Professor Herman Schwartz speaks on his critical view of the U.S. prison program. Topics include history of modern prison system, inhumane conditions, guards, and race. During the tragic inmate uprising at Attica State Prison in 1971, Schwartz served as the first intermediary between the prisoners and the prison administration.
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(00:00:00) What I'm going to talk about is the area of the rights of prisoners. I'm a lawyer. I'm a constitutional lawyer. I deal with people's rights and Liberties and trying to protect them such as they are to expand them to preserve them and I want to talk to you about some of my problems and doing this and some of the problems that lawyers have and what we have accomplished and I'm not sure that that isn't too grandiose a word. And what is left and essentially either because I rather tired these days or I've been losing a lot of cases these days or whatever. It was. I don't think so. I think it's because I felt this way for a while some of the perhaps pessimism that is warranted by the tasks of making any meaningful change and what must surely be one of the most bankrupt social institutions ever devised by the mind of man the American prison system. (00:01:09) well, (00:01:11) the business of repression and Injustice, they've always really been a part of almost every human society, but American society is a little bit different in the sense that it's one of the few societies that was explicitly founded on a faith in a hope in the ability of a society dedicated to Liberty to survive Lincoln said it in his Gettysburg Address that we're still wondering and we still are wondering certainly after the Watergate Revelations and the kinds of things that nearly well that did happen and nearly happened whether a free Society can survive. And one of the most difficult parts of that free Society is that how it deals with situations where it takes away Freedom when it explicitly says the guarantees of the Constitution about life liberty and property. Don't apply to you. One area where that was true quite explicitly was with respect to slavery. And this country has never yet come to terms fully with the problems created by that. One of the other areas where we have not come to terms with it was the prison system which was really created around 1820 or 1830 in a fearful, but apparently hopeful belief. That prisoners could be rehabilitated by taking them out of bad environments removing them from the place where they had been brought up horribly. Putting them in an antiseptic environment and hopefully they would be reformed David Rothman has analyzed this in a really brilliant book called the discovery of the Asylum indicating how prisons and workhouses and mental institutions all developed during the same period during a period of great fear that American society was falling apart the Jacksonian period And yet still great hope with the Frontiers and all that vast country out there. And the problem was that it became very clear very quickly that although somehow the prison system had taken very deep root. It wouldn't work and the terrible abuses that we all know that I assume Tom Merton talked about about who when he probably discussed his experiences at Arkansas that Jon Bak talked about that the to prisoner ex prisoners who are here whom I don't know talked about they go way way back to 1830 and 1840 shortly after the prison system was formed. (00:04:14) And (00:04:15) the essence of it is that the prisoner was not treated with respect not treated as a human being and that's really what this whole ball game is about what this whole prison problem is all about. Now as I say, I'm a lawyer and I deal with rights I deal with Liberties and to some extent maybe I overstate the issue or not so much overstate the issue but distort the issue to put it into my terms, but for those of you who have any sense of philosophy at all have had any philosophy much of the essence of democratic theory really comes from the county in moral imperative about treat every person as an end in himself or herself and not as a means only. And to treat people as ends in themselves, you've got to accept the fact that they have certain inalienable rights certain rights as human beings. And this is the uniqueness of this country that those rights unlike most countries were at the very Foundation point of this nation in the Constitution. It's Bill of Rights and earlier in the Declaration and 1776, even though as early as 1776 insofar as blacks were concerned a draft of the kind of the declaration independence said something about it, and then they were eliminated from it. now the notion of Rights is one that has for years been alien in the prison setting. Back in the 1880s of Virginia judge said a prisoner has no more rights than a Slave. We don't talk that way anymore. We talk the exact opposite. Now. We say that prisoners have all the rights of Free People except those that are necessary for penalogical purposes of security Rehabilitation isolation and such but that's not the reality. The fact is that prison administrators many judges many people feel that prisoners have no rights only privileges which are subject to withdrawal at any time certain things. Everybody seemed agreed upon but when the chips are down