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Despite spending millions on maintenance, shuttered Tamms prison “rampant” with mold

Friday, Dec 7, 2018

* It’s a bit weird that this 2015 inspection is emerging three years after the fact

What little hope remained of reopening or repurposing the shuttered Tamms Correctional Center continues to grow dimmer.

The prison and its adjacent work camp are “rampant” with mold, Lindsey Hess, spokeswoman for the Illinois Department of Corrections, confirmed on Wednesday, and would require millions of dollars of treatment.

A 2015 inspection by ExecuClean Restoration found high levels of Aspergillus and Penicillium molds, which are “responsible for more human health issues worldwide than any other group of fungi,” including many respiratory illnesses, the company stated. […]

Just addressing the mold issue would cost some $2.5 million, Hess said, and would require the removal of all “drywall, carpet, counters, counter tops and cabinets,” per ExecuClean’s recommendations.

Southern Illinois legislators and candidates have been demanding the prison’s reopening since it was closed in January of 2013, apparently without the knowledge that the site is rampant with mold.

* From 2015

Freshman state Rep. Terri Bryant, a Murphysboro Republican, has been pushing lawmakers to join her in urging Gov. Bruce Rauner to reopen the facility at the southern tip of Illinois.

“I think there is a pressure building within all of the facilities that has to be relieved somehow. I think that’s only going to be relived by either kicking inmates out or creating some more bed space,” Bryant said in a recent interview.

* From 2018

The Democrat running for state representative in southern Illinois wants to re-open the state’s super-max prison. Marsha Griffin told reporters yesterday that if the state of Illinois can build a new prison mental health center in Joliet, the state can re-open the Tamms Prison. Griffin said the decision to close the prison back in 2012 is still hurting southern Illinois. The state spends about 750 thousand-dollars a year on Tamms, just to keep up with maintenance.

Wait. The state is spending $750K a year on maintenance and it’s been full of mold for at least three years?

* Yep

Despite closing for budgetary reasons, Illinois still spends $750,000 per year on Tamms, covering utilities, maintenance and guards.

- Posted by Rich Miller        

24 Comments »
  1. - Cubs in '16 - Friday, Dec 7, 18 @ 10:20 am:

    Guards? To keep the mold safe?


  2. - A guy - Friday, Dec 7, 18 @ 10:22 am:

    You can buy a lot of ammonia for $750K per year.


  3. - Annonin' - Friday, Dec 7, 18 @ 10:25 am:

    And the annual $750k went to…(drum roll) ….. ?


  4. - Perrid - Friday, Dec 7, 18 @ 10:28 am:

    If it’s closed, why are there utilities or guards? Maybe I could see some kind of utilities/maintenance if someone was assuming it was going to be reopened, to prevent more damage, but guards? Payroll is usually the biggest expense.


  5. - Perrid - Friday, Dec 7, 18 @ 10:31 am:

    On a related note, this article has a report that says IL prisons are over capacity by 40% (17,000 more people than should be in them)

    https://will.illinois.edu/news/story/new-report-says-illinois-prisons-are-nearly-40-percent-overcapacity


  6. - Smitty Irving - Friday, Dec 7, 18 @ 10:37 am:

    Guards? Yes. Joliet has leased the old prison there, and Joliet PD is on pace to spend $800K / year. To keep out trespassers.


  7. - Anonymous - Friday, Dec 7, 18 @ 10:47 am:

    Another “gift” to the incoming administration from the current one, a problem of neglect that will coat real money to fix.


  8. - Cubs in '16 - Friday, Dec 7, 18 @ 10:48 am:

    ===Joliet has leased the old prison there, and Joliet PD is on pace to spend $800K / year.===

    Apples/oranges. Tamms is unused, vacant, and saturated with harmful mold. Not sure anyone would want to trespass there.


  9. - charles in charge - Friday, Dec 7, 18 @ 10:56 am:

    “I think there is a pressure building within all of the facilities that has to be relieved somehow. I think that’s only going to be relived by either kicking inmates out or creating some more bed space.”

    There is real truth to this. Illinois prisons are badly overcrowded. But there’s no way Illinois can or should consider building additional prisons, so the only answer is to reduce the number of people incarcerated. Rep. Bryant calls it “kicking inmates out,” I call it “reversing mass incarceration.” Tomato, tomahto.


  10. - Nearly Normal - Friday, Dec 7, 18 @ 10:57 am:

    You can’t just walk away from buildings and expect them to be in perfect shape without mold issues. A central Illinois superintendent thought it was silly to run the dehumidifiers in the high school library during the summer months so he had staff shut them off. The place was full of mold by mid-August (the library was below grade so that was no help to keep mold out.) Cost $$$$ for mold abatement and books had to be freeze-dried to rid them of the pesky mold. Luckily, a parent worked at the Dept of Ag laboratory in Peoria and he was able to identify the rare mold that was prevalent. The library was fumigated with a special fungicide. Needless to say, the dehumidifiers were never shut off after that.


