As aforementioned, my dad decided to write up a ‘blog’ while he was on the inside. Without further ado, I present said blog:
March 4th, 2014. 6:00 am… zero:dark:thirty! Loud knock on my front door. Still thirty minutes before my alarm! WTF? Five times: Bam, bam, bam. Bam, bam! I stumbled sleepily to the front door and turned on the outside light. Hmm, police in swat gear. I opened the door and said in my most hospitable voice, “come in, officer!”
In the door came six deputies dressed in full swat gear. The first one asked me my name. He then pulled out a folded piece of paper and waved it in front of me. “We have a warrant for your arrest! Please step back, turn around, and put your hands behind your back! Is there anyone else here?” He slapped the cuffs on me; I asked him, “do they have to be that tight?” It felt like the metal was slicing through my skin. He told me he could get a finger between my wrist and the cuff, “so it is okay.” He told me that I wasn’t acting very surprised to see them.
The other cops walked through the house to see if someone was hiding anywhere. They came back after a while and gave the all-clear. Another cop asked me if I did the woodwork in the kitchen. “It is beautiful!” Good cop-bad cop, or something to take my mind off the arrest, I imagined. The butch cop asked me where my shoes were. I told him he was standing on them. I also told him I needed to pee. He said, “wait until we get downtown!” Then he asked where the house keys were. I told him they’re behind him on the key rack… the one with about one hundred keys on it.
I was standing in my pajama pants and a thin, long-sleeved shirt. Once outside, I remembered my glasses. I needed my glasses. The cop went back to the house to get them and set the house alarm off. He had to ask me my code – now I really feel safe. Once he’d retrieved the glasses, he went to put them on my face. He said he would try to be gentle and not poke me in the eye. Finally, some compassion.
The cop led me through the frigid cold and down the street to the plain car. He opened up the front passenger door and helped me in. The handcuffs really hurt now, as there wasn’t room for my arms behind me. He tried to adjust the seat to help, but just made it worse. He fumbled with the seat belt and then we were on the road.
While we were driving, I had to push my elbows against the seatback to take the pressure off of my wrists. The cuffs were certainly digging into my flesh then. To make some conversation, I brought up his statement about me not being surprised to see them. I told him that it was six in the morning and they woke me from a deep sleep – it’s difficult to be anything but tired; plus, I’d been a convicted felon for the past ten years, a random visit from the police is to be expected.
When we got downtown, we drove into a garage where he fiddled with the seatbelt again. Inside, he removed the cuffs and pointed me in the direction of a restroom. Relief at last! When I came back out, I was asked a ton of medical questions for a form he was filling out. After that, I had to talk to someone behind a window who asked the same questions.
Questions finished, I was seated on the male side of the room. A lady called me up for fingerprinting: finger tips, all fingers at once, fingers separately, thumb prints, palm prints, roll each finger separately, whole hand. I was then led to the nurse who checked my weight, pulse, and blood pressure. Medical questions were asked for the third time.
Then it was out to the waiting cell: a long, narrow room with a bench on one wall and toilet at one end. The door was half-glass. While I sat there, I wondered about laying down on the bench, but then they opened the door and gave me a tray with “breakfast” on it: oatmeal, dry whole grain bread, thin slice of fake ham, apple sauce, and a carton of milk. I ate half a piece of bread with the “ham.”
I felt like I had to go to the bathroom again. I thought, ‘I will be sitting there and someone will walk by and look in or open the door – the toilet is totally exposed.’ Then I thought, ‘who cares? There is no modesty in jail!’ I walked over to the stool and dropped a load! Of course I only realized afterward that there was no toilet paper. I looked around the room before deciding on using the rest of the dry bread. Needless to say, that was a first!
Soon, I was taken to another room where a plain-clothes officer told me that he had notified the highway patrol that I now had a temporary change of address! He asked me if I was worried about abusing someone or being abused in jail. I said, no. That prompted me to ask him if there was a threat of that happening. He told me he had been there seventeen years and never had it happen yet! I talked to him a while about church and his family.
