End Human Rights Abuses at Tamms Supermax Prison Today

Prisoners at Tamms supermax prison are held in permanent solitary confinement. There is no communal activity, no contact visits, and no phone calls. Men never leave their cell except to shower or go to solitary exercise in a concrete pen.

Suicide attempts, self-mutilation, and severe mental illness are common at Tamms—this is an expected consequence of the harsh punishment of long-term isolation.

Incarceration at the supermax was approved by the Illinois legislature as a short-term “shock-treatment” program for men already in prison who cause harm to guards or other inmates. Instead, Tamms has become a warehouse and a human rights disaster:

  • - One-third of the population has lived in this extreme solitary confinement since the prison opened almost 11 years ago.
  • - There are no clear procedures for being transferred to Tamms and there is no way to earn your way out.
  • - Most prisoners in Tamms do not deserve to be there for this lengthy period. Many were not placed in Tamms for acts of violence, and have not had disciplinary problems at Tamms.
  • - Long-term isolation creates barriers for successful reentry to society, or to other prisons, where these prisoners will return.
  • - There is no correctional justification for placing seriously mentally ill men in a supermax for extra punishment.

Identical treatment at Guantanamo Bay has been judged by Attorney General Eric Holder to be too isolating for prisoner safety. All prisoners at Guantanamo Bay are now provided social interaction and phone calls, in compliance with the humane-treatment requirements of the Geneva Convention. 

The following groups in the Tamms Year Ten campaign have already endorsed this legislation:

Tamms Year Ten
8th Day Center for Justice
American Friends Service Committee–Chicago
American Friends Service Committee–Michigan Criminal Justice Program
Amnesty International
Amnesty International Midwest Regional Office
Bethel New Life
Black People Against Police Torture
Blue River Quarterly Meeting of Quakers (Central Illinois)
California Prison Focus
Campaign to End the Death Penalty
Cathedral Counseling Center
Catholic Campaign for Human Development
Catholic Conference of Illinois
Champaign-Urbana Citizens for Peace and Justice
Chicagoland Coalition for Civil Liberties and Rights
Champaign-Urbana Interfaith Alliance
Champaign-Urbana Citizens for Peace and Justice
Cheap Art for Freedom Collective
Chicago County Fair
Chicago Legal Advocacy for Incarcerated Mothers
Chicagoland Coalition for Civil Liberties and Rights
Citizens For Earned Release
Community Renewal Society, Civic Action Network
Critical Resistance Chicago
Crossroads Fund
C.U.R.E. Illinois
Education Justice Project, Urbana-Champaign
F.A.I.T.H., Inc.
Faith Summit for Criminal Justice Reform
Families for Stateville
Feel Tank Chicago
Forum for Understanding Prisons
Human Rights Watch
Illinois Campaign for Telephone Justice
Illinois Institute for Community Law
Illinois Prison Talk
Illinois Psychiatric Society
Insight Arts
John Howard Association of Illinois
Joliet Diocese Restorative Justice Committee
José E. López, Executive Director, Juan Antonio Corretjer Puerto Rican Cultural Center
Justice Coalition of Greater Chicago
Long-Term Prisoner Policy Project
Men and Women in Prison Ministries
Mennonite Peace and Justice Initiative of Champaign-Urbana
Mental Health America of Illinois
Mental Health Summit of Illinois
Midwest Books to Prisoners
Midwest Coalition for Human Rights
NAACP Chicago South Side Branch
National Alliance Against Racist & Political Repression–Chicago
National Alliance on Mental Illness—Greater Chicago (NAMI)
National Alliance on Mental Illness—Illinois (NAMI)
National Alliance on Mental Illness—South Suburbs of Chicago (NAMI)
National Boricua Human Rights Network
National Lawyers Guild–Chicago
National STOPMAX Campaign/AFSC
Next Steps, NFP
Peace and Social Justice Ministry of the Diocese of Joliet
Prison Ministry of Covenant United Church of Christ
Progressive Community Center, The People’s Church
Raising Awareness to Inspire Others
Rev. B. Herbert Martin, Progressive Community Center, The People’s Church
Roderick MacArthur Justice Center
Roosevelt University, Institute for Metropolitan Affairs
Saving Our Sons Ministries
Saints of Humboldt Park
Sewing Rebellion
Shut-Up Prison Ministry
Southwest Youth Collaborative
Springfield Worship Group, Religious Society of Friends
St. Leonard's Ministries
Stateville Speaks
Tamms Committee
Tamms Poetry Committee
Temporary Services
The Beautiful Struggle
Urbana-Champaign Books to Prisoners
Urbana-Champaign Friends Meeting (Quaker)
Voices for Creative Non-Violence
Waukegan Coalition to Reduce Recidivism

Please sign the petition below to put a stop to this extreme form of punishment in Illinois.

Items marked with an "*" are required.

Please consider adding your complete address. Legislators can only respond to voters in their district, and your address helps us encourage specific legislators to support this legislation.

25-50 of 2216 signatures
Number Date Name Location
2191 February 12, 2010 Karen lutterF Poughkeepsie, NY
2190 February 10, 2010 wesman Shaw Kaufman, TX
2189 February 10, 2010 Doug Tjapkes Spring Lake, MI
2188 February 10, 2010 Doug Tjapkes Spring Lake, MI
2187 February 10, 2010 A. Parker AMSTERDAM- THE NETHERLANDS
2186 February 10, 2010 Gayle B. Rosenberry Baltimore, MD
2185 February 10, 2010 Gayle B. Rosenberry Baltimore, MD
2184 February 10, 2010 Rebecca McFarland Las Cruces, NM, NM
2183 February 04, 2010 Albert Mendez chicago, IL
2182 January 24, 2010 Mary Dean Chicago, IL
2181 December 24, 2009 Megan Mozley chicago, IL
2180 December 15, 2009 Bryan Walsh Bloomington, IN
2179 December 05, 2009 Dana Steinhoff Hawn Louisville, IL
2178 November 23, 2009 Angela Baluk Chicago, IL
2177 November 23, 2009 Christopher Mellott Mt. Vernon, IL
2176 November 11, 2009 Natasia Frank Chicago, IL
2175 November 10, 2009 Carolyn Gregory ,
2174 November 09, 2009 Mercedes Martinez chicago, IL
2173 November 09, 2009 Mercedes Martinez chicago, IL
2172 November 09, 2009 Mercedes Martinez chicago, IL
2171 November 09, 2009 Mercedes Martinez chicago, IL
2170 November 09, 2009 Ronal Martinez chicago, IL
2169 November 09, 2009 Crystal Rosario chicago, IL
2168 November 06, 2009 Alanna Graves Urbana, IL
2167 November 01, 2009 Roger Marquis Omaha, NE
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