when it comes to enforcing these rights up to about 10 years ago, Less eight years ago seven years ago not mid-60s 1966-67 65 courts and other people who might have some power took what came to be called the hands-off attitude hands-off prisons. We won't bother with them. If you asked a federal court to mix in and you were complaining about a state prison. The federal court would say not only do we not mix into prisons, but we especially don't mix into state prisons. That's not our affair. And so though the verbal talk about prisoners have no more rights than slaves was repudiated. The reality remained the same. Now it's therefore. No secret that the terrible abuse is that I'm sure you have heard about read about heard about this week quite explicitly grew up because they're if there's one thing we can be sure of its that if some people are put under the absolute and invisible control of other people there will be terrible abuse has visibility and absolutism are the twin evils that are involved here. (00:07:57) Now, (00:07:59) let me just take a minute to perhaps belabor the obvious with you. But let me talk for a few minutes about the two reasons for prison explosions and why prison the such a ghastly place a prison essentially is a small place. It's a small City. That's a total Society. And it's a place where people don't want to be. There's no freedom of movement. Obviously, there's no sex except homosexual and off enforceable and often the homosexual sex. That's their has very little to do with sex. It has a lot to do with power and aggressiveness. The work is meaningless. The food is dull. There's nothing to do. and all those things that make life worth living love companionship work Recreation respect from your peers and from those in some degree whom you look up to or who have some Upper position if you will none of those are present. In addition, there are all kinds of what sociologists call state is degradation ceremonies. They used to shave people's heads. People are called by numbers. One of the worst examples of this. Is that when There were 43 people killed at the attic and Rebellion something like eleven eleven or not. I forgotten which civilians and and guards and 39 or whatever. It was 29 inmates. The guards were treated with course, like people like dead people with great deference, but the families of the inmates got Kurt telegrams telling them so and so number such as such is deceased. If you want the body, please call and nothing more that's an example of the kind of Calais bureaucratic indifference that develops and a lot of this gets focused on the guard and the guard is in some ways. One of the worst victims of this barbarous and bankrupt social institution because guards are men who are trying to make a living at a rotten job for many of them. Is one of two jobs and sometimes at as was true at Attica. It's the Moonlighting job. They really want to do something else. There's no self-esteem involved the community sees this the prison guard. I mean my God, it's about the low as low as you can get on state of slider and still be considered a member of the working community and he's scared. He's outnumbered anywhere from twenty to a hundred to one and he doesn't really know what's happening there. He knows he has to get along with these people he gets orders from above. He doesn't have much education. He doesn't have much training certainly for this frightfully difficult job. And so what you have essentially is a warehousing job. He becomes a warehouseman of human flesh and nobody likes to think of himself as that and he scared. and the prison authorities recognize this and so they realize that there is a Tinderbox there and their primary concern becomes security and once security becomes the primary primary concern there is no hope whatsoever for any kind of Civility any kind of Freedom any kind of Liberty whatsoever because security is a bottomless. Well, there's never enough of it and like a tennis ball can that's vacuum packed the minute. There's the slightest hole in it. It's gone in the eyes of the administrators. And so there's nothing that administrators don't consider relating to the relevant to security and it becomes truly a totalitarian state in which they try to reach even into the mines. Of the inmates to control them. I know of cases where letters were stopped because they ended with power to the people. A client of mine wrote in a private diary which he did not circulate and which he had been told he could keep that the warden was a cigar smoking SOB a cigar chomping sob and that the fellow the Deputy Commissioner who had turned down for parole was a creep. He lost 60 days good time was put in segregation for 60 days. There is no limit to this kind of thing. And that's the way our prisons were run. And then on top of it you had the constant friction between the guards and the inmates because since the inmates clearly didn't want to be there they were not manageable. That's the phrase that's used there were not manageable and they would talk back and they would act up. I had one client who had been at Attica for 18 years he'd gone and (00:13:29) at the age of (00:13:30) 18 on a murder charge and I said to him, how do you get along here? And he says not bad but every so often I break the rules and I said, what