Illinois already has a ban on private criminal detention operations, but a state Representative wants to go a step further to prohibit private civil detention facilities as well.

The Dwight Village Board last month approved an agreement with a private provider for a 1,200-bed facility for Immigration and Customs Enforcement detainees.

State Rep. Kelly Cassidy, D-Chicago, said similar plans have been tried elsewhere.

“The jobs aren’t good jobs, they’re not safe for the staff,” Cassidy said. “The reputation of the community can be harmed by some of the atrocities that occur in these facilities. So in each instance, the cities have walked down that path with them and have abandoned it. I think it’s time we make it clear that this is not going to happen here in Illinois.”

State Rep. Steven Reick, R-Woodstock, said he is opposed to Cassidy’s House Bill 2040, which would block such facilities.

“If we move the facilities or force these facilities to go elsewhere, what we’re going to end up with are facilities that probably don't live up to the standards that we should demand here,” Reick said. “We lose all control over maintaining those facilities.”

Cassidy said Illinois doesn't have a great track record in this field, and cited the state's prison system as an example.

“We’re under federal consent decrees around mental health and reentry,” Cassidy said. “I don’t think we’re equipped to try to make sure that the folks that are making money off putting humans in cages are doing so in a humane way.”

Cassidy’s bill could come up for a full vote when lawmakers return next week.

Staff Reporter

Cole Lauterbach reports on Illinois government and statewide issues for The Center Square. He has produced radio shows for stations in Bloomington/Normal and Peoria, and created award-winning programs for Comcast SportsNet Chicago.