This is what I saw on my television screen as CNN switched from live coverage of President Obama’s town hall in China to a story about Guantanamo’s future: “Illinois Prison A Mini-Gitmo?” I had the TV muted because I was still tuning in to the town hall on my laptop. I assumed the Gitmo reference to Illinois prisons was about the rampant culture of torture and corruption reported out of Chicago jails.

Short excerpt from the Chicago Police Torture Archives

  • May 1972 – Jon Burge is promoted to Chicago Police Detective and is assigned to the Area Two detective division on the south side of Chicago. Area Two serves a mostly African-American community, and it is here that the military training in torture he received in Vietnam first begins to arise in the context of his police work.
  • Aug. 1972 – the first allegations of torture and abuse against Jon Burge and other Area 2 detectives are made by three African American men arrested and held at Area 2, Mastin, Smith, and Hill.
  • May 30, 1973 – Anthony “Satan” Jones is tortured by electric-shock and suffocation with a plastic bag by Burge and his men while in custody at Area 2.
  • 1977 – Burge is promoted to Sergeant at Area 2.

Instead CNN was referring to Illinois being the latest to join the prison economy gold rush set off by the planned closure of Guantanamo Bay and the resulting need to find alternate “housing” for current inmates.

A proposal to house federal prisoners, including some detainees from Guantanamo Bay, in a largely vacant maximum-security prison would be an economic boost to struggling northern Illinois, state officials said Sunday.

There’s always something perverse about economic development driven by imprisonment but it’s even more perverse to see Illinois raise its bloodied hands and offer itself as a solution to the Gitmo shutdown. Of course, it could be the state’s secret plan to preserve that authentic Guantanamo feel by forgoing the supermax prison and throwing the detainees right into a Cook County jail.

Update: Monday 3:42pm. Just got this comment on Facebook will give you more information about the Tamms Supermax prison, also in Illnois, its abuses, and the campaign to reform it.

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