Illinois Department of Corrections

Governor Bruce Rauner has named an official with the U.S. State Department to lead the Illinois Department of Corrections.

A statement Monday from the Governor's office says Rauner selected 54 year old Donald Stolworthy to head Corrections.

According to the release from the Governor, Stolworthy has 15 years of corrections experience.  He currently works at the State Department in the Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs where he assesses foreign prison systems.

Bruce Rauner
Brian Mackey/WUIS

Gov. Bruce Rauner visited a state prison Wednesday. It’s the first time a sitting governor has done that in years.

Rauner says an overhaul of Illinois’ criminal justice system a priority for his administration.

"The Department of Corrections is operating at more than 150 percent of its design capacity," Rauner says. "That is unsafe to both inmates and staff."

Logan Correctional Center
Google Maps

The union that represents Illinois prison guards says inmates at the Logan Correctional Center committed about 400 assaults since the lockup was converted to an all-women facility in 2013.  

However, Corrections Department officials are disputing the numbers.  

The American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees released documents Thursday showing assaults ranging from spitting to fighting, kicking and punching.  

flickr/dnak

Illinois has a clear ambition for what it would like to do with members of its criminal class, and it’s right there in the name of the state agency set up to deal with them: the Department of Corrections. But there is a wide gap between ambition and practice. This is not to blame the department: politicians enacted the policies that have swelled the prison population, and politicians are largely responsible for the dire financial condition of the state that has squeezed agencies like the DOC.

Logan Correctional Center
Google Maps

Illinois’ main prison for women has nearly 2,000 inmates. An outside monitor says that’s the result of poor planning when Illinois closed the prison at Dwight nearly two years ago.

The majority of Illinois female inmates are incarcerated at Logan Correctional Center in central Illinois.

John Howard Association director John Maki says the state ought not be housing 1,985 women in a prison built to hold 1,106.

Doing Right By The Kids

Dec 1, 2014

This story first appeared in the June 2014 issue.

Special monitoring visits to the Illinois Department of Juvenile Justice recently found youth detainees mowing lawns and building shelves rather than attending educational courses. Monitors discovered youth being given medication with inadequate consent and living in rooms that were improperly maintained. Facilities were found to lack the proper staff to treat juvenile offenders with mental illnesses.

Not long ago, attempts to raise criminal penalties in Illinois were met with a standing joke. All such legislation had to make it through the Senate Judiciary Committee, where by informal agreement, it could only advance if it satisfied the sole criterion of the Cullerton Rule. On April 20, 2005, Sen. Edward Maloney, a Democrat from Chicago, presented House Bill 2699, a bipartisan measure that sought to raise the penalties for identity theft.

Illinois Department of Corrections

The state agency that oversees prisons does not expect to make significant changes to its operations, following the escape of an inmate last week from a minimum security prison located about an hour east of St. Louis.

Officials issued an alert when 21-year-old Marcus Battice escaped from Vandalia Correctional Center, where he was serving time for stealing a car. Battice turned up the next morning, about three-and-a-half miles away.

Series Part 3: Death In Illinois Prisons

Jul 10, 2014
flickr/Brad K.

Illinois taxpayers pay a private company more than a hundred million dollars a year to give health care to prison inmates.

Yet no one in Illinois knows how good, or bad, the care is.

But that will likely change soon.

As part of our series “Of natural causes: Death in Illinois prisons,” WBEZ’s Robert Wildeboer reports.

On July 28, 2012 Elawndoe Shannon put in a request for sick call at the prison where he was housed in Lawrence, Illinois.

Two days later, he died.

Series Part 2: Prison Deaths In Illinois

Jul 9, 2014
flickr/Fiona Dalwood

Between 80 and a hundred people die behind bars in Illinois every year.

The average age of the people who die is 54.

The Department of Corrections says it carefully reviews every death, but information on deaths provided to Chicago public station WBEZ was scattershot and incomplete.

Rob Wildeboer continues our series, “Of natural causes: Death in Illinois prisons.”

Keith Dean has a manila envelope that causes him a lot of grief and regret, but he can’t throw it out.

