Tag Archives: jail conditions

Jail Plot Exposed (Part 7)

Schwartz, W. B. - 1906-09-20, p. 8 (4)

“The men are well treated,” he said. “Their food is good. It is utterly false that Edward Franklin, the night turnkey, has been intoxicated. I know he has not touched a drop in ten years. As to the complaint about the filth, they are expected to clean their own quarters. I announced to them in criminal court, where some of them were arraigned, that none would get a bite to eat until the cells were thoroughly cleaned.

“Yes, Judge Alford asked me about the complaint, and I showed him the evidences of the plot to escape. They made the complaint in order to escape punishment.”

Inspection of Ward.

County Commissioner McGregor and a representative of The Sun visited the jail Thursday, inspected the United States ward, and talked to the prisoners, who were house-cleaning very industriously, by applying streams of water from the hose to the cell floors. They said they were required to mop the floors every morning, but complained that there was a thorough cleaning ordered only once in about three weeks.

“Everything in that letter was true,” said Attorney William B. Schwartz, the counterfeiter, looking through the bars “Our bed-clothing is full of vermin, which is the worst things we have to bear.”

Prisoners Were Beaten

“Is it true that Jack Blake and L. Knauss were seriously beaten because they did not wish to sign the letter” he was asked.

“They were not hurt,” Schwartz replied, smiling, but he admitted they had been punished by the “Kangaroo court.”

Knauss cried when asked about his experience. “The ‘Kangaroo court’ said that I could not have a cot unless I paid for it,” he said, “and after the first night I had to sleep on the floor. They beat me up when I refused to sign the letter of complaint. I was whipped with a strap. Boys, it wasn’t right.”

Court Must Be Stopped.

Sheriff Sourbler is taking strenuous measures to break up the sessions of the court. John Smith and a prisoner named Greeley, two officers of the court, have been confined with the negro prisoners as a punishment, but the men in the dungeon are thought to have been the ringleaders.

Commissioner McGregor suggested to the sheriff that a garbage can be provided for the prisoners and that the cells be washed out oftener. Otherwise, he thought the prisoners had no right to complain, and will so report to Judge Alford.

“Jail Plot Exposed,” Indianapolis Sun (Indianapolis, Indiana), 20 September 1906, p. 8, col. 3-4; digital image, Newspaper Archive (http://www.newspaperarchive.com : accessed 7 April 2014).

Jail Plot Exposed (Part 6)

Schwartz, W. B. - 1906-09-20, p. 8 (3)Meals for Sunday.

“At this meal the sirup is not diluted. The dinner meal is served at 2 o’clock in the afternoon and is the same as any other day, with the addition of boiled potatoes. No supper is served Sundays. The condition of the table and cutlery used by the prisoners, so far as filth is concerned, is in keeping with the other surroundings. Apparently no attempt is made to removed the corrosive and rusty substance from the cutlery, which time and inattention allow to accumulate.

Men Lost Their Breakfast.

“The occasion of this complaint is the outcome of a long series of the abuses embodied in this letter, and brought to a climax by the further unbearable treatment of the night turnkey in depriving all men in the United States ward of their breakfast, without the slightest provocation, and after he had repeatedly, and without cause, threatened to make life unbearable for all men in this ward. There are men here who are actually starving, unreasonable as it may seem, and unless something is done for the relief of these men the outcome will be serious, in some cases where the men are fit subjects for the hospital.

Ready to Make Affidavits.

“We, therefore, beseech your honor to cause such investigation as you may deem necessary and proper to verify the truth of these statements and to effect a long needed reform.

“Respectfully submitted by the prisoners of the United States ward who stand ready to make affidavit to these and more serious abuses.”

After reading this letter in commissioners court, Thursday, Sheriff Sourbler declared it to be a tissue of lies from beginning to end.

“Jail Plot Exposed,” Indianapolis Sun (Indianapolis, Indiana), 20 September 1906, p. 8, col. 3; digital image, Newspaper Archive (http://www.newspaperarchive.com : accessed 7 April 2014).

Jail Plot Exposed (Part 5)

Schwartz, W. B. - 1906-09-20, p. 8 (2)Accused a Negro Jailer.

“There are men confined here who have enjoyed every social and home environment which tends to elevate, and who know and can fully appreciate the rank injustice and demoralizing abuse heaped upon them in a most deplorable way. The writer has reference to the conduct of a deputy sheriff, a negro, whose delight seems to be the application of language which can not be even hinted at here, so vile and foul it is. This is not an exaggeration, but a true recital of facts made in a very conservative way. Men are called names which, anywhere else, would be resented in a very forcible way. When men such as are here have to listen to the blasphemous abuse of a negro which reflects upon the honor and virtue of their mothers, it seems it is high time to call the attention of those who strive for the honest administration of law to correct and prohibit such abuses.

Called It Public Disgrace.

“These are but a few of the true facts, and an investigation would show a state of affairs, a disgrace to any civilized community, and more especially so in a city like Indianapolis, noted for its educational and religious influences.

“It is a notorious fact that the night turnkey, on several occasions, has been so disgracefully under the influence of liquor that he fell prostrate on the floor in the effect to discharge his duties. This occurred once to our knowledge. This man’s language in addressing the prisoners is one continual string of profanity and abuse, and his delight seems to be just how much suffering he can cause the men in every possible way.

Appeals Were Not Heeded.

“We have previous to this appealed to the sheriff with no noticeable change for the better. Refusal has been made of a common garbage can, in which to deposit the natural accumulations of dirt, which, in a place like this, borders on filth. A visit to this ward a 9 o’clock at night will show a condition of affairs worse than has been described.

“The bill of fare of the jail will, no doubt, be interesting to the taxpayers of Marion county, who pay 40 centers per day for the keeping of each inmate. Six mornings a week, sirup, diluted with water; three slices of small loaves of bakers’ bread, with a small cup of coffee, which is invariably cold, compose the breakfast meal. For dinner, either hominy or beans, with meat in a small quantity, and three slices of bread, and water compose the meal. Supper consists of either soup, which, in most cases, is not touched, or diluted sirup and bread with coffee. On Sunday the men eat their breakfast at 8 o’clock.

“Jail Plot Exposed,” Indianapolis Sun (Indianapolis, Indiana), 20 September 1906, p. 8, col. 3; digital image, Newspaper Archive (http://www.newspaperarchive.com : accessed 7 April 2014).