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Is This America's Worst Prison? The Inspirational Campaign to Close Tamms Supermax

Tamms Supermax was designed for just one purpose: sensory deprivation.

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“I think back when I first heard of the ‘Tamms Poetry Committee.’ I thought I needed to read a poem like I needed a 25th hour a day to spend in that box! Who would have known though, through patience, steadfastness + perseverance, such an innocuous sounding group would transform into this mighty dynamo that would eventually shut down a Supermax prison! Amazing.
“Sadly, I believe the ones to benefit the most from this will be those who will never have to go to Tamms. For those who spent time there, they are damaged on some level, to some degree. While none of us will ever be the same, some are broken beyond repair.”


A former Tamms prisoner shares his elation at experiencing relative freedom in small ways. Elsewhere in the same letter, he writes:
“Hey, we can finally go outside with more than one person. Still takes time to get use to it. THANK YOU! …
“The support we received from everyone is inspiring and emotional. YOU WILL NEVER KNOW HOW MUCH YOU ALL TOUCHED US! THANK YOU ALL! …
“I can finally wear some sweat pants. No more jumpsuits. I even have my own bowl. It may sound trivial, but I haven’t had one in over eight years. A MILLION THANK YOUS!”


This drawing was made by a boy whose father was held in Tamms, as he anticipated the closure of the supermax. Once it closed, Tamms Year Ten sent a copy of the drawing as a New Years Day card, signed by volunteers, to each man transferred from Tamms to other prisons. The positive feedback has been tremendous.