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Minimum security inmates being moved out of Tamms

Friday, Jul 27, 2012

* Frankly, I’m kind of ashamed to say that I didn’t even know Tamms had a minimum security prison camp

Inmates are moving out of Tamms Correctional Center’s minimum-security camp in advance of the prison’s Aug. 31 closure date.

Maximum-security inmate transfers have not begun, nor has a start date for those transfers been set, Illinois Department of Corrections spokeswoman Stacey Solano said.

Solano said about 30 minimum-security inmates were being moved Thursday from Tamms to the Hardin County Work Camp, on Illinois 1 in Cave-in-Rock. Solano said 145 minimum-security inmates remain at Tamms.

“The remaining minimum-security inmates will be appropriately transferred across the system in the coming weeks,” Solano said. “IDOC will implement the closures responsibly and in a way that prioritizes public safety and security while minimizing the impact on staff and inmates.”

Hardin County Work Camp was opened in 1980. Solano said there are 230 inmates, counting the new arrivals from Tamms. The facility’s capacity is 288 inmates, Solano said.

* Apparently, things can get pretty hairy at minimum security prisons

Last Thursday, a near-riot broke out at a minimum-security prison in the Illinois Quad-Cities shortly after the facility lost both power and running water. When prisoners erupted in anger and refused to return to their cells, a tactical team was deployed, threatening prisoners with tear gas until they submitted. The prison was placed on full lockdown until Saturday evening.

Illinois Department of Corrections (DOC) spokeswoman Stacey Solano told the Quad-City Times that repair crews accidentally severed a set of power lines Thursday night while attempting to fix a water main break at the East Moline Correctional Center (EMCC).

Gregg Johnson, a prison supply supervisor and president of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) Council 46, which represents local prison employees, told the Moline Dispatch that the drawn-out heat wave and overcrowding have exacerbated tensions among prisoners. “Correctional officers told me they have never seen anything like it. All hell broke loose.”

According to Johnson, after the facility lost power, enraged prisoners began throwing tables and chairs against windows in the day room. When told to return to their cells, they began chanting, “Hell, no, we won’t go!”

* Meanwhile, I’m not quite understanding the uproar made by some legislators about transferring prisoners out of state. We belong to an interstate compact, so we send prisoners to other states regularly, and they do the same with their prisoners. The only cost is transportation. And if we can get some of our most notorious prisoners out of here, why not do it? Why spend huge dollars, for instance, to keep them incarcerated at Tamms?

The proposal to move prisoners has state lawmakers questioning the cost of inmate transfers and whether or not Illinois’ remaining prisons will be able to hold inmates from Tamms Correctional Center and the all-women Dwight Correctional Center, both of which Quinn said he wants to close on Aug. 31 to save an estimated $48 millions.

“Our correction system is already greatly overpopulated,” said state Rep. Jason Barickman, R-Champaign, whose district includes the Dwight Correctional Center. “If the governor is choosing to close prisons that is going to further aggravate that system.”

But in an effort to avoid some of that aggravation, the governor is opting to move prisoners out of the system completely, Barickman said.

“First and foremost the ability of our state to house our criminals is a core function of the government that I believe should be provided by our state government,” Barickman said.

The argument just seems phony and contrived to me. Anything to kick up dust over the prison closures, I suppose.

- Posted by Rich Miller        

14 Comments
  1. - state worker - Friday, Jul 27, 12 @ 9:52 am:

    Agreed. They think it is more responsible to keep a 2/3 empty supermax open for 26 million dollars than to transfer 9 guys out of state for free? You cant please them. They were just as angry about sending them to Pontiac.

    In some cases it may be for the protection of the prisoner. There has been so much drama from AFSCME about sending these guys there that maybe it is better for everyone to send 9 off for now and not risk retaliation.


  2. - Cindy Lou - Friday, Jul 27, 12 @ 10:10 am:

    For me, the press crap being given for reasons for the closing is what makes the out of state move rather hard to justify. We’re hearing unhuman conditions blah blah. But moving them out of state to similar type prisons is totally now a-okay and there facilities are wonderful and the prisoners willbe housed/treated in totally different manner than they are here at Tamms?

    I don’t know…I think I’m just getting tired of all the rattle rattle ‘justifications’ I’m hearing coming out of Quinn and his spokespeople over anything and everything to believe reasonings behind anything. it’s not so much about a handful of prisoners being moved out of state…we do have a program for such a ‘trade’ afterall, it’s just everything else going with it all that has me uncomfortable with it.


  3. - state worker - Friday, Jul 27, 12 @ 10:13 am:

    About the overcrowding: the system is overcrowded. Everyone agrees. Why? Besides increasing sentences and adding new crimes every session, Illinois artificially spiked the population by 3000 in just a couple years by overreacting to MGT Push, and ending MGT, a program that had worked well as a population management tool for some 30 years but had to go for political reasons.

    The question is: in a fiscal catastrophe, how do we reduce overcrowding and make prisons safer? How do we drastically cut the IDOC budget?

    Tamms is not part of this equation because there are so few people there. And, a forgotten part of this story is that the staff at Tamms will be moved to chronically understaffed prisons and stabilize the whole system.

