A book review can provide a “writer’s high,” or reduce the author to a pile of rumble. But when the words come from his mentor, the review is a big deal.
Elizabeth Theresa Klaver was a Professor of English at Southern Illinois University; my client when I had a financial planning practice, and a friend as I shared my history of physical and sexual childhood abuse. Poetry was my means of expression. I shared my poems with Elizabeth, and what followed were months of private sessions where we worked on my writing skills. What happened, we never could have imagined. My fourth book is about to be published.
Supermax Prison is the best of Franklin’s books to date. It’s a must read for anyone interested in the US criminal justice system and its Supermax prisons. Franklin provides the historical context for the supermax and the philosophy behind it, the pros and cons, the supporters and detractors, and whether it can actually work in practice. The supermax at Tamms, Illinois, is his case in point. Covering its rise and fall, Franklin shows how local developers in Southern Illinois, one of the state’s most impoverished areas, convinced the governor to award the supermax to the village of Tamms, bringing with it hundreds of jobs. Soon, though, it became a subject of controversy, lauded on one hand as a model of rehabilitation, therapeutic support, and security for both inmates and employees and on the other as a torture chamber. Recognizing that there are no easy answers to the problem of what to do with the most dangerous inmates, Franklin gives a fair hearing to all sides of the supermax question, providing documents and interviews with Tamms inmates and their court appeals, guards, psychiatrists, therapist, the warden, and even the chaplain. Though the story of the Tamms Supermax ends with its closing, Franklin draws on his research to imagine a prison of the future that might just work.
Elizabeth Theresa Klaver, Professor of English