do you mean every so often you break the rules? Is there any particular reason said? Oh, yeah, you got to break the rules to make them remember that you're a man and that they're not winning completely over you. And obviously those kinds of attitudes produced frictions. They produce fear they producing Security on both sides and there is a symbiotic relationship here of hate and Fear and Loathing and all those other things that make this an impossible Society. And it becomes the perfect Paradigm of a police state because all that the keepers think about is security and that's what police is all about Law and Order and that's all they think about and they want to control everything. And so you have one element of The Tinderbox? And that's what prison is all about really to start with Rehabilitation is nonsense. It's a fraud at best a delusion and at worst a fraud. We for one thing we don't know how to change people if that's what we're talking about change people's minds it's hard enough to do if you were thinking of doing Psychotherapy, it's hard enough to do that with people on the outside successfully much less with people on the inside. Secondly. We don't want to do it. We don't spend money on that kind of stuff. I've forgotten what the figures are but it's something like 90% is devoted to cut of the prison budget is devoted to custody and 10% to treatment the educational and literacy programs and work programs, which might do some good. They're not taken. Seriously. We don't spend money on that. It's difficult to get people to go there out to prisons. And so the educational programs are usually garbage although in some places high school equivalency programs aren't too bad. And that's that's what prison. All about its punishment pure and simple and we ought to recognize that and talk about Rehabilitation as pernicious because we do terrible things to people in the name of Rehabilitation in my state of New York. I don't know if this is true in Minnesota, but my state New York, we send kids away for four years for committing Petty offenses if they're between 16 and 21 in the name of Rehabilitation when if they were over 21, they might only get 90 days. We send sexual Psychopaths away for sentences of a day to life sexual psychopath is often guy who does nothing more than unzip his pants in front of little girls and he may be sent away for a wife theoretically for rehabilitation, but actually for nothing there is no Rehabilitation and friends of mine have gotten clients released on the ground that no Rehabilitation was shown we currently have a lawsuit on the Stacked against the statute which keeps kids in for four years because they've committed a misdemeanor in the name of Rehabilitation and nothing nothing. No Rehabilitation takes place. If it does it's an accident. It's despite the system rather than because of it. Mel this is the normal situation. This is the situation which makes the prison and inherently volatile and unviable institution and has produced prison riots for many many years as those of you who saw the Attica movie will know attic itself was built in 1931 in a response to a wave of prison riots in New York in the 1920s indeed in the Attica riot in 1971 was really the sequel to A prior Uprising at Auburn and I in November 1970 where the prison institution the prison Administration rather double-cross the inmates who had taken hostages, the prison administration had promised that they would be no reprisals and they were brutal reprisals which New York commissioner Oswald himself admitted but claimed correctly that he had not been the commissioner at the time this had happened. That's one of the major Actors in the Attic Uprising which until the McKay Commission report and this movie came out has really been ignored in most of the discussion but that's endemic to all (00:18:03) prisons everywhere. (00:18:05) Now, we have a very different item into this terribly volatile mix and that's Blackness because the prison now is largely a black institution. I don't know if this is so true in Minnesota, but it is certainly true in places like California and New York, Massachusetts the great cities and states of the Northeast and one has to see prison particularly in the black experience. (00:18:35) For (00:18:35) most white people particularly middle-class white people prison is a metaphor one of the basic metaphors of society, but essentially something that comes across very rarely recent experience with mr. Agnew indicates how rare it is, even when you've been caught with your hand deep down into the till and a very deep till at that Agnew did not go to prison and a lot of other people in Agnes position don't go to prison embezzlers, for example rarely go to prison and a lot of other white-collar criminals don't go to prison but black people go to prison. They go to jails awaiting trial sometimes even when they're innocent and then they're acquitted and they go to prisons. And at Attica 55% of the population was black and another 10% was Latin. And in the black experience prison is Central a story on the Attica Uprising reported that the parent that LD Berkeley whom some of you may recall the most of you probably don't was the fiery orator with Granny glasses who was killed in the takeover on September 13th came from award in Rochester