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March 14, 1971 - Image 4

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 1971-03-14

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a
special
feature

the

Sunday

daily

by
bill
dinner

Number 45 Night Editor: W. E. Schrock

Sunday, March 14, 1971

Guilty

till

proven

innocent:

Inside

Wayne

County

Jail
treated as human

COUNTY JAILS are where people
wait for trial. They are the place,
to be more specific, where poor peo-
ple wait for trial. Under the law, any
person charged with a crime less than
murder can be released on bond
pending trial. But poor people have
no money for bond, nor money for a
bondsman's fee. So they wait in jail.
In the large cities, those who wait
in jail are predominantly black. In
the Wayne County Jail in Detroit,
over 85 per cent of those detained are
black. The result of county jails being
the place where poor blacks are kept
means jails are way down on gov-
ernment priority lists. There is never
enough money for jails.
The Wayne County Jail is no ex-
ception. Built over forty years ago, the
jail was built to house 900 people. On
the day last month that a lawsuit
was filed on behalf of prisoners by
several prominent Detroit and Ann
Arbor attorneys to close down the jail,
there were over 1400 prisoners there.
Cells built for one person are now
home for two and often for three.
Many inmates have no mattresses, no
sheets, no towels. The hot water is
turned on for two hours a day and
a few prisoners, brave enough to try,
get a chance to take showers.
Even when a prisoner is able to get
a mattress or a sheet or a towel it is
likely to be dirty. Mattresses are not
sanitized, and except for the brand

once every two weeks, and the pri-
soner is separated from his visitor by
a glass partition. Children under 18
are not allowed to visit. Both in-
going and outgoing mail is censored.
This priority alone is one philoso-
phy of penology. It is the philosophy
which built Alcataraz, Soledad, and
almost every county jail in the coun-
try. It is a philosophy which permits
people to be treated like animals.
NORA WARE was incarcerated in
the Wayne County Jail December
10, 1970. She was charged with forg-
ing checks and- her bail was set at
$300. Her parents came down with all
the money they had - $190. But the
bondsman wanted that plus collat-
eral. The Wares had no property, and
so Nora could not get out of jail.
Ware's life leading up to her im-
prisonment was in itself a tragedy.
Sometime in the fall of 1970 she
suffered several shotgun wounds in
her arm, stomach and back.
She was operated on for removal
of the pellets and was supposed to
return for skin grafts on the o p e n
wounds, but never made it. Her nine
month old baby had developed bron-
chitis and retained a fever of 105
degrees. After a brief hospitalization
the baby died.
Ware testified last week before the
three-judge panel hearing the case to
close down the jail that she was not

tire ward were assigned to a set of
completely bare, filty, total isolation
cells.
There, her sutures turned inside out
and excessive bleeding began. After a
day she was asked if she wanted any
medical attention. She refused to
accept any, she testified, unless her
wardmates were returned to t h e i r
normal surroundings.
After the others were taken out o
isolation a matron told Ware "you
had your chance to go to the hospital
and now you can bleed." She had no
mattress. The water, though at first
turned on was later turned off. No
blankets, no cigarettes, no reading
material, no visitors, no one to talk
to and no utensils with which to eat.
When she was returned to her cel
after the tortous six days in the 'hole'
- the worst of the solitary cells - hei
fetus was found in the toilet.
THERE ARE other philosophies of
what prison should be. In a re-
port on the Wayne County Jail done
three years ago by the National Coun-
cil on Crime and Delinquency, three
functions of a pre-trial detention
center were proposed:
1. Security - keeping the prisoners
from getting out;
2. Humane care for those kept in
the jail;
3. Treating persons so that their
stay in prison will not have a substan-
tial adverse effect on them when they
are released.
The report found the jail com-
pletely ill-equipped to meet the lat-
ter two functions. Sheriff Lucas, now
a defendant in the suit to close the
jail, admits that the jail does not be-
gin to meet the requirements of de-
cent, humane care.
Offering a striking contrast to the
currently dominant philosophy of
penal servitude is noted criminolo-
gist Thomas Merton. Merton, current-
ly a professor at the University of
Minnesota, was formerly head of the
Arkansas prison system. That was un-
til he uncovered the bodies of three
buried inmates. At first promised a
full investigation by Governor Win-
throp Rockefeller, he was instead fir-
ed.
Merton has testified on behalf of
the plaintiffs in the case to close the
Wayne County Jail.
Merton proposes that pre-trial in-
mates have as much freedom as
possible and that all p r i s o n e r s
be provided with adequate facilities.
including training and rehabilitation
programs. The inmates, he feels.
should be able to run the laundry,
take care of housekeeping chores, and
help in food preparation.
MERTON'S most controversial ideas
revolve around the question of
inmates' participation in prison oper-
ation. "Essentially, says Merton, I
believe in sharing institutional man-
agement with the inmates, with cer-
tain safeguards.
"I'm suggesting and have used a
system whereby inmates become in-
volved in routine decision-making for
things that affect their lives. There are
three basic reasons for this. One is
part of a general scheme to indicate
to the inmate that you do not consid-
er him 4 moral pauper because he's in
the joint. That's 'one technique that
you indicate that he has some worth.
In other words, that his opinion is of
some value.
"The second point is that the in-
mates are involved in making deci-
sions about the institution and if the

