I encourage you all to listen to the story “Six Days: Some Rememberings”. In it, author and activist Grace Paley writes about her six day incarceration in the 1960’s at the Women’s Detention Centre, which was then located in the middle of Greenwich Village – her own neighbourhood.
Paley talks about the women she meets, their abuses at the hands of the police, the empty feeling of not having books or pen and paper, and the comfort she feels in being able to look out the window and see her children walk to school.
It’s a privileged perspective of prison in which Paley owns and examines her privilege. And it is, of course, beautifully written.
“Now there is a garden where the Women’s House of Detention once stood. A green place, safely fenced in with protective daffodils and tulips. Roses bloom in it too. Sometimes in to November.
The big women’s warehouse and it’s barred, blind windows have been removed from Greenwich Village’s affluent throat. I was sorry when it happened. The bricks came roaring down. Great trucks carried them away.
I have always agreed with Rita and Evelyn that if there are prisons, they ought to be in the neighbourhood near a subway, not way out in distant suburbs where families have to take cars, busses, ferries, trains. And the population that considers itself innocent forgets. Denies. Chooses to never know that there is a whole huge country of the bad and the unlucky and the self hurters. A country with a population greater than that of many nations in our world.”
(it’s the first story on the podcast and runs about 15 minutes)