News from Tamms Year Ten
Posted on January 7, 2013
From Tamms Year Ten:
The family members praise God, Governor Quinn and you. We feel tremendous gratitude for all your support over the years. With every act great and small, you created an army of conscience. With even one less person in our ranks, this victory would not have been possible. Thank you.
2. REPORTS FROM THE TRENCHES
This is what we heard in the first days after the transfers:
Report 1 – FEELING OF RELIEFI just received a call from my son. What a difference in his voice! He said the staff at Pontiac have been very responsive. He said there was such a feeling of relief when he walked through the doors at Pontiac. He said he has not stopped smiling! He is even smiling in his new IDOC photo!
Report 2 – TWO ORANGESMy son called at 6:04 PM tonight. Things seem good at Pontiac. They were passing the phones around, and it was not an automatic cut-off. The guard came and told him his time was up. We had a wonderful visit on the phone. He and many others received their personal property on Sunday. Some have already gone out to the yard. He also had two oranges, fresh fruit! He was happy that he was given a real toothbrush and a regular pen instead of the little short ones. He said that it is the small things that matter. He is behind bars and not the steel doors and will have to adjust to the noise.Report 3 – WARDEN HAS MADE HIMSELF AVAILABLE TO HELP WITH PROBLEMSI’ve been able to talk to him twice since he’s been in Pontiac and he sounds good. He said the Warden has come to see him at least ten times to check on him and has gone out of his way to help with his inhalers and medication. It’s really good to hear him so relieved. The first phone call he sounded very stressed and anxious but last night’s he was really happy and was feeling great about the move. He wanted me to tell everyone Happy New Year and thank you so much for the support!
Report4 – A BEATING ON THE BUSHe reported that one man was beaten badly by the Tamms guards on the bus. He was strangled until he passed out. He was then taken off the bus and they do not know what happened to him. The guys from Tamms are very concerned about him.
Report 5– THE MEN ARE LOOKING OUT FOR EACH OTHERHe said that the men previously transferred from Tamms are looking out for new arrivals and trying to help them out if they need anything (from soap to support). Some of the new guys are still very shaken up. He said they have all come together to help each other.
3. REACTIONS FROM FAMILY
From mom Rose – INHUMANITY HAS NO PLACE IN OUR GREAT COUNTRYOn Friday, December 21, I received a phone call telling me that my son had been transferred from Tamms to Pontiac. I was so elated that I called every member of my family giving them the good news. We all cried and laughed because this was the best Christmas gift we could have ever received. I felt like the weight of the world had been lifted off my shoulders, I slept in deep sleep like I hadn’t for such a long time.I have great respect and an unending love and gratitude to each and everyone who made this miracle happen! Thank you Governor Quinn for standing firm and not ever giving up on this accomplishment, of showing the world that inhumanity has no place in our great country!From mom Anne – IT IS A DAY WE SHOULD ALL ETCH IN OUR MEMORIESIt certainly was a sequence of events. TAMMS IS NOW EMPTY! VICTORY! A BATTLE WON—David and Goliath! TAMMS YEAR TEN vs. AFSCME AND STATE LEGISLATORS!
Governor Quinn joined the good guys!It is a day we should all etch in our memories. PRAISE GOD! “Happy New Year!” May your Angels protect all of you and the men from Tamms! It is time for all hearts to be changed, I pray!Tamms Year Ten members that fought for reform and closure of Tamms are a people with heart and conscience! Family members and friends of Tamms inmates saw “Man’s Inhumanity-to-Man” at its worst. We experienced it! We felt it! We had to watch it! A living hell has been shut down! PRAISE GOD! May no man ever have to enter through those gates of hell ever again.From sister Janice – LIKE A REPRIEVE FROM A DEATH SENTENCEThe last man was transferred out of the notorious Tamms Supermax prison yesterday. Praise God!In addition to honoring the Creator for all he does, I have to send up special praise because the long overdue closure of this torture chamber is nothing short of divine intervention…throughout this ordeal of meetings, hearing, marches, and lawsuits, I believe that prayer brought us to where we are today.I can honestly say that the closure of Tamms feels like a reprieve from a death sentence for families and the inmates themselves.From mom Brenda – THE FEELING THAT ANYTHING IS POSSIBLEI will try to put into words the jubilant feeling that I am having. When I heard about the first 25 being transferred out, the next 25 and so on my heart was overjoyed — at last an end to what is being called “the era of the notorious Tamms Supermax prison” (Fox News). Words cannot express how I feel, my son has been in that place for almost thirteen years. I am happy for all the families whose loved ones have escaped that hell. It is a feeling that anything is possible.I want to thank all the sponsors, everyone that cared, everyone that lent a helping hand no matter how small. This Tamms Year 10 is a movement that must go on. Everyone the fight is not over, please let us continue on with this movement of love.
a. Could Tamms still be funded by legislators?b. Could AFSCME still take the state back to court?c. Could they reopen the supermax as legislators and AFSCME are threatening to do?d. Could they reopen the boot camp as legislators and AFSCME are threatening to do?e. After threatening for months, the Senate voted to override the governor’s veto of funding for Tamms. How was it stopped in the House?f. Will life be better for these men at other prisons?g. Aren’t Pontiac and Menard just as bad?
ANSWERS HERE: Tamms Year Ten
And don’t miss the Belleville News Democrat exposé that came out two days before the House vote in the veto session. These two unstoppable reporters have been critical to the downfall of Tamms. Their recent article was published around the country and shocked legislators. By the way, two men at Tamms provided information that helped make this story possible:
We thank each of you for such exceptional generosity and teamwork over the last five years. We would have to create a scroll to document the many individuals and organizations who have been part of the Tamms Year Ten campaign. It has been a very tough year, and here are just a few examples of the kindness and humanity that got us all over the finish line:
• One family held a raffle for a flat-screen TV at their church to fund our expensive chartered bus to the hearings in Ullin, Illinois. Like many families, their son had already been transferred out of Tamms but they fought for the men left behind.• Sullivan Galleries at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago gave us a wonderful office and exhibit to work from, and two assistants!• The sisters at 8th Day Center for Justice knew we needed help and loaned us their intern.• Our Adler student workers worked overtime.• Our union printer cheerfully rushed and discounted our orders.• The organization Nation Inside commanded our technological weapons.• Photographers from all over the world filled photo requests and got us in the news.• Dozens of folks made donations that freed us up to organize hundreds of people to contact their legislators instead of fundraising.• Many brilliant people wrote stunning op-eds.• The Midwest Coalition for Human Rights and the National Religious Campaign Against Torture helped us find and fund experts from around the country to testify at the closure hearings, and supported this work in every way any of us could think of.• The Illinois Consortium on Drug Policy at Roosevelt University and the Sargent Shriver National Center for Poverty Law, faithful allies for years, energetically lobbied in the veto session, and more.• U.S. Representatives Danny K. Davis and Bobby Rush and State Senator-elect Patricia Van Pelt Watkins stood beside us at a press conference to demand closure. Their profound, heartfelt speeches inspired and re-energized the room, which happened to be filled by our friends from Saving Our Sons Ministries.• Dr. Patricia Van Pelt Watkins, Dr. Cecilia Swafford Harris and the Women’s Council on Community Intercession held a summit about Tamms to explain how such conditions lead to violence and hopelessness. Afterwards, they strategized, lobbied, and gave us a whole Lobby Day worth of troops to take to Springfield.