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Forum: Youth prisons deserve closing

Updated: January 8, 2013 6:33AM



In support of Stephanie Kollmann’s Nov. 28 column, (Lawmakers should back plan to close two youth prisons), the Illinois PTA is adding our voice, that of more than 110,000 members, in seeking to immediately stop using state dollars to keep open two juvenile prisons — one that is now empty (in Murphysboro), and one that is half empty and on its way to being emptied (in Joliet).

In the name of careful spending of our limited state dollars, closing two prisons we do not need is just practical fiscal sense, and a savings of an estimated $27 million annually. It costs an average of $85,000 to incarcerate a juvenile for one year, and the recidivism rate for those youth is well over 50 percent. What a waste!

But the more important issue is that there is a much better use for the dollars to be saved by closing those two unneeded prisons. That money could be used to rehabilitate youths safely, more effectively and much, much less expensively in their communities through programs such as Redeploy Illinois. The recidivism rate for youths who have been treated through Redeploy Illinois is less than 15 percent.

The Illinois General Assembly must insist that the Murphysboro prison close now and that Joliet close as soon as its remaining inmates are moved to other juvenile facilities in the state. Then the dollars saved must be shifted to Redeploy Illinois and other community-based alternatives that are working successfully to rehabilitate youth. To do less is unthinkable.

Gretchen L. McDowell

Consultant

Past president, Illinois PTA

Chicago

Look in the mirror

The same public officials who cite the collapse of the state’s pension systems are the ones who created this insolvency. Legislators have lucrative pensions and other benefits for their part-time service, while many are engaged in other employment.

They also secured these benefits for political operatives who serve also part-time, and they have passed legislation to include select individuals in the state pension plans while those people work in the private sector.

People today are living longer, and the pension programs were not designed to support retirees for 30 or more years. A person retiring at 50 has the potential to live into his or her 80s. In some cases, a person could receive pension benefits for longer than he was employed.

The eligibility factors in the state pension systems should be changed to 65 years of age with a minimum of 25 years of service to the government agency.

John Culloton

Chicago

Mailman hangs up his bag

After 35 years of service as a mail carrier, I retired as of Dec. 1. I spent most of my career delivering mail to the Edgewater Walk area of Tinley Park.

I would like to thank all of those whom I served over the years and will always remember the special people I met day in and day out.

Joe Vanoskey

Tinley Park



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