problem with homosexuality. If a person isn’t gay the other prisoners \(in the Dallas bother him. If he wants to engage he will have an opportunity, but he is not forced. If he acts coquettish, bitchy and is a tease, he might get raped, but it is not likely. The prisoners will embrace each other, rest their heads on each others laps as they sit around the day room floor and some will give others a professional barbers’ shave on visiting day. Frequent jokes are made about some prisoner being pretty or how one prisoner would like to sleep with another, or how well-hung a certain prisoner is, but they are mostly that jokes. Most of the sex discussions concern women on the outside. Some play pinching games or run up and playfully hit another in the genitals as a form of “tag,” but there is little overt activity. The whole aspect of physical contact and pinching that might be unacceptable behavior on the outside reminded me of the lack of embarrassment one notices in Latin countries where men kiss men, hold hands, etc., without being gay. The new prisoner has, by now, been relieved his fears of homosexual rape or coercion, but he is still nervous, apprehensive, unsure, THE PRISONER identified as “dangerous and crazy” gets into a “fight” with another prisorier and a knife flashes. The knife is actually a carefully fabricated model made from bits and pieces of aluminum foil gum wrappers and cigarette packages. The crazy man stabs the other prisoner and blood spurts out on the floor. The blood is actually well-moistened but not fully dissolved cherry-flavored Kool-Aid bought from the jail concession cart. The thin, dark-red mixture has been put in plastic bags and as the aluminum foil knife is plunged into the victim, he squeezes the blood bags beneath his shirt and falls to the floor in a pool of cherry-flavored Kool-Aid. The whole tank is involved in the conspiracy and soon everyone is shouting, “He’s killed. him. . . . Watch out. . .. He’s gone crazy again. . . . He’s after the new guy.” At this point the new prisoner is running around the day room with the crazy man after him. The victim has been dragged to the shower and laid to rest there, out of the way. The new prisoner may hide under the tables or attempt to fight back, but then other actors hold him and say, “We may have to sacrifice you or he’ll kill us instead. Everyone’s scared of him even the guards.” The new prisoner is then cornered and told: “Prove you’re not a cop. You’re an informer. You’re a cop in disguise. Show us you’re not a cop. If you’re a cop you’ll have a badge hidden. Strip down to show us you’re not carrying a badge.” The new prisoner dutifully strips and is then told to bend over and spread his cheeks to show he hasn’t hidden a badge in his rectum. At this point he is told he may have to become a lover to the crazy man, but the event does not take place. Having shown that he is not an undercover cop, he is then told he will have to prove his solidarity with the other prisoners and the crazy man in particular by helping to finish off the cherry-flavored Kool-Aid-soaked victim who has just been discovered to be “still breathing” in the shower stall floor. The new prisoner, shaking and totally terrified, agrees at knifepoint to help in the final stabbing of the victim in the shower, thus insuring that he will not be a witness against the crazy man.. The new prisoner and the crazy man go to the shower stall and as the two lean over the slightly breathing body the victim jumps up screaming and the new prisoner falls to the floor in a near faint. The whole tank erupts in cheers and laughs and the new prisoner, now realizing the whole thing was a charade, is congratulated, welcomed into the group and told that he shouldn’t be embarrassed because everyone got this treatment and everyone has fallen for the put-on. Sometimes the put-on is altered. The crazy man comes out of his cell, frothing at the . new prisoner learns the crazy man needs his prescription to keep him calm. Without his pills he’s like a rabid dog. Then someone shouts out that the new prisoner was seen stealing the rabid dog-man’s pills and the prisoner, confronted by the rabid dog-man, protests his innocence and only learns of the charade as his neck is “bitten” by the dog-man. I had been informed of the charade before it took place. The prisoners let me in on their secret so I would be able to observe and report it accurately. Although I knew what was going on, the “act” drifted into reality on several occasions. It seemed as real as anything else I witnessed in the jail. For the new prisoner, it was undoubtedly a reality. But the unity it creates and the tension it releases are well worth it; it is also a sobering initiation into prison life. THE ULTIMATE punishment jail officials can mete out to a prisoner \(other confinement. The prisoner so confined is put into a small cell with no windows, no bunk, no faucets. \(All the solitary cells in the Dallas County Jail are illegal under various provisions of state laws regulating jails and incarceration in them has been There is a small hole in the middle of the cell with a grate over it. A prisoner must deficate, urinate and put any food waste down this hole. Since there is no running water, the feces and excess food \(if there is stay on the grate unless the prisoner uses the ration of drinking water to wash it down. The stench is horrible. To lie down, a prisoner must place part of his body across the waste hole in the floor. A tall prisoner cannot stretch out to full length and some cannot stand up to full height. While in solitary confinement the only contact a prisoner has with the rest of the jail comes through a small slit in the door through which is passed food, water and toilet paper. A prisoner only gets water and toilet paper at the pleasure of a captain, though jail officials now say there is a regular ration of both. Food comes once a day. The prisoner never sees the captains through the slit; he only hears a voice. No books, writing materials or incoming letters are allowed in with the prisoner. He may not have regular visitors on visiting days. Attorneys, however, are allowed to see clients in solitary. Up until recently a prisoner was not allowed clothes or a mattress. For this reason, solitary confinement was called “bare ass on the rock” the rock referring to the cement floor. A prisoner could be put into solitary at a captain’s discresion. There were no disciplinary hearings whatsoever. Defense attorney \(and now State Jim Mattox says he has interviewed clients who have been in solitary for a few days and they begged him to do anything to get them out of jail. “Grown men, big tough guys, have talked to me while serving solitary time and they cry, literally cry, begging me to stay in the visitation cell with them for just a few more minutes so they won’t have to go back to their solitary cell,” said Mattox. To see an attorney or to receive emergency medical attention is the only thing that will get a prisoner out of solitary until the term of days assessed by a captain is completed. WHILE THE JAIL is bleak, the prisoners make some attempt to humanize their surroundings. Lines are put up across the day room for drying laundry. \(The jail laundry only washes the coveralls and the cardboard and taped to walls. Some of the intricate shelf designs would do a theater prop manager credit. Photographs are pasted on the walls and newspaper shades are made for the bright light bulbs. Newspapers are rolled up tightly to form “logs” which are then tied together and braced with other “logs” going crosswise to form substantial shelves which are then hung on ropes over a bunk to form a free-floating table for ashtrays, cards, magazines, etc. Prisoners wear their own clothes a great July 7, 19 72 9
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