The Law: The Shame of the Prisons

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publicity moved the state to do a little fixing. Gun-toting trusties lost some power, 60 more free-world staffers arrived, $450,000 was allotted to replace some men and mules with farm machinery. Robert Sarver, head of the Arkansas penal system, is pushing hard for improvement against stiff odds. But Cummins still lacks any schooling, counseling or job training. For a college-trained social worker, the state pays only $593 a month; Cummins can barely attract civilian guards ($330). Says Sarver: "We can't guarantee a man's safety."

Last year U.S. District Judge J. Smith Henley ruled that imprisonment in Arkansas amounts to unconstitutional "banishment from civilized society to a dark and evil world." He ordered the state to reform Cummins by the fall of 1971 or face an order to close the place. But the evil world persists. With no pay, Cummins prisoners survive by selling their blood or bodies. To blot out the place, they sniff glue and gobble smuggled pills. Some mornings, 200 men are too stoned to work. Since gambling is pervasive, loan sharks top the prison pecking order. They charge 50¢ per dollar a week and swiftly punish defaulters. In a single month last summer, Cummins recorded 19 stabbings, assaults and attempted rapes. The worst of it is the privacy-robbing barracks, where 100-bunk rooms house all types, from harmless chicken thieves to homicidal sadists, and the young spend all night repelling "creepers" (rapists). "You're all there in the open," shudders a recently released car thief named Frank. "Someone's stinking feet in your face, radios going, guys gambling. You never really get to sleep. What's worse is the fear. There's no protection for your life. I kept thinking 'if I get out —not 'when.'"

INDIANA. With its 40-ft. walls, the gray castle in Michigan City looks its part: a maximum-security pen for 1,800 felons, including teen-age lifers. Inside, the walls flake, the wiring sputters and the place is falling apart. Indiana spends only 1.5% of its state budget on all forms of correction.

Like many legislatures, Indiana's insists that prisons make a profit. Last year Indiana State Prison turned out 3.5 million license plates, among other things, and netted the taxpayers $600,000—no problem when inmates get 20¢ an hour. Inmates also provided the prison's few amenities. Many cells are jammed with books, pictures, record players and tropical fish in elaborate tanks. There are two baseball diamonds, three miniature golf courses, tennis, basketball and handball courts—all equipment paid for by the inmates' recreation fund.

The prison needs far more than play. It teems with bitter men, one-third of them black. Some of the toughest are young militants transferred from Indiana State Reformatory at Pendleton, where 225 blacks staged a sitdown last year to protest the prolonged solitary confinement of their leaders. Instead of using tear gas or other nonlethal weapons, Pendleton guards fired shotguns pointblank into the unarmed crowd, killing two blacks and seriously wounding 45. One official gasped: "They slaughtered them like pigs."

At Indiana State, Pendleton survivors and other young blacks grate against 245 guards, most of them middle-aged whites and some close to 70. This is a U.S. pattern: only 26% of all prison

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