Category Archives: Supermax Prison: Controlling the most dangerous criminals

A writer’s high without the hangover

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I never thought  I would have written four prison-related books.  That was not my intention some 15 years ago while traveling a beaten-down, two-lane highway to the Dwight Correctional Center.   I was about to have my first interview with a female inmate, convicted of first-degree murder and sentenced to life without parole.  What I thought would be a one-time interview, turned into a two-year journey and my first book — “The Rita Nitz Story:  Life Without Parole.”

While working on Rita’s book I met another inmate who was incarcerated for killing her five-year old stepdaughter.  The inmate, Becca, suffered from a bipolar disorder, unable to recall the murder.  After obtaining copies of her mental health record, I began another two-year journey that turned into a second book — “Cherry Blossoms & Barren Plains:  A woman’s journey from mental illness to a prison cell.”

A memoir based on my experiences as a victim of childhood sexual abuse — Mnemosyne:  A love affair with memory,” was my third book.  “Supermax Prison:  Controlling the most dangerous criminals,” and “Dark Days in Chicago:  The Rehabilitation of an Urban Street Terrorist,” brought my total to five.  My role in “Dark Days” was that of an editor, writing coach, and supporter.  Point being, I never know where my writing opportunities might lead.  A curious mind allows me to explore experiences I never imagined.

Now I’m stepping into the world of Urban Novels.  This is a genre quite foreign to me, but popular among readers interested in raw, violent stories associated with urban culture, crime syndicates, etc…  The stories can be page-turners, emulating some of the darker movies and television shows we sometimes see.

I met an inmate, a friend of Adolfo Davis who helped me with the research for the Supermax Prison book.  The new inmate shared a manuscript of an urban novel he is working on.  I have to say, his imagination is without boundaries.  His writing is good, but his story telling is outstanding; a real page turner.  I have agreed to offer my assistance in his project.  It should be interesting to watch the collaboration of an urban novel writer with myself, an author of creative nonfiction.  Creative experiences are what keeps me going; a reason to get up in the morning; a writers high without the hangover.

 

 

Midwest Book Review of “Supermax Prison: Controlling the most dangerous criminals

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I’m pleased to share a recent review from “Midwest Book Review” on my latest work, Supermax Prison:  Controlling the most dangerous criminals.  

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The Social Issues Shelf

Supermax Prison
Larry L. Franklin & Rakesh Chandra MD. JD.
History Publishing Company, LLC
PO Box 700, 15 Heyhoe Woods Road, Palisades, New York 10964-0700
http://www.historypublishingco.com
9781933909837, $19.95, PB, 240pp, http://www.amazon.com

The collaborative work of Larry L. Franklin and Rakesh Chandra, “Supermax Prison: Controlling The Most Dangerous Prisoners” is a penetrating look at the violence that swept the American prison system in the 1980’s and 1990’s and the organizational structure mirroring the Mafia that erupted in them. The inmates had to make a choice between joining a gang that offered protection, friendships, financial rewards, access to drugs and other contraband or serving as a lone inmate in a dangerous, even lethal world. The worst in this violent world were sent to the supermax prison, Tamms, located in Illinois. “Supermax Prison” is the story of Tamms and the men incarcerated there. Impressively informed and informative, “Supermax Prison: Controlling The Most Dangerous Prisoners” is a deftly crafted and extraordinary study that is highly and unreservedly recommended for both community and academic library, Contemporary American Judicial System collections and supplemental studies lists. It should be noted for the personal reading lists of criminology students, governmental prison policy makers, academia, and non-specialist general readers with an interest in the subject that “Supermax Prison” is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $2.99).

Interview with WSIL TV on “Supermax Prison: Controlling the most dangerous criminals”

Click on the following link for interview with WSIL TV

http://www.wsiltv.com/story/37029505/author-says-tamms-prison-could-have-been-a-success

 

 

Interview for “Supermax Prison: Controlling the most dangerous criminals”

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Recently I was interviewed by John Clemens, SAL Audio, on my most recent book, “Supermax Prison:  Controlling the most dangerous criminals.”  Please check it out.

