I had no idea what I was really getting myself into….Number Four, from my perspective, was and still is a menacing piece of the past that still stands to, not only be a lesson on mistakes of the last, but also a story to instill in others a bout of change for future generations. That doesn’t mean it was not absolutely terrifying to walk through.
Once you arrive at the meeting point before the tour you are lead down the very same path that prisoners were taken to enter the jail. I couldn’t bear to hang my head because I could almost feel the weight of shackles, guilt, and sadness weighing on my neck…but in turn it was also hard to stare straight into the tunnel because I knew I was going to a place that was the last stop for some and many of them didn’t even know it.
I couldn’t bear to walk inside a regular cell, let alone solitary confinement. It was like I coud hear the malice, I could hear the voices of those people being treated so badly that I cannot think of a word to describe it. People say they were treated like animals but I have never heard of ay animal being treated as badly as the [Black] people in this prison. It is hard to recount what I saw without my eyes welling with tears of sadness.
Prisoners were told to strip naked, forced to reveal every inch of themselves to wardens, and “dance” to unveil any hidden items. This was done in front of other prisoners as well, young and old alike. Prisoners were to eat over the makeshift toilets as they were being used in order to prevent them from hiding or stealing anything. There was not proper plumbing so bacteria and infectious diseases ran rampant, especially in toilet and “shower” areas. One of the most devastating sites was that of the isolation cells. They were barely stand able rooms of a cold concrete material with a small hole at the top for air. Prisoners were locked in there 23 out of 24 hours of a day and sometimes stayed in the cells for months or years on end. One of the most horrid realizations was when you look at the way Number Four was built, you noticed it was built on a slant into the side of a hill, the isolation chambers being the lowest part that, when it rained, those cells would flood…with prisoners trapped inside.
There is, however, a small silver lining. These people, these former prisoners. . . they survived. They lived. They cared enough about future generations that they shared their stories in the hopes to prevent such unspeakable events from repeating themselves. And that, however sad the story, is the most important part.