Baird 1967

From Whiki
Jump to navigation Jump to search

Baird, Russell N. The Penal Press. Evanston, IL: Northwestern University Press, 1967.

"The penal press is an anomaly; authoritarian rule and the printing press historically have been incompatiblee. And the very confinement of men to prison is, in its essence, a denail of their liberty." (10)

"More than half (53.7 per cent) of thee correctional institutions in the United Statees have inmate publications." -- monre than 1/3 of instutitions of under 500 inmates have a publication (11)

"It is interesting to note that every federal penitentiary, reformatory, and juvenile institution has a publication, and all but two of the federal group called 'correctional institutions' have publications." (11)

American Penal Press Context

Enchanted News of New Mexico State Penitentiary, done by silkscreening; hand-set type; "Commercial periodicals, since the invention of the Linotype and other line-casting machines, could not consider setting each individual letter and character by hand. Thus, some of the skill and artistry of the primitive graphic arts are being preserved by prison publications becaus, for them, time is cheap." (14)

Penal Press -- "a strange organization, half real and half unreal" (15)

Origins of Prison Publications

William Ketaltas, Forlorn Hope, March 24, 1800 -- only known first copy is in the library of the Wisconsin Historical Society bound with misc Albany newspapers; LOC has scond issue to Sept 6, 1800; New York Historical Society has March 31 to April 19 to September 13, 1800

Ketaltas "acted as an individual entrepreneur in his venture, his publicaiton having no real connection with the prison administration." (22)

Next 3: Summary of Elmira Reformatory (1883), Our Paper of the Massachusetts Correctional Institution (1885), Prison Mirror, Minnesota State Penitentiary at Stillwater (1887)

Prison Mirror, in its salutatory message, points out that -- "believing as we do, that the introduction of the printing press into the greeat penal institutions of our land, is the first important step taken toward solving the great problem of true prison reform" (28)

Star of Hope, title hand engraved in copper by counterfeiter (37)

Chales Chapin, city editor of New York World imprisoned for killing his wife; became editor of Sing Sing Bulletin

Frederick A. Cook, claimed to hhave discovered the North Pole; became editor of New Era

"The depression years brouught on a significant increase in the establishment of penal publications." (42)

Menard Tme, started in 1934 when John A. File, editor and owner of the Chester Herald-Tribunee, was brought to the prison to teach printing; only hand-set type was available and only 2 pages could be set at a time becaus eof limited type; used $500 to get an old hand-fed press; paper had to be cut and folded by hand

Objectives of the Penal Press

"In many instances, prison publications were founded out of a warden's desparate search for constructive activity for his charges." (48)

in modern responses, "To provide vocational printing training" was #7 in objectives (50)

responses emphasizing communication, community, speaking for (not to) the prisoner

Prison Publications as Communication Media

Nebraska Forum -- "In 1964, when inmates staged a sitdown, the usual printed edition of the Forum was replaced with a mimeographed newsletter that noted the disturbance in this fashion" -- says strike in print shop made it impossible ot print in the usual way

Menard Time on killing of guards in prison dining room -- article "Let's Set the Record Straight" defending the prisoners who didn't participate, saying it was not a riot the way the outside media portrayed

use of humor and jokes in prison Publications

use of editorials, more effective than outsiders telling prisoners how to act/behave

condemning use of alcohol (87)

Prison Publications as an Outlet for Creative Self-Expression

H. L. Mencken opened the pages of American Mercury to prisoners, received a flood of articles

Ernest Booth, Stealinig Through Life

Robert Tasker, Grimhaven

David Lamson, We Who Are ABout To discovered

Caryl Chessman, Cell 2455 Death Row, Trial By Ordeal

Ross, The Dead Are Minnesota

Frank Elli, The riot

O. Henry

Erle Stanley Gardner, "The Importance of the Prison Press"

hard to get supplies, hard to find space/time to write

Administration of the Penal Press

"How many penal publications have been suspended for going beyond reasonable bounds is impossible to determine, but there are several recent cases of record." (160) -- examples

usually financed through "inmate benefit fund"

"Penal publications can be produced on a shoestring, and a great many of them are. One of the new entries into the field in 1966 got going on a spirit duplicator donated by an office supply firm, and even many of the long-tenured publications are still shohwing that exemplary content can turn up in mimeographed publications as well as in the four-color, printed showpieces. As a matter of fact, the squeeze of limited funds has forced more penal publications to mimeographing than to any other reproduction process." (171) -- footnote says ~44% are mimeographed, ~26% letterpress, ~19% offset