Pontiac Correctional Center

The Pontiac Correctional Center is a maximum-security Illinois state prison for men located in Pontiac, Illinois and it is the parent institution for the Pontiac Medium Security Unit. This facility opened in 1871 and has an operational capacity of 2,947. Currently, the total population of this facility is 1,165, which includes 780 in the Correctional Center and 385 in the Pontiac Medium Security Unit.

The mission of the Pontiac Correctional Center is to protect the general public through incarceration, supervision, programs, and services designated to return offenders to the community with the skills to be useful and productive citizens. Pontiac is one of the largest employers in the Livingston County community.

The facility consists of a total of 63 buildings, which comprise of more than 744,000 square feet. The facility sits on a 37-acre site, with 32 acres being enclosed by fencing. Pontiac Correctional Center houses the following offenders: segregation, protective custody, mental health, administrative detention reintegration management, and medium security.

The housing units at Pontiac Correctional Center are as follows:

Medium-Security Unit

Commonly referred to as "the farm," this housing unit was once a working farm that provided much of the produce and meat used by the prison. This unit classified as Level 3 and houses offenders that are medium to minimum security inmates.

Maximum-Security Unit

This unit is classified as Level 1 and contains offenders that need to be segregated and have limited privileges. The maximum security unit also houses maximum security inmates in General Population status as well high aggression protective custody inmates.

North Condemned/Administrative Detention

Until the abolition of the death penalty in Illinois in 2011, this unit housed death row inmates.

This unit has been renamed North Administrative Detention and now houses inmates that are believed to be gang chiefs and too high of a security risk to be housed in general population.

North Segregation

This unit is the state's main Segregation housing unit for high aggression inmates that have broken facility rules. Violations included assaulting staff or inmates, possessing contraband, escape attempts, etc.

East Cell House

This unit holds many different classifications of inmates, including Segregation Release, General Population, and Protective Custody.

South Protective Custody Unit

The states primary Protective Custody Unit. Some of these inmates are former death row offenders. The unit houses between 300-400 inmates.

South Mental Health Unit

This unit provides psychiatric and psychological mental health services for offenders that are sentenced to be within the correctional system for a longer period of time with a segregated status. These offenders are diagnosed as chronically mentally ill with diagnoses including schizophrenia, psychotic, bipolar, or a major affective disorder.

West Cell House

This unit is a segregation unit for low aggression inmates.

In May 2008, Governor Rod Blagojevich's administration proposed to shut down the Pontiac facility, which would have phased out the prison between January and February 2009. However, Governor Pat Quinn cancelled plans to close it down after he was sworn into office.

This facility has a long history of harsh punishments and inmate mistreatment. There was a time in its history when the facility didn’t allow inmates to leave their cells hardly ever, but that has changed recently with the introduction of general population inmates. There has also been many assaults on both officers and inmates.

The average Annual Cost Per Offender at Pontiac is $53,012. 

Notable inmates at Pontiac include:

  • William Balfour - murdered entertainer Jennifer Hudson's mother, brother, and nephew
  • Drew Peterson - police sergeant and convicted murderer
  • Larry Eyler - American serial killer and abductor was incarcerated at Pontiac before dying of AIDS while on death row in 1994. He posthumously confessed to numerous crimes through his attorney Kathleen Zellner, who now specializes in overturning wrongful convictions.

Prison Insights

Pontiac Correctional Center

Go back

What Do Inmate Families Think?

Go back

What Do Former Inmates Think?

Go back

What Do Employees Think?

Go back
Sorry, there are no insights for this section of the facility yet.
Overall Score = /10
Total Respondents =

Visiting Hours and Rules

The visiting days for offenders in the Maximum Security Unit alternate monthly between even and odd days. Therefore, individuals planning to visit the facility should call the facility prior to traveling to the Pontiac to ensure that the date on which they intend to visit is an authorized visiting day for the offender. Monthly visiting schedules are also available at the Gatehouse.

Visits for offenders housed in the Administrative Detention Unit must first be reviewed and approved by the facility’s Intelligence Unit with the request being received at the facility ten (10) days prior to the requested visit date.

Attorney request for a private interview room must be submitted and approved in advance by the facility’s Legal Services department.

