Former Kewanee juvenile center aims to lower the state’s recidivism rate

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KEWANEE, Illinois - The state of Illinois is working to lower its rate of criminals to reoffend.

Starting next week the former Kewanee Juvenile Center will reopen with a new purpose.

The facility used to house juveniles, but the state argued that the center had more beds than inmates. Despite the Kewanee community fighting to keep it open and save its 240 jobs, the state closed the facility over the summer.

The state has decided to reopen it as an adult center.

The new Kewanee Life Skills Reentry Center will focus on helping inmates once they leave these walls.

"We`re looking at guys who are assets at moderate to high risk to reoffend and that`s who we`re focusing on," said Warden Tony Williams.

In Illinois nearly half of criminals will reoffend. This is the first program of its kind in the state to try to lower that number.

"They could have potentially been in the system 10-15 20 years and now we have to get them ready to reenter society," said Warden Williams.

The program will offer everything from behavioral therapy, education, preparing them for job interviews, as well as teaching them how to do everyday tasks.

"Bouncing a checkbook, using an ATM, some of the new technology, a smart phone," said Warden Williams.

Warden Williams says the inmates will start arriving on February 16th, 2017 and over the next couple years the state hopes to house several hundred of them.

"We really want to try and do this slow and right, be the best opportunity for success for our offenders."

The state is hoping the new model will keep offenders from repeating history.

"They apply and they come to this facility because they want to make a change and it`s our jobs to give them the tools to be a good returning citizen," said Warden Williams.