IDOC report details possible partial closure of Pontiac Prison

Published: Feb. 15, 2022 at 7:03 PM CST
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PONTIAC (25 NEWS) - The future of Pontiac Prison is in question as a new report details a possible partial closure that would reduce the maximum inmate population by more than 60 percent, starting as soon as March.

A Illinois Department of Corrections report obtained by 25 News proposes to close three units within the prison, which have a combined bed total of more than 1,000. The stated reason is to reduce staff overtime hours and staffing shortages due to COVID, as well as avoid costly repairs to the aging facility.

Pictures of aging facilities at the Pontiac Correctional Center included in a recent IDOC report.
Pictures of aging facilities at the Pontiac Correctional Center included in a recent IDOC report.(25 News / Heart of Illinois ABC)

Republican lawmakers who represent the area say they first caught wind of potential changes last week, when almost 200 inmates were transferred out of the Pontiac Correctional Center overnight.

“It seemed to happen very last minute,” State Representative Tom Bennett (R-Dist. 106) said. “We got notification from some of the employees at the prison asking what was going on.”

Bennett and a group of Republican lawmakers penned a letter to Governor Pritzker and IDOC asking for answers to a long list of questions.

“We’re led to believe they moved prisoners out so they can make certain repairs,” State Senator Jason Barickman (R-Bloomington) said. “But we don’t know if they’ll make those repairs, when they’ll make these repairs or if they have the money to make those repairs.”

25 News was sent these documents from multiple sources, which are dated February 9, 2022 and include the IDOC seal and the governor and agency director’s names. The units in question are the medium security unit and the east and west cellhouses.

“This would be, I believe, the second timeframe in which there’s been concerns about the future of Pontiac Prison,” State Representative Dan Brady (R-Bloomington) said.

The prison was slated to be closed back in 2018, but that never came to be. The current plan appears relatively neutral on staff, but it does also call for a partial closure of the prison in Vandalia.

We contacted IDOC and were sent to the governor’s office for a comment. A spokesperson for the governor said only, no prisons are slated to be closed.

The full Illinois Department of Corrections report appears below.

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