Some people live in a world that the rest of us can't even begin to recognize.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Day 2: Processed as an inmate

From what I can tell, time doesn't mean a whole lot in jail.

At all hours of the day someone is being arrested, convicted, sentenced, transported,  locked up, bailed out,  handcuffed, shackled, or processed. AND SWORN AT. I heard more curse words during the several hours during which I was 'processed' than all the bad language I've heard in the past year. Both men and women offenders are processed in the same area, and it is LOUD in there. I hear the swearing coming from more men than women, but it seems to be about equally divided between the criminals and the officers. That seems so strange to me. These officers actually get paid for a job where they are allowed to use that kind of language to demean other human beings?                         

This world is SO unfamiliar to me.

Even though a corrections officer came to get me from my initial holding cell and told me it was 5AM, it  really could have been any time of the day or night.  There are no clocks in sight and no outside windows since I am now deep inside the courthouse/jail complex.    He handcuffed me, and, still barefoot, led me through the labyrinth of halls that snaked through the various areas where offenders are processed.  I was interviewed by numerous bored, impatient employees of the jail.  I was asked questions about my physical health, medications, any drug usage, thoughts of suicide, next of kin (WHAT?),  any gang affiliation, sexual preferences (did they really pluralize preferences?) and physical agility.  Physical agility?  Did they seriously just ask me how capable I feel I am when engaged in a physical brawl?  I told them that of course I had never been in a fist fight and would hope to be protected if someone were to attack me. The officer sighed loudly, shook his head, and circled the word "weakling" on the form. 

I cried through the majority of my processing. Sobbed actually.  Yesterday morning I was a respected professional.  Just over 24 hours later I am being made to feel that I am no better than the worst scum on earth. Of course, at that moment I was photographed for the picture that was placed on my ID bracelet for the remainder of my stay in "County." Eyes swollen almost shut from crying, unkempt hair from having no opportunity for grooming since yesterday, and very puffy cheeks from taking a deep breath then exhaling just at the moment they snapped the photo. All together, the picture screamed "criminal."  Even I didn't recognize myself when the ID bracelet was secured around my wrist.  Wow.  From soccer mom to "Bad Ass" in 24 hours. 

Finally, I was led to another holding cell.  This one was different than the last.  It was around 8 feet by 10 feet in size, completely made of concrete, had a solid door with a small, unbreakable plastic window,  the same wooden benches along two walls, and contained 8 women, all being processed at the same time as me. My first prison faux pas (of many) occurred when I entered the cell, gave a general 'hello' while looking around, and stated my name.  Not that I was expecting to make new friends, but doesn't social etiquette dictate that you introduce yourself upon entering a room?  Apparently there is a major exception to this rule when the room you are entering is in jail.    "Yeah, and I be the Queen of England, Bitch" was the first reply from one of my 'roomies.'  Lots of laughter all around.  Okay, I get it.  I won't say another word.

I found a corner to sit in and stared at the floor. A while later the woman next to me asked me why  I was wearing a skirt and no shoes.  Looking around, I decided that the tale of wearing a $350.00 suit and Cole Haan pumps to court yesterday probably would not endear me to this group.  So, using the best "crazy" voice that I could muster, I mumbled something about ..."bastards took my shoes"... "suicidal".... "dangerous"... ..."you know?"   It worked!  A few acknowledged what I said while swearing and nodding!  Others glanced at me with a look of acceptance on their faces! Apparently, my words- mumbled in that manner- gained me the credibility I needed to now be "one of the girls." 

Hey, maybe survival in jail is possible!

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