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April 12, 2001

Governor Ryan Announces Site of State's New $140 Million Maximum Security Prison

GRAYVILLE -- Governor George H. Ryan today announced the appropriation of $129 million in state bond funds and $11 million in Federal funds to build a 1,600-bed maximum-security prison in Grayville. There also will be a 200-bed minimum-security unit to house inmates who will provide maintenance and complete community service projects, creating a capacity for 1,800 inmates.

The prison will have an annual operation budget of $54 million with an annual payroll of approximately $40 million for the operating staff of 761. In addition to these new jobs, as many as 300 construction jobs during the two-year construction phase will be created.

"I've said many times before that I'd rather build schools than prisons," Governor Ryan said. "But if people continue to break the laws of society, then we must be prepared to deal with them.

"And if we must build prisons, then we're going to build them where the jobs and economic development can make a difference."

Grayville, Wenona and Hoopeston were the three finalists resulting from the Department of Corrections solicitation of communities interested in supporting the new maximum security prison last November. The siting of Grayville will cluster a group of prisons in that geographical area, allowing a more effective use of resources, inmate transfer and staff relocation. The new prison will help alleviate over-crowding. Prior to Ryan's administration, the last maximum-security prison constructed was Stateville in 1922. The first Super-max prison, Tamms, was built and opened in 1998-1999.

Maximum-security prisons are at 161.5 percent of capacity with 8,624 inmates in space designed for 5,341 prisoners. Overall, adult prisons remain at more than 160 percent capacity with almost 46,000 adults incarcerated in space designed to hold just over 28,000.

"This overcrowding among the most predatory, violent criminals creates many problems for correctional staff who must maintain order in these facilities," Governor Ryan added. "It also presents potentially unsafe conditions for the inmates and their visitors.

"This new prison will make it safer for correctional officers and more secure for the inmates."

The facility will feature state-of-the art construction in penal institutions and will utilize high-tech equipment for security systems. Construction is expected to begin in spring 2002 with completion anticipated in early 2005.


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