As sheriff's officer William Rodriguez makes his rounds through the Passaic County jail, the stone hallways echo with the voices of inmates yelling from cell to cell, arguing over card games or greeting him with shouts of "What's up, L.T.?"
But as Lt.Rodriguez
enters a third-floor dormitory, there is near silence, broken only by the low, throaty murmur of men whispering and quietly chatting in Arabic.
It is afternoon prayer time in cell 3-2, and just inside the metal bars, six Muslim men kneel on towels spread on the concrete floor, facing the side of the cell that the guards tell them is toward the east.Out of respect, dozens of other inmates lower their voices and mute the volume on the "Jenny Jones" show playing on an overhead television.
These days, Passaic County's storied old lockup is a jail like no other.Most of the men snapped up in the nationwide investigation into the Sept. 11 attacks are being held here.A tour of the jail late last month afforded the first glimpse into what their lives are like.