VANDALIA — Vandalia city leadership can breathe a sigh of relief upon the release of a “memorandum” Wednesday from the Illinois Department of Corrections (IDOC). The memo told staff of the IDOC facility at Vandalia Correctional Center that their jobs will remain intact as the site will no longer be closed and consolidated.
The memo comes amidst potential rumors and fear about the fate of the prison. IDOC told lawmakers as early as February that they had plans to downsize Vandalia Correctional moving forward.
Now, according to the memo from IDOC Director Rob Jeffreys, this is not happening. Fortunately, Vandalia mayor Ricky Gottman is breathing a sigh of relief, as well as members of the Vandalia City Council.
Gottman announced in a statement that he was “quite pleased at the news.” He would additionally thank Gov. JB Pritzker and “all others who have been working hard behind the scenes towards a solution in this matter.”
“In a phone meeting with the Governor’s office and IDOC representatives, I felt good about where this matter was heading,” Gottman adds, referencing a meeting last Thursday, July 7. “The attached memorandum from IDOC was a result of that call.”
Vandalia Correctional is not closing
“Vandalia Correctional Center is not closing, nor was it being considered for closure,” Jeffreys said in the memo.
IDOC has been looking at the consolidation of some buildings to newer facilities at the center. Jeffreys, however, would emphasize that there would be no demolition of buildings.
“The plan would not have resulted in layoffs or geographic transfers,” Jeffreys noted.
As a result, IDOC is holding off on consolidation and conversion plans at Vandalia Correctional. However, Jeffreys wants to keep an open door should they revisit the plan.
“If it is decided in the future to revisit this plan, we will notify AFSCME Council 31 and continue discussions,” Jeffreys said.
Plans were part of IDOC-wide reevaluation of prison operations
The plans are part of a department-wide reevaluation of prison operations in the wake of a declining male inmate population. To date, the population is currently 27,823. Jeffreys says that number will likely remain low in the wake of “recent sentencing reforms.”
The inmate count at Vandalia had declined to 301 in February. However, that county now stands at 458, likely a result of transfers from other facilities in a similar predicament.
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Jake Leonard, a broadcast media and journalism veteran, is the editor-in-chief of Heartland Newsfeed. Leonard is also GM and program director of Heartland Newsfeed Radio Network, wrestling editor and contributing writer for Ambush Sports, a contributing writer for My Sports Vote and Midwest Sports Network, and a former contributor to Bleacher Report and Overtime Heroics. He resides at home in Nokomis, Ill. with his dog Buster.