Two months ago, Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick was living in a spacious, riverfront mansion. His next taxpayer-funded accommodation, for 120 days, will be a malodorous 15-by-10-foot cell in the Wayne County Jail. Tomorrow, says the Detroit News, he will trade his custom-tailored threads and monogrammed cuffs for a hand-me-down green jumpsuit and the fancy fare he’s become accustomed to will be replaced by boxed lunches and a foodstuff known as “mystery meat.” Because of his notoriety, Kilpatrick will be assigned a solitary cell in a second-floor unit known as the “Capias Unit” –an apparent reference to an archaic word for “arrest” — that is reserved for high-profile prisoners.
The unit consists of two cells. Both are larger than standard cells and include a pay telephone, an 8-by-7-foot bathroom with a shower and a writing table. The walls are stained. The shower pressure is weak. Three small, barred windows provide little light. The mattress is lumpy. Meals are fed through a slot in the steel door. Kilpatrick will be allowed cable television — if he brings his own TV and leaves it behind after his 120-day sentence. The jail is infested with roaches. “They’re everywhere,” said former inmate Donald Gist. “You put your food down for one second and there’s a roach crawling in it.” Kilpatrick could have more privacy than he’ll ever want. The capias cells are at the end of a bleak corridor with missing ceiling tiles. If he gets in trouble, he can contact the guards by intercom. “The food is disgusting,” said one-time inmate John Roberts. “The first night I was there, they served some kind of mystery meat; I don’t know what it was. It could’ve been chicken, beef, rabbit — I don’t know.”