Posts Tagged ‘prison as a country club’

Adrian is a man who did 24 years in Wisconsin for a murder in a bar fight that some said was self-defense, some said was bar fightmanslaughter, but the jury in a rural area said it was first degree. He’s a slim man, changed a lot since that bar fight when he was 19. I taught him how to write, and he learned well.

When people in Wisconsin claimed that prisoners had things too easy and should be put on chain gangs, he wrote an article called Notes from the Country Club.

One morning last fall, I awoke to the sound of water pouring on the floor of my cell at the Green Bay Correctional Institution.  The toilet was overflowing, a torrent of effluent gushing out.  I leapt from my cot and scurried to gather my belongings from the cell floor, throwing them onto the bed.  With no furniture in the cell except the cot and a very small table, I had no place other than the floor to store books, clothing, papers etc.

Water continued to flow from the toilet.  And, of course, it wasn’t just water.  Urine, feces and toilet paper were all part of the mix.  There I stood at 6:30 in the morning, barefoot, sloshing in shit-water an inch deep, unable to escape the confines of my locked cell.  Prisoners up and down the tier suffered the same fate.

Mentors are proud when their students do well. Despite my worry for his future, I rejoiced in Adrian’s writing skills and in his disclosure of the horrors of prison.

Later in the same article, he said:

When I first entered Waupun seventeen years ago, I was young, alone, slight of build — a prime candidate for all the depredations of the sexual jungle swirling in a maximum security prison filled with men who hadn’t touched a woman in years.  I suffered a baptism-by-fire unimaginable in the sheltered lives of those who now seek to put me on a chain gang.  I refuse to accept anyone’s assertion that I haven’t been punished for my crime.



My own experience tells me that the psychological torture done to inmates is far worse than “sloshing in shit-water.” And yes, even here in Canada. If someone is arrested for drugs, do we want him or her to go through what Adrian describes above?

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