The discussion that the class had with Darrell Cannon last week was amazing. Darrell was able to tell us so much information that we would not be able to get anywhere else. I’m sure bits and pieces of his story are around, but the best information always comes from the main source. The thing that made me think the most was when Darrell talked about being in Tamms. He said that Tamms was made to mentally and even physically break the prisoners. I found this to be very disappointing. The prison system should break people; it should help them. It was reassuring to know that some of the guards were nice though. It was nice to hear that some people were understanding and that they knew that the prisoners were people too. I’m sure not all prisoners go to prison wanting to change and become different people, but they should have the chance if they want to. If DOC officials and guards treat the prisoners badly and don’t give them a chance for rehabilitation then what is the point of the prison?….to keep them locked up for the rest of their lives without a chance to become a better person?
Darrell was one of the best public speakers I have ever heard in my life. Almost every part of his story was so extremely interesting from how he got to prison in the first place, to his life at Tamms, to his life now. The one thing that really struck me was his attitude towards Burge and his “crew” that tortured him into confessing to a crime he really didn’t commit. He said that he hates them every day of his life, and doesn’t expect his attitude to change ever. I thought this was so interesting, since he seems like such a Christian man, one of moral character in principle, that he can’t seem to forgive these men for that they did to him. Its understandable to me, they took away, what, 24 years of his life with his wife and children and family for something he never did. If I were him and had some of the best years of my life taken from me, I’d couldn’t be angrier either. What’s amazing about Darrell though, is that he doesn’t show how angry or mentally scarred he is from the whole experience. He was so kind, and funny and happy and nice, if I ever met him on the street I would have never guessed he had been tortured and put in prison. I really am awed at his Continue reading
The presentation of Darrell Cannon was astonishing. Sitting there and listening to him, it was almost unimaginable to most of us how a person can go through so much and still remain sane. But not only he persevered though days of unthinkable torture (cattle-rods, fake shotgun shots, humiliation) and nine years of solitude in Tamms, he is stronger now than he was before, as his rage and anger at what was done to him push him forward.
One has to admire the courage of all victims that are willing to relive the pain of their suffering, only so they can teach others and raise awareness about the realities they lived through. What struck me most about Mr. Cannon, was his manners (which he explained by the strong family ties and ethic that he was raised with). Having been in Tamms for 9 years for a crime he was tortured to confessed to, it is striking that he managed to raise above those that were trying tirelessly to bring him down and not for once utter an ugly jargon word at an officer.
His presentation made me wonder about a lot of things though… Continue reading
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.
Unfortunately missing the protests, I somehow managed to get to Lisa Madigan’s speech. And not just to the video room, but “the real one.” (I’m mentioning this, because security was super tight, it almost felt like I’m going to hear the President of the United States speak)
Either way, the room was filled with reporters and seemingly important people. After a brief introduction by another Loyola Law School alumna, Lisa Madigan began her speech, which overall was very well put together (The woman definitely has character and charisma).
A friend of mine that was accompanying me noted that the speech was rather autobiographic, as she spoke about her undergrad studies in Georgetown and adventures in Africa, where she taught a robust group of “hungry for knowledge” students.
Also, she devoted a large portion of her speech to praising “U.S. Senator Paul Simon, an Illinois Democrat who influenced her to reconsider what she wanted to do with her life”
The interesting part came, after a brave protestor who somehow have managed to sneak in, lifted protest Continue reading