Springfield….State Rep. Terri Bryant (R-Murphysboro) introduced House Resolution 233 on Wednesday, urging the State of Illinois to reopen the shuttered Tamms Correctional Center in Alexander County as an adult administrative segregation (solitary confinement) unit.
Representative Bryant, who is a retired 20 year veteran of the Illinois Department of Corrections, strongly believes that reopening Tamms is the right thing to do. “Since Tamms’ closure in 2013, the Department of Corrections has been housing extremely dangerous prisoners serving long or even life sentences in facilities that are not designed to guard these kinds of inmates,” Bryant said. “Tamms’ closure has led to prison overcrowding, an increase in gang-related activity and has created a security crisis for the men and women on the front lines of the Corrections department. It makes the situation at the medium and high-security facilities in Illinois much more dangerous.”
Bryant acknowledged the fight to reopen Tamms is just beginning, pointing to likely opposition from the same outside interest groups that has previously urged its closure. “We’re going up against some very powerful forces that oppose this measure,” Bryant said. “Soft on crime doesn’t work for me. I’m not going to back down to the same forces that Pat Quinn did. I believe that serial killers, child murderers and rapists, and the worst of the worst offenders belong in administrative segregation. It’s what they deserve and it’s the only way we can ensure the safety of our Corrections employees.”
HR 233 points specifically to the old practice of “riding the correctional circuit”, by which inmates are known to continue violent behavior against guards and other inmates in order to be transferred to facilities where their influence within prison gangs can be strengthened. “With Tamms’ closure, we have, in effect, restored gang culture and a prison gang mentality amongst the inmate population,” Bryant said. “Administrative segregation and even the threat of being sent to Tamms were previously used as a very effective tool that drove down gang related activity and violence against officers and inmates.”