Well, since I can proudly say that all my experiences were more than ten years ago, and that’s well beyond the statute of limitations for anything but stories, I’ll share my few minor experiences behind bars. q;}
For the setting, let me say these were all american jails in a rather large city’s suburbs. Let me further say that this is a city in Texas, and I have very long hair. You might think this would be a problem. I’m also 6’6" and pushing 300. I’ve never met nicer, more polite, people, than Texas Cops. I have no idea whether the two facts are related.
My very first night behind bars was way, way back in the late 80s. Hey, that’s way back to me, ok. Anyway, some friends and I are in my car goin’ to see a movie (Terminator I think it was). We’ve got a full case of beer in the back seat, and my buddy back there’s swiggin’ on a fifth of Jack. I ask him to hand me a beer (I’m young, stupid, and driving) and as I’m opening it, see a police car right behind me.
I panic. Shove the beer under the seat, full and open, and take the first turn-off I find, hoping he’ll just drive on by.
Nope. He’s on my tail now. Pulls me right over. Looks in the car, sees the huge cooler and three drunken idiots. Calls backup. Finds ALL KINDS of stuff in the car, but decides that one thing is dangerous enough for me to spend the rest of my life paying for: a throwing star, unsharpened, in the glove compartment. Nevermind the crossbow, bong, and (chicken-)bloody baseball bat in the trunk. Nevermind the case of beer (ok we ALL got Minor in Possessions) and liquor while driving (stupid, stupid). I got an Unlawfully Carrying a Weapons charge, and spent the night (one of many as it turns out) in jail.
My friends were free to go. The cops towed my car off. Did I mention we were miles from anywhere? The officers kindly described the circumstances under which they would give my friends a ride home: they arrest them as well. My friends chose to walk home.
I stoically rode forthright into history, calmly and rationally discussing my imminent anal raping with my captor. Perhaps requests for freedom may have been made, my memory is a bit fuzzy… awright, I cried and begged to be let go, ok. Sheesh, you people.
They get me to the local jail, tell me I can bail myself out in the morning, or get someone to do it. Thank god for parents. Or damn him. Not sure which sometimes, but that’s another thread. Anyway, I get my phone call and led off to my luxury taxpayer-funded suite for the evening.
My bed that night was a space on a steel bench, and a scratchy blanket. I was in “the Smurf Prison”… everything was blue, and the big round metal table stuck up from the floor, the same shade as everything else. Except for the stainless steel bench along the wall. A blue steel dividing thing partly covered the stainless steel toilet/sink thing. A big glass window looked out onto the hall. I could see into the guard’s room, behind its own glass… down into the drunk tank, with no nice metal benches, tables, or cots, but the same drain in the floor. Theirs looked to get a bit more use than ours. Nobody interesting in there tonight.
But one person in here with me. Oh, good, I’m bigger than he is, and I know he’s not armed. Let’s see if he’s friendly.
He is. We chat a bit, 'cuz there’s nothing else to do but, I suppose, write on the walls. I don’t want to think about how the previous inhabitants got pens in here.
What’s his story? Well, he was driving down the road and got pulled over, I forget why exactly. They look in his car and see a 45 caliber handgun between his seats. This was before concealed carry was legalized here, and even afterwards, that’s not how to carry a gun. Plus it was loaded and ready to go.
He got the exact same charge I got for my suriken: UCW.
The next day I get bailed out, lots and lots of words from the PUs, and invited to return to court some months later. I get probation, community service, and a fine. My cellmate gets the exact same thing. Grr. Thank you, court-appointed attorney.
Hmm… ok, next story… trying to go chronologically here…
I THINK the bounced-check night was before the birthday party, but I’m no longer 100% sure. Let’s pretend it was.
So I’m poor and young and stupid, as has been previously proven, and will be again. I bounce a check or two at a grocery store, and they take it personally for some strange reason. I, however, think I got free money…
…until, one night, I’m with my girlfriend and her parents in my apartment, playing yahtzee or something.
knock knock A guy in a tie, with a clipboard, and an officer in uniform. Uh. This isn’t gonna be good, is it? Nope, not a lost dog, they got a warrant for my arrest. My girlfriend gets to bring me my shoes, helps me put them on while the friendly officer fits my wrists with steel, and we go away for a while. If I had to put a date on it, I’d say that’s the day her parents stopped liking me. That’s just a guess tho. q;}
For some reason, probably because it was just closer, they take me to a little business-office-type police station of some sort first. Big glass windows, little front waiting room, little wooden chairs to sit in. Don’t lock the door. Leave me cuffed to one of the chairs.
Well, first thing I do is think of escape, of course. Door’s right there, two steps away at most. I KNOW I can get rid of the chair, smash it or just pull it apart. The cuffs would be a different matter. And, of course, the eventual being shot while escaping thing occured to me as well. I stayed where I was.
Another ride in the police car, rather more enjoyable by this time, another night in a local jail, another cold steel mattress and scratchy wool blanket. Couple more stories from the cellmates. Many, many more words from the PUs. And hers. Oy.
