Life in the County


Fifth Estate # 78, May 1-14, 1969

Editors’ Note: The author of this article is currently doing time in a federal prison in West Virginia on a conviction of possession of two grams of marijuana. Prior to his transfer, he spent close to a month in Wayne County Jail where he wrote the following commentary.

Upon reading the article in the South End of February 24, “Seven Days in Detroit’s Hell Hole” I was inspired to write this commentary on the Wayne County Concentration Camp where I am presently incarcerated.

The reality of the “hole” cannot be conceived on a non-empirical basis; but, if connotation is related to the ordinary cell-ward, a feasible and denotative picture can be gained, not so much of the shit-encrusted concrete as of the anguish and damage perpetuated upon the human mind.

I now realize to what extent a man is animal. Yet unlike here, an animal’s cries are for nourishment, for help to extinguish the torment or eradicate the stimulus.

Here a cry for help goes unheeded and any confrontation with the “dep” may well wind up in a trip to the “hole.” To survive such an encounter without consequence can most definitely be considered miraculous.

To be Man one must constantly strive to attain a livable standard which gives an environment capable of consoling and building the human mind, to enable it to function and perform as such.

No such state exists here, and doubts enter the mind as to its existence elsewhere, for after a few weeks reality becomes the bars, the translucent windows and the often completely static radio emanating from a hidden speaker kept well out of reach.

Often food runs short as it did today and I do without. I sense that I could find some relief in even aspirin but there is none to be had. Any voice of friendship is quickly censored.

Hell does exist at 525 Clinton in this ugly city.

…And then a horn sounds on Gratiot and I remember and cry for the world silently the only words left: UP AGAINST THE WALL MOTHERFUCKER, THIS IS A REVOLUTION!