Advanced Reviews for Supermax Prison: Controlling the most dangerous criminals

Larry L Franklin

supermax_prison (4).jpgScheduled for release — ebook on August 1, 2017, printed book seven weeks later. 

Advanced Reader Reviews:

Supermax Prison is so vivid that readers will feel as if they can hear the cell doors closing behind them.  Larry L. Franklin and Dr. Rakesh Chandra have written a well-crafted and troubling book that raises important questions about the age old struggle between rehabilitation and retribution that a civil society faces when it encounters the so-called “worst of the worst.”  A brilliant portrait of hell.
Pete Earley, author of The Hot House:  Life Inside Leavenworth Prison

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As a member of the FBI Swat Team that put down the Atlanta prison riot in 1987, I recognized the need to separate the average inmate from the violent prisoners quick to instigate a prison uprising as the killing of a fellow inmate.  Supermax Prison does a remarkable job of informing the reading public…

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A Book Blurb from one of the best.

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I feel honored to have received a book blurb from Pete Earley, best selling author and mental health advocate.  Earley has penned 17 books including 4 New York Times best sellers.  My excitement drove me to share this with my friends.  Check out Earley’s link — http://www.peteearley.com/

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Supermax Prison is so vivid that readers will feel as if they can hear the cell doors closing behind them.  Larry L. Franklin and Dr. Rakesh Chandra have written a well-crafted and troubling book that raises important questions about the age old struggle between rehabilitation and retribution that a civil society faces when it encounters the so-called “worst of the worst.”  A brilliant portrait of hell.
Pete Earley, author of The Hot House:  Life Inside Leavenworth Prison 

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My ebook is available online and the paperback will be available in approximately two weeks.

 

 

 

 

I killed someone. Am I insane?

Larry L Franklin

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(Blog written three years ago.  Eddie Ray Routh was found guilty and sentence to life without parole.)

In a matter of days, we will know the fate of Eddie Ray Routh who is on trial for the murder of Chris Kyle, an American war hero, and his friend, Chad Littlefield. The twelve jury members of Erath County located in Central Texas, will decide one of four verdicts:  not guilty, guilty, guilty but mentally ill, not guilty by reason of insanity.  While Routh admits to having killed Kyle and Littlefield, the defense attorney claims that Routh was insane at the time he committed the crime, and should be found not guilty by reason of insanity.

Less than one percent of defendants in criminal cases plead insanity, and only one-fourth of them are successful. The majority of those acquitted by reason of insanity are schizophrenic or suffer from bipolar disorder. The insanity…

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An imaginary prison of the future

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The ebook for Supermax Prison:  Controlling the most dangerous criminals is available.  The paperback will be released in late September 2017.  Below is one of my favorite excerpts describing our imaginary prison of the future.
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While science tells us how to operate the prison of the future, we still lack the will, the inner force that drives success.  Nevertheless, we have our imagination and dreams, the incubators where ideas are born.  Perhaps there is another chapter to our story; the birth, death, and resurrection of Tamms, our imaginary prison of the future.

    A handful of inmates, 2 correctional officers, and a farmer stand in the middle of 236 acres of bottomland in the heart of southern Illinois.  It’s mid-summer.  A 50-acre stand of toast-colored wheat is about to be cut in early July.  Some 150 acres of weed-free soybeans stretch across the horizon like waves of green swinging to and fro from the gentle push of a southernly breeze.  Inmates stand silently, marveling at the spiritual alliance between Mother Nature and men willing to work; taking stock of themselves, realizing who they have become.  Money from the bean and wheat harvests will be used to pay for inmate labor and equipment they might need.

     The farmer and inmates begin playing catch with what we call “farmer talk.”  One inmate picks up a clod of dirt and breaks it apart with his bare hand.  “Beans look good, but we could sure use a slow summer rain.”  Other inmates agree as they kick at the parched soil.  Someone asked if it is time to harvest the beans.  “Well, let’s take a look see” the farmer says.  “If the color is yellow to green the beans are asking for more time.”  He grabs a handful of beans and spits tobacco juice onto the ground.  “We’re looking for a tan to brown color, and beans that rattle in the pod.”  He pulls the pod apart and asks an inmate for his thoughts.