where the parents spoke of the prison's to which their children were sent to a middle-class people speak of the college's to which their children are sent. it is the one of the How to put it one of the key points in the criminal justice system, which beats on black people starting with the black kid on the street who's told to Move Along by the white cop in Harlem and Los Angeles and places like that and then through the family courts and ultimately into prison and then out and back in and then out and back in it is Central to the black experience and in a way all those things that happen on the outside to black people were police repression. No work arbitrary discipline arbitrary criminal law system bad Medical Care all of those things that are so much a feature of the dark side of American society. Are concentrated in the prison? They are concentrated as if in a pressure cooker. And the kinds of explosions that have taken place in the kinds of both psychological and physical and the kinds of militancy and rising up angry that have taken place outside are taking place inside and this has compounded the problem for prison administrators and Keepers many many fold because what you have in the prison is not only the outside Society compressed in the pressure cooker but a concentration on one aspect of that outside society. And in many ways the most dangerous that is the police Street confrontation because as I indicated a few minutes ago a prison is a police state there is virtually nothing else in a prison except police the guards at Attica and in most prison Ins the inmates refer to the guards as police the guards walk around wearing not guns New York, but billy clubs which they call nigger sticks blue uniforms like the police they have police Insignia Captain's bars lieutenants. Now the whole paramilitary deal they wear things that look like police caps and indeed they look very much like policemen and there's a real solidarity between police and prison guards. The Buffalo Police Department held a special memorial service for the Attica guards who were killed. This is recognized as solidarity and what you have therefore in prison and you have it worse and men and many many ways is you have generally the white guard who unlike the city policemen who sometimes is black and sometimes knows the people he's dealing with generally you have rural white prison guards who have no contact with blacks whatsoever often come from most conservative parts of the community facing militant black men in what is a permanent police black confrontation. And given that how can one be at all surprised that we have had a series of bloody prison Uprising because addict is not the first of the recent ones at Pendleton Indiana in 1969, three or four blacks and other prisoners were killed in Raiford prison in Florida. You had several you had shooting by either State Police are guards into a mass of prisoners who were an uprising you've had this over and over again throughout the country. Now the newspapers have kind of toned down but if you read the back pages of any of the big newspapers, you will see over and over again references to prison uprisings McAllister in Oklahoma, Arizona j-just the numbers just it just goes on and on it doesn't stop because the conditions which created are so much apart. They're not a All conspiracy. It's not a few outside agitators. It's not a bunch of lawyers or movement people. It's a rotten bankrupt social institution, which is grinding people down and some of the people don't want to take it anymore. And that's paints a pretty bleak picture and I think it's largely true. It's not intended to indicate that if you change the color of the guards that will change the problem. It'll help a little bit, but you still have the reality of prison. And I think that's what we're faced with now in this kind of setting where does the picture where what is the role of Rights? Because what a right is it's a sort of as in the American Revolution a don't tread on me. It's a shield which says to Authority you can go thus far and no farther. This is mine. You cannot Pierce this you can't get by it. How does that fit in in the total institution of a prison? Well, there have been some developments and I think they've been substantial (00:25:50) but they've been very (00:25:50) limited. And they're even more limited than they seem and I'd like to take just a few minutes with you to run down some of the areas in which there have been changes. Or at least Court decisions establishing rights. It seems pretty clear. Now that beatings and that kind of terrible abuse holes cells such work existed in New York where it there was no light burning where there was the window was broken out where a man was kept with a bucket and nothing more naked and the temperatures fell to 20 below zero. This is all in court records in California the hot box wherein hundred 100 degree heat in a metal sell. A man is left with nothing to drink and nobody to talk to solitary confinement that continues for days and months and even years so that people go crazy. A lot of that has been condemned by courts and indeed may have been eliminated in a lot of places. There is a right to decent medical care, but it's a right that's more honored in the breach because the truth is we don't have the