SPRINGFIELD -- Seeking to repurpose the currently-unoccupied Tamms Correctional Center, state Sen. Dale Fowler (R-Harrisburg) and Rep. Terri Bryant (R-Murphysboro) sponsored legislation last week to create the Tamms Minimum Security Unit Task Force.
House Bill 210, approved by Senate lawmakers on May 23, would create a task force dedicated to studying the possible use of the Tamms Minimum Security Unit as a vocational training center for the Illinois Department of Corrections (DOC). The Task Force will be required to submit its findings to the Governor and the General Assembly on or before Dec. 31, 2020.
"Currently the Tamms facility is sitting vacant, deteriorating and burdening both the county and the state," said Fowler. "House Bill 210 is about exploring our options moving forward and exploring how best to utilize the center."
Tamms Minimum Security Unit Task Force would meet twice a year without compensation. The eleven-member board would be comprised of four legislators, the director of the Department of Corrections or a designee, one member appointed by the lieutenant governor, one member representing DOC employees, one member representing Shawnee Community College, one member representing SIU, the mayor of Tamms, and one member representing Alexander County.
115th District State Rep. Terri Bryant says she has been an advocate for the reopening and repurposing of the minimum-security facility at Tamms since even before running for office. Bryant says the reopening and repurposing of the minimum-security facility in Tamms would be helpful in reducing Illinois' overcrowded prisons and provide good paying jobs for Southern Illinoisans.
"The goal of the task force will be to study the regional impact that the facility's closure had on Southern Illinois, and to study the feasibility of reopening the shuttered minimum-security facility," Bryant said. "Reopening Tamms minimum-security facility could help alleviate overcrowding, make our correctional officers safer, and provide good paying jobs to an area that has been economically devastated. I want to thank my friend and colleague Senator Dale Fowler for pressing this issue and successfully carrying it through the Senate.
Tamms Correctional Center has remained unoccupied since its closure in 2013. The facility complex consists of approximately 220 acres with 21 buildings contained within the property.
"Every year that Tamms remains shuttered is another year of lost opportunity," said Fowler. "The facility has such potential and, if reopened, could be a real avenue for future economic growth. I'm excited to see this measure receive support and look forward to reviewing the findings of the Task Force."
House Bill 210 passed the Senate unanimously and will now advance to the governor's desk.