Sheriffs, others discuss effects of possible Tamms prison closure

Friday, May 4, 2012
Union County State's Attorney Tyler Edmonds discusses proposed state budget cuts to public safety that will affect Southern Illinois communities during a law enforcement news conference outside the Anna City Hall on Thursday. Behind Edmonds, at left, is Johnson County Sheriff Elry Faulkner, and at right is Union County Sheriff David Livesay. (JOE GAMM)

ANNA, Ill. -- Despite a state commission's recommendation that the Tamms Correctional Center not be closed because of budget cuts, Southern Illinois law enforcement leaders gathered Thursday afternoon outside the Anna City Hall to discuss the effect of a closure on their communities. Area residents, worried about their jobs and adverse effects of a closure, expressed frustration at the lack of information they are getting about proposed cuts.

"We don't know anything," Ruthe Clayton of Anna said. "How do you get ready for what may happen? What do you do?"

The Illinois Commission on Government Forecasting and Accountability voted 7-3 to recommend to Gov. Pat Quinn that the Tamms Correctional Center, which employs about 300 people in Alexander County, remain open.

But the governor has not ruled out closing the facility, which houses 375 inmates.

State leaders have proposed closing the prison and the Carbondale Crime Lab, consolidating four Southern Illinois dispatching centers and reducing the number of parole agents. Illinois has $8.5 billion in unpaid bills, according to a February commission report.

Johnson County State's Attorney Tricia Shelton said her concern is that closing the prison will cause overcrowding in other facilities, leading to more early release of inmates. The early release would cause public safety issues, she said.

Additionally, another proposed cut would reduce the number of parole agents available to monitor parolees.

"For me, the worst part is closing the crime lab," Union County State's Attorney Tyler Edmonds said. "That would put such hardship and expense on law enforcement, trying to transport evidence to Belleville."

Sheriffs from several counties spoke to about 30 people gathered on the lawn outside the city hall. Union County Sheriff David Livesay told listeners he's most concerned about dispatchers 150 miles outside his home county being able to tell deputies where they are needed.

"When you move dispatchers three counties from here and they don't know the county, that's going to endanger lives," Livesay said.


Pertinent address:

103 Market Street, Anna, IL

8500 Supermax Road, Tamms, IL

Map of pertinent addresses

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