Visiting hours are 8:00 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. daily. Call ahead to ensure authorized visiting day. Visitors must arrive by 1:30 p.m. to be processed.

General visiting guidelines

All visitors must be on the offender’s approved visitation list in order to be granted a visit.  Offenders are responsible for arranging their visits and notifying their visitors of their visiting status.  

To check if you are on the offender’s visitor list, you should write a letter to the offender to inquire.  IDOC staff cannot tell you whether or not you are on an offender’s visitation list if you call the facility.  

On the first visit to a correctional facility, adult visitors (age 18 and older)will be required to complete a Prospective Visitor's Interview (PVI) form, called a DOC 0148. This PVI form can be completed and brought in on the first visit.

Visitation is encouraged to help offenders maintain ties with family, friends, and others in the community.  

Visitors must submit to a body search by officers at the Visitor Center.  Visitors who are intoxicated or under the influence of alcohol or drugs will not be permitted entry.

Visitors are expected to be courteous and cooperative with IDOC staff.  Visitors are expected to comply with staff directives and keep the noise down in respect for other visitors and staff.

Visitor Property Policy

Visitors are not allowed to bring electronic devices such as cell phones or pagers, food, drink, smoking materials, currency, packages, purses, bags, sacks, books, magazines, sunglasses or personal keys into the Visiting Room.   

Visitors may place personal items in small lockers available in the Visiting Center for 25 cents.  The locker key may be carried into the facility after the visitor secures personal responsibility for these items.  The facility will not assume responsibility for these items.

No baby food, except two plastic baby milk bottles are to be taken into the visiting Room.  Baby items may consist of one baby blanket and two diapers.

Required Identification

All adult visitors will be required to produce photo identification (ID) and verification of his or her date of birth.  Be sure to bring two forms of identification with you; one should be a current state issued photo ID.

Dress Code

All visitors must be dressed appropriately for a prison environment or the visit will not be permitted.  Clothing must be in good taste and not advertise or suggest any items in such a manner to signify a Security Threat Group or other illegal activity.  Visitors should not wear clothing that is sexually explicit, offensive, or degrading. All visitors must wear underwear and female visitors must wear a bra.  Visitors should not wear clothing which reveals the buttocks or breasts.

Examples of inappropriate dress for visitors are: short shirts or dresses, wrap around skirts, see through clothing, see-through or low-cut blouses, tube tops, halter tops, tank tops, swim suits or swim suit tops, short shorts, clothing with “cutouts” or leggings.  Dresses or skirts should extend to the knees.


Bringing contraband into an Illinois DOC facility is a criminal offense as specified in the Illinois Criminal Code of 1961.

"Contraband" means items which are prohibited by criminal law, departmental or facility rules or posted notices.  They are items which an offender has no authority to possess; or property which is in excess of that which is authorized by the facility.

All persons, vehicles, and items brought onto State property are subject to search. Failure to  submit to a search will result in denial, suspension, or restriction of visiting privileges. 

Information about Vending Machines

The visiting rooms at the facilities offer a variety of products for purchase. Outside vendors own and operate the machines and will differ from facility to facility.

Vending machine items may only be purchased using a debit card.  Visitors may purchase a debit card at the facility, normally at the gatehouse. The price of the debit card will vary by facility depending upon the vendor providing the service..

There are no refunds for unused money remaining on the card for any reason other than a defective card, so only put enough on the card for the single visit. Cards are only good at the facility where purchased, if the offender transfers, a new card at the current facility will need to be used.

Any vending items purchased must be consumed during the visit and may not be carried out of the visiting room.

Video Visits

The Illinois DOC has partnered with Global Tel*Link (GTL) to provide video visitation services for the Pontiac Correctional Center.

All potential visitors must register with GTL. Registration process will include completing a Prospective Visitor Interview Form; all visitors must fully complete this form with GTL, even if they have completed this form at a facility, any omissions of required information on the form may result in your registration not being accepted causing unnecessary delays. Adults are encouraged to register themselves first, and then add their minor children or guardians to the system.

