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June 20, 1973 - Image 10

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
Michigan Daily, 1973-06-20

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

Page Ten

THE SUMMER DAILY

Wednesday, June 20, 197

Two days in the Washtenaw jail

(Contimsed frOm Page1iS'
and leads you into a small room.
You're handed sheets, a towel
and a faded green dress with
"county jail" lettered across the
back. She tells you to take your
clothes off and put them on a
hanger while she writes down the
contents of yOUrl personal belong-
ings.
"What are you in for?" she
asks casually, but you don't re-
ply hecause she's the tirnkey and
you're scared s---less to talk to
her.
YOU'RE TOLD to leave your
shoes on, but she takes the laces
and puts them in an envelope
with everything else. You get a
toothbrush, and she says that
you can keep your cigarettes and ~
writing tablet - you're thankful
for that. 'then stripped of all
. .. you could die in
wouldn't hear you."
-a Washtenaw
remnents from the outside world,
except for your crime, you're
ready for the cell.
Out in the hallway you're led
to a big steel door with "women"
lettered across it. The key is big
and heavy and she fumbles a
little, but you don't move because
the handcuffs are off and you
like it that way.
Down another corridor votu can
hear voices and music. The door
is heavy steel like the other one,
but it has a porthole of bars and
you can peek in and see the
other prisoners. This is your cell
block.
AS YOU ENTER, the three
women sitting around the table
look up and smile at the matron.
They're eating dinner and point
to your tray, aver by the window.
The matron shows you your cell
and starts to leave.
She doesn't get out though,
without a dozen requests for as-
pirin, someone to fix the tv and
fan, and someone to buy ciga-
rettes. She smiles, chats a mm-
ute, and is gone.
You sit down in your cell and
light a cigarette. Trying not to
look conspicuous, you c h e c k
everything out, while your fellow
cellmates check you out.
One woman brings your plate
over and sits down. "What are
you in for, honey?" she asks.
Her voice sounds friendly, cas-
ual, but you can feel the tense-
ness in the question. You pick
up your spoon and slowly start
shovelling the cold food in.
AFTER A WHILE yout answer
her and return the question, and
find that neither of you is in for
assault or murder. The tension

eases a little and you start to
talk, mostly about the j il. You
think that she must be the leader
in this cell block as she tells
you about the matrons and the
routine.
"They like people to think
they're cool, that they care about
you," she says. "But you could
die in this f---er, and they
wouldn't hear you."
She's been here for five months,
and you believe her.
YOU'VE NEVER been in jail
before so you ask her what's go-
ing to happen to you. "Well,
they'll probably take you to court
tomorrow, but it could be the
next day." The kitchen man is at
the door for the plates, so she
leaves your cell and turns on
the tv.
Alone in your cell you turn
this place and they
County Jail inmate
around to get a better look at the
place. There are four cells along
one wall. A woman is locked in a
cell at the end, but the rest are
confined only by the big door.
You wonder why these women
are here-if they have families.
You know they lead separate
lives, but now they seem almost
like one personality - combined
by whatever brought them here.
IN THE CORRIDOR there is a
table, three broken chairs, a tele-
vision and two long plastic mats.
The mats are the same kind that
lay on top of the cots in the cells.
They're made of dark green plas-
tic and cover about two-thirds of
the bed springs.
Later you realize that you're
lucky to have a cell with springs
because three of the women sleep
on the mats in the corridor.
Looking at the bars and the
locked doors, fear starts to rise
from your stomach to your
throat because you have a mo-
ment to think-it hits you now
that you're in jail. And you know
you're alone.
THE THOUGHT doesn't linger
long because there's a commo-
tion in the corridor and you get
up to see what's happening. It's
best to know what's going on
and you want to be part of it be-
cause you still don't trust any-
one. You sense that it's safest
to be where the action's at.
Three w o m e n are gathered
around the fan, fiddling with the
electric socket and cursing. One
blade is bent so that when the
piwer goes on it catches on the
grating and won't turn.
You approach them cautiously
and offer to help. They step back

Daily rhOt Oby JIM rl:
A Washtenaw County Jail inmate sits in his cell, waiting for the day to
end.

and tell you to do what you can.
After kicking at the grating with
your foot and doing no good,
you poke your finger in and Re-
becca yells "get your finger out
of their girl, cause if you get it-
caught they ain't gonna do noth-
ing about it."
YOU DRAW BACK and Re-
becca walks away, but you feel
better because they warned you,
and you know they think you're
alright.
Two women sink down to the
mat in front of the tv and pull
their hot dresses off, while you
move over to where there's a
window knocked out because it's
as hot there.
The Watergate hearings are on
television. After watching Jeb
Magruder sweat under the ques-
tioning, Justine says "they slap

me in this jail for my doing
wrong; and look at the White
House. I hope they all get slap-
ped in the cage."
And suddenly you feel like you
could punch Magruder because
you feel the same helplessness
Justine does.
THE SUN IS still bright though
it's about 6 o'clock, but the air
through the meshing smells sweet
and cool. You can barely see
through the heavy wire, but can
hear a lot of cars down below.
Rebecca walks over and leans
on the sill.
News is blaring from the radio
and Rebecca sighs. "This is some
kind of world. They talk. about
peace. There ain't no peace."
And she sits down, laying her
head in her arms, waiting for
the night to come.

There's nothing you wint t%
watch on the ts. You're still
afraid to go over and sit o, he
mat with the others, so you go
to your cell and lie dz)wa. The
ceiling is light pink and you let
your eyes become fastened on it,
memorizing all the cracksi s the
plaster that have been painted
over.
BUT YOUR EARS you keep
close to the bars because you
know you should listen to what
everyone's saying. You know you
have to become part of the cell-
block, but you want desperately
to curl up on the mattress as
tight as you can and squeeze it
all out. Take yourself back ts
this afternoon, before you wre
arrested. Take yourself back to
any pleasant place you've been.
But you listen instead.

c

H THERE ! I AM
AN APTERY>(, A
WINGLESS BIRD
W/ITH HAIRY
FEATHERS.
HW/ ABUT.A
LITTLE ACTION7
r- s
AC'l'ON t: pro_ sq teret. iv oh e li~.'ito help pelople
help thenrev t.he Peace Jorp id VSt A. helpu people
overseas and rih down the street Fieae doh'tcersw uder a rock
O es s oCI ,
800-4 -8580 FRE.

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