(click here for the complete audio release)

 

A Troubled Mind

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The scientific community has evolved at a much faster rate than our moral development and oftentimes views the causes of violent behavior differently.  For centuries, neuroscientists have studied the physical structure, chemical makeup and biological effects of one’s environment on human behavior.  For purposes of this book, we are concerned with violent male inmates housed in maximum-security or supermax facilities.  What is society’s moral responsibility to inmates who commit violent crimes? What do we do with them?  History indicates that our nation is content to lock them away in unsavory conditions, breeding places for further violence and more mental illness, with little hope for rehabilitation.  When inmates are released, they are often more violent than before.

For centuries, personal behavior in Western societies has been based on the premise that human beings have the God-given gift of “free will;”  the choice between good and evil, moral and criminal responsibility, and the power to exercise independence and self-control.  A righteous choice earns pubic acceptance, while a violent one brings punishment.  The U.S. Supreme Court has called “free will” a universal foundation for our system of law, distinct from a deterministic view of human behavior that is inconsistent with the fundamental assumptions of our criminal system.  In the United States v. Grayson 1978, the Supreme Court wrote that any intellectual development that threatened “free will” would seem to place the ethics of punishing people for their bad behavior in question.  “Free will,” as the doctrine that society has espoused, covers morality, law, politics, religion, public policy, intimate relationships and the psychology that governs life’s moral compass.  If society suddenly believed that “free will” were an illusion, would we become a rudderless world without moral direction?

The deterministic view from the scientific community believes that human behavior is based on a combination of our biological makeup and life’s experiences — nature and nurture.  Nature tattoos us with a genetic makeup, our DNA, that determines who we are in many fundamental ways. Nurture is a product of the countless life experiences that mold our core.  From  the beginning, we are organisms with a genetic blueprint that continually interacts with our environment, causing change to occur as we move from conception, to childhood, to adulthood and finally, to death.

Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) and Computerized Tomography (CT) are two of the many brain scanners used to peer inside a living person’s skull, revealing intricate networks of neurons that are shaped by both genes and environment.  A large portion of the scientific community believes that the firing of neurons determines all of our thoughts, hopes memories and dreams.  We now know that changes in brain chemistry and the physical properties of the gray matter can alter human behavior.

March 31, 1981.  Ronald Reagan, 40th President of the United States, finished a speech pushing his economic program, and deploring the rising violent crime in the inner cities.  Surrounded by Secret Service agents, metropolitan police, and White House staff, Reagan left the Washington Hilton Hotel and hurried through a light rain toward a limousine parked 12 feet away.  It was 2:25 p.m., when Reagan, looking very presidential with his Reaganistic smile, and a slightly cocked head that was a staple in his movies, waved to 100 or so well-wishers standing behind a roped-off area.  Reporters readied for a story; cameramen wanted that special photo; and a patchwork of people waited for a glimpse of their President.  It was a scene that would be replayed countless times on the daily news, and discussed on every talk show across the nation.

It was sudden, like a flock of black birds in startled flight.  Six gunshots pierced the air.  Bang, bang, then a pause, followed by four successive shots fired from within the crowd.  It appeared as though the President had not been hit.  But an eyewitness, as reported by Lou Cannon of the Washington Post, said it all, “The President winced.  The smile just sort of washed off his face.”  Three men fell to the ground — Timothy J. McCarthy, a Secret Service agent, Thomas Delahanty, a metropolitan policeman, and James Brady, the likeable press secretary who friends called “the bear.”  While McCarthy and Delahanty each had flesh wounds, Brady took a bullet to the head.  Rain washed puddles of blood down the sidewalk and onto the road.  Agents pounced upon a white, blond-haired man, later identified as John Hinckley, a 29-year-old dressed in a raincoat, blue shirt and dark trousers, who gripped a handgun while they wrestled him to the ground.  Hinckley was subdued and whisked off to jail.  The President’s limousine and police cars raced to George Washington University Hospital.

