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State of Illinois

Prison Watchdog Highlights Ongoing Problems

Prison Overcrowding
IL prison overcrowding

The John Howard Association, a prison watchdog group, says too few inmates at Pontiac Correctional Center qualify for programs meant to prepare them to return to society.

John Maki is director of the John Howard Association, and says the problem is particularly true for inmates held in segregation at the maximum-security facility.
"Most of those inmates will still eventually be released one day. And when inmates are not given skills to better themselves, to improve themselves, to become better citizens, they're going to come out worse."
When reporters visited Pontiac earlier this year, Warden Randy Pfister said inmates have to qualify, by having more than ten months but fewer than two years left in segregation.
"However individuals with two years or more seg time, they're automatically in another program that's all behavior motivated. If they continue to progress ... they have the opportunity to receive a segregation time cut."
But that's not necessarily the kind of rehabilitative program the John Howard Association has in mind. According to the latest figures from the Department of Corrections, just 15 of well over a thousand maximum-security inmates at Pontiac were in career programs.