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Tamms to close by January 4th

Friday, Dec 21, 2012

* An Alexander County judge followed the state Supreme Court’s dictates this week and lifted his injunction against closing state facilities. As a result, the state has started transferring inmates out of the Tamms super-max prison

Illinois prison officials have started inmate transfers from the high-security Tamms prison in preparation for a Jan. 4 closing date.

Department of Corrections spokeswoman Stacey Solano said 25 inmates from the “supermax” prison in far southern Illinois are moving Thursday to Pontiac Correctional Center.

That leaves just more than 100 inmates in the single-cell isolation portion of Tamms. Just less than 100 minimum security inmates must move too.

- Posted by Rich Miller        

14 Comments
  1. - fonefly - Friday, Dec 21, 12 @ 9:37 am:

    Well I hope the all of the CO’s watch their backs. After retiring from one of the max joints with 32 years there, I can say that Tamma made it a safer place to work. We averaged a stabbing or assault a day back in the 1980’s and that went down when we were able to get the gang chiefs and other chronic troublemakers out of there.


  2. - Sad Day for DOC - Friday, Dec 21, 12 @ 10:06 am:

    One guy we sent to Tamms raped and tried to murder one of our staff. That’s why it was built. There are inmates that can’t be around staff or other inmates.


  3. - the Patriot - Friday, Dec 21, 12 @ 10:15 am:

    What is about to unfold for those men and women in our correctional system is very unfortunate. Both the C/Os and inmates will find themself in a much more dangerous world in 2013. You can’t take the worst 100 people the State of IL has produced in the last 30 years out of isolation and give them access without ramifications. Any harm that comes to the guards or other inmates is now on Quinn’s hands.


  4. - Irish - Friday, Dec 21, 12 @ 10:17 am:

    This is why these types of closures should be done only after careful study and much input from people who KNOW what is involved and are experts in their field, and from the people actually doing the work.
    Instead the decisions are made based on politics and bleeding hearts who feel sorry for the violant offenders who show time and time again that they are not able to be with other hunmans.

    I fervently hope that there are not going to be any incidents that make us regret this decision. If there are they should pinned on the man that made it.


  5. - Quiet Sage - Friday, Dec 21, 12 @ 10:45 am:

    With the abolition of the death penalty and closure of Tamms, Illinois has entered the company of civilized states.


  6. - Dan Bureaucrat - Friday, Dec 21, 12 @ 10:51 am:

    There is no evidence in existence that Tamms or any supermax has served as a deterrent. That might be the personal belief of some, and the same people also believe that the death penalty serves as a deterrent. But there is no evidence to support either claim. Not in Illinois, and not in national studies.

    And, let’s not rewrite history here. Prison violence dropped as a result of an overhaul to the system in 1996 in response to the Richard Speck tapes. Tamms opened in 1998 after that.

    It is a dishonest scare tactic to say we are going to go back to the 1980s when there was a completely different system in place. You honestly believe we are going to back to a time when the IDOC voluntarily let gangs run the prisons? The reforms in 1996 were monumental and they are even more in place than ever. They included:
    –Developing an intelligence unit to investigate and break up gangs. There wasn’t one before that.
    –Ending movement of large groups. Hundreds of people used to be moved together in mass. They changed it to something like 15.
    –Cutting property down to almost nothing. People used to have unlimited property that was hard to search. Now it is two property boxes.
    –Ending mass congregation. No more big groups in yard.
    –Ending free movement. Keeping people in their cells most of the day.
    –Having lockdowns whenever and for any reason.


  7. - zatoichi - Friday, Dec 21, 12 @ 10:56 am:

    Another choice made by the Excel spreadsheet developers/policy coordinators who never have to actually face the situations they are making decisions about or do the heavy lifting. Gotta wonder if those same people were told to spend 2-3 weeks on the front lines at the facilities they recommend for closure and not in an office, would they come to the same outcomes.


