Keeping Dwight Correctional Center open is not only vital to the local economy, but it is vital to public safety. Each day, when a criminal is arrested, a prosecutor makes a decision whether to charge them with a crime or not charge them. If the prosecutor decides to charge the criminal, the prosecutor must make a decision in what crimes to charge them with, and this decision includes whether to charge the criminal with a misdemeanor or a felony.
Notably, a criminal is not charged with a felony every time a felony is committed. A prosecutor will often look at all the surrounding circumstances to determine whether a felony should be charged. Is the case strong? Did the offender make restitution? Did the police do a thorough investigation? Does the offender have a lengthy criminal history? Was great bodily harm inflicted on the victim? Was the victim handicapped or over the age of 60? Needless to say, many factors are looked at before a felony is even charged.
Felons are the most dangerous criminals in our society. Our state legislature has told us so when they have made only certain offenses felonies and have provided for the possibility of incarceration in a state facility for at least one year when a felony is committed.
In order to be sentenced to the Illinois Department of Corrections, one must (1) be found guilty by either a judge or a jury or (2) enter a plea agreement. Once the criminal has either been found guilty or plead guilty, a sentencing hearing will be held at which the prosecutor will present aggravating factors to the judge to show why they feel that the criminal should be sentenced to prison, while the defense attorney will present mitigating factors of why the criminal should be sentenced to probation, conditional discharge, or other sentencing alternatives that do not involve incarceration. The point is simple. Only the offenders that are the worst of the worst are sentenced to the Illinois Department of Corrections.
Prison is for the worst of the worst. Prison is for those offenders who have a track record that shows they will not stop committing crimes unless they are incarcerated. Prison is for those offenders that will continue to be a danger to themselves or others unless incarcerated. Prison is for offenders who refuse to successfully complete substance abuse treatment although they have a major drug or alcohol problem. Probation is not given to them because they have continually shown over time that they won’t complete what the judge or the probation officer has asked of them or that they must go to prison because the crime is so serious.
I have no doubt that if Dwight is closed, public safety will be adversely affected.
Dangerous criminals will be released early and set free back into our community. Parole officers’ case loads will increase and the criminals will be under minimal supervision committing new offenses.
It is vital that the Dwight Correctional Center remain open. Not only to save jobs and the local economy, but also to protect the public.