Then I had to give up my pajamas for my prison-issues: orange pants, orange shirt, brown boxers, brown t-shirt., and orange flip flops. I also got a bag of toiletries, a change of fresh oranges, a drinking cup, a roll of blankets, and some sheets. I found some paper and something to write with when I got to my room.
I wrote: “I am in my room. Cell number 5. My cell room: 9X13. Two bunk beds attached to the wall. One bed about 12 inches off the floor. The other tall enough to sit on the lower bunk and not hit your head. They are steel plates welded to a plate in the block wall for support. There is a step in the wall about 3 blocks up to step on and climb into the top bunk. There is a cement sink vanity. Stool, no lids or seat flap. Light on far wall above the sink. Everything covered by steel plates and screen. Short steel shelf on wall opposite the beds with two hooks on swivels on which you can hang a towel. If you put pressure on them with your hand, they give away and keep you from hanging yourself on them! There is a 12×15 inch mirror encased in steel.
The door has no handle on the inside. If it is closed, you need to press a button and the guard will remotely unlock the door! There is no handle on the outside, just a pull slot. You are not allowed to enter another inmate’s cell, only stand in the doorway. The wall next to the door is floor-to-ceiling glass. There is also a narrow window in the door.”
I was on the bottom bunk. The guard brought an older black guy to my room. He was pleasant and I liked him at once. He had a great laugh. He was 53 years old. I told him I hoped I wouldn’t keep him awake with my snoring! He said the same about himself.
During lockdown, we all went to our cells and closed the doors. We stayed there until the guard unlocked them. This happened when there was a shift change, and also when they brought meals. There was a bank of five phones in a circle around a pole. To use the phones, you entered a code on your wristband and a four digit security pin. When we checked in, we repeated a phrase three times and this was our voice-activated password. The phrase was: “With Global Tel-Link, my voice is my password.” My wristband had my name, photo, inmate ID number, and my date of birth.
My roommate snored while I wrote. He was stopped for speeding, at which time, the officer discovered that he’d been driving on a suspended license for ten years. He was given the option to plead not guilty and have a fine of $500/six months in jail, OR plead guilty and have a fine of $50/ten days in jail. What a hard choice!
Supper, day one: Diced carrots, unknown meat and noodles, bread and butter, cookie; cabbage slaw, sweet tea.
“I like my cellmate. I got the right one! I might take him to lunch when he gets out! The pen I use to write this is the insert of an ink pen. Flops all over the place.
The guy next to us is in 24-hour lockdown. He was freaking out last night. Started yelling under the door and stomping around his room. Most of the guys ignored him. He was screaming, ‘fuck the cops; fuck the police; fuck this place; fuck four; fuck fuck fuck.’ On and on for hours… The guard finally came over to his door and tried to calm him down. I heard him say, ‘listen to me. I am not a cop. I am a family man and I am just working to support my family! Look in my eyes!’”
I remember praying as I was being handcuffed. I prayed all the way downtown. The cop who cuffed me did his job with great zeal. I told a sheriff that he treated me like I had just shot his fellow cop! What did he have to fear from a 68-year-old man in pajamas without his glasses?
Breakfast, day two: apple sauce, malt-o-meal, butter and very dry biscuit, strange cold sausage patty, and milk.
I got my cellmate’s phone number and told him I would call him when he was out of jail. Lunch together!
“I go to the court room for my bond hearing in one hour. My former wife and my daughter will be there. My former wife has been very helpful throughout this process. I will pay her for the collect phone calls I made to her. I will also pay her a bonus for all her time. My wife is still in China and waiting for her visa.”
I had almost no sleep my first night. I slept during the day of the arrest and at night, my back hurt. There was no way to lie where the pain went away. Most of the inmates are Hispanic, then black, then white. I sat with a Hispanic guy who had words tattooed over his eyes where his eyebrows should be!
The last day, I also met a guy who wrote a story for World of Warcraft. He is an artist and author. I saw him drawing Powerball Z drawings. Then he told me all about his WOW story. Said he is working on another story, but needs a map for reference. I told him I could try to print off a map and send it to him. I did this yesterday and put it in the mail today. There are a lot of great people in jail if you take the time to know them!
So. That’s how I spent my Tuesday and half of Wednesday. How were your two days?