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November 12, 1972 - Image 13

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Michigan Daily, 1972-11-12
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Sunday, November 12; 1°9 - Sunday, member 12, 1972


I r s

Hof fa leavino L Lewisburg: "Where men are treated like animals."

On life inside a cage

9 " 0

These are
lit cered at a
the Inmate,"

excerpts from a speech de-
Conference on "Problems of
held at the Law School Sept.

I served 58 months in Lewisburg Federal
Penitentiary, 58 months when I witnessed
what actually is the everyday happening
in federal prisons. And whether it be
Lewisburg or any one of the other prisons
in the United States-federal, state, coun-
tv, city jail-they all operate on the same
basis: that power is right, that muscle
is always ready to be used, and that the
inmate is nothing more than a number.
Let me recite to you my experience. I
hope that none of you have the experi-
ence that I had, but I would venture to
say that in this large group there will be
some who will enter prison, based on
antiquated laws (enforced by) s t u p i d
judges and prosecutors trying to elevate
themselves to positions of higher author-
ity in their federal or state system. . . .
I entered Lewisburg prison in 1967. . .
You enter (through) a 40-foot wall sur-
rounding 27 acres of land after having
been transported 200-300 miles . . leg
irons, chains, a belt around your waist
and sometimes a belt around your neck-
all tied together so you can hardly walk,
let alone sit in an automobile. As you
enter that gate you are searched, all
your possessions are taken, and there is
very little you can take into prison with
you . . . Finally you are taken into the
jail itself, the prison, disrobed, searched,
mugged, given a number, hustled up im-
mediately into segregation, and there you
begin the life of a prisoner . .
In segregation it is determined solely
whether- they can break you. To show you
that they are the power and the muscle
that runs the prison, by allowing yo~u to
take a bath once a week, by allowing you
to shave once a week and sometimes eat
only one meal a day-a meal that isn't
even fit for a pig, let alone a human be-
ing. And as you are kept in segregation,
you are given a psychiatric treatment-
Oh yes, it's a whiz: 1800 people, one part-
time psychologist . . . (then) you go to
James R. Hoffa is former president of
the Teamster's Union, convicted in 1964
of jury tampering and fraud. His 8-year
sentence was commuted last December by
President Nixon.

the doctor and are examined-one and
one-half doctors for 1800 people. Doctors
are on duty from seven o'clock in the
morning to four o'clock in the afternoon-
and God help you if you get sick, stabbed
or raped between the hours of four p.m.
and seven a.m. because there is no medi-
cal assistance available whatsover in Lew
isburg except from an inmate. -
. . . You're placed back in quarantine
and 14 days later you're allowed to go
to the kitchen and the laundry and after
into the "population" . . . and you go to the
kitchen and the laundry and after the guard
determines whether or not you can carry
out orders and whether you have enough
intelligence to do work, they place you
into a factory where they pay you 17

then they wonder when people come out
of the hole ten, 15, 20 30 days and some-
times two years later and act like animals
. . . these are things the judges, prosecu-
tors and attorneys never see, but it is a
regular occurence.
If anyone your age enters the "popula-
tion," you'll be sized up to determine how
quick they can rape you, how quick they
can rob you and how quick they can
muscle you. Because in a prison you have
individuals all lumped together; first of-
fenders, second, third and fourth offend-
ers, murderers, r a p i s t s, hold-up men.
muscle men and ordinary common people
. . . and woe it be to you if you are weak
and won't fight, if you're not willing to
take a knife and stab somebody at your

Or: How to campaign when
you've been redisticecd,
your opponent's pass:d on,
and you lock pretty tcujh
CTIVITY ON 113th Street and Broadway is typi-
cal for a nice fall Saturday on the upper West
Side of Manhattan. Couples in turtle neck sweaters
walk poodles while chatting about the rising cost of
tomatoes at the nearby Gristedes. Grey-haired Jew-
ish ladies with shopping carts lean against expired
parking meters and kibbitz about grandchildren
and the B'nai Brith. Students from nearby Columbia
add a vouthfal contrast to the others on the street
as they browse through the many book and record
shops that line the block.
Traffic southbound on Broadway is moving unusu-
ally well for midday until a white Toyota in the
right hand lane screeches to a stop. A young girl
races out of her car, oblious to the insult-spouting
cabbie who stopped short behind her, and heads to
a middle aged woman stylishly dressed from head
to toe in beige and brown. A floppy beige hat gives
her away.
"Bella . . . Bella . . . I love ya . . . I love ya,"
she screams as she violently grasps the hand of
Bella Abzug, Democratic candidate for Congress in
the newly formed Congressional District in Man-
At first glance Bella Abzug resembles m o r e
the political boss of the Ocean Parkway Hddassah
than a Congresswoman. She looks like she would
be more at home working over a steamy stove of
kreplach and gefilte fish than fighting on the floor
of the House of Representatives. But a quick glance
usually gives a wrong impression and in this case
Bella's record proves it.
Starting in the early sixties, Abzug was instru-
mental in the formation of Women's Strike for
Peace, the New Democratic Coalition, and the
"Dump Johnson" movement. In 1970 Bella defeated
radio announcer Barry Farber for the Congressional
seat in the 19th Congressional District. During this
campaign she made her mark as a boisterous, color-
ful, dedicated toughie. Her slogan at the time was
Two years later, in another district and with the
IT," she seems tired from a long tumultous cam-
paign which Manhattan's Democratic Party barely
The girl wishes Bella "best of luck" and returns
to the Toyota that is blocking traffic. Bella Abzug
continues down the block shaking hands, her aides
diligently hand out "Bella" buttons and tape post-
ers on store windows as a loudspeaker drones,
"come meet Bella Abzug, your Congresswoman."
Actually, Bella Abzug is not Congresswoman
from this district. 113th street and Broadway lies
in the district once represented by the late William
Fitts Ryan, a fighter for liberal causes throughout
the fifties and sixties..
Opposing Bella Abzug are Priscilla Ryan, Bill's
wife (Liberal); Annette Levy (Republican); Har-
vey Michealman (Conservative) and Joanna Misnik
(Socialist Workers Party). Yet everyone knows the
"real" race is between Abzug and Ms. Ryan in
this highly Democratic district that runs along the
west side of Manhattan, from the West Village to
As a result of the 1970 census, Manhattan lost one
of its Congressional Districts. The Republican New
York State legislature eliminated Abzug's 19th dis-
trict and reapportioned it between the highly con-
y servative district which includes Staten Island, home
of John Murphy, and Bill Ryan's liberal west side
Abzug would have no chance of winning in Mur-
phy's district. Her only chance for a second term
in Congress was to confront Ryan, whose district

