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  #1  
Old 02-17-2005, 02:17 PM
dalej42 dalej42 is offline
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What is life like inside the County Jail?

A friend of mine may have to do a short jail sentence for a DUI offense. What exactly is life like in a county jail for someone sent there for a week or so? I'm sure it isn't like the Shawshank Redemption or Escape from Alcatraz. What is the purpose of a week or so in jail? I guess the idea is to scare the person enough to prevent them from ever drinking and driving again.
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  #2  
Old 02-17-2005, 03:17 PM
pravnik pravnik is offline
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It varies a lot depending on what county you're in. A week in the Taylor County jail in Abilene, Texas will probably be a boring, smelly vacation, while a week in the Harris County Jail in downtown Houston might be a little hairier. In a really small county it's sometimes almost like the Mayberry jail with Aunt Bee cooking for 4 or 5 inmates.

Generally, though, county jail isn't really that bad. On the other hand, it's not that good, either.
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  #3  
Old 02-17-2005, 03:51 PM
nitroglycerine nitroglycerine is offline
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I spent a few months in Blair County jail for stupid alcohol related stuff back in the 80s. I did most of my time on work release, but the first 6 or 8 weeks in general population wasn't too awful bad. I was in the same cell block as two of my best friends at the time, I was friends with a guard on the outside and I knew a bunch of people in there (hey, its a small county). You had your tough guy assholes who wanted to fight all the time and the inbreds from the outskirts of the county, but I managed to get along with just about everybody. There really wasn't a whole lot to do other than read and play cards. I'm a master Spades player thanks to my time in the pokey. It was more boring than anything.

Nowadays though, I hear it's pretty bad due to the Heroin epidemic that's been sweeping my town. I really hate being around junkies in the real world, I imagine it would suck pretty bad to be locked up with them. I have been for the most part a law abiding productive member of society since then Of course, I was law abiding when I went to jail but non payment of drinking fines (which was a probation violation) caught up with me about four or five years after the fact.
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Old 02-17-2005, 06:53 PM
Bad Samaritan Bad Samaritan is offline
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My brother, who is a crack addict and a fucking knucklehead idiot, has been incarcerated several times, in everything from the county jail to medium security state corrections. Most often he hasnít relayed much of what itís like in jail, other than to say itís tough. But I do recall one time he was telling me about one of his two week stints in the local pokey for a theft conviction. I donít recall all the details, but he was describing the barter system in place among inmates for smuggled in contraband, especially cigarettes. In this jail, inmates were not allowed to carry their own money (obviously), but they were allowed to deposit money into a commissary account, from which they were able to buy their own toiletries, sodas, and all sorts of junk food snacks to tide them over during their stay. Commissary rations were the capital to exchange for contraband, although hardly on a one to one exchange rate. One of his accounts was of an incident in which eight guys in one cell pooled together their comrats to buy smokes from a guy in an adjacent cell. The grocery list was a number of items longÖ several 1-liter coke bottles, a couple boxes of Little Debbie snack cakes, chips, deodorant, candy barsÖ all in exchange for two cigs (to split eight ways). In turn, the guy would trade his newly obtained comrats to other less fortunate cellmates who didnít have any funds in their commissary accounts for their personal items, such as clothing and shoes, even their blankets if thatís all they had to offer. Quite a business model huh? My brotherís description of the agony and desperation involved in negotiations for the smokes was quite funny and sad at the same time. My brotherís fucked up lifeÖ not so funny.
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  #5  
Old 02-17-2005, 07:11 PM
Cub Mistress Cub Mistress is offline
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The jail at which I used to work was almost one of those Mayberry ones pravnik was talking about. It had 42 beds, but on weekends the population zoomed up to 60 or so. Two grandmothers did the cooking, with inmate help. From what I could tell, unless you were on a work detail, it was pretty dang boring. Reading, cards, TV, and bullshitting each other were the main diversions. Inmates would write long letters home and decorate the envelopes in very elaborate designs. I have never seen anyone decorate envelopes the way some prisoners do, it was amazing. Complaining about the guards was another big pastime. When you have nothing but time on your hands every grievance looms large.

Have your friend ask in advance what he is able to bring in with him. This varies widely from jail to jail.
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  #6  
Old 02-18-2005, 12:45 AM
Little Nemo Little Nemo is offline
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It really depends on the county. As others have noted, county jails run the gamut from the Mayberry lock-up to Rikers Island. Your peers, likewise, will vary between lovable old Otis to people you'd be scared to watch on TV. Physically, some counties have jails that date back to the 19th century and others have nice modern housing built in the last few years. So it's really a toss-up.

