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State: Joliet Prison Not An Option For Holding NATO Arrestees

The Joliet Correctional Center was shut down in 2002, after more than 140 years of use as a state prison. (Credit: CBS)

The Joliet Correctional Center was shut down in 2002, after more than 140 years of use as a state prison. (Credit: CBS)

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JOLIET, Ill. (CBS) – State officials have shot down Cook County Sheriff’s idea of using the old Joliet Correctional Center, or its annex across the street, to hold people who might be arrested during the upcoming NATO summit.

An Illinois Department of Corrections spokesperson told WBBM Newsradio’s Bernie Tafoya on Thursday that the prison is “absolutely not an option.”

Dart has been looking at options for where to house detainees arrested during the summit on May 20 and 21, given that Cook County Jail is already near capacity.

The sheriff had suggested reopening the long-shuttered Joliet Correctional Center to house inmates, if there are mass arrests during the summit. After Joliet Mayor Tom Giarrante said Sunday that the prison would not be a viable option, because too much work would be required to open the facility in time for the summit, Dart said this week he thought the prison annex across the street would be viable.

Dart toured the annex on Friday and had said he thought it could be fixed up in time for the summit.

“It’s very doable. I mean, we can move in on it tomorrow. There’s some cleaning that has to be done, but I was amazed at how, frankly, clean it was, because it’s been shut down for about 10 years now,” Dart said. “I couldn’t get over … how well preserved it is.”

Dart acknowledged the locks on the cells at the annex had been removed and would need to be replaced, but sounded optimistic it could get done.

But the state has put the issue to rest, with IDOC saying that no part of the prison can be used as a temporary detention center during the summit.