idea doesn't go over, then the hostility
of the inmate body has to be focused
upon their own consequences of their
own decisions. So you don't have too
much of an attack against the war-
den.
"Thirdly, of course, the institution
functions much better that way be-
cause the inmates know what's wrong
with the institution and given the
nroner Guidelines and leadershin. they

amount of bail is generally set in an
apparently haphazard manner.
Often, the differences in amounts
don't make enough difference. Some
people, including those associated
with organized crime, for instance,
can make any bond. Arville Garland,
a white, upper-middle class man who
was later convicted of second-degree
murder for killing his daughter and
two young men who were staying with
her, was allowed out on $2,500 bail-
low for murder-because the judge
thought the jail would be harmful for
him. Nora Ware's bail was only $300.
But that didn't help because her fam-

ed in the Wayne County Jail are evil
and sadistic. But the sheriff, the jail
administrator, the members of the,
county board. of commissioners are
basically urban politicians, some of
them hard-working.
Lucas, is light-years away from
sheriffs like Doug Harvey or Mad Dog
Madigan. He is an ex-FBI man, a
former assistant in the Justice De-
partment under Bobby Kennedy. His
office contains all the right books on
crime. Close to the liberal wing of
the Democratic Party, he may have
the chance to be the first black Sen-
ator or Governor of Michigan.

prisoners should be
beings.

Most deputies, however, simply be-
come de-sensitived. It is easy to for-
get that the prisoners under their
care need and are entitled to decent
and humane treatment. These depu-
ties after a while begin to treat the
prisoners like objects. Complaints
are disregarded, questions go 'unans-
wered, medication is not dispensed.
The prisoners have few responses.
The most drastic is suicide. Already in
1971, there have been fifteen attempts
at suicide. In 1970, five succeeded. Pri-
soners joke about somebody getting
out of jail and you finally understand
they mean he hung himself.
When asked' who he blamed for
these conditions and the inability.,to
alleviate them, Lucas could find no-
body to blame. All the people with re-
sponsibility appear to be good people
trying to deal as best they can with a
difficult situation.
Money is involved and money
means political considerations. In the
Fall of 1970, the Director of the State
Department of Corrections, Gus Har-
rison, asked Attorney General Frank.
Kelley to start suit to close the jail
until major renovations were made.
Kelley, who would like the Democra-
tic nomination for Senator in 1972,
did not want to tangle with a black
sheriff who has his own powerful
political base, and refused to institute
the suit.
MEANWHILE THE human waste
continues. And those with the
responsibility for the situation act
the part of good Germans. But, good
Germans with a difference. While the
defendants at the Nuremberg trialor
Lt. Calley at his court martial claimed
that they were only following orders,
those responsible for the destruction
of people at the Wayne County Jail
claim they are still following orders
and therefore, not accountable. And
are allowed to get away with that
answer. Who cares about people in
jail, anyway.
WHAT THE PEOPLE being detained
before trial in Wayne County Jail
are guilty of is being poor and being
powerless, which are the worst crimes
one can commit under our system of
justice. The county jails are not an
abberation in the total scheme of Am-
erican justice. They are consistent
with a scheme that claims to consider
defendants innocent until proven
guilty, but which begins to punish
poor ones from the very moment of
arrest.
Sometimes there are moments
which make all the abstract attacks
clear. During the proceedings on the
jail law suit a very old white-haired
prisoner was brought in to testify
about the jail's isolation ward. While
attorneys argued about whether he
would testify, the man sat quietly.
After a couple of minutes, the court
decided that he could not testify. As
a deputy escorted him out of the
courtroom, the man asked the deputy,
"Was that my trial?".

