Courts & Crime

'Trapped in Tamms': A series by the Belleville News-Democrat

The series "Trapped in Tamms" about the treatment of inmates at the Tamms Correctional Center was born out of a phone call from a Belleville woman to reporter George Pawlaczyk of the Belleville News-Democrat last year.

The woman was concerned about the effect that day after day of solitary confinement at Tamms was having on her son, a convicted murderer serving a life sentence.

We never heard from the woman again, but her call piqued the interest of Pawlaczyk and reporter Beth Hundsdorfer. Their reporting led to the series "Trapped in Tamms" by Pawlaczyk and Beth Hundsdorfer.

The title gives a hint of what they found. The state built the supermax to hold the "worst of the worst" inmates in solitary for about a year, or until their behavior improved. But Pawlaczyk and Hundsdorfer found that dozens of inmates were held for 10 years or more under conditions that have alarmed some civil rights attorneys and prisoner advocates.

Read the complete series at series "Trapped in Tamms."