Illinois State Budget / Tamms Prison
4:40 pm
Tue February 28, 2012

Quinn defends plan to close super-max prison in southern Ill.

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Reporting from WBEZ's Alex Keefe used in this report.

Governor Pat Quinn is defending his plan to close a super-maximum security prison in southern Illinois.

The governor's office says closing Tamms prison would save the state nearly $22 million next year. Quinn says it costs more than 64,000 per year to lock up a prisoner there - about three times the statewide average.

Former Republican Governor Jim Edgar - who built Tamms - has said introducing super-maximum security prisoners into other facilities could cause security problems. Nonetheless, Quinn says it must be done.

“We are, I think, going to be able to carry this out with public safety at all times as our top priority," Quinn said. "But we have to deal with the fact that the Department of Corrections has to ... have less spending.”

Quinn also wants to close one other state prison, and several halfway houses.