Shutting Down a Supermax: An Interview With Alan Mills of the Uptown People's Law Center

Alan Mills is the Legal Director of the Uptown People’s Law Center in Chicago, Illinois.  The Center has been involved in ongoing litigation on behalf of Illinois prisoners challenging the procedures used to send inmates to Tamms, the state’s supermax facility.  Shortly after Illinois Governor announced plans to close Tamms, he spoke with Solitary Watch about […]

Leading Mental Health Experts Urge Illinois Legislators to Close Tamms Supermax

When it comes to the psychological effects of solitary confinement in U.S. prisons, there are three acknowledged experts: Drs. Stuart Grassian, Craig Haney, and Terry Kupers. The three have collaborated on a joint statement on the closure of Tamms supermax prison, which was proposed last month by Illinois governor Pat Quinn. The statement is directed […]

Illinois Governor Proposes Closing Controversial Tamms Supermax Prison

In a budget briefing held this afternoon, Illinois Governor Pat Quinn proposed closing the state’s notorious Tamms supermax prison. The proposal is part of a package of deep spending cuts to nearly all areas of state government, which Quinn called a “rendezvous with reality.” Tamms holds more than 200 prisoners in long-term solitary confinement in conditions that […]

Voices from Solitary: The Meaning of "Life"

Joseph Dole is currently serving a life sentence without parole at Tamms state supermax prison in Illinois. For the past eight years, he has been in solitary confinement (under conditions described by Dole himself here, and detailed in recent newspaper exposés here and here). His writing has been honored by the PEN American Center’s Prison Writing Contest and appears […]

Federal Judge: Extended Solitary Confinement Causes "Lasting Psychological Damage and Emotional Harm"

In a follow-up to a recent ruling by a federal judge that prisoners at Tamms state supermax in Illinois do not receive due process, the Belleville News-Democrat reports on some significant features of the judge’s written decision. As George Pawlaczyk and Beth Hundsforfer write, the judge’s statement supports researchers’ findings that extended solitary confinement not only exacerbates mental illness, but causes […]

Judge Rules Procedures at Tamms Supermax Violate Constitution

A federal judge yesterday ruled that current procedures for sending prisoners to the Tamms Correctional Center in southern Illinois–and keeping them there indefinitely–is in violation of the 14th Amendment to U.S. Constitution, which guarantees due process of law. The judge ordered that significant changes be made at the notorious state supermax. George Pawlaczyk, whose award-winning coverage last year exposed […]

Rising Criticism of Tamms Illinois Supermax

Some of the best reporting on solitary confinement last year came from Beth Hundsdorfer and George Pawlaczyk at the Belleville News-Democrat, a regional paper in southwestern Illinois. Their multi-part series on the state’s twelve-year-old supermax prison, “Trapped in Tamms,” appeared in the paper in August. Their expose was particularly damning on the treatment of mentally ill inmates at Tamms. In a […]