MC

4j

new ones, they are covered with dried
urine, shit, and grime.
The cells themselves are small.
Many cells have floors flooded from
the back up from the leaking and
malfunctioning toilets in each cell.
One bare lightbulb provides light in
each cell. In the jail annex, built in
1963, there are long fluorescent lights
kept on all night.
"WHAT THE HELL do they do up
there?" says Sheriff William
Lucas, the man responsible for run-
ning the jail. "They sit, and did you
notice how young they are? They're
young guys, active guys, strong guys.
It's hard and it's dangerous. It's dan-
gerous as hell."
The Wayne County Jail, which
houses those who in the eyes of the
law are not guilty of any crime, has
no recreational, educational, or work
program. Even the state prisons,
where convicted prisoners are kept,
do better.
Prisoners svend most of their time
on the rock, the area in front of their
cells. They play cards - if they can
afford to buy paper, they write. Most-
ly, they just wait.

permitted to see a doctor in jail for at
least a week after her imprisonment,
although she was bleeding and drain-
ing from her wounds.
When she arrived at the jail, she
was assigned a top bunk, though the
deputies knew she was pregnant and
had stitches and couldn't jump up.
She also noted there were nine empty
bottom bunks in the adjoining ward.
"I fell out of the top bunk and bust-
ed my stitches," she testified. She
was bleeding badly and asked to see
a doctor. Instead, a deputy bandaged
her wounds and gave her an injection.
When she later complained of pain
and asked to see a doctor, she was
given sleeping pills. Finally, she was
taken to Detroit General Hospital
where she was treated, given a pre-
scription and told to report in one
week.
After being taken back to jail, she
testified she never received medica-
tion nor was she returned for her ap-
pointment.
"The deputies said there wasn't
enough time to take me," Nora con-
tinued. "The sutures were pulling and
drawing the pellets from the shot-
gun blast out."

ily could not raise it and the bail
bondsmen demanded a $190 fee to
write the bond.
Sometimes a good lawyer can get a
client out. Patricia Duncan, one of
the Detroit 16, stayed in jail over 15
weeks although she was pregnant and
anemic. Finally, her lawyers were able
to convince a judge that she was in
danger of lo'sing her child because of
the total lack of pre-natal care in the
jail, and the judge freed her on per-
sonal recognizance.
Pat Duncan was lucky. Her case is
being handled by a group of qualified
radical attorneys because it's a Black
Panther case. Thus, Pat Duncan re-
ceives the legal assistance usually
limited to those who can afford it.
Most people in the jail have court-
appointed lawyers who have neither
the time nor the inclination to de-
mand bond reduction hearings. These
lawyers get paid no matter what kind
of job they do. Some of them are con-
scientious, but too many are just into
plea-copping.
Many people waiting in the jail
don't get to see their lawyer until
trial. Often investigation is made by
the lawyer, and the prisoner awaiting
trial has very limited means of find-
ing witnesses.
When the detainee's case is finally
called for trial, usually there is no
trial. A deal is made; a plea is copped.
No determination of guilt or inno-
cence. The prisoner sells his guilty
plea. If he is lucky the price is time
already served in the jail plus proba-
tion. By pleading guilty, a person
walks; he makes it back to the free
world.
If twice as many defendants asked
for a jury trial as do currently, the
courts would simply stop functioning.
Those out on bail can afford to de-
mand all their rights. If their case is
postponed, they are not returned to
the jail. They keep their jobs and
their family life. And, most import-
ant, they can investigate their case,

He admitted last week in his testi-
mony that since the middle of 1960
he was aware that the jail was inade-
quate and debilitating. When asked if
too little was done to prevent the
mental and physical destruction of
inmates at the jail, he responded,
"That would be true."
But having made that statement,
Lucas conceded that there were still
no plans to totally renovate the jail
or build a new one. Although one and
a half million dollars was allocated
for the jail almost eight months ago,
not one cent has yet been spent. Lu-
cas could not even give a date when
he thought substantive changes would
begin.
Like their boss, those who work at
the jail are not evil. For the most part
the sheriff's deputies joined the de-
partment to work as peace officers.
Instead, their first job is in the jail
working as a screw. Some, like a wo-
man deputy who was suspended for
two days for calling prisoners niggers
or the dentist, who, according to tes-
timony at the trial, has never filled a
cavity, but rather just pulls the tooth,
appear to have no conception that

4.

-4

*1

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