Showing posts from February, 2011
MARYLAND PENITENTIARY "Central Booking" East Baltimore
February 11, 2011

Central Booking is what the Maryland Penitentiary has come to be known, and it is the oldest prison in the western hemisphere still in daily operation. You can reach it by driving west on Madison Street from Johns Hopkins hospital, which sits in the middle of an old black neighborhood and up the street, so to speak, from Dunbar High School, named for Paul Laurence Dunbar, the great African American poet who wrote the line "I know why the caged bird sings..." which inspired the title of Maya Angelou's incredible autobiography.
Jail, as we call Central Booking or any of the other "correctional" institutions in Baltimore, is full of black men, and in my sixtieth birthday year I am given to looking back over my life from this point to the black men I have known. I am not alone among black men from poor and working class urban backgrounds who can say they are survivors. In Baltimore beg…