts associated with St. Charles shows the state has spent millions on security upgrades that were needed when the state closed the youth centers in Joliet and Murphysboro last year.

Other fixes include new roofing systems on four older buildings, upgrades to lighting fixtures and an overhaul of the drinking water system to remove the possible presence of radon.

State Rep. Mike Bost, a Murphysboro Republican who fought the closure, called the situation a “waste.”

“I think its time they reconsider reopening Murphysboro,” Bost said. “It makes sense to use a virtually brand-new facility.”

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