I knew that I should not have even opened this thread, let alone read it.
Now I’m going to have nightmares.
Been in jail once, in 1988.
I was in for 3 days: 1 1/2 days waiting for the courts to reopen on Monday, and another 1 1/2 days waiting for my idiot “friends” to come up with – get this – $60 whole dollars in bail money. [sub]grumble, grumble, stupid poor unemployed college students, none of whom had ever dealt with the courts before[/sub]
I was arrested for shoplifting. Here’s the kicker: I didn’t steal a damn thing. The person I was with at the store stole one bottle of hair dye.
At that time, in Austin, Texas, if someone you were with stole something, you were also liable. Kinda like if you’re with somebody who robs a bank, you’re guilty of robbing the bank too. I don’t know if this is still the case, or whether it applies everywhere.
Jail was one of the worst experiences of my life. Since I never thought I’d be in jail, I never really imagined what it would be like. Time just dragged and dragged. I would sleep for what I thought was hours, and then I’d wake up to discover that I was only out for 20 minutes.
I had 4 different roommates over that 3 days. All of them had horror stories, and one was in for a weapons crime. Scared me silly. And none of the cops would listen to my questions or explain anything. (I should have expected that? Why? I was never in contact with the police, jails, or courts in any way before this episode. And it’s not like they teach Jail Practices 101 in school.)
The first night I didn’t even have a mattress. When the cops brought one in the next day, they acted surprised that I hadn’t been given one before. Whatever.
The jail staff would provide no reading material but a bible. I was so desperate to read that I gave it a shot. But that didn’t last. Reading that was worse than just lying there in misery.
The person I was with (I will NOT call him a friend, now or ever) was underage. The cops called his mom, and she flew out and took him home in less than 12 hours. He was not even charged. I still have his picture. If I ever run into him, I’m going to punch him a new nose.
I was charged with misdemeanor shoplifting. At the time, being the ignorant young’un that I was, I had no idea that “No contest” equals “Why, yes, government, I agree that I committed the crime you say I did”. So I pled “No contest”. That meant a fine. Which I did not have cash to pay for. So I had to stay in jail until my friends came with cash to get me out.
Moral of the story? There ain’t no moral here. That was a phenomenal waste of my time, the court’s time, and a lots of cops’ time. It made me more afraid of cops than ever before, because I saw how much power they have and how jaded they are to using it. Before, I was just afraid of monetary penalties, like speeding tickets. After, I was afraid just being around a cop, just in case he decided to bust me for some law I didn’t know about.
I have become (unwillingly) a police assistant: Nobody, and I mean nobody, shoplifts when they’re with me. Those friends who might think about it have been warned. (I can have a properly threatening demeanor when I want to.) And the other friends wouldn’t even think about it.
I’m pissed that I’m doing this sort of thing – I’m very big on personal freedoms, even the freedom to do wrong – but I’m more scared of getting arrested and jailed.
Yeah, it’s been a long time, but I’m still wounded and angry. I don’t know if that will ever stop. This experience in no way helped me to view the court system or the cops with a sympathetic eye.
And no, writing it down did not help.
::Off to have a beer and not do anything even remotely illegal::