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April 10, 1977 - Image 8

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Michigan Daily, 1977-04-10
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pr'tncs Pni rr


April 10, 1977


D..Yci HPNigeA Dl ANAYMGZN prl1,17

Phofogranhv yi STEVE KAGAN
JN OUT17 r -_'outh Township, Just
nnst tha noint where rough 'n
tumhlo nothbold Five Mile Rd. turns
into a smooth ashalted stretch of
roadw. slts small cluster of cot-
tages a 0h oraving white structure
is corn.-d hv a heavy black roof and
throuot the windows of these cot-
tages yo'i ^ an e, until ten, some-
time' olcaln-ir ponh night, the glare of
television sets and the shadows of


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are mnk n2 macrame owls under the
instrueton of a visitor from the Uni-
versitv Bt by nine each evening
thp '±ifv booins to suhside so that,-
-ho wiomin qno retreat to the cot-
tp es without violating their ten
1) - (-n1few.
Waiting for them back at each
cottage is a house mother of sorts,
carefully guidin', eveiny her oirls to
miake sure thev stay resnect'hle and
livP within the established conduct
as well as physical perimeters of this

taes. set in a green, rural expanse of
land was revolitionary at the time of
the facility's construction. Prisons of
the future will be based on this plan,
officials said then. Three quarters
of a centurv later corrections person-
noi sit shnkino their heads, exhaust-
eri off Inv nrnisp for DeToCo.
Rundown, over-populated and un-
der-staffed. DeHoCo was leased for
two ve~-, by the State from the city
of Detroit in 1975 with hopes that
improved conditions would be the re-

The old

. . .

the physical plant, the women alsoc
protest loudly about the paucity ofr
academic or trade courses open toI
them. Inmates who have been at De-c
HoCo for more than two year's time1
sufficiently exhaust the college
course options open to them, andt
must repeat classes if they wish to
continue their education within the
prison. They also decry the list of
regulations which dictate the size of -
their wardrobe, the length of their
phone calls and the dimensions of
their wall hangings.
In short, no one-neither correc-1
tions officials or inmates - have]
many kind words for DeHoCo.
Enter the knight in shining armor.
IN QUIET Pittsfield Township, just
past the point where ragged
Bemis Rd. turns off of Carpenter, a
team of muddied, safety-helmeted
construction workers hurry to meet
a July deadline. Their employer is
the state of Michigan which has
shelled out well over $7 million to
finance the campus-like complex
which they are putting up on this 50
acre site near Ypsilanti. They are
building a new women's prison.
The prison complex, which one
corrections official likened visually
to Oakland Community College, will
house 270 women. The six-building
facility covers an area of 102,000
square feet and includes residential
buildings, an administration struc-
ture and units specifically designat-
ed for educational and recreational
nurooses. There is a clinic-infirmarv
hbilding with facilities for medical
and dental care ,a gymnasium with
lockers. a ecnteen and a lounge, and
a nlavfield area with softball. field
hoke and tennis provisions. All the
completed rooms are clean and fresh-
lv painted, there is not a rat or cock-
roach on the premises and, to top it
off, it will be an air conditioned pri
son which greets the DeHoCo trans-
nants when they at-rive this July.
"This (prison) is representative of
where we want to go in the future,"
says Barry Mintzes, the administra-
tive assistant to the state corrections
director. "You know, smaller, more
modern prisons."
"That's a bad sign," sighed a vol-
unteer who has been working with
the women at DeHoCo for several
vers. in reference to Mintzes' state-
mpnt "That's the exact same. thing
thlii s id ovhrmt eTn'oo when it was
built and look what's haniened
there They iut don't know if (the
new rnicnn is going to work vet."
If early warnine' igns are anv indi-
egtion of the new prison's future,
there will he trouble for the facility
fronm the start.
Oe of the hoyapst nnhlems at T)e-
Fnon - nvercrnding - nlagues
the Pittsfield Townshin nison be-
foro the cnmAn hvai even arrhved.
"We hNave on miih of a ris in no
hnnii °no sittion tiiat we don't have
time to work not the other dtailG of
the instjttion " ait Willinm Kime.
rinneiiv rlirtr+nr in 0reran of rocnen'ch
and plonnm for the Tenartinent of
Corrections. "It's just net big
Although te Sate had, pL'n*nped
to transfer all the felonious inmates
at DeHoCo to the new correctional
facility upon completion, the felon

