Serving the Goreville & Lake of Egypt areas since 1977


Forby continues to fight to keep Tamms open

Posted July 25, 2012 by Joe Rehana in News

Illinois state sen. Gary Forby (D-Benton) joined elected officials from both parties in supporting keeping the Tamms Correctional Center open at a pre-hearing press conference held at Shawnee Community College in Ullin Monday, April 2, 2012. Forby said that Gov. Quinn, who proposed the closure of Tamms to save the state an estimated $26.5 million annually from the budget, ran for office touting job reform. “This is not the way to solve a budget,” said Forby of closing Tamms. The hearing was set to record testimony from all sides of the debate on whether or not Tamms should be left open or closed, which the commission later rejected the recommendation to close Tamms.

When news of Gov. Pat Quinn’s proposal to shutter Tamms Correctional Center could result in a number of its inmates getting sent to other states, State Senator Gary Forby, D-Benton, wasted no time in issuing a press release Monday blasting the governor for outsourcing Illinois jobs.

“Pat Quinn likes to claim he’s the ‘jobs’ governor, but now he’s trying to outsource Illinois jobs to other states,” said Forby in a press release describing his response as outrage towards the governor’s plan. “What is he thinking?”

Sunday, The Southern Illinoisan reported its Springfield Bureau had obtained records indicating “at least nine Tamms inmates to be included in what is known as an interstate compact.”

According to the language of the law as listed by the Illinois General Assembly on its web site, the Interstate Corrections Compact purpose, “is to provide for the mutual development and execution of such programs of cooperation for the confinement, treatment and rehabilitation of offenders with the most economical use of human and material resources.”

While there is no official word on which, or any, of Tamms prisoners would be shipped to other states, the Southern alluded to a possible scenario that would allow for “murderers like I-57 killer Henry Brisbon and Steven Wuebbels, who brutally stabbed a guard when he was serving time in Pontiac Correctional Center,” to be included in such exchanges.

With an Aug. 31 deadline set for the closure of Tamms, the moving of prisoners is coming closer to a reality that Senator Forby said had not yet begun. In an email to the Gazette last week he said that he is still fighting Quinn’s decision to close the facility.

“We’re still fighting the governor,” said Forby.  “We’re going to try to override his vetoes when we come back in the fall. I wish it would come earlier because I hate seeing the governor turn the people of Southern Illinois into pawns in his game, but it just can’t.”

Forby has opposed Quinn’s proposal since it was announced earlier in the year, introducing Senate Bill 3564, which would require the General Assembly to vote on a facility closure after a bipartisan Commission on Government Forecasting and Accountability made its recommendation.  The bill came up one vote short, 29-23-1, pushing Forby and supporters in the General Assembly to create a budget that included funding for Tamms and other facilities on the chopping block.  But Quinn did not accept this budget.

“We can override the governor’s veto,” said Forby, adding,  “Unfortunately, that doesn’t force him to keep Tamms and other facilities open, but it does make it clear to him that he can’t spend that money anywhere else.”

At the end of June Quinn trimmed the General Assembly’s budget by $57 million and issued a press release stating, “After a careful review of the budget bills, the Governor enacted a $33.7 billion balanced budget. This budget cuts discretionary spending by $1.4 billion from fiscal year 2012, pays $1.3 billion of old bills, closes and consolidates 57 facilities, and restructures the state’s Medicaid program while preserving the state’s vital services.”

Forby argued Monday that Quinn will be unable to close the facilities without resulting in jobs lost in Southern Illinois and vowed to continue fighting the closures.