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Advocates Urge Quinn To Push Forward With Tamms Closure

By aaroncynic in News on Sep 27, 2012 4:00PM

Legislators, former inmates, family and other advocates called on Gov. Pat Quinn Wednesday to shut down the Tamms supermax prison, a closure put on hold earlier this month by a downstate judge. Progress Illinois reports advocates with the Tamms Year Ten coalition highlighted human rights abuses and cost of the prison as reasons for closure at a press conference yesterday. Quinn has argued for the prison to be shuttered to save money, but has spoken little on the human rights issues of the facility.

Illinois Rep. Danny Davis said, “This is a moral issue. We’re spending $26 million a year to keep men locked up in solitary confinement and we don’t have enough money to fund the state’s share of health care.” A former inmate convicted of murder that served 12 years at Tamms described conditions to CBS2:

“You don’t talk to nobody. You don’t see nothing. You feel abandoned by society. … You’re in this little gray room the size of a bathroom with nothing. My mother comes to see me — she cries. Every bone in my body protruded, because I lost the will to live. I just didn’t care no more.”

The inmate, Brian Nelson, went on to say that there was no preparation made for prisoners who finished their sentence to integrate back into the outside world, outside of a report made to determine if he would kill anyone else.

Tamms currently remains open due to a restraining order that blocked Quinn from closing the prison after an arbitrator determined the governor did not negotiate with the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, who represent workers at the prison. AFSCME argues that closing the prison, which houses 248 inmates out of a potential 753, would endanger prison guards, even if they relocate to other facilities.