IYC-Joliet to close Feb. 22
By Bob Okon firstname.lastname@example.org January 10, 2013 10:28PM
Jan. 17, 1:30 p.m.: Joliet Zoning Board of Appeals reviews zoning to determine if veterans apartment complex is suitable for the site.
Jan. 17, 4 p.m.: Joliet Plan Commission reviews subdivision plan.
Feb. 4, 3:30 p.m.: Joliet City Council reviews project.
Feb. 5, 6:30 p.m.: Joliet City Council votes on project.
Updated: February 12, 2013 2:41PM
JOLIET — Illinois Youth Center-Joliet is slated to close Feb. 22, which would mark the end of a year-long fight to keep the youth prison open.
Some 215 union employees got notice of the closing date on Wednesday. While they will lose their jobs in Joliet, there is likely to be employment available elsewhere in the state prison system.
“Most people will be able to find some kind of job,” said Sharon Konopka, who heads the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees local that represents IYC-Joliet workers.
Fifteen openings at Stateville Correctional Center are available to IYC-Joliet employees, Konopka said. The same number of Stateville jobs were made available earlier to employees at Dwight Correctional Center, which also is closing.
But many of the Joliet workers who want to continue working in the state’s juvenile justice department may have to relocate, Konopka said.
IYC-Joliet, 2848 McDonough St., will close one year to the date when Gov. Pat Quinn announced that he wanted to close the youth prison and other prisons as part of a budget-cutting measure. The plan was delayed by resistance from legislators and a court fight initiated by AFSCME.
But the Illinois Supreme Court eventually ruled in favor of the governor’s proposal, and the Legislature in December gave up a last attempt to keep IYC-Joliet and three other prisons open.
Advocates said IYC-Joliet is needed for the most dangerous youth offenders. It is the only youth prison defined as a maximum-security facility by the juvenile justice department.
Quinn’s administration, however, has said other youth prisons have sections that can be used for maximum security.
Konopka insisted on Thursday that the administration has yet to realize the dangers of closing IYC-Joliet.
“I’m not going to say it’s over until they put a lock on the gate,” she said. “I’m always hopeful that they’ll understand that they’re making a very big mistake.”