BENTON, IL—The latest news regarding Pontiac prison continues to raise questions about why Gov. Quinn wants to close the super-max security prison in Tamms.
The Associated Press reported this week that troublesome inmates at the Pontiac prison, who’d been kept in isolation cells for security and safety, were being put back into cells with other inmates. This was done because the dangerous inmates from Tamms, now arriving at Pontiac, need to be kept in isolation.
According to the AP’s report, a fight broke out within hours among Pontiac inmates who’d previously been kept in isolation in order to prevent such violence.
“The only thing the governor’s doing is making Pontiac more dangerous for the men and women who work there,” said state Sen. Gary Forby, a Benton Democrat.
Forby questioned what was being accomplished by taking isolated prisoners out of one of the state’s newest prisons, Tamms, and putting them in isolation in one of the state’s oldest prisons, Pontiac, especially at a time when the prison system is at or near record overcrowding.
“I fear that the initial violence reported at Pontiac is an alarming signal of what’s to come if that prison and those workers have to continue to bear the burden of trying to manage these dangerous, super-maximum security-level inmates,” Forby said.
During the legislative session, Forby was instrumental in getting funding restored in the state budget to keep the Tamms prison open. However, the governor then vetoed the funding. Shutting the prison will impact hundreds of Southern Illinois families and the entire region’s economy.
Forby hopes to override the governor’s budget cut and convince the administration to keep the prison open when lawmakers return to the Capitol in November.
Years served: 2001-2003 (House); 2003 - Present (Senate)
Committee assignments: Energy; Labor and Commerce (Chairperson); Licensed Activities and Pensions; Committee of the Whole; Subcommittee on Natural Resources.
Biography: Born January 4, 1945, in Anna, Illinois. Full-time state legislator; former farmer and businessman; past chairman, Franklin County Board; former member, Franklin - Williamson Human Services Board; current member, Southern Illinois Workforce Man-Tra-Con Board, Operating Engineers and Laborers' International unions.