Local prison closure now a reality
TAMMS, Ill. — There was a concrete sign Thursday morning that Illinois Governor Pat Quinn is moving forward with plans to shutter the Tamms Correctional Center.
The move would save the cash-strapped state millions of dollars but cost the local community nearly 300 jobs.
Early Thursday morning, an empty Illinois Department of Corrections bus pulled into the prison. Guards then loaded 30 minimum security prisoners and sent them off to the Hardin County Work Camp in Cave-In-Rock, Illinois.
Those who live in the area are trying to stay hopeful.
"I don't see (any) reason why we wouldn't make it afterwards," said Earl Price.
Price has worked for the village of Tamms for 28 years. The news that a busload of prisoners just left the local lockup doesn't scare him, though.
Instead, it's just business as usual.
"We may lose jobs but we didn't have them before it came," he said.
But Tamms florist Joyce Schnaare said she's already seeing the damage done to her bottom line.
"I just have a really bad feeling," she said. "You know, everybody's going to feel a pinch."
A spokesperson for the Illinois Department of Corrections told Local 6 the remaining 145 minimum security inmates will leave the facility in the next few weeks. They'll be transferred across the state's prison system.
The department said the other approximately 170 "supermax" prisoners will be moved sometime before the closure date of Aug. 31.
"I kept thinking yeah at the eleventh hour he's going to change his mind, the governor, and say we need Tamms Correctional Center here," said Schnaare.
Schnaare believes the closure could seal the fate of the area and very well cause her business to dry up, too.
"People don't need flowers as much as they need food," she said.
Earlier this week, reports surfaced that Illinois was looking into sending some of those "supermax" prisoners out-of-state.
A spokesperson for the Illinois Department of Corrections told Local 6 this afternoon the state is a member of the Interstate Corrections Compact, which allows them to exchange inmates with participating states.
The department would not confirm the names of anyone who could be housed according to that agreement.