The Benton Federal Building and U.S. Courthouse is located a block from the town square and approximately 300 miles south of Chicago. Constructed in 1959, the two-story building houses U.S. District and Bankruptcy courts. The Benton Courthouse was constructed in 1959 from steel and block with brick veneer and clip-on aluminum panels.
The Southern District itself was created by a statute passed on February 13, 1855, 10 Stat. 606, which subdivided the District of Illinois into the Northern and the Southern Districts. The boundaries of the District and the seats of the courts were set forth in the statute:
The counties of Hancock, McDonough, Peoria, Woodford, Livingston, and Iroquois, and all the counties in the said State north of them, shall compose one district, to be called the northern district of Illinois, and courts shall be held for the said district at the city of Chicago; and the residue of the counties of the said State shall compose another district, to be called the southern district of Illinois, and courts shall be held for the same at the city of Springfield.
The district has since been re-organized several times. The United States District Court for the Eastern District of Illinois was created on March 3, 1905 by 33 Stat. 992, by splitting counties out of the Northern and Southern Districts. It was later eliminated in a reorganization on October 2, 1978 which replaced it with a Central District, 92 Stat. 883, formed primarily from parts of the Southern District, and returning some counties to the Northern District.
The United States Attorney's Office for the Southern District of Illinois represents the United States in civil and criminal litigation in the court. The current interim United States Attorney is Donald S. Boyce, Jr..