Author says Tamms prison could have been a success - WSIL-TV 3 Southern Illinois

Author says Tamms prison could have been a success

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CARBONDALE -- A new book explores both the good and bad aspects of the controversial supermax prison, which once operated in the Alexander County town of Tamms.

Tamms Correctional Center was a political lightning rod, even after it closed in 2013.  

Reports of brutal conditions and poor inmate treatment plagued the prison. 

But as author Larry Franklin researched his new book "Supermax Prison: Controlling the Most Dangerous Criminals", he found the truth of the place included many good points.

"Because most of the literature that we have that's out there about supermax prisons is very, very negative and how it's torture and that sort of thing," Franklin said. "But we found another side to it also where it helped some people and it also hurt some people."

Franklin, spoke to the Carbondale Lions Club Friday. He told the crowd he believes the Illinois Department of Corrections made mistakes with Tamms.

"They originally said that each inmate would be re-evaluated within 30 days and would not be in solitary confinement for more than a year," Franklin said. "Well as what turned out was some of those inmates were in solitary confinement for over 10 years and they lost hope. And without hope, you don't improve."

Franklin also documented some success stories.  

He cited the case of Adolfo Davis, a Chicago man convicted of murder at age 14, who bounced around prisons until he landed at Tamms in 1998.  

"He did not want to take counseling until he saw other inmates doing it because where he came from, if you take counseling, they call you a 'bug', and a 'bug' is somebody that's crazy, so that was not cool," Franklin said.

But Davis saw other inmates at Tamms going through counseling, so he decided to give it a shot.

Franklin wrote therapy helped him discover issues tearing him apart, helping him experience emotions he never felt before and fueling his transformation.

Davis remains in prison today but Franklin believes Illinois could have made Tamms a success, if it only had the right plan in place.

Franklin's book will be out in paperback form in January. It's already available as an e-book on Amazon, which you can find here.

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