MARION - Gov. Pat Quinn says he has commissioned Illinois Department of Corrections Director Michael Randle, who he appointed in May, to investigate conditions at the Tamms "supermax" prison in Alexander County in light of recent concerns expressed by a human rights group and several state legislators.
In addition to the supermax facility, Quinn said Randle will be looking at all prisons in the state. Randle's mental health background and experience in the correction field will help him in the examination, Quinn added.
"He is an intelligent fellow and a patient one. He is going to go one by one to the state's prisons. We want to do this right," Quinn said Tuesday at an appearance in Marion.
Human rights group Tamms Year Ten and a variety of legislators, legal experts, clergy and mental health experts recently urged Quinn in a letter to intervene in the prison's operations. The group raised concerns that inmates from other correctional facilities are being sent to Tamms as extra punishment and that their length of stay in solitary confinement violates basic human rights. Amnesty International also has weighed in with letters to Quinn, the department's director and the warden of Tamms.
State Sen. Gary Forby of Benton and State Rep. Brandon Phelps of Harrisburg, both of which represent districts covering Tamms, recently said changing the way Tamms operates would be problematic and doesn't agree the handling of inmates constitutes human rights violations.