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Space

By Andrew Marantz
Greg Waters, RIDOC Training Academy

These guys really are intelligent. They are very good manipulators. Never forget now, and
this is the reality of the situation, that these guys are here for a reason.

They may be leery of why anyone, why, you know, you would voluntarily come here in the
first place. The only thing for that is, you know, is to think it out for yourself: what am I
doing here?1

Someone comes in the first day, they start sizing you up. Who is—you know—who is this
punk—what can I get from him, how can I use him to my advantage.2

You know it sounds like I’m, you know, I’m crabby or I’m being a—hey, all I’m saying, you
stay here for a while, you see3 stuff.

I’m here to tell you the real deal, what I’ve experienced.4

And I’ll tell you, they know how to play the game. These guys make a living off of conning
people. You’d be surprised how many Moslems we get—until it’s Ramadan and they can’t
eat all day, it’s a booking offense if they eat, so they say take me off the list. You know, you
see enough to where you get numb,5 you’re just reacting to what comes just, you know,
just now.

We are trained, we train our people—you know, you have to respect that these individuals
are here, they’re doing their time; they’re human beings.6 But we are not in the business of
feeling empathy with them, of making—one thing to remind yourself, you know, is that they
will take kindness as a weakness.7

1
( )
2
Grain of salt.
3

Desks arrayed in front of an overhead projector. On the left wall a series of target practice torsos in solid
red, white bull’s eyes stacked vertical like chakras. The seal of the Training Academy, or maybe of the
whole DOC: a justice scale crossed by a sword, and in the middle a mustard yellow diamond-edged
explosion.
4
What he has seen. Through him you see.
5

The things he’s seen. You can’t judge how he sees, you don’t know what stimulus, what reaction; it’s
enough sorting through your own reactions, keeping your own head on straight, the jagged explosion of
meaning in a given moment.
6
The way he says it it sounds simple.
7
Greg has his view of human beings and others have others, and is one of them right.

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State of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations D.O.C.

Welcome. The mission of the Rhode Island Department of Corrections (RIDOC) is to


contribute to public safety by maintaining a balanced correctional system of institutional and
community programs that provide a range of control and rehabilitative options for criminal
offenders.

The primary responsibility of the Division of Institutions & Operations is the coordinated
management of eight (8) correctional facilities, including two (2) jails (one for male
offenders and one for female offenders), all located on the John O. Pastore Government
Center in Cranston, Rhode Island.

Facilities for men include

High Security: High Security Center (HSC) is a self-contained maximum security


facility which houses inmates who require close custody, control, and security
provided by this end-of-the-line8 prison. All inmates are on restricted status; no
general population,9 no industries, no contact visits.

Maximum Security: The goal of this facility is to provide the maximum level of
security consistent with public safety. Since the disturbance of September, 1991,10
the current management, with the help of all staff, has brought the facility back to
order by imposing strict rules and procedures.

Medium Security: Divided into two facilities, John J. Moran and Donald Price.11

Minimum Security: Minimum is unique among the facilities in that is has the capability
to provide 100% employment. Only inmates medically certified as unemployable do
not work. Jobs range from institutional to public service projects.

and the Intake Service Center.

Medical and religious services are offered in all facilities. Educational opportunities such as
General Equivalent Development (GED), English as a Second Language (ESL), Special
Education, creative writing,12 and some college courses, are available to various degrees in
all facilities.

8
?
9
?
10
??
11
Known as Medium 1 and Medium 2, respectively. The latter is where you have signed up to volunteer
two hours a week.
12
You have never taught a poetry workshop. You have never taken a poetry workshop. You have never
been inside a prison. You don’t know anyone who has.

