NEWS RELEASE, July 1, 2015 – Recently, State Senator Gary Forby (D – Benton) toured Hardin County Work Camp in an effort to understand how Governor Rauner’s cuts will affect residents in his district. Initially, Corrections officials didn’t allow Senator Forby access to the facility, but after the visit rendered some negative press, the Governor allowed Senator Forby to tour the facility.
“Cutting Hardin work camp is irresponsible,” Forby said. “Inmates living here help local governments during natural disasters, save surrounding counties millions of dollars in project costs and inmates donate 7,000 hours per month in community service to neighboring cities. These are the types of facilities that allow inmates to pay their debt to society while also developing skills, so once they are released they don’t come back.”
During the tour, Corrections officials took Senator Forby to several gardens inmates tend that produce food for the community and themselves. Four groups of inmates are dispatched daily to surrounding communities to assist with projects ranging from communities clean ups to disaster relief.
“A few years ago, when Southern Illinois experienced extreme weather conditions, inmates served as first responders by helping residents in Alexander County build flood walls and assisting with debris removal when Harrisburg was hit by a tornado,” Forby said.
One issue Senator Forby is working to resolve is the facility’s lack of kitchen facilities. Two years ago, Hardin County Work Camp’s kitchen burned down, which increased the cost to feed inmates by $13,000 per month.
“Repairing the kitchen would solve a huge budget issue for the state and help keep the facility open,” Forby said. “We need to keep this facility open. It’s one of the largest employers in one of the most economically challenged areas in my district. I will continue to fight Governor Rauner and his war on Southern Illinois.”