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Stephen H. Wilson Papers, 1973-1977

Manuscript Collection #301

Descriptive Summary Click here to collapse or expand the contents in this section of the finding aid

Title: Stephen H. Wilson Papers
Creator: Wilson, Stephen H.
Repository: ECU Manuscript Collection
Languages: English
Abstract: Papers (1973-1977) of counselor at the Tideland Mental Health Center, Washington, N.C., who was imprisoned on drug related charges in Mexico, 1973-1975 consisting of correspondence, clippings, playboy magazine, abusive treatment of prisoners, etc.
Extent: 0.22 Cubic feet, 65 items , consisting of correspondence and clippings (1973-1975, 1977).

Administrative Information Click here to collapse or expand the contents in this section of the finding aid

Accessions Information

April 26, 1976, 66 items, Correspondence and clippings (1973-1975), pertaining to imprisonment in Mexico. Deposited by Mr. Stephen H. Wilson, Greenville, N.C.

Access Restrictions


Copyright Notice

Literary rights to specific documents are retained by the authors or their descendants in accordance with U.S. copyright law.

Preferred Citation

Stephen H. Wilson Papers (#301), East Carolina Manuscript Collection, J. Y. Joyner Library, East Carolina University, Greenville, North Carolina, USA.

Acquisition Information

  • Gift of Mr. Stephen H. Wilson

Processing Information

  • Processed by M. Quintanilla, November 1986

  • Encoded by Apex Data Services

Description Click here to collapse or expand the contents in this section of the finding aid

Stephen H. Wilson, a counselor at the Tideland Mental Health Center in Washington, N.C., was imprisoned in June 1973 on phony drug trafficking charges while on vacation in Mexico. His correspondence during this period (1973-1975), to friends in North Carolina and family in New Jersey, reveal the lack of Mexican justice and the condition of Mexican prisons, and concern the activities of the U.S. Narcotics Agency in Mexico. Clippings (1973-1975, 1977) reveal the plight of Americans charged with drug trafficking and focus on prison conditions.

Wilson's correspondence concerns his imprisonment, first at San Luis and later at Nogales, both in the border province of Sonora, Mexico. In one letter (July 1973), Wilson tells of his arrest, imprisonment, and prison conditions at San Luis Prison, while other letters describe the racial tensions there, the predominance of drugs within the prison, and the abusive treatment received by prisoners during interrogation (undated).

Other letters tell of the conditions under which Wilson was transferred to the Nogales Prison, a major prison riot by Mexicans against American prisoners, the forced payment for protection, and a riot that ensued after the Americans refused to pay additional money.

Throughout his correspondence, Wilson describes the unjustness of Mexican law when applied to foreigners. These letters describe the schemes of dishonest lawyers who use prisoners to extort money from their families, and how those without direct political influence or money are in a hopeless position. Wilson also charges that sentences for Mexicans were much more lenient than for Americans due to the direct involvement of the U.S. Narcotics Agency.

Wilson also comments on the unwillingness of the U.S. consulate to intervene on the behalf of U.S. citizens in Mexican jails.

Finally, after a long, costly, and unsuccessful legal battle in Mexican courts, Wilson escaped from Nogales prison. This story is retold in a letter to Playboy magazine (March 1975).

Subject Headings Click here to collapse or expand the contents in this section of the finding aid

Online access to this finding aid is supported with funds created through the federal Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA). These funds come through a grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services which is administered by the State Library of North Carolina, a division of the North Carolina Department of Cultural Resources. This grant is part of the North Carolina ECHO, Exploring Cultural Heritage Online, Digitization Grant Program.

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This is a finding aid. It is a description of archival material held in the Special Collections Division, J.Y. Joyner Library, East Carolina University. The materials described here are physically available in our reading room. None of the original documents in this collection are digitally available online at this time.
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