* What the heck?…
Tamms has 208 guards and supervisors in its maximum-security unit, or C-max, to handle 138 prisoners, for a security-staff-to-inmate ratio of 1.5-to-1. At Alcatraz in the 1940s, the ratio was 1-to-3, according to the U.S. Bureau of Prisons.
The Tamms security staff also clocked at least $884,000 in overtime since about this time last year, according to state payroll records for a one-year period ending Nov. 12. Overtime was accrued despite the fact that inmates in the solitary confinement supermax unit are held in their cells 23 hours a day and have no contact with other prisoners. […]
At the current 138 C-max inmate population level, it costs aproximately $85,000 just to guard one maximum-security prisoner per year excluding overtime… Most Illinois prisons have a per-inmate annual cost of between $15,000 and $24,000. It costs about $26.3 million per year to operate both units at Tamms, according to IDOC.
They can’t move any more inmates out and close the prison because a southern Illinois judge has halted the transfers after AFSCME sued. So, we have 208 people guarding 138 inmates, and yet they’re still getting lots of overtime pay.
* And get a load of this…
In addition, there are 16 food supervisors earning an average of $71,600 a year working at Tamms. That’s the same number of food supervisors as at the Pontiac Correctional Center, which houses around 1,700 maximum- and medium-security inmates. […]
Meal preparation at Tamms consists mostly of food that is not cooked on the premises but comes in cans or packages from a Florida wholesaler, according to surveys by a prisoner advocacy group.
Laurie Jo Reynolds, head of the Tamms Year Ten Committee that has long opposed the solitary-only prison on humanitarian grounds, criticized the isolation that extends even to education at Tamms, where instructors conduct GED classes through the mail.
“Welcome to the AFSCME prison state: 16 food supervisors microwave packaged meals, two full-time GED instructors see no students, and 13 nurses” monitor men on suicide watch due to sensory deprivation,” she said. “Meanwhile, the full security staff guards a two-thirds empty prison.”
The Senate overrode Gov. Pat Quinn’s budgetary vetoes last week, including cuts that would’ve led to the closure of Tamms. These new numbers ought to be seriously considered by House members this week before they take up the issue.
Look, Alexander County needs those prison jobs. No doubt about it. The place is one of the poorest regions of the state. Area legislators have done a commendable job to keep it open and I wish some sort of compromise could’ve been found. Maybe something still might be done. But, for now anyway, this has become a huge waste of money.