Report Recommends Closing Southern Illinois Supermax Prison

May 22, 2012

An Illinois prison watchdog group supports Governor Pat Quinn’s proposal to shutter the Tamms Correctional Center. While a legislative committee recommended last month keeping the facility open, a new John Howard Association report finds the state simply cannot afford its only supermax prison. 

Governor Quinn proposed closing Tamms as part of his budget for fiscal year 2013. JHA executive director John Maki says prisons across the state are stressed and under-resourced, and closing Tamms is the only viable option.

“It costs 26 million dollars to run Tamms. It costs 26 million dollars of taxpayer money to incarcerate less than 200 people. If we don’t close Tamms, I don’t where that money comes from. I don’t know what other facility could take that kind of hit.”

The prison houses inmates who are a threat to other prisoners and staff. Inmates are held in continuous solitary confinement, but the 40-page JHA report details the prevalence of mental illness among these prisoners. The document recommends Illinois ban seclusion of mentally-ill inmates and suggests Illinois’ maximum security centers can safely house Tamms’ inmates.