"The Avenue to Lorton" - Athelia Knight - Washington Post
I-"Drug Smuggling and Hot Goods: A Ride on Prison Visitors’ Buses" - Athelia Knight - Washington Post
No bus stop in Washington is quite like the one downtown near the intersection of 11th and G streets NW, along a stretch of pavement they call The Avenue. There, most evenings and weekend mornings, scores of women gather to ride the unofficial shuttle buses that take them over the Potomac and out of the city, down the highways of suburban Virginia to the place where their men live, Lorton reformatory.
Tony's camper reeked with the smoke and aroma of marijuana as it rolled up the hill toward the prison, carrying 25 women on their way to visit the men of Lorton. The trip from The Avenue in downtown Washington had taken about a half-hour on this evening of Nov. 22. It was enough time for some of the passengers to smoke a joint or two, and for one rider who wore her hair in tiny braids held by silver beads, to roll a dozen marijuana cigarettes. I had watched her during the trip as she wrapped her dope - she called it "diamond" - in small sheets of paper, licked the ends shut, and placed the cigarettes in her breast pocket.
Tony parked his camper in the usual spot, across the street from the Woodward & Lorthrop department store, and stepped out into the freezing rain. It was 5:30 on Wednesday evening, four days before Christmas. There were 50 to 60 people along The Avenue. Some were boarding vans and campers such as as Tony's that were bound for Lorton Reformatory, and others, holiday shoppers, were waiting for the next Metrobus to take them home. His hands in his pockets, shoulders hunched against the sleet, Tony walked down to the corner to see another veteran driver, a paraplegic known on the street as Donald. They chatted for a few minutes, Donald up in the seat behind the steering wheel of his van parked near 11th and G, Tony leaning against the side window. A third man appeared out of the darkness and confronted Tony in the roadway. They exchanged a few words. The man went into a boxer's crouch, clenched his fists, and punched Tony in the head, knocking him to the pavement, according to reports. The blows were delivered with such swiftness that Tony never got his hands out of his pockets.
Four months ago, before I ventured down to The Avenue to find out how visitors smuggled contraband into Lorton reformatory, several judges said that drugs were so accessible at Lorton they sometimes thought they should send felons with drug problems elsewhere. On Feb 22, D.C. Superior Court Judge Henry Greene did precisely that. Robert S. Carter stood before the judge that day, waiting to be sentenced for selling heroin. Carter had been a drug user for 10 years and had gotten into trouble several times because of his dependence on narcotics.