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Dwight Correctional Center Tour is Next Step in Plan to Re-Open

DWIGHT - Part of Dwight Correctional Center could be used as a Livingston County Jail.
DWIGHT – Part of Dwight Correctional Center could be used as a Livingston County Jail.

State lawmakers, county board members and representatives from the Illinois Department of Corrections met Thursday to tour part of the prison. It's the next step in the effort to get inmates and jobs back to Livingston County.

"I think it's a good possibility for the county we're looking at possibly bringing in 40 or more jobs to the county," said Livingston County Board Chariman, Marty Fannin.

Talks have been about the county leasing the facility from the state. The building in question can fit around 400 people. It also would mean additional income for the county because of fees they would earn to house inmates from other counties.

"Our rate right now is we get $50 a day for anybody who comes into it," said Livingston County Sheriff Martin Meredith.

The state hasn't decided whether to lease the prison yet, but Malcolm Weems, a representative from the Central Management System for the State of Illinois, said it is open to a deal. Upkeep on an empty prison is costing taxpayers.

"Depending on what we put on maintaining, but approximately a quarter-million-dollars a year, about $250,000 a year is the estimate we would use," Weems said.

 Meredith said now he's working to make sure there would be inmates to fill the cells.

"I have been in contact with several sheriffs and there are several sheriffs that have already committed and said that they will be interested in sending their excess to me," Meredith said.

The final decision is up to the county board. Fannin said there's one thing he needs to give his vote and it’s something he says hasn't been confirmed yet.

"We're looking at the possibility of a five year lease we would at least need a, would like to get a five year commitment from Cook County."

Meredith hopes to discuss the plan at the county board meeting next month. He said the longer they wait, the more Dwight deteriorates.
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