Getting Busted: Personal Experiences of Arrest, Trial, and Prison

An excerpt from the book Getting Busted: Personal Experiences of Arrest, Trial, and Prison a number of people give their own accounts about the need for prison reform including Billie Holiday.

A Review of Recent Books--Letting Them Speak for Themselves

GETTING BUSTED: PERSONAL EXPERIENCES OF ARREST, TRIAL, AND PRISON. Edited by Ross Firestone. New York: World Publishing Company, 1970.

About the Book: Through the firsthand accounts of arrest and prison experiences given by Billie Holiday, Lenny Bruce, Eldridge Cleaver, Ken Kesey, Joan Baez, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Malcolm X, Leslie A. Fielder, and others, this book makes it very clear that prison reform is necessary, and that until it takes place, it would be a good idea to stay out of jail. The segment titles--"On Being Busted at Fifty," "My Kind of Jail, Chicago Has," "Life-Styles: Building Time," and "Silent Tears and Prison Noises"--give a good indication of the material that follows.

From the Book:

BILLIE HOLIDAY--People on drugs are sick people. So now we end up with the government chasing sick people like they were criminals, telling doctors they can't help them, prosecuting them because they had some stuff without paying the tax, and sending them to jail.

Imagine if the government chased sick people with diabetes, put a tax on insulin and drove it into the black market, told doctors they couldn't treat them, and then caught them, prosecuted them for not paying their taxes, and sent them to jail. If we did that, everyone would know we were crazy. Yet we do practically the same thing every day in the week to sick people hooked on drugs. The jails are full and the problem is getting worse every day.

LAWRENCE FERLINGHETTI--After-thoughts and vituperations: Really realize how a hole like this literally makes criminals: 18-year-old first-offender thrown in for disturbing society's deep sleep now making his first hard connection with hard drugs (they are shooting it up in the john!) and enforced homosexuality (bend over, buddy!)....

Guards with hard-edge voices careful not to show any human feelings for inmates, on the watch for the slightest lack of obsequiousness on the part of prisoners, now and then goading them a bit with a choice obscenity... a slip of the tongue in return, and you're in The Hole with your tongue hanging out....

If only revolution can blot out such scenes, let there be revolution; but not a revolution of hate leading in the end to just another super-state....

HERBERT HUNCKE--I have been in prison--they don't dance in prison--nobody dances unless

perhaps, in the cell alone--

snapping fingers and wearing

earphones--and of course in dreams.

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