Mental care facilities for prisoners could cost Illinois taxpayers nearly $17.8 million

SPRINGFIELD - The housing and treatment of mentally ill prisoners could soon be more expensive for Illinois taxpayers.

State documents show that Illinois taxpayers could foot the bill for converting existing prison space into mental care facilities, estimated to cost more than $17.8 million.

The Illinois Department of Corrections has asked architectural firms for proposals to convert a Pontiac Correctional Center dining hall, and to upgrade four dozen cells to house special populations.  The estimated cost for the upgrades is around $800,000.

Efforts to convert a closed juvenile prison in Joliet into a facility for mentally ill inmates is also underway.  Original estimates for the renovations were at $9 million, but an architectural firm is estimating the cost to be closer to $17 million.  Bidding on that project is expected to begin in December.

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