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*** UPDATED x1 *** Reopen Tamms?

Friday, Jan 24, 2014

* WSIL TV asked the four GOP candidates where they stook on reopening the shuttered Tamms supermax prison

One of the republican candidates for governor is pledging to reopen Tamms Prison. Kirk Dillard’s running mate was in Murphysboro Thursday to talk about that idea. We were there to ask a few more questions of Lieutenant Governor candidate Jil Tracy. She had plenty to say, not only on the state facility closures, but also on minimum wage and repealing the state’s gas tax.

“We are committed to opening, reopening the Tamms Correctional Facility,” [Tracy said.] […]

“I’m absolutely going to look at ways to open them. Now, it’s got to be done within a process and a place and a way that’s going to be appropriate. But that is mission that I have,” Rutherford explains by phone. […]

Rauner’s spokesperson Mike Schrimpf eventually got back to us after our deadline. He says Rauner would create a strategic assessment to see how best to use the shuttered Tamms prison and the other closed facilities. […]

Brady did not get back to us.


*** UPDATE *** From Brady’s campaign…

Senator Bill Brady, Republican candidate for Governor, today reaffirmed his commitment to reopen Tamms Correctional Center to ease overcrowding in the state’s prison system and to provide needed job opportunity in Southern Illinois.

“Illinois has about 49,000 inmates housed in facilities designed to hold 32,000 inmates, so this is not the time to be closing facilities as the Quinn Administration has done in recent months,” Brady said. “Those closings have further crowded our prisons, and as Governor I will reopen Tamms to lessen the potential for danger to our correctional officers, ease overcrowding, and return job opportunities to Southern Illinois.”

Brady previously had said as early as last August in DuQuoin that he would reopen the shuttered correctional facility at Tamms. Earlier this month, he made the same commitment when he visited Alexander County and met with residents and former employees.

- Posted by Rich Miller        

  1. - Nieva - Friday, Jan 24, 14 @ 10:07 am:

    It would seem smart to reopen Tamms and shutter one of our old, out dated, hard to heat and cool prisons. If this is not possible then sell it to a private prison company or the feds, The costs just to keep it up are huge.

  2. - Nonplussed - Friday, Jan 24, 14 @ 10:08 am:

    The idea behind a facility like Tamms is that you take the 250 most dangerous inmates in maximum security facilities throughout the State and house them at Tamms so that the other inmates feel safer.

    The question is whether this is actually true and cost effective. The cost per inmate is extremely high.

  3. - W.S. Wolcott - Friday, Jan 24, 14 @ 10:08 am:

    It seems some of the GOP candidates are looking for some union support. I wonder how they square re opening an expensive facility with balancing the budget? I’m all for the idea, but not sure how they find the money…

  4. - Demoralized - Friday, Jan 24, 14 @ 10:11 am:

    Reopen the facility but get rid of the tax increase which will create a huge hole in the budget. Good plan.

  5. - Whatever - Friday, Jan 24, 14 @ 10:13 am:

    “Brady did not get back to us.” Is he even running a campaign??

  6. - Angry Chicagoan - Friday, Jan 24, 14 @ 10:17 am:

    The new Republican meme — seeing who can cling to bad policy the most loudly.

    All Supermax prisons do is turn savages into bigger savages at enormous expense. Great work for the unions if you can tolerate it, but really, there are more productive avenues for stable jobs than this.

    Good for Brady in not discussing it. Let’s hope it stays that way.

  7. - Smoggie - Friday, Jan 24, 14 @ 10:21 am:

    With the sole exception of the pension thing yesterday, Brady only provides details when discussing his far right social views.

    And then he wonders why he lost to Quinn.

  8. - Generation X - Friday, Jan 24, 14 @ 10:24 am:

    -All Supermax prisons do is turn savages into bigger savages at enormous expense. Great work for the unions if you can tolerate it, but really, there are more productive avenues for stable jobs than this.-

    The Supermax in Florence Colorado is the single biggest reason why the most violent prison gang in America the Aryan Brotherhood, has lost most of its power and influence. In addition other Federal inmates and staff are much safer due to the existence of a Supermax.

