Danville Correctional Center
Danville Correctional Center
Danville Correctional Center is located in Danville, Illinois, about a two and a half hours drive south of Chicago and 40 minute drive east of Champaign at the Indiana border. It is a medium-security male facility that offers notable volunteer educational programs within the Illinois Department of Corrections, including the University of Illinois’ Education Justice Project and the Divine Hope Reformed Bible Seminary.
On the date of the 2013 visit, Danville housed 1,844 inmates, with an average length of stay of about a year and a half, though four inmates were serving life sentences.1 Key staff shortages in healthcare and education inhibit the success of the facility, as they do throughout IDOC. Crowding and increased demand for healthcare services also create challenges.
As stated in our 2011 Danville report: JHA recognizes that neither Danville nor IDOC controls the number of inmates who are committed to state custody. The Governor and General Assembly must act to find ways to safely reduce the state’s prison population.
Similarly, Danville and IDOC do not control the age of the inmates committed to their custody, and at the time of JHA’s visit, Danville housed two 17-year-olds. JHA takes this opportunity to discuss some of the issues we have observed within IDOC, as the agency implements policies to comply with federal Prison Rape Elimination Act (PREA) standards. Gross disparities in age between inmates can create serious issues, including heightened risk of victimization. While 17-year-old individuals represent a transitory and small part of the IDOC population, they impact operations and implicate important policy considerations that Illinois must face.
JHA generally receives few complaints from inmates at Danville. However, we saw a significant increase in the number of complaints this past year connected to the facility housing inmates in the gym due to systemic crowding, and the outbreak of a pulmonary illness caused by a regionally occurring fungus, discussed in the Healthcare section of this report. However, both of these issues were no longer directly affecting operations by the time of the 2013 monitoring visit.
At the time of the October 2013 JHA visit, Danville appeared to be a well-run facility with many unique opportunities for inmates and a team of administrators dedicated to safety and rehabilitation. In addition to unique volunteer-initiated educational programs, another positive aspect of this facility is emphasis on in-house reentry services and substance use disorder education programs. Administrators at this facility stressed correctional professionalism, teamwork, communication, and involvement with the day-to-day operations. Despite having more than 20 years of correctional experience each, the wardens acknowledged that there is something new to learn every day and are open to continual improvement.
On February 7, 2011, John Howard Association (JHA) staff and volunteers visited Danville Correctional Center, a Level 3 High Medium-Security male prison located approximately 135 miles south of Chicago.
Opened in 1985, Danville was designed to hold 900 inmates in single cells. The cells have since been double bunked, making operational capacity 1,862. The population on the day of John Howard’s visit was 1,821.