Page 4 Friday, October 2, 1981 The Michigan Daily
Life on a newspaper behind
By Buddy Moorehouse
The towering gray walls that encircle the
Stateville Correctional Center make it obvious
to anyone passing by that what lies behind
them is a maximum-security prison.
Located just north of Joliet, Illinois,
Stateville houses 2,200 of that state's most
violent, aggressive, and incorrigible criminals.
I spent my summer there.
BUT I WASN'T THERE because of
murder, robbery or rape-the most
common credentials of the men behind the
walls. I went to Stateville to teach journalism
to the inmate staff of the Roundhouse News, the
Because the newspaper was only two years
old, the prison staff wanted to bring in a college
journalism student for the summer to help the
inmates learn more about the newspaper
business. I applied, was hired, and spent the
next two months there.
HAVING NEVER spent any time behind
bars (I led a sheltered childhood) I really didn't
know what to expect at Stateville.
But through movies, books, magazines, and
newspapers, I knew that any maximum
security institution was bound to be a pretty
tough, place. I also knew that Stateville had a
reputation of being one of the nation's worst
penitentiaries. So to help prepare myself for
the place, I decided to grow a beard. After all,
it made John Matuszak of the Oakland Raiders
look mean, so I figured it couldn't hurt.
Just as I had expected, Stateville looked like
a typical prison. It was built in the 1920s, before
it became fashionable. to disguise prisons as
community college campuses. Inside, the only
thing that made it unique was the fact that the
cellblocks were round. (Hence the newspaper's
name, the Roundhouse News.)
But the unusual design of the cellblocks
didn't make the cells inside any bigger. The
average cell was about the size of a bathroom,
and housed two prisoners. If you thought it was
a fate worse than death to share a Markley
double, imagine living with another person in a
cubicle one-fourth that size. I couldn't imagine
how someone could spend ten or fifteen years
Ro undhouse News
k Qun'house Nevvs.
ff of the
The sta R
men that I dealth with were all extremely
bright. The editor of the paper, David Stribling,
has a master's degree in psychology, and the
associate editor, MIke Sutton, has a bachelor's
degree in urban planning. Several other repor-
ters on the staff were enrolled in the prison's
college. Not really what you would call shabby
When I started working there, I was
prepared to teach them all about all the basics
of journalism-leads, quotes, transitions, and
so on. But I wasn't prepared to teach what they
wanted to learn.
Because the newspaper was in a prison, it
encountered certain unique problems that
newspapers on the outside don't. One of these is
censorship. The wardens at Stateville get to
censor all of the articles that are written for the
newspaper, much to the chagrin of the repor-
BECAUSE THERE were certain articles
that the inmates felt should be printed, they.'
wanted me to help them learn to write these ar-
ticles in a form that the wardens would ap-
prove. Needless to say, I didn't have any prior
experience in writing for a prison warden, and
there aren't many books on the subject, either.
I discovered another problem unique to
prison journalists is the difficulty in getting an
interview. For example, if you want to inter-
view the head of the prison library, you don't
just call him up and. chat. You need a ticket
allowing you to go to the library, and a ticket to
get you back. It was a complicated system and
often caused delays in getting out the paper. K
OVERALL, I learned quite a bit at Stateville
this summer. For instance, Stateville is not a
prison, it's a "correctional center." The guys
who patrol the place are not guards, they're
"correctional officers." The people who live
there are not called inmates or prisoners.
They're called residents. I learned. that
. "hooch" is home-made alcohol, a "cellie" is
the guy who sleeps on the bunk above you, and
a "shank" is a piece of metal fashioned into d
I also came to the conclusion that our society
needs to develop an alternative to prisons.
Some of the people I got to know had so much to
offer society that it's nothing but a waste to
keep them locked away. And for people with
that much potential, prison is certainly not the
place to develop it.
Moorehouse is a Daily associate sports
locked up in one of those cells without going
I ALSO NOTICED that once I got behind the
walls I was one of the only whites in there. The
vast majority of the prisoners (about 95 per-
cent) and nearly all the guards were black.
Unlike prisons in Michigan, where there is a
large racial problem between guards and in-
mates, the fact that most of Statevile's security
staff was black helped to ease those problems.
But once I spent a little time there, I was
happy to find out that most of my anxieties
were unfounded. Not only did I last the entire
summer without getting stabbed, mugged, or
beaten, but I discovered that people in prison
are really no different than people anywhere
else. Most of the men I got to know were
pleasant, friendly, and downright nice. It was
really hard for me to believe that some of them
were convicted of such violent crimes.
NONE OF WHICH means to imply that
Stateville was free of violence. I often heard
stories while I was there of beatings, rapes, and
even murders, most of them gang-related, but I
never saw any of this violence. Most of it hap-
pened in the middle of the night, when the
security staff was the smallest. Only once did I
almost witness an act of violence, I saw a
prisoner with a home-made knife hidden in his
pants be grabbed by several guards before he
had a chance to use it.
One of the biggest concerns I had before
going to Stateville was what kind of small-talk I
could make with the inmates. It was simple at
Michigan-all you had to use as an icebreaker
was "Hi. What's your major?" Somehow, "Hi.
What are you in for?" just didn't seem right.