All visitors must be on the offender’s approved visitation list in order to be granted a visit. Video Visitation Hours are Sunday through Saturday from 8:00am to 11:00am and 12:00pm to 2:00pm.

Visitors should log on to the GTL 15 minutes prior to the scheduled start time.

All video visits will be scheduled through the GTL website. Do not call the facility to schedule a video visit. The visitor should check before scheduling the video visit of dates and times that are available for the offender. The facility cannot tell a potential visitor if a date or time will work with an offender’s daily schedule. The facility will inform the offender of the pending visit and arrange for the offender to be present.

In order to accommodate all offenders at the Pontiac Correctional Center:

  • An offender may only receive one video visit per day.
  • No more than three approved visitors per video visit for offenders confined in general population or protective custody status.
  • An offender may receive only two video visits per week, this is counted against allotted visits.
  • Visitors may only schedule one video visit per day.
  • All video visits must be scheduled at least seven days in advance.
  • Visits may be scheduled up to 30 days in advance.
  • Only scheduled visitors may appear in the video visit monitor.
  • One visitor on screen at a time, excluding children who need assistance sitting for the visit.

Video Visitation is a privilege and is only available to offenders in general population or in the health care unit. Offenders housed in Segregation, in orientation, or temporarily housed at the facility will not be permitted video visitation. If an offender receives discipline between the time a visit is confirmed and the time of the visit, the visit may be cancelled; the visitor will receive an email of the cancellation. If the facility goes on lock down prior to a scheduled video visit, the visitor will receive an email. 

All visits are subject to monitoring and recording.

All video visits are monitored live and recorded, any violation of visitation rules, inappropriate conduct, or language may be subject to immediate termination of the video visit with or without warning. 

Your use of video visitation and acceptance of the rules is consent to have both audio and video recorded of the video visit. Attorney/Client privileges do not apply to video visitation, ALL visits are recorded. Dress Code policy below applies to video visitation and the termination of Visit/Loss of Visiting Privileges also applies to video visitation.

Physical Address

Pontiac Correctional Center
700 West Lincoln Street
Pontiac, IL 61764

Driving Directions: https://goo.gl/maps/qUxK66poio72Cv5P7

General Phone Number

​(815) 842-2816

Inmate Mailing Address(es)

Inmate Name and DOC Number
Pontiac Correctional Center
P.O. Box 99
Pontiac, IL 61764

How to Call an Inmate

You can’t call an inmate at the Pontiac Correctional Center. However, inmates have access to a phone during assigned times and can make outgoing calls. For complete details on how to call an inmate in Illinois, please click here.

How to Send Money

Inmates may receive money via GTL (ConnectNetwork), JPAY, Western Union or money order.

(A money order must be sent directly to the lockbox, NOT to the facility; see information below regarding money orders.)

Funds up to $5,000 may be sent to inmates via the following methods, except MoneyGram, who has a maximum limit of $3,000.

For all electronic transfer of funds, the inmate IDOC number and incarcerated last name must be used. Funds sent via GTL, JPAY, and Western Union are anticipated to be applied to the inmate's account within 24-48 business hours.  

Funds sent via Money Gram are anticipated to be applied to the inmate's account within 72 to 96 business hours.  

Money Orders

Inmates may receive money orders not to exceed $999.99. The money orders must be sent with the lockbox deposit slip and must be complete with the inmate name, IDOC inmate number, sender’s name, and address.

Deposit slips can be obtained at https://www.jpay.com/moneyorder.aspx. The money orders should be sent with a deposit slip, be made payable to JPay, and sent to the following address:

PO Box 260250
Hollywood, FL 33026

​Programs For ​Inmates


  • ABE (Adult Basic Education)
  • GED (General Education Development)


  • Reentry Summit
  • Lifestyle Redirection
  • Substance Abuse
  • Leisure Time Activity
  • Narcotics Anonymous
  • Anger Management (Segregation Offenders)
  • Trained Reformed and Capable (TRAC I)
  • Library Services
  • Parole School
  • Inside Out Dads
  • Mental Health Development
  • Budgeting

Pictures of Pontiac Correctional Center

Careers at Pontiac Correctional Center

If you are interested in a career with the Illinois Department of Corrections at the Pontiac Correctional Center, click here.