The Law: The Black Hole of Manhattan

The word that sums up conditions at New York's most infamous jail is precisely the one that Chief Justice Burger used: "miserly." Known appropriately enough as the Tombs, the Manhattan House of Detention for Men is stuffed with close to 2,000 prisoners; it is a dank fortress built to hold 932 at most. Last week, as if to dramatize the Chief Justice's appeal for penal reform, 800 Tombs prisoners erupted in a window-smashing, furniture-throwing, bed-sheet-burning display of frustration brought on by inhumane conditions and the apparent indifference of the outside world.

Buck-Passing. The trouble began at dawn on Monday when 200...

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