But I found out that small talk is small talk no
matter where you go. We chatted about the
weather, the baseball strike, Big Ten football,
and just about everything else.
ANOTHER MISCONCEPTION I had was
that prisoners are basically uneducated. While
there is a. high illiteracy rate in prisons, the
Edited and maraged by students at The University of Michigan
By Robert Lence
Vol. XCII, No. 20
420 Moynard St.
Ann Arbor, MI 48109
Editorials represent a majority opinion of the Daily's Editorial Board
so, NOW DID YOU
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ELAX. Nobody is pretending that
publishing pictures of male
University students wrapped in towels
somehow makes women more
And don't bother feeling guity if you
secretly would like to take ,a peak at
what have been touted as some of the
best male bodies on campus.
Ann Arbor's sudden outburst of male
cheesecake should be fun. The two
soon-to-be-published pinup calendars
are light-hearted novelties that won't
do any harm and may actually help
further a breakdown in sexual
Men have been enjoying female
pinup calendars for years. Now local
merchants will have a chance to see if
Ann Arbor women are in the market
for a male pinup calendar or two.
There is nothing inherently wrong
with a calendar picturing attractive
human bodies. Human beings are
multi-faceted creatures with many
qualities to share with fellow humans.
Some are attractive to look at, and
others enjoy looking. Nothing harmful
The trouble comes when a society
places too great an emphasis on a
single human quality, such as physical
attractiveness. For years women have
been judged by centerfold standards of
human worth. Pinups have come under
fire because they reinforce the idea
that a women is legs and breasts and
not much else.
But a militant ban on cheesecake
isn't the answer. Someday, when
male and female roles become less,.
defined, both sexes will be free to do
what they wish with their bodies. If
they wish to pose for seductive calen-
dars, so be it.
Until then, male pinup calendars can
help poke fun at traditional sex
stereotypes. Perhaps they can shed a
little humor on the rather grim fight
for a more just society.
LETTERS TO THE DAILY:
PSIP story mixed up the
To the Daily:
We the student staff of the
Public Service Intern Program
wish to express our dismay and
frustration with the article writ-
ten by Barry Witt on Friday, Sep-
tember 25 "Political internships:
Who needs the 'U'?"
The article created an incom-
plete and deceptive picture of the
program, excluding major points
which we stressed in our inter-
view with Mr. Witt on September
22. At that time, we also provided
him with a handbook describing
our program in detail.
The Daily did not get its facts
straight. We told Mr. Witt that a
workshop would be offered to
students not participating in the
intern program. The purpose of
this workshop is to provide these
students with internship sources
and suggestions on how to obtain
their own internships in
Washington, D.C. or Lansing.
Thie Career Planning and
Placement office routinely offers
these services as well. Despite
this information the following
quotes appeared in the article:
"It (the program) discouraged
people if they didn't get in from
getting their own internships in
Washington." "PSIP gives a per-
ception that the only students
PSIP, however, provides
students with numerous benefits
and a multi-faceted internship
The following list of major
benefits of PSIP were stressed in
the interview but for reasons
unknown, were not mentioned in
the article. How can a reader
form a valid opinion about an
issue if several of the major
pieces of thepuzzle are withheld?
1. The program provides job
descriptions and former interns'
evaluations of their internships.
This information aids in securing
substantive and responsible
2. The coordinator of the
program arranges guest
speakers and special tours. For-
mer President Gerald Ford;
Senator Carl Levin; Supreme
Court Justice Byron White; Jack
Anderson, snydicated columnist;
and White House and State
Department briefings are a few
examples of previous program
3. The program works with the
University of Michigan Alumni
Club of Washington organizing a
sponsor program to promote in-,
teractions between students and
W aishington nrofessionals.
"Best program in D.C." is a
typical endorsement from our
former employers. The program
is selective, as is the University
of Michigan, for the maintenance
of its quality is a high priority.
The Public Service Intern
Program is an invaluable inter-
nship option available to students
at the University of Michigan. We
.To . and was
To the Daily:
As a former intern, I feel the
need to set the record straight for
those who read your article
"Political internships: Who
needs the 'U'?" (Daily, Sept.25).
The Public Service Intern
Program has built an excellent
reputation in Washington over
the past twelve years. Having ob-
tained an internship with the
Democratic National Convention
Committee on my own for the
summer of 1980. I was anxious to
go through the competitive
process to become a Michigan In-
This selection of U of M studen-
ts to go to Washington is impor-
tant; PSIP interns are represen-
tatives of our University while in
Washinitnn Ther'fnvD e a
feel the printing of this letter is
necessary to set the facts
Oct. 1, 1981
ive i " ,:'
has to offer were left out of the ar
ticle you printed.
For most interns the anxiety of
obtaining housing in Washington;
while in Ann Arbor is eliminated'
by the program. Accom-
modations care in a wonderful.
location (but are not cheap or*
A boat cruise, ice cream party,
July 4 on the Mall, a speakers
program are some of the events'
that brought the PSIP interns:
together. Another big plus is the'
lasting friendships that are:
created through the program;-
they're friendships that continue-
when you return to Ann Arbor.
with your fellow PSIP interns.
To make it simple, you can go
to Washington on your own or goy
to renresent the "U" and he with- i