Series: Death In Illinois Prisons

Jul 9, 2014
flickr/meesh

Between 80 and a hundred people die each year inside Illinois prisons.

Chicago public station WBEZ has been seeking information about those deaths, but the Department of Corrections under Governor Pat Quinn is taking a “trust us, nothing to see here” attitude.

However, persistent and disturbing complaints from inmates and their families make it hard to just move along.

Robert Wildeboer will bring us some of their stories and the department’s response this week as part of our series “Of natural causes: Death in Illinois prisons.”

Hannah Meisel/WUIS

  In Illinois, 25,000 men and women are released from state prisons each year. Ideally, that means 25,000 people entering the job market. But Illinois already has higher-than-average unemployment, and a criminal record can make it even harder to find work. That's why the Illinois Department of Corrections is trying to lend a hand to ex-offenders through a series of specialized events.

What Lawmakers Know And Don't Know About Illinois Prisons

Feb 20, 2014
flickr/dnak

75 % of Illinois lawmakers surveyed by Chicago Public Radio say they have never stepped foot in a maximum security prison cell block. And 40 percent of those legislators have never toured or visited a prison even once.

Yet they’re the ones signing the checks for the $1.3  billion dollar per year agency.

Ninety-five of the 118 House members responded to the survey.

WBEZ

Gov. Pat Quinn is supporting his prisons director after a Republican challenger called for the director to be fired.  
 Sen. Kirk Dillard is a GOP candidate for governor. He said Wednesday that Democrat Quinn should fire S.A. ``Tony'' Godinez  for hiring a man with arrests and apparent one-time gang ties.  

Dillard says it's ``outrageous'' that ex-gang members are ``running the prisons.''  
Xadrian McCraven  was an $111,000-a-year senior policy adviser to the Department of Corrections' parole chief before he was fired Friday.  

The state's Department of Corrections has locked down the Big Muddy River Correctional Center in Ina after dozens of inmates started to show flu-like symptoms.  

The (Carbondale) Southern Illinoisan reports that the department says the Level 1 lockdown means that no visitors are allowed at the facility and no inmates will be transferred.  

Jamey Dunn
mattpenning.com 2014 / WUIS/Illinois Issues

When the Illinois Department of Juvenile Justice split from the state’s Department of Corrections in 2006, it moved forward with a distinct mission: recognize that youth offenders have different needs than adults and address those needs with the goal of helping them turn their lives around.

State Failed To Keep Tabs On Decatur Murder Suspect

Oct 2, 2013
flickr/katerha

Lawmakers say an early prison release law doesn't need changing despite a mistake in which a parolee now charged with murder was not properly monitored.
 
Joshua A. Jones was set free in May five months early. He was charged with a Decatur murder three months later.
Documents and Associated Press interviews show Jones was supposed to be electronically monitored but was not. State prison officials say an employee
faces discipline.

Health Law Could Reduce Incarceration Rates

Oct 1, 2013
flickr/sideonecincy

Tuesday marks the launch of state health insurance exchanges, a major part of the Affordable Care Act. Among the many changes likely after the new health coverage takes effect: Fewer people behind bars.

During a recent expo put on by the Illinois Department of Corrections in Champaign, Jeff Rinderle of the Champaign-Urbana Public Health District talked with parolees and former prison inmates transitioning into civilian life about the Affordable Care Act.

A former Illinois Department of Corrections accounting employee will serve 21 months in federal prison after admitting to embezzling more than $50,000 from a fund meant to benefit prison workers killed in the line of duty.  
U.S. District Judge Sue Myerscough sentenced 47-year-old Mary Ann Bohlen on Monday.  
Myerscough also ordered the Edinburg resident to pay nearly $24,000 to the Illinois Correctional Employees Memorial Association and $27,000 to the state corrections agency.  

Jamey Dunn
mattpenning.com 2014 / WUIS/Illinois Issues

The Illinois Department of Corrections is in the early stages of rolling out a new systemwide policy that advocates say could be one of the biggest reforms in the agency in recent history.