Local woman petitions to re-open an Illinois state prison

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Reporter - Kathryn DiGisi

TAMMS, Ill. - A new grassroots effort called 'My Brother's Keeper' is focused on re-opening the doors of the Tamms Correctional Center that was shut down a little more than a year ago.

Founder Marsha Griffin has had five family members work at the Tamms Correctional Center and each of them, including her husband, has had to find another job.

She says according to state senator Dave Luechtefeld, violence has increased since the prison closed.

She believes over-crowding in other prisons across the state is to blame.

She is gaining support in hopes that that the prison will be re-opened and the violence will subside.

"We refer to these as isolated incidents, but when you see his face it tells a much different story," said Griffin.

Tom Shaer with the Illinois Department of Corrections said the state has the capacity to safely accommodate 50,000 inmates and right now they are sitting at just over 48,000.

"We are crowded, but we're not overcrowded," said Shaer.

Shaer says the claims that violence has increased since Tamms shut it's doors are simply not true.

He disagrees with Griffin and says there have been only acts of violence since the 80 Tamms inmates were displaced.

"Of the 75, former Tamms inmates were involved in only three," said Shaer.

Shaer says Griffin's effort will not be ignored, but he says the state finds re-opening the prison in Tamms unnecessary.

But Griffin is confident her effort can get the doors back open.

 "Whether it be under the tenure of a new governor who will listen to front line employees or whether it takes a riot to occur," said Griffin.

Griffin has collected nearly 1,300 signatures and has a personal goal of collecting 10,000.

If you are interested in learning more about her effort search 'My Brother's Keeper' on Facebook.

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