    Most Illinois prisons are understaffed in key positions, like nurses, psychologists, GED teachers, counselors, clerical staff, etc. That makes those prisons extremely stressed and we pay millions in overtime costs. These are authorized openings. The problem is that there are no workers in the region where the prisons are.

    A huge benefit of closing Tamms supermax, which is fully staffed even though it only has 175 men for 500 beds, is that jobs will go to these overcrowded prisons that desperately need positions filled–for their safety.

    It’s a good plan actually, and a plan that fits our budget.


  4. - Anon - Friday, Jul 27, 12 @ 10:16 am:

    I used to T.A. a class where we had a jewel thief come in and talk to students about prison where he spent about 10 years of his life. An interesting thing about prisons is that when there are interruptions like that in basic services, that is when mass behavior problems tend to arise…..laundry, food, beds, etc.; the most basic things. Daily life doesn’t change much in those places and everything is so structured. When a small part breaks down the whole thing is threatened.


  5. - state worker - Friday, Jul 27, 12 @ 10:17 am:

    Cindy Lou, Quinn has not been talking about inhumane conditions. He has stuck to the fiscal arguments.


  6. - 4_nubbs - Friday, Jul 27, 12 @ 10:38 am:

    Tamms was meant to keep the worst from the worst away from the general population inmates who could get out their orders as to continue their criminal actions and control of thier gangs. Quinn signed away the death penalty, now he took Tamms out of the equation. What is going to deter an inmate who is already serving anywhere from 20 years to life or 2 life sentences from killing a staff member or other inmate without Tamms or the Death penalty held over their heads? Quinn is taking us back to the Richard Speck era where the inmates and the gangs ran the prison system!


  7. - 4_nubbs - Friday, Jul 27, 12 @ 10:57 am:

    This isn’t about Quinn being fiscally responsible, this is about “the Mighty Quinn” cutting corners and vital services as to divert revenue towards programs of self or special interest. Like the federal program dubbed Illinois Jobs program,tieing in on the Federal “High speed rail system” and “Obamacare”! It is very interesting that a federal judge declared that we, if you are indeed a state worker, were justified through constitution and by contract for our raises and backwages, but that the federal government can’t force the state to spend money. Yet the Supreme Court ruled that they can when they ruled “Obamacare Constitutional”!


  8. - wishbone - Friday, Jul 27, 12 @ 11:11 am:

    “Yet the Supreme Court ruled that they can when they ruled “Obamacare Constitutional”!”

    Actually they ruled just the opposite with regard to state obligations under Obamacare, but don’t let facts get in the way of your argument.


  9. - Alan Mills - Friday, Jul 27, 12 @ 11:21 am:

    Based on past experience, most of the guys transferred out of state will not end up in anything like a supermax prison. Once the other states make an objective assessment, most end up in medium or minimum security settings. In fact, many of the guys whop were transferred to Tamms from out of state when it opened, had been housed, without problems, in minimum security prisons in those other states.


  10. - 4_nubbs - Friday, Jul 27, 12 @ 11:23 am:

    How so? Ilinois is now setting up an insurance exchange per Obamacare or federal mandate? Isn’t that like the federal government forcing the state to spend money? But don’t let the facts get into the way of your argument!


  11. - Foxfire - Friday, Jul 27, 12 @ 12:01 pm:

    ===The argument just seems phony and contrived to me. Anything to kick up dust over the prison closures, I suppose.===

    Isn’t this really what politics is all about? I mean, how many true leaders do we have in Illinois? I’m convinced now more than ever that there are no statesmen in Illinois - only politicians.

    Until we demand better, it’s all we’re gonna get.


  12. - Jobe - Friday, Jul 27, 12 @ 12:12 pm:

    From where do you get your info Alan Mills? Or are you confusing the minimum security part of Tamms with the max part? Nubbs, just because Illinois is setting up the insurance exchange doesn’t mean they have to. The Supreme Court said that they could opt out if they wanted. In my opinion it’s much smarter to opt in.


  13. - state worker - Friday, Jul 27, 12 @ 2:13 pm:

    Jobe, yes, the supermax prisoners in Illinois have been over classified and dumped in isolation for a decade. That is not news to anyone but you. After 5 years of advocates shouting about it, and 3 years since the Belleville News Democrat’s expose on it, even the IDOC has stated that there are only about 25 men in Tamms who warrant the kind of extra security procedures at Tamms.. Hardly worth 26 million to keep them there.

    For the most part, the men in Tamms resemble thise in regular and medium security prisons, and that’s where they go when they finally get transferred after years in Tamms. Except, of course, a significant number who leave Tamms when their sentences are up. It has been terrible public policy to subject these men to a decade in isolation, and then release them without any psychological support or transition. Kudos to Governor Quinn for suggesting that we spend the millions and millions to help our citizens instead of damage them.


  14. - Yellow Dog Democrat - Friday, Jul 27, 12 @ 2:41 pm:

    I don’t supposed Barickman also believes funding public education is a poor state function, even though its spelled out in the Constitution?

    The Hyppos far outnumber the Rinos in Illinois’ GOP.


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