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Donald Price Medium Security Facility

Opened:13 1932 (as reformatory for men)


Closed: 1992 (due to opening of John J. Moran Facility)
Reopened14: 1997 (as Donald Price Facility)15
Custody Staff: 109
Non-Custody16 Staff: 19
Average Facility Population17: 274 (FY1801)
Facility Capacity: 360

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Scatter of birds loop high fence yards above barbed wire.
Tall windless sky; clouds so thick and many they feel close.
Hope this is the place.
14
Line of red pickup trucks, no plates. You park your car, swing open the door, one leg out; other visitors
sit, motors running, waiting for five of five.
Leave in car: cell phone, wallet, keys, chewing gum. Bring: photo ID, box of pencils, copies of poem.
Don’t wear khaki; the offenders wear khaki.
15
A few birds above coils of barbed wire; around, around. In lazy ellipses, not parallel to the ground. Air
columns. Inside outside in.
Above the front door in stone they’ve carved something like curtains.
16
By the time you’re out the sun will have set.
Your first day in. You think you feel. Anxious isn’t right exactly.
17
The birds strike in and up, needling through no breeze, smudge against stone velvet. The birds must
know about the barbs, what would happen; but how could they know except the hard way.
18
Which side you’re on.

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Institutional19 Food Services

The Food Service Unit has overall responsibility for all offender food service activities20
directed by employees of the Department of Corrections. Responsibilities include menu
planning, food procurement, handling, preparation and the delivery of wholesome, 21
nutritionally balanced food and beverages to all offenders.

Each prison facility of the Department of Corrections has kitchen facilities currently serving
inmates three daily meals. Correctional Officer22 Stewards supervise inmate kitchen workers
in the preparation and serving23 of meals in the various facilities. Overall, the Food Service
Unit provides approximately 10,00024 meals per day Department-wide.

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You are struck first not by violence but by order.
Predict and control. Brick and glass. Thick doors without handles, buzzed in silent without buzzing.
“Who are you?”
“Andrew Marantz.”
“Yeah, what are you haeh for?”
“Oh, um: SPACE.”
“ ”
“Sorry, Space in Prisons for Arts—uh, the poetry workshop.”
Head recedes, canned crackling: “One male creative writing instructor.”
Line of visiting wives in best jeans cheeks tear streaked.
Metal detector dormant, no frisking. White card for yellow badge: you’re in.
20
As you enter, the dining hall sits through the glass on your left, the dining hall skylit flat and diffuse, as
a church basement. Blue diamond tables legs thick like roots, slow stump bolted, where the wild things
are. At the head of the room a fake mahogany desk and black leather chair raised five feet on a podium;
you can’t help but think of Letterman. C.O. leaned back, boots up, looking bored. People arrayed at
tables, hands in laps, not eating: visiting.
21
The feel of the place more white paint than chipped steel, more quiet than noise, more windows than
wire, higher ceilings than necessary, little motion, much standing around. Floors a sort of indoor-gym
rubbery rock, neutral gray. Scrubbed walls. Smells like a man’s broad back wet with Pine-Sol.
Metallic voice piped from somewhere, around corners: “You need to be escorted. Wait haeh for Officer
Cucciolo.”
22
Cucciolo pops up, olive slacks tucked into boots, says wait while Charlie Dorm comes down the ramp
now cuz you don’t wanna get swallowed up in that.
Something clicks and creaks; Charlie Dorm bottlenecks through the doorframe, two or three abreast.
23
Five dorms: Alpha Beta Charlie Delta Echo. In each dorm perhaps thirty-five bunks, seventy bodies, at
regular three-foot intervals down a hall. That’s where offender eats sleeps plays cards takes nap with
towel on face; that’s where offender is except for meals and rec and seg and maybe church.
24
The ramps, the uniforms, everybody moving the same direction, speech clipped and chopped, attention
to detail—these serve to dehumanize. The windows become cages, the dorms become pens. What Charlie
Dorm is, of course, is clumps of people.

