Through the Belly of the Beast and Back: My Life in Foster Care

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Americans have so long and deeply romanticized the loner, the outlaw, the truly tough man, that even when the humdrum horror of such lives is made clear, a residual glamour remains. The myth lives on, and Jack Abbott is about to inherit its burden. It is, in fact, already upon him. During his correspondence with Norman Mailer, he expressed resentment when Mailer referred to Abbott's awful life as a ''saga'' and to the man himself as ''heroic.

Romantic habits are hard to shake. Even when we embrace the ethic of law and order, the charisma of the underworld retains its sub rosa pull. Jack Abbott is no Saint Genet. He is too steeped in cold fury, too precise about evil and human ugliness for that kind of self-conscious role. He is also, having spent most of his life in prison, too ignorant of radical chic to exploit it even if he would.

It may in the end exploit him, but at this juncture our fascination with outcasts has worked in his favor. Out of nowhere comes an exceptional man with an exceptional literary gift. His voice is like no other, his language is sharp-edged and hurling with rage. Mailer saw this immediately, and we must be grateful to him for getting these letters into publishable form and - a job more difficult - for helping to get Abbott out on parole. Hobbesian hostility has always been Abbott's element. That was his first crime. The next was ''failure to adjust'' to the string of foster homes that passed him along; at age 9, therefore, he was sent to juvenile detention centers, and at 12 made the leap to reform schools.

At age 18 he was abruptly set loose, all the world before him. Six months later he entered his first penitentiary for ''issuing a check against insufficient funds. At age 21 he killed another inmate; in he escaped for six weeks and robbed a bank. Between ages 12 and 37 he lived free for a total of nine and a half months. Out of 20 years in the big prisons - Leavenworth, Utah, San Quentin - at least 14 were spent in solitary confinement, in ''the hole.

Abbott is not blameless, nor does he claim to be. But neither would he admit - despite vicious pressure to sway him - that he was his own victim or that his guilt was equal to the cruel and unusual treatment he describes. After the prison reforms of the late 60's, many of the forms of punishment inflicted on him were themselves defined as ''criminal. He had spent weeks in a cell so utterly blacked out that he only saw light when he closed his eyes: ''My eyes Still another was empty except for a drain at the center of a sloping floor; the closer to the drain, the thicker the excrement.

Repeatedly Abbott ended up in ''the hole,'' often on starvation rations, once for six months straight. Abbott says that cockroaches kept him alive; he would catch them, smash them into a gob of bread, pop it like a pill. Worst was the ''psychiatric'' treatment he describes, the forced injections of drugs like Prolixin that ''do not calm or sedate the nerves.

They attack.


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They attack from so deep inside you, you cannot locate the source of the pain. The drugs turn your nerves in upon yourself. Any convict might expect hard treatment, but Abbott got more than most because he could not bring himself to adjust to prison. His ethic would always be this: ''I feel that if I ever did adjust to prison, I could by that alone never adjust to society.

You are indoctrinated to blindly accept anything done to you. If you strike back, it goes on your record and it's your fault. And when the goon squad arrives - masked guards with clubs - you have no one to blame but yourself. As Abbott puts it: ''I am subjected to the hole for any disobedience, any mischief. I will go to the hole for murder as well as for stealing a pack of sugar. The cost of parole, then, is perpetual debasement, fawning, cringing, informing. All Democrats fault for weak laws!

Collection Collective - Collecting Outside the Belly of the Beast

If the Democrats would stop being obstructionists and come together, we could write up and agree to new immigration laws in less than one hour. Look at the needless pain and suffering that they are causing. Look at the horrors taking place on the Border. Trump realDonaldTrump October 20, Full efforts are being made to stop the onslaught of illegal aliens from crossing our Souther Border. People have to apply for asylum in Mexico first, and if they fail to do that, the U. The courts are asking the U. Trump realDonaldTrump October 21, The Caravans are a disgrace to the Democrat Party.

Change the immigration laws NOW! Criminals and unknown Middle Easterners are mixed in. Must change laws! Trump realDonaldTrump October 22, Every time you see a Caravan, or people illegally coming, or attempting to come, into our Country illegally, think of and blame the Democrats for not giving us the votes to change our pathetic Immigration Laws! Remember the Midterms! So unfair to those who come in legally. Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador were not able to do the job of stopping people from leaving their country and coming illegally to the U.

We will now begin cutting off, or substantially reducing, the massive foreign aid routinely given to them. Of course, no such asylum-seekers could vote because they would not be US citizens. They also believe his unsupported assertion that the caravan includes terrorists from the Middle East. Many now see the caravan issue as a midterm blessing, one that could shift the debate away from a humanitarian focus and back to questions of national security and US sovereignty.

The whole world is watching. If the American people get this one wrong, the immediate impact will be profound and the judgment of history will be harsh. No one can accuse the Trump administration of learning from its mistakes. On Oct.

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Everything, that is, except the facts surrounding human tragedies that his policies have already produced. A four-year-old was left at a reunification center in Guatemala with no one to pick her up. Because the shelter is on federal property, it is not licensed by Texas child welfare officials and does not have to adhere to the same regulations that other traditional migrant youth shelters must follow to maintain their state licensing. Immigration enforcement authorities have also begun using the fingerprints to arrest applicants — most of whom are undocumented immigrants themselves — which has kept some potential sponsors from coming forward.

"In the Belly of the Beast" by Jack Abbott Essay example

The Trump Party on Congress — formerly known as the GOP — remains complicit in what history will mark as one of the great tragedies in modern history. The reason: After Manafort resigned from the Trump campaign in August , Gates remained — all the way through the transition. Gates could provide continuity in telling the Trump-Russia story that Manafort could not.

And Trump does not want that story told. He intersects with several key players in the story: Rep. Last week, another piece of the Gates-related narrative emerged. Eben Alexander.


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