  8. - Dan Bureaucrat - Friday, Dec 21, 12 @ 11:08 am:

    ==”You can’t take the worst 100 people the State of IL has produced in the last 30 years out of isolation and give them access without ramifications.”==

    Way to create a myth. The IDOC has said that there are 25 men in Tamms who are dangerous and need extra security precautions. Some of them have been in Pontiac for months already and the staff there is professional enough and disciplined enough to have no problems with them. Many of these people have serious mental illnesses.

    It is also myth that Tamms has the designated most dangerous people. Most of the men in Tamms did not commit a crime in a regular prison. Of those who did, most were non-injurious or the symptom of a mental health problem. (See the BND expose on Tamms for more information.)

    There are plenty of dangers working in every prison. But let’s not make up stuff to justify keeping the facility open.

    When there is violence in another prison, as there always will be, the AFSCME reps always say it is because Tamms is closing. I have never understood why their members fall for that.

    If you want to make a place safer, you need to find out the real, proven causes of violence and stress, not mouth off about Tamms.


  9. - Michelle Flaherty - Friday, Dec 21, 12 @ 11:22 am:

    It’s sad when the solution is packing more inmates into a prison built in the 1800s. I’m sure it will be fine.


  10. - Major Domo, Billy Bo Jangles - Friday, Dec 21, 12 @ 11:51 am:

    –Ending movement of large groups. Hundreds of people used to be moved together in mass. They changed it to something like 15.
    –Ending mass congregation. No more big groups in yard.
    –Ending free movement. Keeping people in their cells most of the day.
    –Having lockdowns whenever and for any reason.

    Complete fantasy. You could come check for yourself, but you can’t get in due to “security concerns.” Advocates for prison closures should just say, “We got what we wanted, maybe not how we wanted, but we got it.” There is no need to perpetuate the myth that IDOC is a safe place to be, it isn’t. And while important reforms were instituted in the ’90’s - I think it’s more likely that a combination of those reforms and the opening of Tamms changed IDOC for the better.
    Lastly, Rich, can we get some info on overtime 3 months after the closures to see how much of the “savings” are just shifted to overtime at Pontiac, Stateville, Menard?


  11. - state worker - Friday, Dec 21, 12 @ 12:25 pm:

    Michelle, you are right. The prison population must be reduced. And the union needs to support that in real, concrete ways. Something like half the people in Illinois prisons are there for about a year or less. Shaving months of sentences for good time could reduce the population by thousands.

    But Tamms is irrelevant to that discussion. The prison sysyem was just as crowded last year and there was not this outcry.

    There were only 180 men in the supermax when closure was announced. Keeping them in Tamms or opening units for them at Pontiac will not make a difference in overcrowding. Taking the bloated Tamms staff to other prisons will make our prisons safer.


  12. - Rich Miller - Friday, Dec 21, 12 @ 1:55 pm:

    Hey, I don’t mean to be a pain, but I’m shutting down for the holidays today at 5 o’clock, so I really need you to finish your Golden Horseshoe nominations today.

    Click here for The Wordslinger Golden Horseshoe Award for Best CapitolFax.com Commenter, and click here for the Best Statewide Officeholder and The Mike McClain Golden Horseshoe Award for Best Statehouse Insider.

    Nominations typically come in throughout the evening on these things, but today’s nominations just can’t wait. So get to it, campers. I’ll be announcing the winners at 5 o’clock.

    Thanks. Sorry that I momentarily diverted this thread. Please make your nominations and then continue your discussion.


  13. - Anonymous - Friday, Dec 21, 12 @ 4:04 pm:

    Dan, my guess is you would be terrified if you got a good look at Brisbon or Arnett traveling up 57 on the way to pontiac. but the sad fact is these two have been waiting for years for a chance to kill somebody- anybody. if there is no groups or big lines, how do latin kings constantly refuse to come off the yard?


  14. - Anonymous - Thursday, Jan 3, 13 @ 12:16 pm:

    I for one think it is a good thing they are closing. The inhumane treatment they receive is uncalled for. Yes the prisoners deserve punishment but making them crazy (crazier) in the process is not the way to do it. Half of them are mor pshycologically messed up now then before they were sent there.


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