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Rhode Island Statute 22 Chapter 22-7.4-34

The complex of institutions, offices, and other facilities located in the city of Cranston and
including without limitation the General Hospital, correctional facilities for adults, the Rhode
Island Training School for Youth, inpatient detoxification facility, shelter for homeless
persons, and administrative, program, training, and supporting activities shall be renamed
and known as the John O. Pastore Center,25 a succinct title that conveys the historic
character of the area and encompasses the many diverse departments, functions, and
activities located there focused upon improving the human condition26 and further
recognizes Governor and United States Senator John O. Pastore, as a great humanitarian
and a friend of the common man, who made an immeasurable contribution to the city of
Cranston and to the state of Rhode Island.

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You drive back the next day to see what you couldn’t the night before.
Highways 195 to 95 to 37 and then get off quick. The exit is marked, but euphemistically—John O.
Pastore Center: ¼ mile. Center could mean anything. Give you three guesses what, of all things, happens
at this center.
In some of the brochures they call it the Pastore Campus. According to the etymology of campus (field)
the word sort of fits, you suppose. It sprawls. There are trees. Quaint signs and speed bumps; huge square
brick buildings set off a hundred yards from the road, the kind of buildings people photograph from
helicopters; networks of fence with haloes of razor wire. You park anywhere and walk. The buildings are
marked: Department of Elderly Affairs; Dorothea Dix Building; Department of Mental Health,
Retardation and Hospitals. Woman walking fast in pantsuit, with clipboard; working men with hoses; two
nurses in green scrubs, one with cigarette burning between middle and ring fingers. And behind a fence,
you had almost forgotten, groups of men walking slow laps wearing khaki jumpers and bright orange knit
caps, so bright orange their heads look like the floating caps of highlighter pens. Some sort of campus.
Outside the intake center: two huge pipes crouched like lion statues, bold silver, spewing steam. It’s late
spring; you can’t see your breath even at dawn; yet the billowing hissing steam. They say on February
nights it rolls up and across the streetlights in thick sheets, makes the place look like a haunted castle.
26
You wander into one of the administrative buildings. They all look institutional, some less forbidding
than others. Rub your palms together, eyebrows up, look like you mean business.
The front vestibule: Office of the Director: glass sliding window and behind it a receptionist tapping
manicured fingers, desk, potted plant, file cabinet, inspirational calendar.
“Yes? What are you looking for, sir?”
“ ”

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Roberta Richman, Assistant Director of Rehabilitative Services, RIDOC

Think about prisons as an industrial complex in this country.27 Think about the billions of
dollars invested now, especially with private prisons, these mega-companies—they’re on the
stock exchange!—whose earnings, and stockholders’ earnings, rest on how many people we
can lock up.

So we need it from all sides, we need the people on the outside jumping up and down and
hollering about the awful things that are happening to prisoners.28 But I believe we also
need people working on the inside, one day at a time, making little bits of better.29

I’m not an extremist. I believe prisons need to exist in some form. And actually, if you read
Foucault,30 then prisons emerge as a humane way of dealing with murderers, rape, you
know, the worst kinds of crime.31 Because it’s not chopping off their hands—especially in
Rhode Island where there’s no death penalty, thank goodness. Because the fact that we
have people who are sociopaths, who are psychopaths—and I’ve met people like that, who
would charm you with their intelligence, and as soon—I have a man that I got to know very
well. Smart, handsome, articulate, charming, in your life you could never—if he was out of
prison, and behaved the way he was with me, he would be my friend. About two weeks
after he was paroled he broke into the home of an elderly couple, raped the woman in front
of her husband (they were like in their seventies) and murdered them both.32

So there are those people, and you don’t want them running around.

But the majority of people, I agree, we do not do right by them. How can we be better
spending our resources rather than giving ourselves a false sense of security by
incarcerating them?

