Many students spent the week- end studying, partying or working. I spent it in Mobile County Metro Jail.
When I arrived at the front desk of the jail. at made me stress because as an out of town college student, my friends and family didn’t have phone numbers with a 251 area code. I was allowed to copy two numbers on a piece of paper before having my cell phone, and everything else I had on my person con scated.
I was then put inside a waiting room that could only be described as a sauna without the steam. In it there was one long, hard, wooden bench occupied by men in trouble for various reasons. A toilet located in the corner a orded little to no privacy.
I became familiar with the wait- ing room over a span of at least ve hours. Guys would come in, shu e out, come in, shu e out, eventually it all just became a blur.
I had to keep my mind busy because the stress of the situation mixed with the intense boredom was crushing.
I remember thinking of professional wrestling to keep my mind occupied. WrestleMania was in New Orleans that weekend, so I went over all the matches in my head, who I think would win and why. Eventually, I was allowed to call a bondsperson to bail me out. The workers at the police station took my fingerprints, asked me some medical questions about my health and sent me back to my cell. I was looking forward to some sleep, thinking anything was better than the bright lights and depressive air of the waiting room.
I was wrong.They cuffed me and took me to a small room with a shower head.The police officer told me to take of my clothes I complied and then the o cer asked me to squat and cough. is is a standard procedure prisoners have to do to prevent for- eign objects from entering the jail. It was humiliating all the same.
The officer took my clothes, handed me my scrubs and told me to shower before leaving me alone. To use the shower, I had to hold down a button the entire time and the water got way too hot too fast. This is lead to an awkward, one handed shower with an intermitent water spray.
I remember looking into a mirror when I nally changed into my dark blue scrubs, with Mobile County Correctional printed on the back. I remember laughing at the image of myself in the mirror just thinking,
“Bro, what have you gotten your- self into this time?”
The police officers gave me a bag of sheets, cuffed me again and walked me to my cell block. At this point, I didn’t realize this place was a jail. I assumed since this was my first offense and I was relatively young that I’d just spend the night at a police station.
As I was walking down the long, winding hallways however, I began to understand that is not the case.
When I arrived in my cell block, the officers briefly discussed who I should share a cell with. I still do not understand why or how they came to the decision they came to.
Nonetheless, I woke my cellmate upon arriving. He was a 40-some- thing year old man with a shaved head and tattoos that covered his body from the neck down, includ- ing a teardrop to top it all of. The teardrop tattoo is something I was only exposed to by crime media and pompous musicians, with the implication being that someone with that tattoo murdered someone.
To see an actual one in person, in this context, gave me more perspective about the situation I was in.
I came to learn that he was serving a 20-year sentence for armed robbery, drug use and domestic violence.
“I put my girlfriend through a wall,” me cell mate said.
For context in the story, I’ll call him Sticks because he was really skinny, probably because of the drugs.
After introductions, I climbed up onto the top bunk. The bed was made of an unforgiving hard sheet of metal. The jail, due to its overloaded prisoner capacity, was running low on supplies, so I didn’t have a mattress or a pillow, unlike Sticks.
I had to use my blanket as a mattress, a thin bed sheet as cover and my hair for a pillow. I stayed awake for hours. Sleep was a far off dream.
The next day, I got to try out prison breakfast. The cell doors were open and I was free to roam the block.
Sticks woke me up and immedley started hustling me for my food. I knew that prisoners used food to barter inside the jail and I didn’t want to get involved in any of that. This is one of the reasons I was confused at my roommate assignment. This was my first time in jail and I was roomed with a professional prisoner who’s obviously going to try to manipulate me.
The breakfast food itself was suspicious. I can’t think of any other word for it. They gave me two cold, soggy waffles with a merciful side of syrup, a lump of yellow grits and a side of chopped mystery white meat. It vaguely tasted like fish I asked some of the other prisoners what they thought it was and they came to an agreement it was cat. I wished I hadn’t asked.
After forcing down my breakfast, I was desperate for something to wash it all down with. Water was available fresh from
a Gatorade cooler on the table. However, I was never given a cup to drink out of. I walked to the door of the cell block and knocked on it. A female officer answered.
I explained to her I never received a cup and she told me I would have to wait.
No one ever came back to give me a cup, so for the remainder of my stay, I quenched my thirst by drinking sink water.
The lunch food wasn’t much better. e main course consisted of two bologna sandwiches with ranch dressing as a condiment. Since it was the weekend, we were only fed twice a day, so I was hungry enough to choke it down at that point. After lunch we were locked back into our cells.
Lunch was served at 5 p.m. and I knew my 24 hours ended at 5:30 p.m., so after lunch I was itchingto get out. 15 minutes go by, then 30, then 45, then an hour and 30.
I became stressed at this point. I knew someone was outside waiting to take me home, but my name was not called. I made a move to speak to a guard but Sticks strongly advised me against it.
“See, you gotta be patient with these people man,” Sticks said. “If you ask ‘em, it’s just gonna take longer. Just chill, you’ll be out any second.”
Normally I wouldn’t take ad- vice from a guy serving a 20-year sentence, but I figured if he knows anything ,it’s how jail works. So, I wait, and wait, and wait. rough someone else’s phone call, I deduced that’s it’s now 8:00 p.m.
Uncomfortable thoughts started to creep into my head. What was taking so long? If something happened how would I even know?
Holy crap, I have class tomorrow!
Luckily I grabbed the attention of one the guards on cleaning duty.
“Hey, my name is Kenyan Carter,” I said. “I was supposed to be out at 5:30, I know my bail has been paid off. Can you see what the status of my release is? I have class tomorrow!”
The guard gave me a puzzled look for a second and then nodded her head in understanding. About 15 minutes later they called my name to be released.
No surprise that Stick’s advice was bad.
I got out of jail at about 10 p.m., a good four hours and 30 minutes passed my required time. If I didn’t alert the guard I probably would’ve had to spend an extra night with Sticks.
The moral of the story is do not go to jail. It’s easy to take for granted the endless freedoms we have like checking your phone, sleeping with a pillow, and being able move freely. Jail also compromises your future.
Having a criminal record is no joke. If you’re ever in an emotional situation or confronted with something of questionable legality just ask yourself, is it worth everything?
Note from Journals.Today : This content has been auto-generated from a syndicated feed.