resources to provide decent medical care for our society even on the outside, but at least it's been established for whatever that's worth. We have won a great many cases on discipline. Which require that before somebody's disciplined by being put in segregation or losing key privileges or losing good time so that he has to serve longer than he might have he's entitled to some kind of hearing where he can know the case against him and respond to it and give an explanation that never used to be true before I was involved in one case where a man was asked whether he was involved in a prison. He was told you're charged with having been involved in some kind of prison disturbance. He said I plead not guilty and the prison Warden said, okay 18 months in the box. So now wait a minute. And the wardens had to what I mean. Wait a minute, didn't you say you plug didn't didn't you say you plead not guilty. And he said yeah, so that's right. Okay, send him away 18-day 18 months in the box. And that was the whole (00:28:14) hearing (00:28:16) that's been changed. We force changes there. We have managed to and I'm talking primarily about lawyers. And this is what these are Century Court decisions there have been other vehicles of change, but I'm talking about those at the moment. We have managed to deal with the problem of censorship a little bit. I had a client who wrote a letter to his girlfriend. In this letter, he asked her to get him a lawyer in connection with something and he said to her I'm now in Attica concentration camp the warden sent it back with a note at the top the sweater cannot go out because the name of this place is Attica Correctional (00:28:57) Facility. (00:29:00) Another fellow wrote a letter to his family and said this place stinks. I think those were the exact words. The letter wouldn't go out in New York on top of every form that prisoners had to use to ride it said you may not write about the following ten categories. One of them. No prison news. No reference to another Prison inmate. No begging God wants to ride home and ask them to send him some money. That won't go. If you want to tell them he's in trouble in prison. That's prison news clearly no criticism of the prison. That kind of stuff if we can catch it. I think is no estopped in some jurisdictions. We have managed to ensure that law prisoners can write confidential unopened letters to their lawyers never used to be true in some jurisdictions. We have one the right of press access so that the Press can go in and interview (00:29:55) prisoners (00:29:57) whom they want to see Prisoners can write letters to the press these things didn't used to be true. reading matter in New York nothing about psychology because prisons are convinced that rape masturbation and everything else take place by osmosis so that if somebody reads about something it'll happen and all hell will break loose and so anything to do with any Freud anything at all to do with Psychology was excluded that's not true anymore. Anything militant whatsoever was excluded that's not true anymore out of a list of some 70 items that we were given about a year ago by New York state in a lawsuit that we brought against them to challenge their exclusion of literature. They folded even before we went to trial which were now in the process of doing on 60 of them. Larger speaks practically all issues of the Black Panther Party newspaper the black scholar a lot of underground press gets in without too much trouble in a lot of places. See what else? racial discrimination it's been barred in theory and practice it still exists. I'm sure but it's been barred (00:31:27) the parole (00:31:28) system. I must say that this is the thing. I feel most bitter about believe it or not because I consider that the parole system is the most hypocritical aspect of the whole business parole is a method of control really not much more. It is a way to keep somebody under the control of the police when he gets when the man gets out on a parole and it is a way to control people while in prison by dangling over their heads the prospect that they will lose parole if they don't behave And Rehabilitation Counseling that's all nonsense. Most parole officers work hand-in-glove with the police in New York, which is the worst state in the Union. We impose some 32 parole conditions on Parolees including eleven o'clock curfews on 25 year old men. They have to turn in the driver's license. They can't live with a woman that not their wives. They can't leave their community and until recently. They wouldn't be told what their Community was when you ask they simply say he knows without permission all of these things which are explicitly stated by the parole board to be things which cannot possibly be adhered to are imposed. Why because if they don't like him or if they suspect him of something that they can prove or her because on women the parole system is particularly brutal women parole officers tend to be particularly moralistic and punitive and if they're they've got something that they Prove they can always take one of these technical violations and a huge number of people have their parole revoked because they were driving without a lot of because they were driving without a license because they stayed out late because they associated with people