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Day in the Life of the Awaiting Trial Unit

NCJ Number
Corrections Today Volume: 58 Issue: 5 Dated: (August 1996) Pages: 156-159
M Brady
Date Published
4 pages
A correctional officer describes his experiences and observations in the course of a day in the Awaiting Trial Unit of Boston's North Street Jail, which is the holding prison for women awaiting trial.
The women in this unit have been arrested and arraigned before a judge and are awaiting trial. They are mostly street people who have run afoul of the law because of their drug abuse and/or prostitution. Most have lost contact with their families and have few if any financial or emotional resources. Some try to raise bail by calling their "johns," promising a free "trick" if the "john" will pay bail. Almost all of the women have court- appointed attorneys, and they have little or no faith in them. Some of the women getting ready for bail reviews are still dressed in the clothes they wore the night before. They are constantly yelling for the guard to come and talk with them; they want someone to do something to make their lives a little easier and more comfortable. In the morning, daily orientation is held for all women admitted the previous night. They are given socks, underwear, and copies of the rules and regulations of the prison. Their actions and behaviors are primal as they fight over the free underwear and are desperate for a cigarette. Tired and unshowered, they are told to return to their rooms to get ready for lunch. For those who leave the unit, there is little time to prepare. They do not have cosmetics or anything decent to wear; they look disheveled. They are packed into the backs of county transportation vehicles where they will sit close together with their hands cuffed. They are taken to courts all over the Boston area. Some will remain cuffed for hours until they see a judge in a crowded courtroom.


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