Warning from Gov. Edgar on closing Tamms prison

February 27, 2012

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(AP/Seth Perlman)

Former Illinois Gov. Jim Edgar has concerns about the state closing Tamms, a so-called supermax prison.

Edgar oversaw construction of the supermax facility where inmates are essentially held in solitary confinement. Governor Pat Quinn is pushing to close Tamms because he says it costs $64,000 a year to house an inmate there, while other prisons cost a third of that.

Edgar said he built a lot of prisons and he supports closing some of them, but he says shutting down Tamms needs to be done very carefully.

"The thing that I would worry about and the reason we built Tamms was that often you just had a few inmates that caused the problems in the prisons. I would be very nervous about taking the troublemakers and putting them back into the general prison population," Edgar said.

He said reintegrating Tamms prisoners back into other prisons could lead to more fights, resulting in thousands of prisoners across the state spending more time on lockdown, and less time in classes and activities.