Race & Racism at the University of Richmond

Article "Tour Of Penal Institution Reveals Much To Be Done"

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Article "Tour Of Penal Institution Reveals Much To Be Done"


Jim Winders’ article expresses significant discontent with the information he has researched in regards to the prison penal system. Winders chose to write the piece following a tour of the Virginia State Penitentiary sponsored by the Department of Psychology and reading Philip Hirschkop and M.A. Milleman’s article in the Virginia Law Review “Unconstitutionality of Prison Life”. Winders outlines the barbaric and racially segregated conditions of the state penitentiaries, discussing various prison realities like work gang segregation and “writ-writers”. “Writ-writers” are inmates who write on behalf of illiterate inmates, often in response to claims of prison abuse. Nothing positive comes from these letters however, as the Director of the Department of Welfare and Institutions, Otis L. Brown testified that he never speaks to individual prisoners and prefers to speak with superintendents in matters of prison abuse. Two “writ-writers” by the name of Robert Landman and Calvin Arey were even punished for writing letters on behalf of abused inmates to state Senator Henry Howell. Winders’ writes that this trend of punishment for speaking out is common, and Leroy Mason and Thomas Wansley faced similar punishments for speaking out against chain gang segregation. He additionally outlines a torture device known as the “Tucker Phone” which was used in Arkansas prisons which electrocutes the genitals and feet of inmates. Winder asserts that the general policy of the civil system in response to these allegations of abuse is non-intervention, although some cases like that of Weems v. The United States (1910) did seek to extend Eighth Amendment protections to prisoners.



Winders, Jim. "Tour Of Penal Institution Reveals Much To Be Done." The University of Richmond Collegian LVIII, no. 12 (December 11, 1970): 2. https://collegian.richmond.edu/cgi-bin/richmond?a=d&d=COL19701211.2.12&srpos=1&e=-------en-20--1--txt-txIN-


The Collegian, University of Richmond










Richmond (Va.)

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Student Contributor



Winders, Jim, “Article "Tour Of Penal Institution Reveals Much To Be Done",” Race & Racism at the University of Richmond, accessed September 25, 2020, http://memory.richmond.edu/items/show/2497.