Five Days in Jail

I recently spent five days as a guest in the De Soto County Jail for Contempt of Court. I call it civil disobedience, because the only thing contemptible was the judge. I can’t say her name, but she is the only youth judge in the county. Let’s just say she hasn’t a clue about real life, or the kids that come before her. And as such, any kid who comes before her is automatically guilty. Her 90 day sentences are becoming legend, and everyone who works with her loathes the woman – on both sides of the courtroom.

When she held my granddaughter for six weeks in jail until her court date in April, over smoking cigarettes (underage smoking), and called her a danger to herself and others because of it, I lost my temper. I stood up and called her a hateful cow, then proceeded to let her know that her so called judgments (read that power trips) were only hurting, not helping kids who are troubled. It ticked her off that I would DARE stand up to her, and she gave me five days in jail. It was a nice holiday other than the horrid food. But while there, I learned a few things. I thought I would share.

I hate cold scrambled eggs. They arrived, pale and anemic yellow, huddled on the tray in a puddle of congealing liquid. Served without seasoning of any kind, they were horrific to try to choke down. Along with them came even colder toast, coffee (which I don’t drink) or a glass of sweet tea that I would drink in desperation. The rest of the food they serve is equally distasteful. I found that the term, Mystery Meat, has a whole new meaning when it comes to jail food.

I hate slamming doors. It seems that no one in the entire jail can simply shut a door. Oh no, they have to slam it, no matter the time of day or night. To go along with that, the television plays night and day, generally very loudly. It gets annoying about two in the morning.

Female guards are really into throwing around what little power they think they have over inmates. Talk about hateful! Of all of the women in the area I was in, only one was anywhere near pleasant. She treated the inmates as if they were human beings, no matter how freaky they were. Miss Grumpy guard likes to throw her weight around and keep everyone in lock down. It makes her job easier and it makes her feel like she is really in charge.

Being polite drives the guards crazy. They expect everyone to act out. When I was Miss Polite, saying please and thank you to everything, they didn’t quite know how to respond. Since I was in the medical wing (due to my medical issues) with all the mental patients, they were dumbfounded by my manners. A little bit of please and thank you went a long way in getting what I wanted.

Laughter is contagious. The guy in the cell next to us was out of his mind on something when he came in. He would alternately scream foul language and then laugh hysterically. So my cell mate and I started timing him by counting seconds. It was almost predictable when he would switch from one behavior to the other. Before we knew it, we were both trying not to laugh along with him. Crazy people are both scary and very funny.

I can sleep on a hard, uncomfortable bed and still get a good night’s sleep.

Anger in jail generally leads to tears, but frustration always leads to anger.

Young men don’t know when to shut up and listen. Old men never shut up and listen.

Fear makes people crazy, and insanity is always based in fear.

Five days in jail didn’t change my opinion one bit. I would do the same thing if I had to do it again.
Jail doesn’t deter anyone, it only encourages misbehavior.

Boredom is the greatest danger for inmates, especially the youngest people.

The outside world doesn’t matter because it is limited to what we see on television, and everyone knows most of that is fake.

I can listen to an inmate sing “Amazing Grace” for hours at a time, and still like the song. Besides, not many men can sing that song beautifully. He could. Over and over and over and over . . . .

Being cheerful drives the grumpy guards crazy. They don’t like laughter on their watch, it makes them feel like the inmates are getting away with something. I laughed a lot because my cell mate was slightly crazy and she was sure I was totally insane for standing up to a judge.

I can sleep sitting up.

Facing down a challenge is easy, don’t show fear, walk away, and ignore the temptation to get even. It is hard, but it can be done.

My opinion is worth five days in jail.

All women will regress to 14 years old girls when forced into close living conditions. Mean girls have nothing on a bunch of women stuck in lockdown together.

No one likes a whiner.

Every inmate is innocent in his or her mind right up until sentencing day.

There are some things I will never apologize for.

Righteous indignation and non compliance drives booking guards crazy. Staring them down makes the squirm. (insert evil grin.)

Most people who work at the jail are miserable and hate their jobs. Or they like the job because it makes them feel powerful. Those that work in booking are the most hateful and miserable.

Peaceful defiance infuriates control freaks.

Everything can be a learning experience.

There are pages more of thoughts like the above. But those are the things that jump off the page right now. When I couldn’t sleep, I would read the messages people left on the walls. It was a living history of those who came before me, and reminded me that everyone wants to be heard. The messages ranged from the heart sick to the sublime.

God give me the strength . . .
I don’t want help, I like being crazy.
Trust no one. (this had a cartoon of a guy peeking around corners. Very funny)
AA is the way, bad words!
Kelly+Billy=Love (lots of those sort of things)
Sasson, USAF, Bless God, he will bless you.
De Soto County sucks, and below it was, Try Lee County.
Dody P. Walsh wuz here again. 2009-2010 Call me overdose.
Missing my boys.
More today than yesterday, less than tomorrow.
I’m guilty AND crazy!!
I’ll never get out, but it was one hell of a party! Screw YOU!

I left my story there by drawing cartoons of people in the jail. It made me laugh, and maybe someone who came after me laughed too.

All in all, I don’t regret one minute I spent in De Soto County Jail. The hateful cow may think she punished me, but it was a true learning experience. I wasn’t a tourist, I was a member of the club. I heard heartbreaking stories, had unexpected kindness given to me by people who were suffering in their hearts and minds. At the end of the day, I was happy to come home, but it stiffened my resolve to make sure that the kids of De Soto County get a much better judge. I can hardly wait for election time. Hell, I will even vote for a democrat if that’s what it takes to get rid of the cow.