The union that represents prison workers in Illinois goes before a judge Wednesday morning asking him to block Governor Pat Quinn from taking any more steps to close prisons. Quinn is working to close several prison facilities by the end of the month including the "supermax" prison at Tamms, in far Southern Illinois. The governor's rapid pace has prompted the prison workers' union to ask a judge for an emergency restraining order halting inmate transfers. At Tamms, prisoners are kept in extreme isolation and deprived of most human contact. But even before the recent transfers out, it was just one third full. Quinn says the closures are a necessary cost saving measure. The union has been offering anecdotes of violent incidents to argue that without the threat of sending inmates to Tamms, violence in the prisons will rise. But human-rights activists like Laurie Jo Reynolds say violence in Illinois prisons began decreasing two years before Tamms opened in the 19-90s, and she says that was because of other reforms:
"No matter how much people say it, there's no evidence that Tamms has reduced violence or served as a deterrent, and there's no evidence of that nationally, either."
The decision whether to block the governor from closing prisons is up to a judge in Cairo, in the Southern Illinois county where Tamms is located.
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