Friday, April 1, 2011

McNeil Island prison closes -- a chapter over

They're closing the McNeil Island prison up in Washington State. Turns out it had been a state prison for the last 30 years.

Before that, McNeil was a federal prison. The article I've cited above mentions some of the crime figures who were held there.

It was also one of two federal prisons where Japanese American draft resisters were sent from the Heart Mountain internment camp. The PBS special "Conscience and the Constitution" tells some of that story (more here.) As prisons go, well, it was a prison, but it sounds like it could have been worse. There's a lot about it in Eric Muller's book on the draft resisters, Free to Die for Their Country.

And here's a bit of Tule Lake trivia: in the 1950s, part of the old Tule Lake camp site -- the better-preserved military police barrack block -- was renovated as a potential detention site for "dangerous subversives" (commies). It was McNeil Island minimum-security prisoners who did the work.

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