Prisoner rights advocates lauded Tuesday’s decision by the Illinois Supreme Court to allow Gov. Pat Quinn’s closure plan for Tamms Correctional Center to go forward.

The Uptown People’s Law Center, which has been a vocal opponent of the prison, praised in an email the court’s action.

“Now that the Illinois Supreme Court has ordered the Alexander County judge to vacate the preliminary injunction ordering the Department (of Corrections) to keep Tamms open, there is no impediment to finally closing this horror,” wrote Alan Mills, Uptown’s legal director. “Kudos to (Quinn) for sticking to his decision to do the right thing.”

Brian Nelson, a former Tamms inmate and an activist, described the court’s decision as “righteous.” Although Nelson talked about the savings available through closing Tamms, his statement focused on the rights of men imprisoned there.

“The brothers I left behind in Tamms now have the chance to be treated like the human beings they are,” Nelson wrote. “They can again work on rehabilitating themselves and they don’t have to be treated like animals.”

Quinn repeatedly spoke about the fiscal responsibility of closing Tamms and other state facilities described as “half empty” and “very expensive” to operate.

“In addition, the governor felt closing Tamms was the right thing to do,” said Brooke Anderson, a Quinn spokeswoman. “As Martin Luther King Jr. once said, ‘The time is always right to do the right thing.’”

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