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Sometimes, you just gotta be there…

During my federal trial back in ’90 for cocaine conspiracy (theirs, not mine…), I was sick at one point and the trial was adjourned for a couple of days.  Thru my court-appointed attorney, I complained of the lack of medical care.

Of the two side-by-side  jails in Detroit, the old one was especially rife with sickness.  In the summer, we sat around in our underwear, sweat just pouring down.  In the winter, freezing.

I recall at one point a deputy sheriff making his rounds recognized me.  As a criminal defense investigator in Detroit for 17 years, I used to have a jail security pass to visit clients, many of the guards knew me.

He motioned to the other end of the bullpen and asked, “What the f*** are you doing here, Mac?”

I answered, “Don’t you watch TV?  Read the papers?”

“No, no.  I mean in here, on this side?”

He was referring to the old jail with some 750 souls, almost all black.  The other side was the new jail, much more modern with some 2,000 inmates.

When I responded that I didn’t have a clue (actually, I did), he said that he’d check into it and try to get me transferred.  I could live with that. I knew they wanted my “cooperation” in the prosecution of others…I only started out as a gambit…

Home for my first 9 months…

Normally, federal prisoners are held at FCI Milan, not at the Wayne County Jail.  And when they do come down  for trial, they have a cell on the new side.

In the 9 months that I lived in the old jail, I was attacked 3 times.  Once for winning at cards (consistently), once for being accused of changing a rap-radio station (right, picture that), and once for being white.

*  *   *

   As I shuffled from the courtroom in ‘cuffs and chains, the judge ordered the Marshals to personally make sure I got medical treatment.

   We went in a back entrance of the jail and up to a floor I had never seen before.  We walked thru a hospital-like ward—all pristine, hospital beds, and shiny new equipment.   One of the jail guards remarked to a Marshal, “We were ordered to buy it, but that don’t mean we have to waste it on these dirtbags!”  John Walsh couldn’t say it better.

We passed thru that area and the deputies put me in a cell with 3 other guys.  “Here you go.  This is the medical cell.”  That got another laugh.

There were two metal benches, and a sink and toilet all crudded up with blood and other fluids and flotsam.  One guy sat on a bench leaning against the cinder-block wall, one side of his head a mass of bloody pulp.

Two guys were lying on the floor, one barely breathing, the other writhing and moaning in agony.  They both were bleeding from every orifice in their body, including their eyes and a mass of blood all clotted down the back of their prison pants.

Catching the eye of the seated guy, he said, “Aids,” as if that explained it all.  It was a scene straight out of 17th century Bedlam.  The smells assaulted the senses…but I assume the others were beyond that kind of sensitivity.

When I tried to see if I could cup some water out of the sink’s faucet (I couldn’t), I asked the seated inmate when he expected the doctor and some hospital care.  He gagged or laughed, I’m not sure which, and said, “This is the hospital,” as a huge blood bubble broke from his lips in my face.

When the turnkeys returned some 6 hours later, they asked me if I was well enough to return to my cell.  One guy was long dead, and the other was getting there.

*   *   *

   “Cooperate,” their euphemism for rats.  It’s what they see in the mirror.  I suppose they’re still waiting…

 Dr. Publico (Nick Medvecky, PsyD) November 2010…

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3 Responses
  1. […] a written surrender agreement, the feds threw me in the Wayne County Jail. Normally, federal prisoners are held at FCI Milan outside of […]

  2. […]    However, again, reality intrudes.  Jails in fact are also used as the coercive means to induce “cooperation” with one’s prosecution and/or the prosecution of others.  Many of us, including myself, have had that experience. […]

  3. […] a year in Detroit’s Wayne County Jail and the holding facilities at FCI Milan, MI, Ray Brook (RBK) was my first officially designated […]

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