April 24, 2013

John Howard Association's Report on Menard Correctional Center

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Dear Ally of the John Howard Association,
In December 2012, JHA visited Menard Correctional Center (Menard).  By far the largest of the three male maximum-security facilities within the Illinois Department of Corrections (IDOC), Menard is located about 2.5 hours south of Springfield, and almost 6 hours south of Chicago, in Menard, IL.
MenardVital Statistics:
Total Population: 3,666
Maximum-Security Population: 3,144           
Maximum-Security Rated Capacity: 2,600
Average Annual Cost Per Inmate (FY 2011): $19,824
Average Age: 38
Source IDOC 2/11/13
Key Observations:
  • Opened in 1878, the facility has serious maintenance needs that will cost more than $12 million to address.
  • Publicized incidents of staff assaults and recent inmate deaths have brought attention to high tensions at Menard, where physical plant issues, constant lockdowns, and allegations of unprofessional staff conduct and neglected inmate grievances are common.
  • Staffing at Menard has been inadequate for many years. Influx of staff from other southern facilities closures should somewhat improve conditions.
  • Inmates at Menard distrust the internal discipline and grievance procedures.
  • Since JHA's 2011 monitoring visit, Menard has made several improvements including reducing its segregation population, notably of inmates suffering from mental illnesses; attempting to isolate and reduce lockdowns by housing inmates by aggression levels;  and working with staff to strengthen communication and accountability. 
Read JHA's report on our website.
Gwyn Troyer
John Howard Association
Director, Prison Monitor Project
(312) 503-6304
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John Howard Association | (312) 503 6300 | 375 E. Chicago | Chicago | IL | 60611