Tamms Correctional Center

Tamms Correctional Center, now closed, once was the state’s highest security prison, often referred to as Tamms Supermax. Tamms was a male prison located approximately 360 miles south and west of Chicago. Nearly all states operate a supermax prison reserved for gang leaders or inmates who are extraordinarily disruptive and dangerous. Typically they include inmates who have attempted to kill staff or other inmates, have organized gangs to challenge prison management, or who have proven to be exceptionally destructive. Although conditions vary widely at the nation’s supermax prisons, they are often characterized by years of solitary confinement, sensory deprivation, extremely aggressive security measures and long-term physical and social isolation of inmates. This was the case at Tamms.

In “A Price Illinois Cannot Afford: Tamms and The Costs of Long-Term Isolation,” the John Howard Association offers an unprecedented analysis of the operations and policies of Illinois’ only supermax prison. This special report was based in part on a March 2012 visit that followed Governor Quinn’s proposal to close Tamms. The report set out JHA’s findings with respect to conditions of inmates housed in the facility's closed maximum security unit (C-Max), considerations regarding Tamms’ proposed closure, and the costs and consequences of long-term isolation.

Additional Reports