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  • katerha
  • The decision on Tamms, the Illinois supermax, is imminent

We need to keep torturing people in Illinois because it provides jobs.

This is the unspoken argument of legislators who want to save Tamms, the supermax at the southern tip of Illinois. Governor Pat Quinn has proposed closing Tamms—not for humanitarian reasons, but to save the state money. Most of the Tamms inmates would be moved to maximum-security prisons, where housing them would be cheaper. There’s been legislative opposition to Quinn’s proposal, however, because guards would lose their jobs. The verdict is imminent.

Representative Brandon Phelps, a downstate Democrat, this week proposed converting Tamms to a regular prison in order to keep it open. As the Southern Illinoisan reported Wednesday, this plan would “appease” those who believe the prison should be closed because the long-term isolation that inmates are subjected to “purportedly causes mental illness.” Phelps has made clear he’s more concerned about the jobs than the mental illness: “My main deal right now is to keep Tamms open, whether it’s just a super-max or regular facility, because southern Illinois cannot afford to lose those jobs or that revenue.” Phelps’s proposal is unlikely to fly because of the retooling costs.