Pat Quinn

Downstate news sources are reporting that layoffs have begun at Tamms Correctional Center, the southern Illinois supermax prison, just a few months after Governor Pat Quinn announced plans to close the facility. Earlier this month a panel of lawmakers recommended to the governor that the prison stay open, and the loss of the 300-some jobs it provides would be a blow to the surrounding area, where unemployment is currently around 11 percent, according to the Herald & Review.

Quinn’s plans received support from the prison watchdog group the John Howard Association, which cited the adverse effects that confinement at Tamms has on inmates’ mental health. In a new report the JHA writes, “Most inmates spend 23 to 24 hours alone in their cells without social interaction, human contact, or sensory stimulation. This state of isolation can extend for months, years or indefinitely. Some Tamms inmates have spent more than a decade in this isolation . . . In observing, visiting, and communicating with Tamms inmates, JHA found evidence of inmates suffering deleterious effects to their mental and physical health related to long-term isolation.”