27
You’ve wandered into the administrative building expecting you don’t know what—perhaps some
cigar-chomping square-jaw Patton—and instead you find gray-haired Roberta, Roberta of the dignified
stooped walk and bleeding heart, removing reading glasses to chat. Isn’t she supposed to be The Man?
28
No contempt; no tone at all.
29
She has a way of saying these things with such firmness that you can’t roll your eyes. Her measured
Brooklyn accent, unswerving, half grandmother and half ex-prison warden (both of which she is).
30
Wait—did you hear that right? Drive ten miles away from college toward the tube lights and linoleum
floors of the real world and people still bring up Foucault?
31
Is this a standard reading of Discipline and Punish? An email from a friend: well foucault's whole
thing is a little bit more precise. he recounts (in the european/french context) how discipline and
punishment have shifted from a focus on disciplining and punishing individual bodies (i.e., chopping
off hands) to “trapping man-as-species,” where the technologies of discipline shift to
normalization/regularization of behavior (shaping people’s minds).... this of course does not make
sense in the racialized American context, or in the colonial context, because rehabilitation is not
valued and our society is intensely criminogenic and punitive. so no, I don't think foucault would say
that US prisons, as they work, are a humane way of dealing with things.
32
The murder story is sensational, one in a million, but you find yourself feeling for Roberta. She was
there; she remembers what it felt like to trust him. Her eyes are glistening.

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Landon, Brown student, friend

You should know you’re an imperialist.33 And yeah, so am I and everything. Oh, don’t look at
me like that. You have to take ownership of where you are positioned, what you represent,
what you—and it isn’t anyone else’s job to educate you about it, nor does it matter whether
or not you think you’re responsible. And what you represent is clear: it’s genocide, it’s
colonialism, it’s the gaze of anthropology,34 it’s centuries of violence and patriarchy and
oppression, and you have the potential to reinscribe that violence every time you act within
that space.35

There is no choice but to be humble, be ruthlessly self-critical, always stop to see, wow, I
have all this blood on my hands. And sometimes you’ll think, it’s too massive, why don’t we
all just lock ourselves in a room and just not, because at a certain point you just become
Lady Macbeth, you’re bathed in blood.

Your position is one of privilege.36 Be vigilant about that and about how you benefit: and
you do benefit: that headrush of altruism, oh, look how I’ve given of myself; you write
home to mom, you bring up at dinner parties hey look, I’m doing this sexy prison work.
Those are the microcosmic sites where you can really start to capitalize and exploit, 37 and
that’s the point where I just stop talking to you.

So, there’s—I can’t spell out all the pitfalls for you. You’re going to have to figure out the
intersections for yourself.

Be vigilant about what you represent and what that means, because your actions aren’t out
there floating in space but come grounded in a context, as I say, a context of power, of
institutionalized racism, really a colonial context.38

33
We’re on one of those park benches on the stately Brown green, magnolias swaying in manicured
breeze, in mutual three-quarter profile. The ivy-draped building over his shoulder was built by slaves.
34
Landon uses any number of these terms interchangeably—anthropology equals violence equals
genocide—and casts the words into the air without pause, the sentences glinting like schools of darting
fish, and there’s no question of stopping him to ask what did you mean by that.
35
He either means prison, or any physical space we inhabit at any time, or else a non-physical sort of
space. Brown students are always “creating spaces” with words.
36
This is the vocabulary we learn without even taking the courses: the discourse of discourse, of
intercourse, of power; Nietzsche filtered through Foucault and Fanon, grassroots theorist on the vanguard
of revolution.
37
Most of this I understand, at least intellectually; exploitative I understand, problematic I understand; I
understand also that understanding is not enough. Who am I to lower a hand to the huddled masses? to
peer at those trampled by the society I will inherit? Whose side am I on?
38
What I don’t understand is where the metaphors stop. He can’t mean literal colonialism, literal violence
—or, if he does, what does violence mean?