Time passes. The friendly people in our legal system decide that I have been a very bad boy, and I’ve broken my probation. Time for me to REALLY pay for my crime (of carrying a decorative ‘weapon’)… another court appointed lawyer. Did I mention I am stupid? lol
Oh well, it’s not too bad. I tell ‘em I have to work, I’ll lose the apartment if I spend a long time in jail, and my job as well. They give me a sentence of a month in the work-release program, which I think is quite fair indeed, yes sir, thank you sir. This program entails my voluntarily driving myself, every night for a month, to the county jail. Getting searched and put in a cell with, hmm, guessing 40 other guys on work release. Sleeping on a real ssteel cot with a real rubber mattress stuffed with fiberglass, and the same ol’ scratchy blanket. Never get a pillow, I guess I could choke on the feathers or something.
Ok, quick note on searches. I’ve never had a body cavity search, thank you very much. I have, however, been strip-searched. The first night of my work-release program they gave me the whole treatment. Strip-search, spray with delousing stuff, shower while they watch, here’s your clothes now get in your cell. The rest of my time in work-release, I had to change from my civilian clothes into rather nice navy blue scrub-looking prison clothes, and had a reasonable amount of privacy (although I was still searched) in which to do so. Every other time, it was a VERY thourough pat down (Yes, they grab your crotch. No, I don’t think they enjoy it much. No, you probably won’t either, if you get the chance to try it.) and removal of belt, shoelaces, etc etc etc.
So, I’m all fresh and clean from the shower, they give me the mattress (good 50lbs or so) to carry, and walk me down the hall and into a group of cells. There’s a kind of jailed hallway area, a ‘group’ area with steel tables and a TV, and a bunch of smaller cells with like four bunks in them. And perhaps twice the number of bunks in prisoners. I’m informed that, no, this is not the work release section, everybody in here is in here for the duration, weeks or months. Uh… excuse me? Hello? Guard? Nope, nothing to do about it. Ask the judge in the morning. gulp
I find a book, a spot on a floor, and a reasonably safe-looking cell, and wait.
Nothing happens to me. I wake in the morning, things get straightened out, and I’m off to work. Come back the next night, and they put me in the proper area.
It’s a converted basketball court, a relatively small gymnasium, with a bunch of metal cots at one end and… lo and behold… REAL furniture! Tables that move! Cheap-ass plastic chairs! A MICROWAVE! A stack of books, a TV, heck, this is almost nice. Except for the 40 other guys here, all about to analy rape me.
Hmm. Ok, I’ve obviously been grossly mis-informed about this whole jail thing, at least the part I’ve seen. These people are friendly! The cops, the guards, the prisoners themselves. I find a nice cot in an out of the way area and fall asleep. This becomes ‘my’ spot, never a question about it the whole time I’m there.
One thing which still strikes me as odd is the sense of community inside that ‘cell’. I was doing this for a month. Some of these guys had been here for a long, long, LONG time. Some had jobs, others had friends on the outside, and they had quite a menu available from the jail store. There was a substantial barter economy in that little room, trading everything from cookies to tobacco to cassette tapes and batteries. Yeah, you could buy a walkman radio to listen to in jail. Lots of guys had 'em.
Wow, this is much much longer than I’d intended it to be. And I’ve barely told the best stories. I’ll finish with the end of this one, then, I suppose.
One aspect of this work-release program which I personally find odd was that, when I arrived on Saturday night after work, I wouldn’t get to leave again until Monday morning. Once a week I would spend a good 36 hours in this cell. Nothing like the folks in there for 10 years or what have you, but at the time it feels like an eternity.
Well, one particular Sunday that I got to spend in this place was my 21st birthday. Yippeee. So much for getting shit-faced, stupid, and arrested… I’m ALREADY IN JAIL.
Did I mention that this was ‘a long time ago’ and that I’ve totally learned my lessons since then? Good. 'Cuz this is the juicy bit.
A few times while I was laying on my mattress watching the other inmates, I’d notice a few of them gather 'round the back of the room, and a particularly pungent aroma that many of us would instantly recognize wafting forth. Hmmm.
That Saturday I slipped a tab of LSD into my shorts, and did acid in jail in celebration of my 21st. Quite the strange experience, and I definitely do NOT reccomend it to anyone. At one point they did a ‘random’ bed-check, lined us all up, and called roll. I swear the guard stared at me for a week that night, before moving on. Or maybe it was my imagination?
Anyway, like I said, I’ve since learned my lesson. Jail is not a good place to be, and I definitely wouldn’t want to spend any extended period of time in one. I haven’t been back in over 10 years, and I like it that way. q;} My experiences, I’m sure, are not typical, but one thing surprised me: Jail Ain’t THAT Bad. I never got beaten, never got shit thrown at me, never got repeatedly cavity-searched by sadistic guards or analy raped by inmates. In fact, I’ve very seldom felt as safe as I have when I’m behind bars. If I can’t get out, there’s not much that can get in, right?
Stay out of jail, kids.