    It is no different in Illinois

  9. - OLD BRASS - Friday, Jan 24, 14 @ 10:24 am:

    Maybe Tamms could be sold to the Feds just like Thomson Prison up in Carroll County.

    It was sold quickly…well not quickly, now that I think about, actually, I’m not sure if it was sold, I know everyone wanted it sold, except those that live around there. Anyway, it was either sold, not sold, talked about being sold, or nothing ever happened at all and it was just smoke and mirrors.

    Typical leadership and lack of product from this administration.

    Maybe one of the candidates would know if it was sold…..?

  10. - Nonplussed - Friday, Jan 24, 14 @ 10:33 am:

    OLD BRASS: You can Google the answer, but Thomson was sold for $165M. I think the Fed Bureau of Prisons is trying to get budget to open it.

  11. - bartelby - Friday, Jan 24, 14 @ 10:33 am:

    The decision to close Tamms was based upon budgetary, personnel, criminological, rights-based, and prisoner health concerns. It was an evidence-based decision. What evidence can the Republican candidates cite to justify its re-opening?

  12. - Nieva - Friday, Jan 24, 14 @ 10:39 am:

    The name Supermax does not mean it would have to be reopened as a Supermax. Put a work camp in its place. Hardin County is falling apart so close it and shift the inmates to Tamms. They can do the upkeep on the buildings and provide work crews to the surrounding area.

  13. - Anon - Friday, Jan 24, 14 @ 10:44 am:

    Typical of downstate conservatives: They want to cut taxes (the gas tax in this case) AND to increase spending on state facilities downstate. In other words, Tracy and Dillard tell voters they can pay less and get more. No profile in courage there!

  14. - zatoichi - Friday, Jan 24, 14 @ 10:49 am:

    Easy to discuss re-openning anything during the campaign.

    Candidate:’I support letting the income tax increase lapse, re-open Tamm/JDC/Tinley Park, decrease gas tax….’
    Reporter: ‘How will you pay for all that?’
    Candidate: ‘Cut waste, form a blue ribbon panel, fight the unions bosses, blah, blah, blah…’

  15. - unclesam - Friday, Jan 24, 14 @ 10:51 am:

    A supermax like Tamms is effective in two ways: (a) housing the worst crimials; and (b) serves as a deterrent to those incarcerated in other prisons.

    From conversations I’ve had with regular guards at IDOC, the “threat of going to Tamms” was effectively used to keep inmates in line and the guards a little safer.

    Having a supermax again may not be the worst idea.

  16. - jake - Friday, Jan 24, 14 @ 10:53 am:

    Another voice in the echo chamber: Re-opening TAMMS is a very bad idea for reasons of finance, sound corrections policy and practice, and basic morality. Our state economy needs to be built on satisfying people’s needs, not wastefully and cruelly indulging in myths about the power of punishment to make society or individuals better.

  17. - Give Me A Break - Friday, Jan 24, 14 @ 11:01 am:

    - Anon - Friday, Jan 24, 14 @ 10:44 am:

    Typical of downstate conservatives: They want to cut taxes (the gas tax in this case) AND to increase spending on state facilities downstate. In other words, Tracy and Dillard tell voters they can pay less and get more. No profile in courage there!

    Well you know it works for voters in their districts, scream for smaller gvt. and less taxes while they are driving to their state jobs.

  18. - INDEPENDENT - Friday, Jan 24, 14 @ 11:04 am:

    I amazed at the idea of cutting tax revenues but spending to reopen a closed prison. So how many teachers will we de-fund to pay for the prison.

  19. - Dan Bureaucrat - Friday, Jan 24, 14 @ 11:07 am:

    Pathetic pandering.

