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Group happy with prison closing

Thu, 21 Jun 2012 06:17:53 CDT

As elected officials continue to criticize Governor Pat Quinn's decision to close the "super max" prison in Tamms and other correctional facilities, at least one group is enthusiastic about the change. Quinn frames his decision to close Tamms Correctional Center in deep southern Illinois as a budget issue. He says it costs three times as much to house an inmate there than any other state prison. Critics of the move have likewise responded with an economic argument: they say closing prisons means a loss jobs in parts of the state that desperately need them. But there are people who see closing Tamms not as a matter of cost control or economic development, but as a question of human rights:


"This is one of those times when economic necessity has yielded a decision that is both morally and practically right."

Laurie Jo Reynolds is the organizer of Tamms Year Ten, a group of advocates and mothers of inmates. They criticize the isolation and sensory deprivation tactics used at Tamms, which Reynolds says drives prisoners to madness and self-mutilation. Legislators included enough money in their proposed budget to convert Tamms to a medium-security prison, but Quinn is not pursuing that option. Reynolds says that would have been unreasonably expensive.

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