Grievance Demands from Prisoners at Tamms Correctional Center

A. Health
1. We demand that all prisoners suffering from psychological and or mental illness be removed from Tamms, where often times they are ridiculed, harassed and provoked by overzealous and unprofessional prison guards, and placed in a mental-health setting that will provide adequate and proper care.

2. We demand that the Macing of inmates with poisonous gases that injure everyone on the pod cease at once.

3. We demand that all Tamms prisoners be provided examinations by a licensed podiatrist for determination as to whether prisoners have suffered any adverse medical effects caused by the shoes we are compelled to wear. We demand that the blanket policy of denying arch supports to prisoners who have medically mandated reasons for the supports be abolished.

4. We demand the abolishment of the cruel and unusual policy of subjecting prisoners to eating meal loaf or nothing at all. Not only is such policy dehumanizing, it is also designed to enable guards to retaliate against prisoners at anytime, just at a whim. ("Meal loaf" is a mixture of hamburger, chopped vegetables, applesauce, tomato paste, bread crumbs and milk powder.)

5. We demand that Tamms C-Max immediately permit prisoners to possess clothing that is suitable to the climate in compliance with Departmental Rules 502.210(a).

6. We demand the right for those of us who have difficulty with English to have access to bilingual IDOC personnel on the medical staff.

B. Arbitrary, Vague and Unwritten Policies
1. We demand the abolishment of the "renunciation policy" as the only way out of Tamms. By adopting this policy, the IDOC has clearly embarked upon a course of conduct that will ultimately lead to prisoners and/or their loved ones being physically assaulted and/or murdered. If a prisoner does not agree to renounce his alleged gang affiliation, and provide compelling and convincing information (become an informant), he will spend the duration of his sentence in strict isolation at Tamms -- for some prisoners for the rest of their lives.

2. We demand that prisoners' requests for restoration of good-conduct credits be processed in a manner which is timely and in compliance with Departmental Rules 107.160. Although Departmental Rule 107.160 states that prisoners may submit for restoration every three months, to do so is a fruitless gesture, as it takes a six-month minimum to process a request. This unwritten policy restricts prisoners to submitting every six months, as opposed to every three as dictated by the Department's own rules.

3. We demand that Tamms C-Max immediately cease to allow its employees to bring tobacco products into the prison, as prohibited by Departmental Rule 505.110. While 505.110 is strictly enforced against prisoners and their visitors, it is overlooked and arbitrarily circumvented for staff, thus forcing prisoners to breathe secondhand smoke circulated through the ventilation system.

4. We demand our right to a meaningful annual hearing about whether we can transfer out of Tamms, before the transfer review committee, as is mandated by Departmental Rule 505.70, and that the recommendations for or against transfers be based on present behavior.

5. We demand that the arbitrary "administrative leave" imposed upon Chaplain Hal Barker be removed and that he be reinstated as the facility chaplain. Additionally, we demand that IDOC cease its retaliation against Chaplain Hal Barker for his exercising his First Amendment rights of religious beliefs and speech in exposing Tamms' system of unwritten policies.

C. Grievance Procedures
1. We demand that grievances filed by prisoners at Tamms be resolved in a timely and responsive manner. Further, we demand that the counselors and grievance officers cease deciding grievances so as to hide the unprofessional and/or racist conduct of some prison guards, a requirement that is mandated by the Department's own training manual.

2. We demand the right for non-English-speaking inmates to speak to bilingual personnel during the grievance process, including when speaking to counselors and grievance officers and when appearing before the adjustment committee.

3. We demand the right for prisoners who have mental disabilities to have helpful assistance in the grievance process.

D. Mail Handling
1. We demand the abolishment of the practice of arbitrarily delaying the delivery of incoming as well as outgoing mail. Such practice is contrary to Departmental Rule 525.120(a).

2. We demand that the practice and/or policy of removing, redacting or altering the postmarked dates on our incoming mail cease immediately, since this is done deliberately to conceal the fact that our letters are being withheld by prison officials beyond the date they're supposed to be delivered.

E. Programs and Education
1. We demand the abolishment of the policy that prohibits prisoners in segregation status from participating in Tamms' education programs.

2. We demand the right to take the G.E.D. for credit.

3. We demand meaningful programs such as the kind that exist in the supermax in Florence, Colo.

F. Segregation
1. We demand the abolishment of the unsanitary policy that prohibits prisoners in segregation status from taking more than one shower per week.

2. We demand the abolishment of the policy that prohibits prisoners in segregation status from purchasing food items from the commissary.

G. Visits
1. We demand the abolishment of the policy that requires prisoners' visitors to submit a "visitor request form" 14 days in advance. All visitors must be listed on a preapproved visiting list in the first place. Therefore the "visit request form" is redundant and is designed solely to discourage visits.

2. We demand the abolishment of the demeaning and dehumanizing policy of requiring prisoners in segregation status to wear handcuffs during no-contact visits. This policy serves no legitimate penological interest and is in fact an exaggerated response to security concerns.

3. We demand the abolishment of the policy that prohibits prisoners in segregation status from receiving more than one visit per month.

H. Telephones
1. We demand that prisoners classified as administrative-detention status be allowed to make phone calls in accordance with Departmental Rules 504.660(d) and 525.150.

2. We demand that prisoners classified as being in segregation status be allowed to make phone calls in accordance with Departmental Rule 504.620(q).

I. Recreation
1. We demand that prisoners be provided a broader range of outside recreational opportunities other than those that are allowed now, which is only to pace back and forth in a concrete box where the only equipment is a rubber handball.

J. Commissary
1. We demand that the excessive prices now being charged for commissary items be lowered, either by reducing the markup or contracting with a cheaper distributor. Illinois law mandates that goods for prison commissaries shall be purchased wholesale -- a law that Tamms ignores. Also, prices could be lower if Tamms bought from an Illinois vendor instead of from an out-of-state retailer who relies on UPS for delivery.

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