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Quinn: Review Tamms Super Max

By Kevin Robinson in News on May 13, 2009 5:20PM

Aerial Photo of Tamms via
Governor Quinn said Tuesday that he would soon name a new state corrections director, and that one of his top priorities for that post is a review of conditions at the state's Tamms Correctional Center, the state's supermax prison downstate. The facility, which keeps male prisoners in solitary confinement 23 hours a day, was designed to be a one-year "shock treatment" facility, a place to house the worst of the worst for short periods. According to human rights groups, however, over one-third of the inmates in Tamms have been there for over ten years. The regimen of long-term isolation, however, has been criticized by prisoner and human rights groups.

"We're going to have a new director on board very shortly and we'll be looking at that particular issue," Quinn said. "It's an issue that I take seriously." State Rep Julie Hamos echoed the governor's sentiments. "What I am most pleased about is the governor is understanding that changes need to be made at Tamms and will make this a top priority for the new director," she said. Hamos is the sponsor of a bill that premits the state to transfer prisoners to Tamms for one year only. Eligible prisoners include those who have "committed or attempted to commit acts of violence either: (I) which resulted in serious injury or death or (ii) in connection with any act of non-consensual sex; (2) the prisoner has engaged in 2 or more acts which caused serious disruption of prison operations; or (3) the prisoner has escaped or attempted to escape from within a security perimeter or custody, or both, or direct supervision." The bill further exempts mentally ill prisoners, and gives the state Department of Corrections 90 days to review the status of prisoners currently incarcerated in Tamms.

Earlier this year, the Chicago Tribune took an exclusive look inside Tamms. You can read about it here, and see the photos here.