Darrell Cannon Presentation/Tamms

First of all, having the opportunity to listen to Darrell Cannon’s first hand experience was very beneficial.  I really value his courage to reflect on such horrible memories and speak about them to a group of people.  This was/is clearly a tragedy. No doubt about it.  Not only did he lose 24 years of his life, but he was tortured and lost everything that had meaning to him. I can’t even begin to imagine what he is going through.

During his presentation I could not help but wonder how in the world a jury convicted him.  Since he confessed because of being tortured, why wasn’t the confession inadmissible?  His attorney could not have proved that he the confession was coerced?  I’m sure that the answers to these questions only emphasis the flaws in the system. Darrell mentioned that the prosecution did not have any witnesses again him, so did they base the conviction solely on the confession?

I also found the actions of the parole board very flawed.  They constantly refused to grant him parole, yet the state’s attorneys office worked out a deal with him.  Again, flaws in the system.  In my opinion, in order for the criminal justice system to work efficiently, all of its members must be on the same page. If they’re not, like in Darrell’s situation, it’ll be chaotic.


Finally, I think that Darrell’s descriptions and thoughts of Tamms Correctional Center allowed me to realize how awful of a place it really is.  At one point Darrell said, “Tamms is not for humans.”  When he said this, I could not help but wonder how he survived and stayed sane for the nine years he was confined there.  He mentioned that people around him were going crazy and allowing the institution to “break” them.  But Darrell also told us that there were some positives to his experience.  For instance, some of the guards were friendly. Although this is a minor detail, I think that it shows Darrell’s credibility and honesty.

This really was an eye opening experience.  I can’t help but think about those who were wrongly convicted and are currently in prison, with no way out.


3 Responses

  1. I have also heard Darrell speak and was similarly moved to sympathy and anger. His ability to describe how he kept his mind alert during all those years in solitary was astonishing. He would use all sorts of mental gymnastics — remembering and singing on Saturday night every song he knew; recalling on Sundays the words of sermons he had heard; imagining on other days all the places he had read about in magazines. And then there were the physical challenges he set himself: push-ups, running in place etc.

    I don’t think many of us could have come out of that place with our minds intact. Thanks for your posting.

  2. This is going to be my blog about Darrell Cannon and any related topics. I may be replying to someone’s entry that would be because I can’t find how to start my own, but as long as it appears, I guess it doesn’t matter.
    It is hard to put into words what Darrell Cannon’s speech meant to our class. I will try not repeat what was already mentioned in other blogs. Hearing Darrell’s story I couldn’t help but think he is not the only person that suffered at the hands of certain police officers. It also made me mad and think that the odds that the people responsible will be brought to justice is very slim. This is not because I don’t believe in the justice system, but it is the reality that they are police officers, and like it or not it is hard to prosecute them. This is coming from someone hoping to go into law enforcement, but I guess this shouldn’t sound like a shock, I know how the world works, especially with police and expecting 100% ethical conduct. Even if Burge is brought up on the current perjury charges, in my opinion, that’s not justice because he will not be punished for his acts. I feel like even if he is convicted he will not spend many years in prison. Since I was feeling this, it made it all the more amazing to hear Darrell not harbor so much hate in his heart. I also liked when he said he doesn’t think all cops are bad, because like I said for someone going into law enforcement it is frustrating to hear these stories because it has the possibly of contributing to a generally negative public view of law enforcement. Rightfully so people question and are critical about how people in power conduct themselves, because it is easy for these people to run with this power. I feel this may infuriate the good hearted law enforcement people even more than it makes the public furious because it makes honest hard work seem worthless when compared to such terrible abuses of power.
    My favorite part of his speech was when he talked about how these days he is enjoying his life. I like to focus on the positive and I was happy to hear him speak about the little things he does nowadays which mean to the world to people who were in prison for so long, things people take for granted in daily life. I can’t even begin to image what Tamms would do to a person even with Darrell’s description which did help wrap your mind around the conditions for a second, but I must admit it was a rather fleeting thought since when the class is over we can get up and walk out of the classroom. This sense of confinement is hard take on because it is something which hopefully none of us will ever experience.
    It’s not that I don’t believe or discredit Darrell’s story but like I said I like to focus on the positive, so another part of his speech that I enjoyed was when he talked about how he pushed himself physically and mentally while at Tamms. This is not only fascinating because of conditions at Tamms but because it is a model for all of us to see what the human body is capable of even in such drastic conditions. It makes you think twice about being lazy. Finally, in the spirit of restorative justice as I observed even during the speech, Darrell’s position on certain issues speaks volumes about this idea. I think Darrell’s case as far as the crimes that were committed on him, may be too extreme to use in a typical restorative justice kind of way, however, given all Darrell has said it is hard to say how he may react if he ever sat face to face with the people who did these terrible acts. Because he has such a calm spirit he probably would not react the way many people would who were in a similar situation. I say this because he explained his view on the death penalty, and I think that since Darrell understands how cruel acts can affect someone so much, it makes it difficult for him to wish any suffering on some other person. Darrell made this clear when he talked about how he didn’t wish things upon the police officers due to how their families would feel. Maybe it is because Darrell has experienced such first had brutality and evil that he feels like he would become like one of the people who carried out these acts if he wished suffering from others.

  3. Listening to Darrell Cannon’s speech on his experience in prison and with corrupt law enforcement officials infuriated me. How can people sworn to uphold the law engage in such vicious, cruel, and violent behavior? The Chicago Police Department without a doubt needs to change the hiring process for police officers, with an emphasis more on background checks and psychological testing and yearly polygraph testing to ensure our officers are upholding the law correctly! But then if this is implemented, would we have many police officers working the beat? Perhaps not…

    The conditions at Tamms are breath-taking in the worst way possible. Never haven been there myself, I can still say this based on the first-person accounts of Darrell Cannon himself. He spent a grueling 24 years at Tamms and in the process lost 3 loved ones, if not more. What struck me the most about his speech was the part where he explained Tamms is meant to break a person mentally, physically, and emotionally. It is not a prison for humans, but animals. He went to describe how all day long he would hear some of the inmates laying flat on the ground in their cell and spend 23 hours of their day kicking repeatedly and constantly at the cell bars. Aside from the prison itself, the sound alone could drive a man crazy, he explained.

    I had heard in class that some inmates self-mutilate themselves by cutting off their penis and rubbing “correction cocktail” (urine and fecal matter) all over themself and their cell. Darrell added that once an inmate goes crazy, they are capable of doing just about anything and the frightening part of it is that eventually most of them will end up back in society…walking our streets. Aaaahhhhh! I wanted to scream! Corrections needs to change the conditions and treatment at Tamms immediately! It doesn’t make sense to keep people like this who will eventually be released.

    Rehabilitation can take place through communication, a work program, educational classes, etc. and all this can happen while someone is in prison. It happens in female correctional facilities, so why not in male correctional facilities?


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