they had met in prison. I had a girl who was in on away with minor charged a 17 year old kid way would minor in this case meant nothing more than that. She and her mother couldn't get along and she stayed out at night and a mother had her committed and this is a I was involved in Striking down the statute. Mother had her committed and it's a three-year sentence to because there's only one Institution for Women in New York state a prison. This girl didn't like didn't want to be there and she was a very spirited girl. So instead of getting out at nine months on parole. They kept her there for 14 months a 17 year old girl with all kinds of people with hardened and difficult criminal record. So she gets out mother by this time among other things had had a change of heart she gets out and they contact somehow I got involved with it. I don't remember how and then a month later. I hear that her parole was about to be revoked and what are the charges? She had lunch with a girl she met in the institution. She was caught trying to mail a letter to a girl she'd met in Syracuse from Syracuse in the institution and she was staying out at night again staying with I think her cousin the real reason was that she and her mother weren't getting along again and they were ready to bust her and send her back to (00:34:40) prison (00:34:42) until we came in we figured out some legal Theory where when we told the judge he said to his look you just figure out any old Theory and if it's at all plausible, I'm not going to let them send this girl back but the parole board is ready to send her back these holes that they have on people and we've made some changes there. They used to be able to revoke parole just on a parole officer say so now because of a Supreme Court decision. They have to have some kind of (00:35:09) hearing So we made some (00:35:12) progress. But the truth is that we're really on the very very first steps of a very very long journey and even these steps of progress that we've made really don't amount to a hell of a lot because they can be evaded so easily and we have so little resources. For example, let's take the business of discipline of people for violations of some prison rule these occur in the hundreds and thousands each year. They involve generally the word of a guard except that against that of an inmate. In the Free World the word of a cop against a person presumptively innocent always prevails it'll obviously continue that way in the prison system. There won't be any impartial tribunal most judges in most of these cases on the criminal side in the criminal courts are biased toward the police and the prosecution even though they're technically not members of the law enforcement Branch anymore. There are third branch of government. But in prison the tribunal is invariably a member of the prison staff. Is he going to find against the prisoner? I mean against the guard and say the guard is lying and believe the prisoner. I mean that's just nonsense. So what are we doing in these cases? Well some extent we're gumming up the system. We're making it somewhat more difficult and in the hard cases where they really slam somebody hard we may be making it possible from some lawyer somewhere if one can find them and that's another Problem there just aren't enough lawyers to go around to do something to prove to avoid this kind of thing. The prison and male censorship of the email censorship business. Well, that should be very easy and indeed an awful lot of prison administration's on their own have abandoned censorship, but that's very hard to monitor. I'm constantly being told that my mail to people's being read even though there's a rule against it. I don't know maybe it is maybe it isn't and so I'm very scared about sending confidential stuff in letters to them book and reading matter censorship that I think we can make stick because although they do hassle us and hold up book sometimes for five or six or eight weeks before they let the inmate have it final ours. They've led a walkthrough. (00:37:33) Parole. (00:37:35) Well, we managed to set up some procedural safeguards but there isn't a bureaucracy in the world that can't roll with the punch and smother procedural safeguards and ultimately learn to ignore them because the truth is with most procedural safeguards if we're lucky and I'm not sure some of you will understand this illusion. But if we're lucky, we'll raise them to the level of the lowest criminal courts in our country and the lowest criminal courts in our countries are scandalous and the lack of decent treatment and fairness and interracial racism and discrimination on the issue of racism on such important things is job assignment parole, and the like we can't prove that. It's very very difficult to (00:38:18) prove. (00:38:20) And So It Goes a lot of these things are very very feeble protections so what's the whole what's it all about why do we continue (00:38:32) Well, (00:38:34) we continue because this is one way of making some progress and there are certain things which can be done with some significance. Ultimately. We must abolish the prison system as we have it today. Otherwise, we will simply continue this social obscenity this institutional disgrace. But that's a prison by definition is a totalitarian society as I've said and