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"The 'Mutiny' at Fort Leavenworth Disciplinary Barracks," July 28, 1919
[This transcription is taken from a typescript; no attempt has been made to check it against this published version]
Monday July 28, 1919.
U. S. D. B.
Ft. Leavenworth, Kan.
The handling of the recent strike of military prisoners at this institution by the authorities is one of the most flagrant examples of Prussianism which has occurred anywhere, in or out of Germany. It violates every principle of Justice and humanity and shows what results may be expected from the intoxication of unbridled authority. The facts are these:-
Since the latter part of January there has existed herein one form or another a grievance Committee of prisoners elected by the men in confinement. Since discipline was somewhat demoralized after the January strike, the authorities tolerated the Committee and granted a number of improvements in conditions suggested by it. Gradually however, the price said for these privileges became greater. – it consisted in the Committee assuming more and more responsibility of discipline. Sentries were taken from the mess hall and from the yard, their places taken by Committee men. A Prisoners’ Court was established. The Committee came to be the unofficial voice of the administration, and a medium for the enforcement of its will upon the prisoners, rather than the organ of prison opinion. When in this manner, discipline had fairly been restored, the administration began to chafe under the necessity of dealing indirectly with the men through a committee. The many privileges “granted pitifully small though they were, hurt the authorities; the time came when the Committee had served its purpose. Things were again well enough in hand for them to abolish the Committee, and to take ever the direct reins of control at the first opportune moment.
In the meanwhile the food which for a time, after the January strike, had improved, began again to deteriorate. The authorities tried to explain this by laying it to the door of the new Army ration system. A slight knowledge of the facts will show that this at the most only partially explains it. Men recently arrived from Fort Jay, the Eastern division of the Disciplinary Barracks, have reported the meals excellent there despite the change. And Fort Jay-is given the larger ration allowance than Fort Leavenworth. On the contrary, this institution has three advantages over Fort Jay. – In the first place, it is located more closely to the center of the meat, grain and canned food centers of America than is New York, enabling food to be purchased cheap—at least with less shipping charges. In the second place, - there are three times the number of men here, enabling supplies to be purchased in larger quantities, with consequent saving. In the third place, this