The Watch by Raymond Umar Hall

Today, throughout the torrential sea of America’s sprawling carceral archipelago, the vessels of castaways are strapped to chairs, weeping and in pain, as their psyches break under the pressures of being in prison. “He cut himself because sometimes he don’t think he will ever make it out of prison, and sometimes prison is worse than death,” Hall writes. We design and administer spacetimes worse than death, and in the state of Michigan, we have institutionalized witness. “They say don’t talk about 7 block outside of 7 block / some of our methods are unconventional / simple rooms and chairs turned into torture chambers / one of your peers are paid to stand outside and watch / arms and legs strapped down / chest straps like seat belts / snugged / prepared for a hell of a ride…” Without going anywhere, Raymond Umar Hall’s The Watch takes you on a tour of the force applied inside the Michigan Department of Corrections. In ten journal entries accompanied by poems, Hall copes with the horrors of the Prisoner Observation Aid program, an in-sourced labor program where incarcerated people are tasked with watching over peers battling suicidal ideation and pharmacological suppression. Brutal, honest, compassionate, and critical, The Watch is a must read for anyone brave enough to confront the violence, neglect and torture taking place behind the walls of america’s prisons. 


64 pages, paperback
Free School Press, 2018
ISBN 978-0-9981122-2-0

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