Interview with Laverne Barkley

Do other people--


How had you felt all your life about jails?


I've always had a negative, negative picture of jails. I think it's born of, even when I was a child growing up, when I'd see Black men being dragged out or beaten with billy clubs and hauled off to jail. You had no voice. You couldn't speak. You couldn't explain. All you could do is get hit over the head and dragged off to jail. These are my recollections as, as a youngster even. And I don't think my views have changed very much through the years. I do believe there is difference in how policeman police certain sections of a city. Just a few minutes ago the sirens are blasting all the time, practically all the time. And, um, when they come out to take someone, people are trying to explain. And if you talk more, "You shut up." You know, if you try to say something else your going to get cracked with that billy club. And you may be just telling them exactly what happened, trying to explain. But you don't get the opportunity. It's as though that your not important. You always are guilty, you've got to go to jail. And I'm not saying that, um, all policeman are like this because I'm sure they aren't all like this. But my, my association with them, when I was a child growing up and teenage has been that. Some people I've known who's houses they've come to, and they've kicked in walls, damaged furniture, hit them over the heads, took the fathers away with the kids screaming. It's bad enough to come in and hit someone with that billy club but you don't have to damage their, their furniture, their belongings, and things like that. That isn't necessary.