The Graduate Employees Organization at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, IFT-AFT Local 6300 AFL-CIO, supports the proposed closure of Tamms Correctional Center, the Supermax Prison in Tamms, Illinois. As an Illinois local committed to social justice and human rights, we condemn the deplorable conditions imposed on the people incarcerated at Tamms Correctional Center, which includes 23-hour solitary confinement, limited access to phone calls or other connections to the outside world, and no physical contact. A significant percentage of people incarcerated at Tamms have been subject to these conditions for over a decade. Prolonged solitary confinement is a form of torture that has been linked to severe, long-term psychological damage and increased mental illness. This kind of torture has been condemned both locally and internationally. We join these voices to support working people everywhere in advocating for justice and human rights for all people.
The possible closure of Tamms Correctional Center reflects a pivotal moment for the labor movement in the current era of mass incarceration in the United States. The growth of the prison industry through rising rates of incarceration over the past three decades and the recent turn towards privatization of prisons, combine with the disproportionate sentencing of working class people and people of color to make the advent of mass incarceration in the United States not only a social justice issue, but a labor issue. Rather than support an already bloated prison system, we urge all labor unions to join us by opposing the growth of prisons and the racist and inhumane policies of mass incarceration, such as the continued funding of Tamms Correctional Center. We instead encourage the expansion of unionized employment outside of the Prison Industrial Complex into other sectors of the economy, including non-prison industries, public service, and public education.
The Graduate Employees Organization, AFT/IFT Local 6300, AFL-CIO, The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, represents approximately 2,700 Teaching and Graduate Assistants on the UIUC Campus. In November 2009, over 1,000 GEO members successfully went on strike to secure a fair contract for graduate employees and a more accessible UIUC. The GEO continues to work for justice and equity in public higher education in Illinois. For more information, please contact GEO Communications Officer Ryne Leuzinger at firstname.lastname@example.org.