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Vandalia Correctional Center inmates could again be out working in the community within a few weeks.
State Sen. Kyle McCarter (R-Lebanon) announced on Friday, one day after touring VCC, that the prison would be sending work camp inmates out in the near future.
McCarter said that he and Vandalia Mayor Rick Gottman have been talking with the Illinois Department of Corrections about getting work camp crews back out in the community.
Crews from the work camp handled mowing, painting and other duties for local entities – including the city, chamber of commerce, Fayette County Fair Association and area townships – before IDOC terminated the program several years ago due to funding cuts.
“It’s a win-win situation,” McCarter said. “It’s good for offenders to get out and work, and be helpful to the communities, and, at the same time, it gives them a source of personal pride and accomplishment.
“The inmates want to be part of this program,” McCarter said.
Gottman said that he, too, is excited about the possibility of restarting the work camp program and has been working with McCarter to see it come to pass.
“The Vandalia prison is a key component of Vandalia society. It’s good to see that we can help each other in this way.”
A date for restarting the community work program has not been set, but McCarter said it could begin within a month.
The work camp houses about 400 inmates, but only a limited number of inmates will participate in the work program.
Just how many work crews will be going out of VCC is not yet known, according to Stacey Solano, spokesperson for the Illinois Department of Corrections.
“The department is still in the process of determining what may be possible,” Solano said.
She said that IDOC does not expect to add officers at VCC to operate the work camp program.
“We are evaluating how this can be accomplished using existing resources with little to no overtime,” Solano said.
The agency is able to restart the community work program because of other cuts within IDOC, she said.
“Facility closures have allowed the department to fill many vacancies throughout other, existing facilities,” Solano said.
“Filling these critical vacancies has allowed the department the ability to evaluate the possibility of reinstating some inmate work crew services that have been provided in the past.
“These services have the opportunity to benefit (both) the inmates involved and the local community,” Solano said.