Stateville Correctional Center (SCC) is a maximum security prison for men, located in Crest Hill, Illinois, about 38 miles from Chicago. SCC was built in 1925 with an original inmate capacity of 1,506 inmates, and expanded over time to accommodate over 4,300. SCC is notable for its “F-house” cell block, which was designed after the panopticon concept. Also referred to as a “roundhouse”, the F-house cell block features four tiers of cells in a circle, with an armed tower in the center. Since the 1990s, F-house has been the only roundhouse cell block in the United States. In December of 2016, the Illinois Department of Corrections announced that F-house would be closed permanently, as part of an effort by Gov. Bruce Rauner to repair the Illinois prison system. Prison watch dog and advocacy groups have called for F-house to be shut down for years, amidst concerns for inmate safety and the long-term effects of the “cage-like, chaotic” nature of the cell block. All sounds were amplified by the high ceilings and cement, creating a “sensory nightmare”, and inmates were not able to determine if they were being watched by the guards in the tower or by other inmates at any time, so had to live as if they were always being watched. The structure will remain standing due to its historical significance, but will never house inmates again.
Notable inmates at Stateville have included:
Richard Speck – In 1966, Speck tortured, raped and murdered eight student nurses from the South Chicago Community hospital. His sentence of death was overturned and he was given eight consecutive life sentences instead. Speck died of a heart attack in 1991.
Nathan Leopold and Richard Loeb – Of the famed Leopold and Loeb, two wealthy University of Chicago students who kidnapped and murdered a 14 year old boy, because they believed their wealth and superiority allowed them to commit “the perfect crime.”
In 1994, serial killer John Wayne Gacy was executed at Stateville.