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Op-Ed: Illinois should close Kewanee youth prison

Voices President Tasha Green Cruzat support Governor Rauner’s plan to close the Illinois Youth Center at Kewanee in a Chicago Tribune op-ed with Hoy McConnell, executive director of Business and Professional People for the Public Interest. The Kewanee “youth center,” Cruzat and McConnell point out, is a misnomer. While “youth center” brings to mind “images of carefree youths engaged in games, sports and enriching educational activities,” the facility at “Kewanee is a prison — a prison for youths.”

The Kewanee youth prison, which is located 150 miles southwest of Chicago, fails to meet the needs of youth. As a result, many youth “will leave Kewanee in worse condition than when they entered and be more likely to reoffend.” The facility is also very costly to operate. Built to incarcerate about 350 youth, Kewanee now only imprisons about 60 youth. Cruzat and McConnell call for the savings of closing the Kewanee youth prison to be used to support community based services for youth that are much more effective and cost far less.

To read the full op-ed, visit Chicago Tribune’s website.

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