How Can America Celebrate Independence Day With Millions Behind Bars and Under Surveillance?

For 13 Independence Days, I was a prisoner. To be a prisoner on the Fourth of July is to know the essential hypocrisy of contemporary America.

In the early 1990s, when I was at the Collins Correctional Facility in western New York, July 4 was a big thing. Preparations would start a few days before, when we started brewing homemade wine. Orange and grapefruit juice would go into a bucket placed inside a plastic garbage bag. Into the juice would go as much fruit and sugar as we could steal from the mess hall. Then someone would produce a clean sock, we’d mash a loaf or two of stolen bread inside it, tie it off, and drop it into the mix.