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Sen. Bryant says IDOC has broken an agreement regarding inmates housed at Murphysboro facility

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MURPHYSBORO — State Sen. Terri Bryant (R-Murphysboro) believes the Illinois Department of Corrections has broken an agreement with the residents of Murphysboro, particularly parents of children who attend the General John A. Logan Attendance Center.

IDOC Re-Entry Center site in Murphysboro

IDOC Re-Entry Center site in Murphysboro.

The Illinois Department of Corrections opened the Illinois Youth Center in Murphysboro in 1997. When the Murphysboro facility first opened, it served as a boot camp for the Illinois Department of Juvenile Justice, according to IDOC.

Just across a field, Murphysboro Unit 3 School District built the General John A. Logan Attendance Center, an elementary school, and opened it in 2001.

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Before the school opened, IDOC and the community talked about what kinds of young offenders should be housed at the boot camp. They came to an agreement that no violent or sexual criminals would be incarcerated at the facility to keep the young students at the school safe, according to Bryant.

When the agreement was made, Bryant was a mom and businesswoman. She was elected to state representative in 2014 and was elected to the Illinois Senate in 2020.

The boot camp closed in Murphysboro in 2012. The facility re-opened as a Life Skills Re-entry Center for adult males in April 2018.

Bryant learned a sex offender has been housed at the Murphysboro facility since October and was told some inmates whose cases were violent might be moved in and out, too.

IDOC Re-Entry Center sign in Murphysboro

A sign outside the IDOC Re-Entry Center sign in Murphysboro is pictured in October 2017.

First class graduates from revamped Impact Incarceration Program in Murphysboro

Bryant said the sex offender’s crime was 20 years ago. He was incarcerated after he moved and did not register his new address.

“We assured everyone in the community this would not happen,” Bryant said. “IDOC made promises to the community. They should have come back to the community and told them how it has changed.”

Bryant reached out to Illinois Department of Corrections and was told the intergovernmental agreements were not there. As a result, they could place any offender who qualified at the facility.

100621-nws-bootcamp-2.jpg (copy)

Maj. Greg James (right) congratulates the 16 graduates of the Structured Impact Program as they are released from the Murphysboro Life Skills Re-entry Center in early October. 

“The Illinois Department of Corrections is committed to providing all individuals in custody with programming and treatment that supports their successful re-entry. Murphysboro Life Skills Re-Entry Center provides cognitive behavioral classes and vocational training to help prepare individuals for life after incarceration. Individuals with less than five years left of their sentence can apply to an IDOC Re-Entry Center regardless of their conviction,” IDOC said in a written statement to The Southern Illinoisan.

Part of Bryant’s concern stems from the inmates being used for some jobs in the area. For example, inmates of the facility have helped with city cleanup during the Apple Festival.

Terri Bryant mugshot

Bryant

Murphysboro Mayor Will Stephens shares Bryant’s concerns about the inmates at the Murphysboro facility.

"I appreciate Sen. Bryant keeping close watch on what is happening at the Murphysboro IDOC facility and keeping the city informed,” Stephens said. “I have also reached out to the Department of Corrections and they have explained that these offenders are closely watched and not ever approved for details outside the facility.”

“Sex offenders do not qualify for outside work crew participation, and therefore, do not leave IDOC property while in custody. It is important to note the department has positive communication with Mayor Will Stephens about the resources the facility brings to the community,” IDOC said in their statement to The Southern.

Both Stephens and Bryant wish violent and sex offenders were housed somewhere else.

Murphysboro Mayor Will Stephens

Will Stephens

“I believe, as Sen. Bryant does, that the best situation would be for these offenders to be housed at an IDOC facility that isn't as closely situated to a school as the Murphysboro facility is. I hope the Department of Corrections hears these concerns and makes the appropriate adjustments," Stephens said.

The Murphysboro School District was asked to talk to The Southern or to provide a statement.

They have not answered those requests.

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