count at DeHoCo has topped the 370
mark, exceeding the 270-person ca-
pacity of the new prison by an un-
comfort-Th1P margin. Hoping to avoid
another DeHoCo-like squeeze, plan-
ners are shuffling to set up four,
thirty-bed modular units to raise the
capacity to 390.
"But we sure didn't want to of-
fer a program that big," lamented
The problem was in the planning.
In 1973, when the drawing board for
the prospective prison first went up,
the state felon population was
hovering at 165, and falling. In July
of 1972 the count was 225; twelve
months- later it was at 165; in Au-
gust it dropped to 154 and by Sep-
tember it stood at a comparatively
low 141. It was during this period
that the Correction's- Department, in
conjunction with a DetrQit-based ar-
ehitelur'l ind euinoerrin f i r m,
concluded that the facility should
hold a maximum of 210.
In January of the following year,
however, the count climbed back up
to 165, and continued to climb in suc-
cessive months until it reached, in
March of this year, the 375 mark.
"And when we were planning for 210,
people were complaining," Kime re-
calls. "'You're inviting use,' people
told us."
Slowly, until the-capacity reached
390, residential additions were made
on the prison. The ".small-prison"
theory has now been shelved - at
least until the count slims down
again. And waiting for the women off
in Pittsfield Township at the Wom-
en's Correctional Facility is the same
ponulation nrohlem they have been
fiohting at DeToCo.
"In the last few months the count
has started to go through the roof,"
said Kime. "I don't know where it's
going to go from here."
KIME ATTRIBUTES the felon in-
crease to several factors. Re-
cently, becaure of a backlog of cases
in Recorder's Court, an extra crew of
judges was hrogeht in to expediate
the processing. That resulted, claims
Kime, in a rapid influx of prisoners
to DeHoCo. Furthermore, he says,
the attitude within the Corrections
Department toward women is chang-
ing'. TrlePes are inieker to send fe-
males to rnijnn than they were be-
fnre wonieli's lihrntion was a house-
hnld -'oinient.
"Tf iVrl"'oe nn c'toprt to annlv the
lan nne y to wnmen. we'll have to
1111im v nrn nrion ". , . Kime. "I
bild mor "r~. said mlie. I
1'n "ja+ nd rn t. "
There's an additional, Catch 22
factor which corrections officials also
fear. Because of the deplorable con-
ditions at DeHoCo. courts have been
loathe to sentence women to that in-
stitution. Assured that the new fa-
cility will take some of the stint out
of rehnhilitation. iudges can sen-
tence the female felon to prison with
a cleaner concience. sav Mintzes.
"I have no doubt that that will
hanpen." Mint7es predicts. "It han-
nened when the State took over De-
HoCo. Jude!; felt more inclined to
send women there because they
thought the State woild imnrove the
conditions. The same thing will hap-
pen now with the new prison."
See PRYSON, Page 8


An inmate's room

Georgia: Inside Iookin(

* * *the new

women in the soft glow of their read-
ing lamps.
During the day and early evening
the women scurry between the cot-
tages and' a larger, central building
which houses their classrooms, a Ii-
brarv, recreational facilities, a news-
paper office, an auditorium and even
a small beauty parlor. While a loud,
boisterous group of fifty women re-
hearse for an uncoming musical re-
cital in the auditorium, a smaller,
more serious enrn works down the
hall prenaring the institution's next
newspaner .trving to ignore the wo-
men trafficking throngh their office
on the way to and from class. On the
onnosite end of the enrridor. nast the
law library, a half a don n women-
heads hent. hnnds wietly threading
and wulling and tumine on string-
Ann Marie Lipinski, co-editor-in-chief
of the Daily,- has worked this term mith
lDefloCo inmates through the Project Com
=' t Timate Project.

institution. The disciplinary duties of
the 'house mother' are not those
common in most traditional institu-
tions. When she makes a room check
she's not looking for men - there's
little chance her girls will come in
contact with any males outside of
the brief, chaperoned visiting hours.
She's nrohably looking for contra-
hand And when one of her charges
is eaught hreaking the rules, there's
no such thingss a susnension and a
hus ride home to mom and dad. It's
a counle of days in "reflection" -
that's fancy for solitarv confinement.
This is not your average women's in-
stitutio hecause once you enroll
here there's no turning hanck This is-
the netroit Hiouse of Corrections. De-
TTonCo Thi is prison.
WHEN THE WOMEN'S division of
DeHoCo was built ,at the turn
of the century, it was heralded as one
of the most nrogressive institutions
within the penal system. The idea of
housing women in familial-like cot-

suilt of the transaction. It seemed to
make sense. Not only had DeHoCo
become primarily populated by state
prisoners, making the State the like-
ly landlord, but the State was consid-
erably richer than penny-pinched
Detroit City making it a potentially
more generous landlord. The prison
would improve, hopefuls thought, if
only physically, now that the State
was in control. It didn't. Control of
the DeHoCo Women's Division swings
back to the city of Detroit this sum-
mer and still, two years later, a cor-
rection's department administrator
is calling the prison "abominable".
The inmates of DeHoCo are not as
kind. Their appraisal of the facility
is flooded with descriptions of the
cockroaches and rats which have in-
fested the grounds and crept into
the women's bedrooms. They tell
tales of backed up sinks and broken
hot water mains. And when winter
serves up its worst, they say, you can
be sure the heating system will col-
lapse. Outside of complaints about

