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But why is the stockade so crowded in 1968? One reason is that Haight-Ashbury is “ground zero” of the peace, love and drug-infused counterculture that gained notoriety the year before with the Summer of Love -- so the city of San Francisco has become one of the most welcoming and popular places where disillusioned and dissenting servicemembers from all over the country end up. Consequently, local police and military and other officials regularly patrol San Francisco streets and protests looking for the short hair and good posture that are telltale signs of recent military service. Whether they are apprehended or turn themselves in, deserters and AWOLs are brought here, the closest military post, and many find themselves in its stockade.

If you are a troublemaker, you are sent to “The Box” on the back, left side of the first floor — a dark solitary confinement cell, windowless and painted black. In the words of prisoner Richard Pulley, inside the Box:

“...there is no bed, no furniture. They bring you a mattress at 21:30, or later if they feel like it, and collect it at 05:30. The place was so small that I had trouble stretching out on the concrete floor.”

Meals served to men in the Box do not include any meat ration, eggs, butter, desserts, milk products, fruit or vegetable juices. Usually it’s just a slice of white bread and some iceberg lettuce. The prisoners call it “Rabbit Chow.”

And meals for everyone are meager, because there is a food shortage in this stockade. The kitchen is only being given food for 85 people, since that’s the number provided on the disposition form. As it turns out, the Army did not want to officially record how many men were truly in confinement.

Some men have tried to escape, with only a few who made it. Even worse, there have been a number of suicide attempts — in fact, 30 of them. For example, Ricky Lee Dodd hanged himself in his second suicide attempt. He was pronounced dead at Letterman Hospital, but they managed to revive him. At that point, an Army psychiatrist recommended that he be discharged. But instead, after he was stitched up in the hospital, he was thrown into the Box.

“...I was tortured by my own Army. Anyone who spent time in the Black Box at the Presidio can attest to that as one form of torture, as well as the physical abuse we suffered.”
—Michael “Mole” Marino