    Violence has gone down since Tamms was closed. It went down in other states after their supermaxes closed.

    The staffing levels there were crazy and we need that staff in other prisons.

  20. - Samurai - Friday, Jan 24, 14 @ 11:13 am:

    Agree with the deterrence on the worse of the worse.

    Off topic. Is there a future for Charter Prisons?

  21. - Barney Fife - Friday, Jan 24, 14 @ 11:29 am:

    Dan we know your opinion on Tamms. Tired of you stating violence is down. That’s the biggest crock i’ve ever heard. Talk to the Frontline staff, better yet, get off Muchigan Avenue and stand on a street corner on the Westside. The Real World Dan!

  22. - PKD - Friday, Jan 24, 14 @ 11:33 am:

    Because nothing says small government like the prison industrial complex

  23. - Barney Fife - Friday, Jan 24, 14 @ 11:45 am:

    Dan says the staffing levels there were crazy and “WE” needed them at other facilities? You don’t have the earned right to use “WE” & Overtime increased 35% after using that Staff. Pontiac’s Budget with overtime over shadows all of Tamms closure savings.

  24. - Ghost - Friday, Jan 24, 14 @ 11:47 am:

    === A supermax like Tamms is effective in two ways: (a) housing the worst crimials; and (b) serves as a deterrent to those incarcerated in other prisons.===

    this is absolutely correct. How do you keep an inamte in prison for life in line? if they kill somone your going to what? send them to the prison they are already in for life?

    Tamms works by isolating prisoners 24/7. they are locked uo alone without access to anything. If they improve behaviour they can earn back privileges and may earn there way back to a prison with more priveleges. Running a prison is not just warehousing bodies, the State is responsible for portecting the inamtes from each other as-well-as keeping an environment where the guards and staff are safe.

  25. - Dan Bureaucrat - Friday, Jan 24, 14 @ 11:52 am:

    Barney Fife, you are discrediting your good name. You are better than that.

    The frontline staff are a noble group of people, but they don’t exactly do the research on the effects of isolation.

    It is exceedingly relevant to this discussion that supermax prisons do not have a deterrent effect. What corner I am standing on is not relevant.

  26. - Dan Bureaucrat - Friday, Jan 24, 14 @ 12:09 pm:

    Ghost, Although what you are saying makes sense on an intuitive level, it is not true. When you break someone down mentally, they don’t care anymore about anything so you are not going to improve behavior. It’s true of you and it’s true of me.

    That doesn’t mean there aren’t consequences for bad behavior. But the kind of warehousing we do just makes people anti-social and causes mental illness. Then we throw them back out of prison after years of isolation. Who can defend that?

    Other states are way ahead of us on keeping prisons safe, partly because the old-timers are so resistant to anything but extreme punishment.

    In Maine, the supermax guards and warden refused to follow the new regime of treating mental illness instead of putting people in isolation. The new director fired them. They have had great results since and saved money, and all measures of violence have gone down.

  27. - Michelle Flaherty - Friday, Jan 24, 14 @ 12:47 pm:

    Someone’s wondering if it might make for a lucrative nursing home setting.

  28. - Anon - Friday, Jan 24, 14 @ 12:49 pm:

    == how do you keep a lifer in line? ==

    TAMMS was not reserved for lifers. I don´t think mMost TAMMS inmates were lifers. As far as he “worst of the worst” goes, the process of determining who got sent there and how they could work their way out was inscrutable at best. Even IDOC admitted their process needed to become transparent.

  29. - Ghost - Friday, Jan 24, 14 @ 1:47 pm:

    Dan I would disagree. I will agree that it is not an absolute. A true sociopath for example. But a number of inmates respond to having access to tv removed, having to eat only meal loaf, no access to other people, no access to books etc etc. There are very few who do not repond and improve behavior to regain priveleges.

    And if you ever tasted meal loaf you would understand…. :)

Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.

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