The inmate rolled the beans between his thumb and index finger.  “Seems a little damp to me.  Maybe need two or three more weeks.  I guess Mother Nature has a say.”

“I think you’re right.”  As they walk across the field, the farmer whispers to the correctional officer.  “This guy is going to make a good farmer.”  These inmates are gaining the skills and temperament to be real farmers.  When they join the outside world, they might be hired hands on a farm, or perhaps they will own a piece of land someday….

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I ain’t no better than a dirty dime.

Larry L Franklin

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I was reading a story from Rolling Stone about an old favorite of mine, Kris Kristofferson.  While I don’t listen to him often, I’m drawn by his lyrics like a bee to honey.  I sat at my computer and let his music help me write my imaginary song.

I ain’t no better than a dirty dime

I’ve got the writer’s itch,
when words flow from my mouth
like grease droppings on a dirty floor.

Thinking about days gone by
as they skip out the door.
Hey little buddy of mine,
you’re ain’t nothing but my little whore.

All my writing, singing, and therapy stuff,
don’t change you a little bit.
I own you, he whispered that night.
You ain’t no better than a dirty dime.

Hey, Kris Kristofferson,
you old buddy of mine.
I’m turning you off,
‘fore the dark fog moves in.
Best you go away,
before I begin…

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Fish heads in an open bag — listening to the mentally ill.

Larry L Franklin

Mcherryblossom_cover_smThese  are excerpts taken from my second book, “Cherry Blossoms & Barren Plains:  A woman’s journey from mental illness to a prison cell.”  I have drawn from the chapter called Fish heads in an open bag. Becca, the subject of my book was serving sixty years for allegedly killing her five-year-old stepdaughter.
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I have listened to Becca for hours upon hours.  In every season of each passing year, I have sat across from her in the visit room looking at her drawn and tired face, listening to her struggle to find ways of expressing her mental and emotional realities.  What she says is not always cohesive, or narratively coherent, but over time, I have learned to piece together the fragments of her mental processes, and the images that she sees, in ways that blend with my imagination.  If Becca hears “voices” or “racing thoughts,” it might now be…

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Investigative journalism — why this, why that, why not, why?

Larry L Franklin

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(Most likely a photo of group therapy in a supermax setting.)

Investigative journalism is to discover the unknown, the information that escapes the public eye.  As adults, we seem to have lost the inquisitive nature of childhood — why this, why that, why not, why?  Instead, we engage in the comforts of social media where like-minded individuals support our stationary beliefs.  Perhaps we need to rediscover our scientific nature where we question, probe, and examine the meaning of “whatever.”

In the pursuit of my most recent book, “Supermax Prison:  Controlling the most dangerous criminals,” the available literature is focused on the negativity of the supermax prison.  While there are stories of unimaginable violence, sadness, and injustice, there are hues of happiness and hope.  But any piece of investigative journalism moves past the obvious and seeks the information hidden within the unfamiliar.

One cannot explore the history of the supermax without…

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Prologue to “Supermax Prison: Controlling the most dangerous criminals

Larry L Franklin

supermax_prison (4).jpgThe ebook will be released on August 1, 2017, followed by the paperback a couple of weeks later.  I am sharing the prologue to the book at this time.

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Prologue

Few residents can tell you that Illinois was granted statehood on December 3, 1818, or that the state animal is the white-tailed deer. Fewer still know that the bluegill is the state fish or that the monarch butterfly, painted turtle and pumpkin pie gained similar state recognition. But most people know about the place called Tamms.

In the mid 1990s, Governor James Edgar and the Illinois Legislature signed off on the construction of the Tamms supermax prison, built just a stone’s throw from the village of the same name. Small towns were sprinkled across the countryside with room for seasonal crops and native wildflowers that graced the picturesque bottomland of southern Illinois. Herds of cattle steadied themselves as they…

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Review from The Gazette-Democrat

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I received a nice review on my book, “Supermax Prison:  Controlling the most dangerous criminals,” from The Gazette-Democrat in southern Illinois.  Appreciate all efforts to get the word out.  If you like the review, please share.

http://www.annanews.com/news/author-shuttered-tamms-center%E2%80%99s-story-not-finished

 

Prologue to “Supermax Prison: Controlling the most dangerous criminals

supermax_prison (4).jpg

The ebook will be released on August 1, 2017, followed by the paperback a couple of weeks later.  I am sharing the prologue to the book at this time.

