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State

Mentally ill prisoners costing more in Illinois

SPRINGFIELD – Treating and housing mentally ill prisoners is costing more in Illinois.

The Springfield bureau of Lee Enterprises newspapers reports (http://bit.ly/1mmvhFX ) that state documents show Illinois taxpayers will be billed more than $17.8 million to turn existing prison space into mental health care facilities.

Records show the Illinois Department of Corrections has asked architectural firms for proposals to convert a dining hall at Pontiac Correctional Center. The agency also wants to upgrade four dozen cells to house special populations. The cost is estimated at $800,000.

Efforts also are underway to convert a closed juvenile prison in Joliet into a facility for mentally ill inmates. An architectural firm estimates the cost at $17 million. Original estimates were $9 million. Bidding is expected to start in December.

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