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May 26, 1976 - Image 4

Resource type:
Michigan Daily, 1976-05-26

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The Michigan Daily
Edited and managed by Students at the
University af Michigan
Wednesday May 26. 1976
News Phone: 764-0552
Spiro Agnew, novelist
(SPIRO AGNEW IS BACK, and we all should take a good
look at him. Seldom does the chance come along to
observe a person of such low esteem who has fallen so
far, then seeks to discredit himself stiI further.
Agnew's latest escapade is the publishing of his first
novel, The Canfield Decision, a story of international
intrigue depicting a president swayed into a brush with
war by fanatic Israelis. Lashing out at "the Zionist
cause" he says is inherent in many national media, Agnew
has revealed a bigotry of the kind employed by Josef
Goebbels and Adolf Hitler in attempting to convince the
German people that prominent Jews were the cause of
the country's social and economic ills.
Agnew comes down hard on the American commit-
ment to Israel; while Israel is probably not devoid of
blame in the Middle East crises, Agnew's stand smacks
of a more personal, vindictive opposition.
As New York Times columnist William Safire, a man
who wrote many of Agnew's speeches while he was vice-
president, wrote, "Hating individual Jews does not make
you a bigot. Being anti-Israel does not make you a bigot.
But undertaking a crusade to persuade the American
people that they are being brainwashed and manipulated
by a cabal of Jews who sit astride most of the channels
of communication, and thereby encouraging an irra-
tional hatred -tat makes you a bigot." ,
Safire's words are well-taken. Agnew is a despicable
man, and it is chilling to remember how close he was to
the presidency of the United States, and, had neither he
nor Richard Nixon been forced from office, how close he
might have come to being elected on his own right.
Heed our brush with ignorance and hate. We hope
his book bombs.
Clouds over Ann Arbor
WE AT THE DAILY are fully aware of spring's approach-
ing midterms, and thus are .shocked that suitable
weather for procrastination is not available.
Examinations would not be examinations here in Ann
Arbor if nature were not doing everything in its power to
make them as painful as possible. Without beckoning
blue skies and delightfully playful warm breezes, we see
grave possibilities that students may altogeher lose heir
bearings and be forced to prepare for their tests, to study.
The weather of late has simply not met the standards
we have come to expect from this time of year, and it is
with heavy hearts that we gaze out on yet another gloomy
day; banks all over town display the chilly temperatures
which threaten to make a travesty of spring.
Frankly, we are fed tip. The time to act has come.
Sun or no; stroll down to the Arb or Burns Park today as
a symbol of solidarity with the oppressed spring which
darkens our days.
F'dit,.rial Sz---Spring Term
Eitoril Dietos
BUE ADES.............Night Editor
MARGARE5T YAO........... ...Night Editor
P ILIP BOKOvOY As. .Nigh Editor
MICHAELBLNi UMFIELD. .. Ass't Night Editor
LANI JORDAN .... An't Night Editor
JENNY HULLER ................ ..... Ass't Night Edtor
MIKE NORTON . . Ass't Night Editor
ZICHAEL YELLIN . . . . .. . Ast Night Editor
BARB ANS . .... . . ... A NightEdior
Snmer Sprts Staff

Jackson Prison: The
other side of the wall

The athor, who graduated this month from
the Universit's College of Literature, Science,
and the Arts as a journalism major, is director
of Project Community's Inate Project. As
a tutor at Jackson Prison, she coulcted e-
tensive interviews with inmates for several
months. Cass is a compoite of four prisoners.
"IT'S BETTER TO BE wanted anytime than
to be had, man," sighed a tall, thin black
man named Cass. And Cass should know-for
the past 12 years he's been an inmate of the
largest prison in the country, Jackson State
Prison, where he's had plenty of time to con-
template his fate.
Like most prisoners, Cass doesn't like what
he's seen and experienced since entering Jack-
son at age 20.
His dark, sensitive eyes reveal a strong will
and a quiet.wisdom which develop after years
of struggle and much thinking. Yet despite
this seeming tranquility and resignation to
life behind bars, his words express bitterness
and a refusal to accept the many inadequacies
he finds inherent in Jackson and the nation's
penal system.
Cass readily puts aside his elementary
phonics lessons to tell eager University of
Michigan students of his perceptions of im-
prisonment. A second-grade literate, according
to Jackson's instructors, he is one of approxi-
mately 70 Jackson inmates receiving the tutor-
ing services of U-M's Inmate Project students.
CASS WILLINGLY offers many insights into
incarceration and its effects, the intensity
of which, he says, can only be perceived "first-
"I don't talk much to others here about these
things. They all know what goes on," he said,
shifting forward in his chair. "And I wouldn't
dream of talking to the guards or adminis-
trators about what's really wrong here-they
know what's wrong, too, and who knows what
would happen if I got down on them for doing
their job," he stated, his eyes fixed in a pierc-
ing stare. "I'd like to tell you, though . . .
"It gets pretty lonely in here. I guess you
know. I used to get visitors every week, but
I don't see outsiders too much any more. But
you get used to it, just like everything else,"
he said.
"Everything else"-those two words encom-
pass a great deal when speaking of prison
life: the food the prisoners call unfit for human
consumption and the reportedly inadequate
medical care; the solitary confinement area
dubbed "the hole:" the daily work routine
for pittance pay, but most of all, the loss of
"It does crazy things to your mind to be
locked up and you can't get out. It's hard to
keep your self-respect, but it's all in the way
you handle it," Cass explained. "Myself, I
try to do my time quietly and get by, but that's
hard to do; you can't separate yourself from
the rest of these guys, 'cause they won't let
you. Some of the men here get very involved
socially. It all 'depends on the kind of person
you are."
An inmate has to prove his strength from
the very beginning, according to Cass, if he is
to survive his stint in Jackson with about 5,301
other men.
"YOU'RE GOING to get tested real soon
after coming here-it happens every time
-but it doesn't matter if you can't beat the
guy who makes you fight. As long as you fight
back and show him and all the rest that it
won't be so easy to break you, you're okay,"
he said.
And if not?
"If you don't, you wind up like that," he
stated, pointing to an effeminate inmate being
escorted to a secluded corner,
Homosexual encounters are commonplace at
Jackson, according to Cass. Often they're
forced, often they are not.
"There are times when you just need some-
body to embrace you, to be gentle with you,
to love you. . .. Most of us aren't like that
on the outside, but, like I said, it gets . so

