Transition center brings new jobs to Murphysboro, IL - KFVS12 News & Weather Cape Girardeau, Carbondale, Poplar Bluff

Transition center brings new jobs to Murphysboro, IL

(Source: Brittany Jacob, KFVS) (Source: Brittany Jacob, KFVS)
MURPHYSBORO, IL (KFVS) -

New jobs are coming to Murphysboro along with a new center that will house hundreds of inmates; the goal is to give non-violent offenders a second chance at life. 

The Murphysboro Life Skills Re-Entry Center will house three correctional officers and 240 offenders, which could increase as the program grows. 

Murphysboro Mayor Will Stephens says this is positive for the city. “That’s a huge deal," he said. "I think you can ask any mayor in Southern Illinois, any mayor across the country if they’d rather have 65 jobs - or not have 65 jobs.”

According to Illinois Department of Corrections, offenders must apply to be transferred to Murphysboro Reentry Center. They must have three years or less left on their sentence, have positive behavior and write an essay explaining why the center would help them not recidivate. The mayor says It's supposed   to be the Department of Corrections which means weare supposed to correct their behaviors and build them up”

The IDOC says this is part of Gov. Bruce Rauner’s plan to reduce the prison population and restructure the state’s criminal just system. An Illinois lawmaker says the former Illinois Youth Center will reopen as a non-violent offender facility. 

The facility sits away from residential homes, so the mayor says he does not believe safety is a problem.

“I understand these are nonviolent offenders, these are not people that are serving sentences for murder." Stephens said  the city will not have to worry, "I think we will provide the proper security for the area.”

Mayor Stephens says the city will likely see an increase in sales tax revenue, and a new water customer since the city will provide water. “I’m very happy that it’s going to be reopening, it’s the right thing policy-wise and it’s good for Murphysboro without question,” Stephens explains.

IDOC says the goal for the facility is help offenders readjust to society. So, the center will offer educational, job readiness and cognitive behavior therapy courses to the offenders. They will learn skills that help them readjust to society, like how to manage a bank account, use the latest technology and schedule medical appointments.

“When you reduce your recidivism rate, which is what his facility will do, it will ultimately reduce tax payer cost to run prisons as a whole,” Stephens said. 

“It won't just help Murphysboro, it’ll help Carbondale, it’ll help Pinckneyville, it’ll help the region in general because we know the economic impact isn't under a bubble that’s just over Murphysboro," he said. 

This is the second facility of its kind. The Department launched its first Life Skills Re-entry Center in the small town Kewanee, Illinois last February.

State Rep. Terri Bryant says the facility in Murphysboro will become a minimum security male facility, according to her website.

According to Bryant, 63 correctional officers from Pinckneyville were in training on January 29. According to Bryant's Facebook page, Anita Ramsey has been named Assistant Warden.

The cost to reopen and repurpose the facility is approximately $500,000. The annual expenses are projected at approximately $8 million. 

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