the notion of individual rights and the reality of a totalitarian Society are in are irreconcilable conflict because by definition totalitarian means total there is nothing impervious. There are no don't tread on me kinds of things there. There are no Shields it reaches into the thoughts. And of course, that's the 1984 Society. That's what prison is all about 1984 right now. Big brother in your thoughts. Now therefore the only real solution is to abolish the prison as we know it today doesn't mean we abolish all prisons. It doesn't mean we abolished prison for everybody and all kinds of Prisons. There are some people at Attica and elsewhere whom I don't want walking the (00:39:59) streets. (00:40:01) I don't really like to get cut up. I don't like to get assaulted. I don't like to get murdered and I don't like women to get raped there are dangerous people but there are fraction. There are very very small fraction of the people who are in prisons and if we had prison solely for those people they might very well be different kinds of Institutions provided provided that they were very visible and that they were watched very carefully and that we had other things going along with it that I'm not even sure of it the moment because it may be that all we might wind up with and I'm not at all sure that this wouldn't happen. Is smaller scale versions of what we have now? For most other people they don't have to be in prison. Somebody was saying to me the other day that our prison system is most irrational thing in the world from a pure dollars and cents bit basis. It costs a fortune. We support people we give people free room and board. It's not very good. But in many ways the food is healthier than the food that people eat on the outside. It's dull. It's monotonous its dreary, but it's probably healthier and it's there. There are three meals a day and one stays out of the rain and out of the cold and for many people after a while they become so institutionalize that they can't live in the Free World. And of course that's what prison is all about because the ultimate irrationality in prison, which is what I meant to say before is that a trains people for living in the Free World by treating them in the most repressive way imaginable. It cuts out it represses. It stamps out the slightest sign of responsibility and Independence for purposes of security. And so people can learn to live in the outside world. One of my clients was released from prison after a year and a half or two years and he was brought to my office from Attica. And he came in I said to him Richard. This is Richard X Clark one of the men involved in Attica. I said I'm delighted to see you. It's 11:30 or 12:00 o'clock. Why don't we have some lunch and I don't think it's a good idea for us to go out to a restaurant because you might be known in this area. And I don't think you want that yet. Let's order some sandwiches up to my office. What would you like and he looked at me and said, what would I like I'm not used to that kind of question. What would I like and I said, well you can have this that and I could see there was a real culture shock going on and then he wanted to and he picked up the phone and wanted to make a lot of calls and I said sure you can't do that those fundamental basic things. I mean about the only thing you can do in prison is light a cigarette when you feel like it but not much else. And that's why we've got to (00:42:51) in (00:42:53) Joan Baez is phrase and one of her songs raise the prison's to the ground. Unfortunately, it's going the other way most L. EA Corrections money is going to building more institutions. But for those people who don't go to prison we can do a lot of things we can provide them with certain kinds of jobs to which we have no people today such as workers and hospitals counselors working with people in trouble service things, which the society is desperately in need of pay them a decent wage and charge them for restitution or fines or something like that. We can have weekend prison. We can have night prison we can have all kinds of variations on this kind of thing many of these people are no dangerous to society and insofar as some of them are dangerous to our property like shoplifters and forgers in the like the truth is that much of that is covered by Insurance. Anyway, the society can tolerate it. Every society must endure always a certain amount of crime and there's very little that our social institutions like prisons and criminal justice system and the police can do about it because crime grows out a fundamental social conditions. Such as a baby boom crime is largely a phenomenon of 15 to 25 year olds when there was a baby boom after the war we knew there'd be a crime wave and now that's lacking down and so we know and we can see that there has been a slight decline in crime (00:44:22) rates. (00:44:23) So where do the lawyers come in and where do the Notions of Rights come in? (00:44:29) Well (00:44:31) lawyers at least the lawyers. I know don't have any Illusions about how much we can accomplish the Civil Rights Movement taught us how indispensable we are and yet how terribly terribly limited we are we can prod we can shake up the system. We can open some doors. We can loosen things up, but the real changes are sort of fundamental organic