Friday, March 30, 2012

Tamms Year Ten Campaign goes to Closure Hearings

Occupy Chicago Press Committee

Gathering at 5am on Monday April 2nd, supporters will join the Tamms Year Ten Campaign to travel to southern Illinois by bus at Roosevelt El stop (Roosevelt & State St) to attend legislative hearings on the closure to the Tamms Supermax Prison being held at 12pm at the Educational Center, campus of Shawnee Community College in Ullin IL. Following, on Wednesday, April 4th at 12pm, we will rally at the IDOC headquarters and governor's office at the James R. Thompson Center and march peacefully over to AFSCME, Council 31 headquarters.

The Tamms supermax prison, located in southern Illinois, is one of about 45 supermax prisons in the country designed for solitary confinement and sensory deprivation. Men never leave their cell except to shower or exercise alone for one hour a day in a concrete pen. Meals are pushed through a slot in the door. There are no jobs or communal activities atTamms. “Suicide attempts, self-mutilation, psychosis and serious mental disorders are common. The U.N. Committee Against Torture considers such conditions to be cruel, inhuman and degrading, and when the isolation is indefinite—as at Tamms—to be form of torture”, says Stephen Eisenman, Tamms Year Ten member.

Last month, Illinois Governor Quinn proposed closing the Tamms supermax prison, which would be the successful goal completion for the Tamms Year Ten, an all-volunteer grassroots coalition consisting of ex-prisoners, prisoner's families, artists, writers, students, lawyers, Occupiers and other ordinary citizens. However, powerful forces are now fighting to keep Tamms open, especially Illinois legislators from the districts surrounding Tamms, and the guards union (AFSCME). On Monday, April 2nd ( at the legislative hearings, we will denounce this prison and it’s techniques while standing in solidarity with prisoners. We will make it clear that the prison industrial complex’s profits are not more important than the people this affects.

Besides sharing this message with legislators, we will rally and march on Wednesday, April 4th( to remind the governor, the Illinois Department of Corrections and the public that closing Tamms supermax is not about jobs, but about human dignity. Our march will honor the legacy of Martin Luther King, Jr. on the 44th anniversary of his assassination in Memphis. It will be lead by the moms, dads, sisters, and other loved-ones of men at Tamms. We will carry signs that read "I AM A MAN" just like those carried in Memphis, but here signifying that men at Tamms, and prisoners everywhere have fundamental human rights. Other signs will read "I AM A MOM" and "I AM A SON" to indicate that the families of men at Tamms are also devastated by the prison's soul destroying regime of solitary confinement and sensory deprivation.

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