Seven Days in Solitary [8/3/2014]

Solitary confinement news roundup: 7 Days in Solitary

The following roundup features noteworthy news, reports and opinions on solitary confinement from the past week that have not been covered in other Solitary Watch posts. • California’s Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) introduced new policies that limit the use of force against prisoners with mental illness, including establishing strict restrictions on cell extractions from […]

Voices from Solitary: A Day in the Life, Part III

Tamms Cells

This post is the third in a series of pieces Solitary Watch is publishing as part of a new project calling for people held in solitary confinement to write on various proposed themes (read the first and second entries here and here). Our first suggested theme, “A Day in the Life,” calls for writers to describe a day in his […]

Voices from Solitary: Hunger Strike in Menard Prison

menard cc

A little over a year ago, the notorious Tamms Correctional Center was closed, after a long battle by activists and with the support of Governor Pat Quinn. Individuals were rehoused in prisons across Illinois, including Menard Correctional Center, the largest maximum-security institution in the state. While few would argue that it is anything but an improvement over […]

Voices from Solitary: American Supermax


Joseph Dole is serving a life without parole sentence for a conviction that he continues to fight pro se. He was confined in Tamms Supermax Prison for a full decade, from 2002 through 2012, when a court ruling gave him and others at Tamms a due process right to a fair hearing, which allowed him to win a […]

The Art of Activism: Closing Tamms Supermax

tamms mud

A new article from Creative Time Reports highlights the role played by politically engaged art in the campaign to shut down Tamms supermax prison in southern Illinois. Tamms closed its doors for good in January, but only after a protracted battle in which family members of the incarcerated, grassroots activists, and artists–joined to form the group […]

The End of Tamms Supermax


As the new year began, the notorious Tamms state supermax in southern Illinois closed its doors forever. The closure marked the end of a decade-long effort that combined legal and political pressure with press exposes and tireless grassroots organizing. One excellent recap of this effort and its remarkable outcome was published by In These Times, here. Two […]

Tamms Supermax: Report Reveals More Guards Than Prisoners, Soaring Costs


The Belleville News-Democrat known for a 2009 exposé that helped rouse opposition to conditions at Tamms Supermax, has now provided new ammunition in the longstanding battle to close the notorious prison. In addition to being both unnecessary and abusive, Tamms is incredibly inefficient, according to a new story by George Pawlaczyk and Beth Hundsdorfer. Tamms Supermax, which is part […]

Tamms Supermax Prison Closure Temporarily Halted


On September 4th, Alexander County Circuit Court Judge Charles Cavaness  temporarily halted Illinois Governor Pat Quinn’s plan to close the Tamms supermax prison, where hundreds of inmates have been held in solitary confinement. The ruling came days after an arbitrator ruled that the Governors plan was in violation of union contracts. Prison union employees with […]

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 […]

Testimony from Hearing on Closure of Tamms Supermax Prison

Following Illinois Governor Pat Quinn’s proposal to close Tamms Prison, the Commission on Government Forecasting and Accountability held a contentious hearing, with proponents and opponents of the closure voicing their views on the controversial supermax facility. Nearly 700 pages of testimony is available. What follows is a sampling of some pieces of testimony to provide […]