President Reagan’s wound was serious:  a .22 slug penetrated his chest, ricocheted off a rib, and entered his lung, resting about one inch from his heart.  An 80-minute surgery followed by 12 days in the hospital led to a full recovery.  McCarthy and Delahanty recuperated, as well.  But Brady was not as fortunate.  The bullet seemed to explode in his head, causing permanent brain damage.

Initial public expectation centered on whether Hinckley would spend the rest of his life in prison, or if he would be put to death.  But as days passed, Hinckley’s future became less certain.  His mental state began to unfold.  In 1976, five years before the shooting, Hinkley bad become obsessed with the movie Taxi Driver, where a psychotic taxi driver, Travis Bickle (played by Robert DeNiro), contemplates political assassination and then rescues a young prostitute, Iris (played by Jodi Foster), from a pimp.  Hinckley took on the mannerisms — the army fatigue jacket, the fascination with guns, and even the taste for peach brandy — of the Bickle character.  Hinckley’s infatuation with Iris developed into a full-fledged imaginary love for Jodi Foster, so much that he sent her love letters and stalked her on the Yale university campus.  It was later revealed that Hinckley had even stalked President Carter and planned to assassinate him to impress Jodi Foster.  But each time, he was unable to follow through on his original intent.  A love letter sent to foster just hours before he carried out his assassination attempt of Ronald Reagan showed the depth of Hinckley’s mental illness.

Dear Jodi,

There is a definite possibility that I will be killed in my attempt to get Reagan.  It is for this very reason that I am writing you this letter now.

As you well know by now I love you very much.  Over the past seven months I’ve left you dozens of poems, letters and love messages in the faint hope that you could develop an interest in me.  Although we talked on the phone a couple of times I never had the nerve to simply approach you and introduce myself.  Besides my shyness, I honestly did not wish to bother you with my constant presence.  I know the many messages left at your door and in your mailbox were a nuisance, but I felt that it was the most painless way for me to express my love for you.

Jodi, I would abandon this idea of getting Reagan in a second if I could only win your heart and live out the rest of my life with you whether it be in total obscurity or whatever.

I will admit to you that the reason I’m going ahead with this attempt now is because I just cannot wait any longer to impress you.  I’ve got to do something now to make you understand, in no uncertain terms, that I am doing all of this for your sake.  By sacrificing my freedom and possibly my life, I hope to change your mind about me.  This letter is being written only an hour before I leave for the Hilton Hotel.  Jodi, I’m asking you to please look into your heart and at least give me the chance with this historical deed, to gain your respect and love.

I love you forever,
John Hinckley
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This is an excerpt from my latest book.  For more information on the criminal mind check out “Supermax Prison:  Controlling the most dangerous criminals” to be released in early December.

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Press release for “Supermax Prison”

Press release for “Supermax Prison:  Controlling the most dangerous criminals.”  While the Ebook is available, the paperback will be released late November or early December.  I have advanced copies of the paperback if you are interested.  Contact llfranklin12@gmail.com

https://www.einpresswire.com/shareable-preview/wO4FxH4LLocQVY-Men1TPw

 

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Supermax Prison: Controlling the most dangerous criminals

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Several people have asked me about the release date for the printed version of “Supermax Prison:  Controlling the most dangerous criminals.”  The release date has been moved to November 2017.  I’m sorry for the delay, but it is what it is.  However, I do have several advanced copies of the book that I use for book signings, etc…  If interested,  contact me at 618-521-5041 or my email address llfranklin12@gmail.com, and we can make arrangements for you to have the paperback at a cost of $20.

Please check out the following link for information about a recent book celebration party.

http://www.annanews.com/news/new-book-about-supermax-prison-tamms-unveiled

 

 

 

 

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.

 

 

 

 

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….

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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