A Weekly Update on Issues with Illinois State Senator Gary Forby...
Last week, I sent a letter to Governor Pat Quinn asking him to obey the wishes of the General Assembly and the people of Southern Illinois and to keep important state service centers and other facilities open. My biggest concern is Tamms Correctional Center because it is here in the 59th Senate District, but I’m also worried about places like Murray Developmental Center, which serves people throughout Southern Illinois.
These state facilities were all built for a reason. Tamms was built to lower prison violence by moving the worst of the worst out of the general population. These are violent men who have attacked or killed other inmates or guards. They’re gang leaders who smuggle illegal materials into prisons and still have the power to incite violence and other criminal activity outside. They’re dangerous killers and brutal rapists.
Murray was built to help families care for sons, daughters, sisters, and brothers who have severe developmental disabilities. In most cases, these are men and women who need more care and supervision than a family can realistically provide at home. In many cases, these people with disabilities simply can’t function in less-supervised, less-institutional settings.
They were also built in their current locations for good reason. Some, like Tamms, were built in communities with high unemployment rates. They create good-paying jobs in communities where people need good-paying jobs. Others, like Murray, were built to serve specific geographic areas. If Murray and Jacksonville Developmental Centers close, as the governor has proposed, families from Southern and Central Illinois will have to drive almost all the way to Chicago to see their loved ones.
A legislative committee held hearings on these facilities over the spring. It recommended keeping them open—most often because there simply wasn’t a reasonable plan for moving the people and jobs somewhere else. The General Assembly passed a budget with sufficient funding to keep Tamms, Murray, and other important state facilities open. I sent the governor a petition with nearly 1,000 signatures from Southern Illinois residents who believe closing these important facilities is a mistake.
I want to take this opportunity to once again ask the governor to keep them open. The money is in the budget plan on the way to his desk. People’s lives and livelihoods are at stake. Governor Quinn, please sign the budget as it is.