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Despite budget boost, Quinn still closing Aurora women’s transition center

Gov. PQuinn has changed his mind closing Fox Valley Adult TransitiCenter North Lake Street Aurora. The center is half-way house

Gov. Pat Quinn has changed his mind on closing the Fox Valley Adult Transition Center on North Lake Street in Aurora. The center is a half-way house for women just released from prison. | Sun-Times Media File

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Updated: July 9, 2012 6:13AM

AURORA — Gov. Pat Quinn still intends to close the Fox Valley Adult Transition Center in August despite receiving enough money from state lawmakers to keep the Aurora facility open.

The women’s transitional center on North Lake Street houses about 130 low-level offenders who work to get back into the community after being released from prison. The center provides education, counseling and workforce training.

In the budget sent to the governor last week, lawmakers gave Quinn $18.8 million to keep the Aurora facility and a number of similar centers across the state open.

Women housed at the Fox Valley ATC work to gain full-time jobs and also participate in GED and college classes, and receive counseling on life skills, child care, anger management and avoiding substance abuse.

The governor’s budget spokesman Kelly Kraft said Quinn is moving forward with closing the center on Aug. 31 as planned.

“The governor has until July to sign the budget,” she said.

Quinn has the power to adjust the state budget lawmakers sent him until the Illinois fiscal year begins July 1.

Closing the Fox Valley ATC would save about $2.6 million and would result in 18 layoffs. Instead of housing these inmates at adult transitional centers, Quinn plans to send them home to be monitored electronically, according to the governor’s office.

State Sen. Linda Holmes, a Democrat from Aurora, said Thursday that lawmakers fought hard to make sure the funding was in the budget so convicted women could be in a position to be contributing members of society instead of habitual criminals.

“We’re talking about women who need the transition time and training so they don’t go back to prison,” Holmes said. “It’s hard enough to find a job in this economy. Think of how hard it must be to find a job with a conviction on your record.”

State Rep. Linda Chapa LaVia, a Democrat from Aurora, said the facilities keep women working and keep families together — and the Aurora center is the only women’s transition program in the state.

“I think (Quinn’s) barking up the wrong tree,” Chapa LaVia said. “It’s a no brainer if you ask me and we’re going to keep fighting to make sure the center stays open.”

In March, Gary Puckett, a counselor at the facility, said the women living there pay rent, Social Security and child support.

Six of the state’s seven adult transition centers would close under Quinn’s proposal.

According to the Illinois Department of Corrections, the Fox Valley ATC is the least expensive transitional facility in the state, with an average cost per inmate of $18,245.

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