lonely," he nearly whispered, lowering his
To help pass the time within his cell, where
he likes to remain when not attending the
prison school every afternoon, Cass plays cards
with a friend, plays a beat-up, old guitar, or
listens to his closest friend inside Jackson's
ominous walls read Muslim newspapers. De-
spite Cass's proficiency with spoken words, he
still can't read the newspapers himself.
This is all part of Cass's way of "getting by,"
as he says, and he finds guidance in learning
of his people and their struggles.
"THERE ARE a lot of us in prisons across
the country for lots of reasons beyond our
control," he declared. "We're born poor and
we don't get along in school so that we finally
quit. Then the only jobs we can get are so
low and pay so little, that it's often too hard
to keep going at it and we've got to steal.
Most of us been in the streets since we were
old enough to get ourselves there."
Cass laments not acquiring a formal educa-
tion and is now trying to make up for nearly
a dozen years of lost schooling by beginning
anew in the prison school, which all inmates
with an education below -the sixth-grade must
With cold intensity, Cass says that the state
supplies necessary funds for prison equipment,
but the inmates believe it goes into adminis-
trative salaries instead.
"We never see that money. It goes into a
lot of already full pockets, I think, while we
don't even have machines that work well. We
don't ask for the best and newest, just some-
thing to help us learn better and faster," he
Even in prison industry, Cass says, poor
equipment is a problem.
EVEN IF PROPERLY trained, ex-convicts
face many problems in seeking employ-
ment. Often state laws bar hiring of former
prisoners regardless of their education and
skill. Despite such restrictions, Jackson trains
inmates for jobs they will never receive.
"We've got guys working in here as barbers.
They get trained while here to be a barber,
but laws say you can't be one if you've done
time. So why the hell do they spend the money
and time to make a con into a barber?" Cass
questioned, shaking his head in disguist.
Some men work as painters for about $25
daily while others make license plates or fur-
niture for slightly more pay. Still others work
as guinea pigs for commercial laboratories
and receive the highest pay available.
Jackson administrators do not force inmates
to subject themselves to drug experiments but,
according to Cass, they offer benefits nearly
impossible to refuse. Chances for quick parole
and comparatively high wages are two such
ways. In case of unfortunate repercussions,
Upjohn and Parke-Davis, the two drug com-
panies operating in Jackson, cover medical
These rewards are not sufficient to persuade
Cass to participate in the experiments, espe-
cially after seeing some of the less lucky par-
" THOUGHT OF doing it, never seriously
though. How anybody can let somebody do
tests on their body for a couple of cents a day
is beyond me-all those things that could hap-
pen; it's frightening. We've got enough trou-
bles, man, without getting a messed-up body,
"One guy I know now spends three days a
week at the University of Michigan Hospital
getting treatment. His hip joints are full of
infection that they can' cure, and he can
hardly walk," he said. "I've heard guards say
that he's lucky-he gets over a dollar a day
nice bed and good-looking nurses. If that's
Iuck, man, I'd rather be in the 'hole.'"
"The hole" has a paper-thin mattress, a
sink, and a toilet, and lacks windows. In&
vidual inmates occupy it for weeks at a tie
if they break prison rules.
"I don't know how they expect people iS
live that way. We're not animals, we're pee
ple, we're hunian, just like all of them."


., .. . . . ... . . Sports Editor
Executive Soto Edito
..... Night Editor
.. . . ...:.....:.. .. . . ... . Night Editor
. . . .. . .. . .. ........ B. Night Editor

News: Mike Blumfield, Phil Bokovoy, Ken Parsigion, Tim
Editorial:.Jim .Tobin
Photo techniciorn: Steve Kogon

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