changes in the society. And so as I see it, our primary concern is to facilitate those changes rather than expect to do it all ourselves. No group can do it all ourselves particularly, not lawyers and particularly not Outsiders. The only groups that have any hopes the only group that has any hopes of doing a major part of it are the prisoners themselves because one thing we've learned from the various Liberation movements the gay movement the women's movement the black movement is that only those who are suffering are the ones who can really make the changes who will be there over and over again to insist that the changes be made. I'm a white middle-class lawyer. I teach school and I practice law civil rights law and so on. I visit a prison and I take down notes and I make certain promises about what I'm going to do and then I go home to my family and I teach my class when the summer comes I like to go away for a few weeks to Cape Cod as I grow older. I guess I'll be more and more tired and weary ER and more discouraged and more depressed at these things and sooner or later. I will either die or just fade away or just turn to other things. That's true of all of us on the outside, but the prisoners they're still there. So we've got to figure out ways to make them more powerful because the essence of humanity is treatment is respect. It comes back to that that I said before respect for other people and truthfully the way the world goes. We don't respect other people who have no power who have no way of implementing their desires and so those of us who were in The Prison Rights Movement have been working to do a couple of things what we call roughly First Amendment kinds of things first to keep those places visible to keep the Press moving in and out to make that possible so that they don't get shut off again and get we put far away not only geographically but emotionally and psychologically and socially keep correspondence lines visiting lines open so that those the contact can continue and the people on the inside can continually feel supported by people on the outside. I have brought lawsuits that I knew I was going to lose. I brought a lawsuit. I was involved in a lawsuit involving Jon Bak that we knew we were going to lose why because the lawsuit came up in the aftermath of an emergency on outbreak and Uprising or something like that and very often and no judge wants to help the prisoner there his sympathies and concerns role for the prison administrators. But we brought those lawsuits knowing we would lose because we knew that the inmates wanted us to bring those suits wanted us wanted to feel that there's somebody working for them and who will bring them to the community into a courtroom to speak to the community at Large. We're trying to develop and help develop prisoners unions and prisoners associating with each other a very very difficult task because just as in the Labor Management Field a union means power to the workers. And management whether it's industrial management or prison management fears that more than anything else. It's part of the security bit in prison. And so those are the kinds of things we're trying to develop on the other side. We're trying to end prison to get prisons abolished not so much attacking the whole prison system, but for individuals or groups, we're trying to keep people out on parole trying to make sure that the parole authorities don't pull people back easily or lightly and hopefully not at all. We're trying to Strike at sentencing practices which send people away as I said for four years. We're trying to strike at those things which enable them to take away good time for nothing. In other words. We're concentrating very heavily on getting people out and keeping them out insofar as the correctional system is concerned. Those are our twin areas of focus. Having said all this again. The prognosis is not (00:49:33) good. But (00:49:36) we really have no choice. Prisons are one of the classic illustrations of the tried phrase, but unfortunately one that seems always appropriate man's inhumanity to man. And we just don't have any choice. We've got to keep trying to do something to end that Abomination where we've had some successes. But as I've said, they're really very early steps on a long long road (00:50:07) and (00:50:09) as in Vietnam the light at the end of the tunnel, it's not in sight and as it was not then when people said it was but we've gotta keep trying there are lots of things that can be done both to make those institutions a bit more Humane. I don't agree with those people who say that we should ignore the cry for simply making those places a little more Humane because we thereby legitimate the system and make those places more tolerable for one thing will never make those places tolerable so that you don't have to worry about I don't think we would generate them and frankly when somebody is crying out to me in a letter. That they're doing this to me. They are brutalizing me. They're doing that to me. They're denying me medical care if I think I can do something and I don't often think I can or if they're trying to take me back and revoke my parole. Unjustly. I'm not going to wait for the Millennium when the prisons are raised to the ground. We're going to try to help whatever we can now.