GEORGIA MANZIE doesn't like her home. It's too cramped
and rundown, she says, and, besides that, it doesn't have
any of the modern conveniences most of her friends' homes
have. However, she'll be moving soon-to a place she's never
seen. That worries her, but she can't imagine the new place
being any worse than where she lives now. Anything's better
than DeHoCo, she reasons.
Georgia, 23, is waiting out a 5-15 year sentence in the Wo-
men's Division of the Detroit House of Correction. She was
convicted for voluntary manslaughter. She is fighting the con-
viction daily, however, and spends most of her time tucked
away in the prison's pillbox-like law library searching for the
piece of legal information that will make the difference. That
endeavor, combined with her duties as co-editor of the prison
newspaper and a member of the Inmate Council, keep Georgia
occupied. Not so occupied, however, that she forgets she's
operating "behind bars". The conditions at DeHoCo make that
a tough reality to 'ive with, she says. Things might be better
when she moves this summer to the new prison, but she's not
banking on it. Georgia deplores DeHoCo and she is cautiously,
consciously skeptical -f promises that life will be any better
at the Women's Correctional Facility in Pittsfield Township.
"I think the move will be a good thing because we won't
be living in a dilanidated hilding, we'll have heat and hot
water and we won't have wat-rhi~os on -n'krnaches," Georgia
savs. "But other than that it's the same matrons, the same
nrisoners, and the camp nrorrnrns. Tt's i'lst an updated DeHoCo
benlisp it's hilt with bricks."
Georgia balks at the suggestion that the new institution will
have any lasting effect on th- priso-ers' li-s. "There may be
changes, but not o-ernight." she syvs "The change has to come
from the i-ntes. Thev ha -to +, (-A-+hemselves first be-
cn'se the administrntion wOn't di nvthing they don't have
to do."
Fumbling for a way to Axnnin har evnerience with the
nrison administrators. Gc nrgn e-n"e.s im iith an analogy that
is ind;"'tit'n of her ntit~i,,1 l-onimr -n'c -~ well. -
"The administration's treatment to inmates can be corn-
nared to th° treatment a man gi-'ee 'n wonman. He'll go just as
fnr as she'll let him ngo. and do as litti- for her as he can get
away with. Similarly, the nrison nadministrntion will do any-
thin that the inmates 'vill let th-, i* As long as we remain
nnorgannPd a d bi-ru -A fhtr aongst ourselves,
thov'll Anftr..yio to cvniit s "
Georgia is a large, strannine hnilk woman with a soft,
weighty afro that, ironirallv. f'rnes 1nr had like a halo. When
she sneaks, she does so in tired. halted tones, and she com-
rlains often of being exhausted.

"I just can't keep up at this pace,"
battle cry.
Nevertheless, she continues to spend
hind law journals and legal briefings,
posing appeals for her own case as wel
mates. She has also become the self-apr
D~eHoCo administration and hardly a d
gia fails to file a plea or complaint c
issue. It is because she has eyed the a
fully, she says, that she has developed a
the imminent move to Pittsfield.
awaiting DelloCo inmates at the
Facility. Citing a recent flurry of admin
a regulation limiting the inmates wardro
order keeping the size of wall hanging
inch dimensions; a directive banning th
slippers or head scarves to dinner-Gec
mates are being prepared for the stringe
awaiting them in Pittsfield.
"If they had passed all these new
six months in one night, it would have
ment," she says. "What they're doing
ready for tougher conditions at the new
"Most of the women are afraid to
They're already snreading rumors that
go outside, that there won't be any wind
ters and that they'll be electrocuted if
Women are doing time out here now be
you have to do now is hon the fence -
have the day I arrived. Now we know
tight we can leave. But out there we w
scares us."
When Georgia thinks about being n
however, she is scared and annrehensi-
tbat has neverhbeen 20nS mated and sh
ting to know her hilsband. She also has
that include becoming a criminal laws
about, what she calls, her exnerienc
"just us" system. Nevertheless, she ca
self to old friends ard neers, and whe
for the future sour a bit.
"The time I felt the most down and
when I was reading the Ann Arbor Nev
across a full page story on Calvin O'Ne
school and i-"nior high classmate of mui
the University of Michigan. To think th
graduating class and that I was a con
two cents. I reminisced about our high
dered if I would ever have enough guts t

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