But here are a few things that are likely to be present in any jail:

You'll be extremely bored. Unless something "interesting" happens in which case you'll wish you were bored.
You'll have no privacy.
You'll be spending a lot of time with some people you won't want to spend a lot of time with.
You'll wish you were someplace else.
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  #7  
Old 02-18-2005, 10:15 AM
TheBoneyKingofNowhere TheBoneyKingofNowhere is offline
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Picture one HUGE rectangular room filled with 80 men in orange one-piece outfits, and small, metal bunks, each containing a rock hard "mattress" (think hard plastic filled with sand?)... One of the walls was solid glass, so you could see out into a hallway in which guards and other inmates walked.... Oh yeah, I had a choice of a weekend in jail or 240 hours of community service (after a DUI). I opted for jail.

Anyway, it was kind of like camp. I did laugh alot. Lots of jokes. I read three novels. Some guy built an incredible card table on one of the metal bunks (he threw his mattres on the floor). The entire room of inmates was standing around him at the end, trying to get a view and chanting his name as his shaking hand was placing the last few cards at the top of of his castle. Everyone exploded in cheer as the last card was successfully placed. I think it took him all day, so the build up was actually pretty entertaining. There were hand-held radio's, as we listened to Mickelson win his first Major). A few guys, upon release, got sort of emotional, went around and had some hugs with what I assume were long-term inmates with whom they'd bonded. The guards HATED this, "LETS GO! GET A MOVE ON!"

I probably laughed hardest though when guards led a tour of "regular" citizens through the facility, and when the inmates saw these people walking up to the glass through the hallway outside, everyone started acting insanely barbaric. Jumping up and down like monkey's. Banging their heads on the concrete. Pretending to bully each other. The looks on these peoples faces (especially the old people) was priceless. As they turned and walked away everyone literally fell to the floor laughing hysterically. One guy was laughing so hard he was nearly crying, saying, "OH MY GOD, DID YOU SEE THE LOOK ON THAT LADY'S FACE!!!" I learned alot about people. I learned that many people, especially the poor, don't realize their rights, and other people in the same legal situation most certainly wouldn't have ended up in jail. Some of those guys were there for several months.

Oh yeah, my first day there, everyone was huddled around each other in the middle of all the bunks (the bunks were on the 2nd level, and the back wall couldn't really be seen from the window). I went over and looked on --- they were smoking pot!!! Other guys were using cleaner spray standing at all sides fo the bunks, spraying it into the air to cover up the smell. I couldn't believe it. Cigarettes aren't even allowed on the property.

The biggest let down was actually that I had planned on doing major catch-up on my sleep, but this was near impossible, as everyone pretty much stayed up talking until 2 or 3 in the morning.

I never want to go back, but I'm sure it beat the hell out of 240 hours of community service.
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  #8  
Old 02-18-2005, 02:17 PM
zoid zoid is offline
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I've been in jail - like others said, it's not THAT bad.

Prison on the other hand is something that can easily scar you for life (judging from the people I know who've actually been)
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  #9  
Old 02-18-2005, 02:36 PM
Max Torque Max Torque is online now
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One of my first criminal clients was scared away from jail for life by what she saw in the county jail: the girls pluck their eyebrows with string! The inhumanity! The horror! heh. Well, she was just a teenager who'd done something stupid, so who can blame her for being scared....

I haven't been in jail myself, but I've visited many clients in jail, and I can tell you that the B.O. stink is so pervasive that I think it's inside the very paint on the walls.
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  #10  
Old 02-18-2005, 03:03 PM
TellMeI'mNotCrazy TellMeI'mNotCrazy is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Max Torque
One of my first criminal clients was scared away from jail for life by what she saw in the county jail: the girls pluck their eyebrows with string! The inhumanity! The horror! heh. Well, she was just a teenager who'd done something stupid, so who can blame her for being scared....

I haven't been in jail myself, but I've visited many clients in jail, and I can tell you that the B.O. stink is so pervasive that I think it's inside the very paint on the walls.
Ha, and to think I pay someone to pluck my eyebrows with string.
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  #11  
Old 02-18-2005, 06:00 PM
CynicalGabe CynicalGabe is offline
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Listen, State prison is no picnic. I've got a client in there right now. He says the trick is to kick someone's ass the first day, or become someone's bitch.

/Michael spills ice
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  #12  
Old 02-18-2005, 06:04 PM
ouryL ouryL is offline
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The brown smear on the wall ain't chocolate.
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