Illinois’ corrections chief announced reforms intended to protect the mental health of inmates at the state’s supermax prison as a jury rejected a prisoner’s lawsuit against the former psychiatrist there, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports. Among the changes: more attention to the mental health of inmates at the solitary-confinement Tamms Correctional Center, which was designed to accept transfers of men deemed too dangerous or disruptive at other prisons.
“Because Tamms exists, the other 28 prisons in our system are a lot safer,” said corrections director Michael Randle. “There is ample evidence that shows significant decreases in staff and inmate assaults and gang activity since the opening and operation of Tamms.” Among the changes he promised: Prisoners may appeal a transfer to Tamms in an audio-recorded hearing before a three-member panel; officials will provide prisoners an estimated length for their stay and explain the process by which they earn privileges; prisoners who follow rules will be allowed to make phone calls, hang more pictures and participate, in religious services. They will be able to earn more recreation time and larger purchases at the commissary.