Shifting political climate offers hope for Tamms future

With a new governor, and a new head of the Illinois Department of Corrections, there is renewed hope that Tamms Correctional Center could one day soon reopen.

When Rep. Brandon Phelps talks about Tamms Correctional Center closing, he still gets upset.

“I never wanted it to close period,” said Rep. Brandon Phelps. “I’m still upset with Governor Quinn doing that because he knows that we needed it, and he catered to a bunch of people from Chicago at our expense.”

Phelps says he not only wants the jobs Tamms provides his district, but the safety it provides for Illinois.

“I believe that a lot of inmates do not fear the correctional system anymore because Tamms has shut down,” said Rep. Phelps. “Correctional officers are getting assaulted so much that I’m worried that one of them may not come home to their family because they’re going to get killed at work.”

To make the prison system safer, Phelps proposes that the facility be used to house inmates in some capacity, instead of spending tax dollars to have the facility set vacant.

“We have never stopped the fight,” said Rep. Phelps. We have a new governor and a new director of corrections coming in, and I hope they understand how important, and how much of a vital role that Tamms plays in the correctional system.”

We received this statement from Governor Bruce Rauner’s office on their plans for the state’s prison system: “Due to years of out-of-control spending, Governor Rauner had to make some difficult choices to close a $6 billion budget hole. The governor’s budget prioritizes education and public safety, which includes increasing funding for the Department of Corrections. That increased funding will help hire more than 470 new corrections officers. The governor is working to reform the criminal justice system to make prisons safer, rehabilitate ex-offenders to become productive members of society, and stop the costly and vicious cycle of ex-offenders returning to prison. “

Tamms employed more than 320 people at the time of its closure, and was the largest employer in Alexander County.

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