  11. - Blue Dog Dem - Friday, Dec 7, 18 @ 10:57 am:

    I have reached out to the brains at Intersect Illinois and recommended a cheese factory. Their response was,” it’s more suited for pork”.

    Seriously. I have been in the facility a couple years back. It needs a wrecking ball.


  12. - benniefly2 - Friday, Dec 7, 18 @ 11:01 am:

    $750000 per year? Well there is your answer. They clearly weren’t running air conditioning most of facility since they closed it up. For example, regarding the cost of the guards, check out the speculation in two paragraphs from a 2015 story linked below:

    In response to a records request, state corrections officials said they could not say how much money was being spent in personnel costs related to maintaining the security of Tamms Correctional Center because employees on that duty are on the payroll of the Vienna Correctional Center.

    “But several people in town said it’s their understanding the state maintains two full-time employees around-the-clock at the prison on what they call “fire watch.” Based on a rough calculation, an average employee in Vienna, at $59,000 annually, is earning $28 an hour, and there are 8,765.1 hours in a year. After doubling that to account for two people per shift, the state would pay about $491,000 in personnel costs to guard the facility, not accounting for overtime, state benefits or other extra work needed at the facility.”

    https://thesouthern.com/news/local/tamms-two-years/tamms-forgotten/article_17f0430c-3011-5d07-8dbb-5ab09e6e55cb.html


  13. - lakeside - Friday, Dec 7, 18 @ 11:02 am:

    There’s probably about 17,000 people that shouldn’t be in IL prisons at all. Hopefully our forthcoming weed legalization proposals will address.


  14. - The Colossus of Roads - Friday, Dec 7, 18 @ 11:04 am:

    They spent 2 to 3 times per prisoner what other facilities spend per prisoner. I believe their last budget was around 28 million, so $750,000 is a bargain. Jim Edgar should have went with his first instinct and not built it.


  15. - Al - Friday, Dec 7, 18 @ 11:06 am:

    Given my State guberment experience, the $750k probably went to a former political operative who is retired to Sanabil Island. From Florida a couple modest checks were cut for lawn maintenance. Yeah I remember the DCCA audit of 1989. Nothing to see here you rubber neckers. Just bidness as usual.


  16. - Henry Francis - Friday, Dec 7, 18 @ 11:17 am:

    Well, at least the Guv doesn’t have veterans living there. It could be a lot worse.


  17. - M - Friday, Dec 7, 18 @ 12:04 pm:

    Southern IL people need jobs. If it will only cost $2M to rid the building of mold, that would be better than building a new building. Right?


  18. - JScottIs - Friday, Dec 7, 18 @ 1:02 pm:

    The state is spending a staggering $750,000 a year to maintain a shuttered prison. Yet, there is $2.5million in mold damage that has likely been plaguing the facility for YEARS.

    The real question: The state refuses to open it or sell it. Why keep it?


  19. - The Dude - Friday, Dec 7, 18 @ 1:50 pm:

    For about 1.5 years the state didn’t have anyone to inspect for mold as states OSHA didn’t have industrial hygienist because they all left and Rauner didn’t hire


  20. - A Jack - Friday, Dec 7, 18 @ 1:51 pm:

    They probably have guards to keep out the homeless.

    They could remove the bars, remove the mold and turn it into a homeless shelter. It has beds, kitchens, showers, probably a library, classrooms, probably everything you need to house the homeless and help them get back on their feet. There would still be jobs, just probably not as many.


  21. - JS Mill - Friday, Dec 7, 18 @ 1:52 pm:

    =The real question: The state refuses to open it or sell it. Why keep it?=

    Well, it has a $2.5 million dollar mold problem so who are you selling it too? Given the liability issues for a public body it must be fixed first rather than risk being sued down the road.

    Better solution- level it and sell the land or keep the land for open space or other public use.


  22. - charles in charge - Friday, Dec 7, 18 @ 2:06 pm:

    ==Southern IL people need jobs.==

    That’s true, but it would be a godawful reason to reopen a prison.


  23. - Shemp - Friday, Dec 7, 18 @ 2:14 pm:

    $750,000 shouldn’t surprise you after you think about it. Either you demo it for millions, or if it’s an asset you may reuse, you have to keep it up so it doesn’t fall apart. Keep some water running, keep it heated above freezing, keep security on site to reduce vandalism, keep the roof from leaking, etc. It’s not a small site….


  24. - Blue Dog Dem - Friday, Dec 7, 18 @ 2:46 pm:

    Apparently, $750K wasnt enough…..


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