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Welcome. The mission39 of the Rhode40 Island Department of Corrections41 (RIDOC) is to
contribute42 to public43 safety44 by maintaining a balanced correctional system45 of
institutional46 and community programs that provide a range of control47 and rehabilitative48
options for criminal offenders.49

39
In the words of Lausanne Covenant, mission is “the whole Church taking the whole Gospel to the
whole world.” That includes not just spiritual good news, but good news for the poor, the prisoner, the
persecuted, and a vision of God’s Kingdom on earth as in heaven, of our part in God’s care for creation.
40
“But even lying on the ground, it is a marvel,” said Pliny the Elder. The Colossus was not only a
gigantic statue. It was rather a symbol of unity of the people who inhabited that beautiful Mediterranean
island—Rhodes.
41
An article in The Arts on Thursday about Christian rock bands misstated the release date of the album
“October” by U2, which many Christian bands cite as an influence. It was in 1981, not 1983.
A sports article yesterday about defensive end Mario Williams, a top prospect entering the National
Football League draft, misstated the population of his hometown, Richlands, N.C. It is about 1,000, not
3,000. The article also referred incorrectly to the town's first stoplight. It has existed for many years; it
was not erected when he was a senior in high school.
42
4. transf. and fig. To give or furnish along with others to a collective stock; to furnish an “article” to a
magazine, etc.
43
On her conception, public solidarity is not a matter of sharing a common truth or a common goal but of
sharing a common selfish hope, the hope that one’s world will not be destroyed.
44
PSR - Point of Safe Return. Applied to aircraft flying to Antarctica, the furthest the plane can go and
still return to its origin. Some aircraft that fly to the American McMurdo base can fly all the way and then
back to the take off point in Christchurch New Zealand without landing.
45
Thermodynamics is an exact science which deals with energy. A major part of the science of
thermodynamics is accounting—giving an account of the energy of a system that has undergone some
sort of transformation. The change in the energy of a system (∆E) is equal to the work done on (or by) the
system (∆W) and the heat flow into (or out of) the system (∆Q).
46
A basic social arrangement in modern society is that the individual tends to sleep, play and work in
different places with different co-participants, under different authorities, and without an overall rational
plan. The central feature of total institutions can be described as a breakdown of the barriers ordinarily
separating these three spheres of life.
47
Flexees Control Camisoles look like your favorite Maidenform Camisole, but do much more! The
Flexees Control Camisole is lightweight and comfortable, a perfect shapewear garment to control the
bust, tummy and waist under sweaters and tops.
48
Roberta Richman: “In the culture we have now, rehabilitation takes a back seat to security every time.”
49
Vice President Dick Cheney said Monday he was offended by Amnesty International's condemnation of
the United States for what it called “serious human rights violations” at Guantanamo Bay.
“For Amnesty International to suggest that somehow the United States is a violator of human
rights, I frankly just don't take them seriously,” he said in an interview that aired Monday night.

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WITHOUT
Gary Snyder50

the silence
of nature
within.51

the power within.52


the power

without.53

the path is whatever passes—no


end in itself.54

the end is,


grace—ease—

healing,
not saving.55

singing56
the proof
the proof of the power within.
50
Jared: Snyder’s one of those beat guys. From the Sixties, into nature and all and against society, you
know, against the norms of society. Jack Kerouac, all those guys.
51
Amato: Yeah, I dunno, I’m not—it’s like it’s not even poetry, just words. There’s no story, there’s no
moral. I read this and I’m like, so what is this supposed to be?
52
Victor: Being within and without is a contradiction, but not. It’s a freedom thing, like this power you
have to be two places at once. Like some transcendental-type shit.
53
Jared: “Without” is without all this extraneous stuff. Or it could also be outside, like the opposite of
inside, within. Yeah, it’s just you, you’re locked up within but you’re without all these other possessions,
so it’s just this silence inside you that’s going, bam, bam, whether you hear it or not.
54
Johnny: The future is whatever happens. Whatever road you take, it don’t have no end, it’s just you and
you’re walking down that road.
55
Me: Not saving. Not saving.
56
It’s like at the end, like I told you so.
It’s like letting it all out.
It’s carrying all these things you wanna say from inside to out so it’s like a song.
It’s carrying all these things you wanna say from inside and then they vanish in thin air.

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