Tamms prison among three area facilities on chopping block
TAMMS, Ill. — A spokesperson for Illinois Governor Pat Quinn confirmed by email Tuesday afternoon three facilities targeted for closure in our area will be shutting down at the end of August.
They are the Tamms Correctional Center in Tamms, the Illinois Youth Center in Murphysboro and the Adult Transition Center in Carbondale.
Some lawmakers received a state memo Tuesday notifying them of the closures.
Quinn has not signed the budget, so representatives with the AFSCME union said that means a final decision has not been made.
Regardless, southern Illinois lawmakers are sounding off on this latest move.
BRANDON PHELPS: "I think that's absolutely a slap in the face for southern Illinois and downstate Illinois," said State Rep. Brandon Phelps, Democrat of Harrisburg. "Also, he keeps saying he's the 'jobs governor'. How can you call yourself the 'jobs governor' when you want to cut over 500 jobs in southern Illinois?"
State Senator Gary Forby, Democrat of Benton, issued this statement:
"It is stunning and sad the lengths this governor will go to punish southern Illinois. I already convinced my colleagues once on how important these jobs are to the local economy. Looks like I'll have to do it again."
Lawmakers and union representatives will be holding a news conference tomorrow at 10 a.m. outside Lieutenant Governor Shelia Simon's office in Carbondale.
Kelly Kraft, the director of communications for the governor's office of management and budget, sent us the following statement:
"We have the responsibility to manage the state’s limited resources as efficiently as possible and make the difficult decisions necessary to restore fiscal stability to Illinois. The growing costs of pension and Medicaid make up 39 percent of state general revenue spending. While we were able to enact more than $2 billion in Medicaid reforms with bi-partisan support, we still must reform our public pension systems to alleviate this squeeze on general revenue spending.
"The governor’s decision to close several facilities was made after careful consideration and extensive deliberation with the Department of Corrections and the Department of Juvenile Justice. While we have heard many voices and participated fully in the COGFA process, the fact remains that the state can no longer afford these facilities if we truly want to address the state's budget challenges that have been created over decades of fiscal mismanagement.
"The Department of Juvenile Justice has a declining population of youth, which means the state no longer needs eight state detention facilities. We have chosen which facilities to close based on the needs of our youth. In the case of Murphysboro, there is another IYC facility nearby in Harrisburg.
"Also, the facility has the capacity for 256 youth and currently houses less than 20. In the case of Joliet, the physical plant does not provide the rehabilitative environment that our youth need. A more rehabilitative model of juvenile justice where youth are served and supported in the community instead of being incarcerated has been shown to result both in safer communities and better outcomes for our youth.
"Tamms is only half full and very costly to operate, with an average inmate cost of more than three times any other prison in the state.
"Dwight is located within 22 miles of Pontiac Correctional Center, 45 miles from Stateville Correctional Center and 45 miles from Sheridan Correctional Center. Dwight houses women and the female prison population is trending down. Between 2005 and 2011, IDOC female prison admissions decreased 41 percent.
"Overall, these closures will allow the state to better live within our means and address the state's most pressing needs."