***

Prologue

Few residents can tell you that Illinois was granted statehood on December 3, 1818, or that the state animal is the white-tailed deer. Fewer still know that the bluegill is the state fish or that the monarch butterfly, painted turtle and pumpkin pie gained similar state recognition. But most people know about the place called Tamms.

In the mid 1990s, Governor James Edgar and the Illinois Legislature signed off on the construction of the Tamms supermax prison, built just a stone’s throw from the village of the same name. Small towns were sprinkled across the countryside with room for seasonal crops and native wildflowers that graced the picturesque bottomland of southern Illinois. Herds of cattle steadied themselves as they stood on the hilly terrain, and black vultures, sometimes called “shabby undertakers,” patrolled the two-lane highway just east of the prison gate, swooping down to devour the latest roadkill.

The Tamms supermax was the ultimate result of prison violence during the 1980s and early 1990s, when prison gangs mirrored the organizational structure and control of a big-city Mafia. Most inmates who entered Illinois’ maximum-security prisons had to make a choice between joining a gang that offered protection, friendships, financial rewards, access to drugs and other contraband, or surviving as a lone inmate in a dangerous, even lethal world. Some of the more violent inmates eventually sent to Tamms included Henry Brisbon, the I-57 killer; William Cabrera, sentenced for the killing of correctional officer Lawrence Kush; Ike Easley, who stabbed superintendent Robert Taylor to death; and Corey Fox, an inmate who strangled his cellmate. The Tamms supermax seemed to be the best way to reduce violence, protect the safety of staff and inmates and improve the functioning of the four antiquated maximum-security prisons in Illinois.

The Illinois Department of Corrections, together with architects, construction workers and outside advisers, were determined to create a state-of-the-art facility that would provide safety for inmates and staff, with a special emphasis on the mental health needs of a unique population. In 1998, Tamms opened with the certainty of success, and the assurance of jobs in a county that labored under the weight of 18 percent unemployment.

But time eroded public confidence in a facility that imposed long-term solitary confinement years beyond acceptable practice. What began as a high-tech facility became known as a hellhole of misery, a place where the sane became insane, the sickest turned crazier than before. News outlets, inmate lawsuits, scholarly exposes and human rights groups contributed to the demise of Tamms some 15 years later. Any counter arguments were like whispers in the crowded arena where gladiators ruled the day.

The strangulation of a $73 million structure is a story that needs to be told. Rakesh Chandra and Larry L. Franklin met at the Long Branch coffee shop in Carbondale, Illinois, to discuss the possibility of a book about the Tamms supermax. Chandra had been the Tamms psychiatrist over a seven-year period. Franklin had written two books on women sentenced to life in prison for murder, and had experience as an investigative journalist. Together, they began a journey of twists and turns that eventually expanded beyond their initial expectations.

Human rights groups were passionate in their criticism of the supermax; politicians were unwilling to provide adequate funding; scholars sometimes picked their favorite statistic to prove a point; inmates told unimaginable stories sprinkled with a measure of truth; and families shared stories passed on by boys who became broken men. But the quieter voices spoke of inmates who improved while at Tamms; mental health workers who were able to practice their craft; correctional officers who lived beyond their life expectancy; the orderly function of lesser-restricted facilities; local residents who spent a chunk of their life to bring the supermax to their area; and southern Illinois residents who brought home a paycheck every two weeks.

While there are stories of unimaginable violence, sadness and injustice, there are hues of happiness and hope. An abundance of literature addresses the perceived evils of Tamms. But any piece of investigative journalism moves past the obvious and seeks the information hidden within the unfamiliar. We discuss in some depth the treatment of mental illness in and out of a prison setting, the difficulty of providing correct diagnosis within a unique population and society’s moral responsibility in caring for the mentally ill. It is the authors’ desire to present the good and bad, the certain and unimaginable. The reader can choose sides on the issue, or embrace the broader story of Supermax Prison: Controlling the most dangerous criminals.