Pontiac Correctional Center

Pontiac Correctional Center (Pontiac) is composed of a male maximum-security facility and medium-security unit. The maximum side houses administrative detention, disciplinary segregation, protective custody, and mental health populations. Pontiac is designated within the Illinois Department of Corrections (IDOC) to house hundreds of IDOC inmates with more than six months of disciplinary segregation. This report focuses on the maximum prison and the continuing challenges of housing inmates who may be deemed unsafe in general population, including a discussion of Solitary Confinement, Administrative Detention, Mental Health, and Inmate Concerns.

Read JHA's 2015 report here. (PDF)

Vital Statistics:
Population: 2,018
Rated Capacity: 1,800
Average Age: 38
Average Annual Cost per Inmate (FY14): $34,287
Population by Race: 58% Black, 24% White, 17% Hispanic, 1% Other
Committing Offense: 36% Murder, 31% Class X, 11% Class 1, 14% Class 2, 4% Class 3, and 3% Class 4 felonies.
Source IDOC March 2015

Key Observations

  • To begin to address concerns regarding “solitary confinement,” Illinois must expand inmate out-of-cell time and programming, and ensure that inmates have meaningful opportunities to earn reductions in segregation time and greater privileges for behavior improvement.
  • More than 600 inmates were serving terms of disciplinary segregation at Pontiac. Of these, more than 60 inmates were serving terms over 10 years. Only 38% of Pontiac inmates are housed in single-cells and segregation double-cells are smaller than 65 square feet.
  • In general, JHA believes all practices affecting inmates should be governed by uniform, clear, specific written policy, to ensure fair notice, application, and appropriate oversight. Uncertainty produces unnecessary hardship for inmates and staff. JHA recommends increased attention to ensuring communications are responsive, including detailing requirements for inmates to earn privileges or reasons for an inmate to remain in administrative detention.
  • Staffing levels were improved since JHA’s 2013 Pontiac visit and report. Importantly, mental health staffing and services at Pontiac have increased. Anecdotally, this increase appears to help in reducing issues related to inmate behavior. JHA continues to have concerns regarding systemic difficulties for hiring key staff necessary to improve our correctional facilities.
  • IDOC must do a better job tracking data and making detailed, timely, relevant data publically available so that policy-makers and the public can make informed decisions about correctional practices and policies, and adequately resource facilities to avoid costly litigation.
  • In a year, more than 90 men were released from segregation at Pontiac directly to the community, some without any mandated continued law enforcement supervision.

Read JHA's 2015 report. (PDF)
Read JHA's 2013 report. (PDF)
Read JHA's 2012 report. (pdf)
Read JHA's 2010 report. (PDF)