included approximately one-third of Abzug's old
Martin Porter is a literary college sophomore who
once mowed lawns for-Bella Abzug's sister in Great

"If you raise an objection, they shoot mace in through
the wall in order to make sure they control you. And
then they wonder when people come out of the 'hole'
10, 15, 20, 30 days and sometimes two years later and
act like animals. The prisoner resents society when he

What can yow say alowt a u oman who won? That it was a smashing come ack? That
Or maybe that they Lx e her? Above, candidate Bella spreads the word, even to a Pri'

finally gets out. These are
tors and attorneys never:
occurence . .

things the judges, prosecu-
see - but it is a regular

cents an hour (and promise) you two days
"good time." The majority of the people
take the factory work, hoping to get the
two days, not realizing that at a minor
infraction of the rules, a kangaroo court
may very well take them away. No lawyer
to represent you, no right of presentation.
Merely a guard reading a written report
that he made against you, and you're con-
victed without even having a chance to
And if you become quarrelsome you'll
find yourself in the "hole"-that's a beau-
tiful place. The minor infractions of par-
ticularly young people place them in the
hole. You're stripped naked, placed in a
cell ten feet long, seven feet wide with
a steel cot-and there you sit all day,
wondering what's going to happen to you.
They give you food through a slot. You
eat the food, you have a toilet that you
use, a wash basin. Twice a day they flush
the toilet. If you raise an objection, they
shoot mace in through the wall in order
to make sure they control you . and

age, you'll be raped as sure as I'm talk-
ing to you sometime during the next three
months that you're in prison.
You may ask, "How can this happen?"
It's very simple. The guards themselves
have to walk among the inmates and
there are 283 guards and 1800 inmates
. . . the guard knows full well that if
he's out of line he'll get stabbed. Or he'll
get something happen to him that won't
make him very happy before the day is
over . . . When you give a man life, or
65 years, 100 years, 165 years, he no
longer has any fear of being imprisoned
for another crime or getting another year
or two added to his 50 or life. And there-
fore walking into a prison you must real-
ize each and every hour you're there you
are subject to being involved in a fracas
that may end with your life being lost.
Oh yes, many of the judges, prosecutors
and governors when they leave office
make.beautiful speeches about what should
be done-but where the hell were they
(Continued on page 18)

Pjorter (lower right).
Although there was a striking similarity between
Ryan and Abzug on the issues, emphasis through-
out the primary fight was placed on the differences
between the two in style. While Abzug drew atten-
tion by her rough, hard-hitting method of per-
suasion, Ryan was famous for his quiet, easy go-
ing but equally effective style.
During this campaign, critics - including Vil-
lage Voice columnist Nat Hentoff - condemned Ab-
zug for using poor judgment in running against
Ryan and ' for letting unbased rumors about
Ryan's poor health slip out.
New York Democrats were split in a contest that
Abzug herself called "good vs good." Jerome Kret-
chmer, Environmental Protection Administrator
for New York, and other Riverside Democrats
moved to the Ryan camp while the Lindsay crowd
supported Bella.
On June 20th Bill Ryan defeated Bella Abzug.
On September 18th Bill Ryan died of cancer. The
New York Times ran the following obituary.
Representative William F. Ryan, a- founder
of the Democratic Reform movement and a
liberal hero for more than a decade, died
last night in Memorial Hospital at the age
of 50.
A spokesman for the Congressman's office
said that death was caused by a recurrence
of throat cancer following an operation for a
perforated stomach ulcer.
In the aftermath of this tragedy a second Demo-
cratic primary was held between Abzug and Bill's
widow Priscilla. Bella won the nomination. The
Liberal Party supported Priscilla, who maintains,

"I represent everything that Bill
stand by myself."
* *
Howard Berman is a small
prietor of a liquor store on Dyck
Ironwood section of Manhattan.
of "Ryan Country' and is almo:
Berman leans against his clutter
featuring a special on Smirnoff's
tion of kosher wines. Smiling b
that he has voted Democratic aln
and that he supported Bill Ryan w
as 'Wild Bill" way back when.
"I knew as soon as I shook
that he was going to die. His ha
weak and bony. Right afterward
and told my wife Mildred, 'He is
As Abzug and her train of follow
store he yells, "I'm with ya all
With precision and speed Abzug's
on his liquor store window and a 1
He smiles from so much attenti
him, "don't forget to vote Row B
proceeds down the street.
Asked why hg's turned his suppo
of Priscilla he says. "I feel awful
but she isn't Bill . . . besides I am
* **
Clockwork. She shakes as many
her aides pin a button on any
that is not moving. Impetus
down the street. Their objectiv
(Continued on page

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