COUNTY LOCK UP

For some strange reason I sometimes think this is temporary. How can it be real? All freedoms taken away. Isn’t this America, the land of the free? This must be a test.
Well, you have done wrong my mind then corrects me. You ain’t never getting out of here it taunts. People like me and those around me deserve to be in here despite their protests otherwise. What was it one of the arresting officers said; “this is just a speed bump in your life.” Funny, it feels more like a train wreck. The worst thing is I caused it.
Since I have never been in county lock up – any jail for that matter – I wonder if all places are like this, with smells of urine being exchanged for vomit. People talking to no one but themselves. And often. Fights with no one stepping in except the Correction Officers (or CO’s as they are better known), and that not right away.
And little to no movement or exercise. There is a gym that is open for play twice a week they say. But I can’t play in this jumpsuit and it is difficult to focus right now. No outside availability, no fresh air. It feels like that will never happen again.
One television for 40 guys is a disaster. The other one is on the fritz they say, though some say it is by design as no one comes to fix it. Why would incarcerated men want to watch COPS or other Crime Stopper shows, where guys always get caught doing stupid things? Things like the crimes that brought us here. I saw my first ever Jerry Springer show and I was not impressed.
This is just all so strange. My crime seems so long ago yet in reality it was not. There are old magazines in here from two years ago but I know I have not been in here that long. Have I? My brain is oatmeal, so anything could be true I guess. They tell me it is still March, though what does it matter. I just cannot fathom in my medicated state any end to this journey through prison. Guys repeatedly tell me I will be going “upstate” or to a State facility very shortly, so I guess there will be some change.
The smell and taste of overcooked and unnutritious meals almost makes me sick. My bunk mate says it is amazing what they can do with soy these days. I eat, or try, remembering what real food tastes like. This cuisine and meds sure have done a number on my body. Little wonder. The bathrooms can attest to that with such heavy odors that make you want to gag.
I guess it really hasn’t hit me what is ahead though I feel like the kid in the car asking his parents “are we there yet” when hardly getting far from home. For sure this journey is like none I have experienced with all my travels around the globe. The counselor says I am still in shock, even denial which I tell him isn’t true. I just feel numb.
After lights out I too attempt to sleep but end up looking and counting ceiling tiles. The sound of muffled cries can be heard at times, muffled by the thin, flat pillow they gave us. At times it seems to get loud, like it is right next to me. Then I realize it is me and I find I don’t even care.

NOWHERE TO GO

I remember back after I got bailed out and moved out, before this jail madness started, I lived alone and there seemed no where to go with strange thoughts enveloping me. Not heavily medicated at that time, I remember thinking then ….

…. my grief is so difficult to bear and I know others see it too. I do not want to be alone. I do not want to be with people. I do not want to be with anyone. I am afraid. If I am with other people they will know my shame. I do not want their pity. I do not want the questions. I did wrong. I deserve anything I get. I do not want to be with anyone. I do not want to be alone because the darkness comes. I try not to face it but it is there. I am afraid. I am afraid I will welcome it this time. Drive into that semi. I am afraid I will not be able to not enter the darkness. I am afraid to be alone lest I succumb to that shame and humiliation that I caused.

I hide in the darkness wishing it would take me.  At least then it would end.  Not being with people.  Not being alone.  Not being with anyone.  It would be still and dark and painless.  No more grief or tears or shouts or rampages.  No more pretending or secrets.  No more emptiness or indecision.  Just calmness.  Silence.  It is too loud with others.  Too quiet alone.  I do not want to be with people and I do not want to be alone.

Nothing makes sense anymore. I cannot read. Words are a blur. I try to work and do “normal” things but do not succeed. Everything is a blur.  Nothing matters. It is all gone, ruined. I did this, which makes it worse. I was the selfish one. Soon the judge will bang his gavel and announce the verdict: Guilty. Then what? I cannot even think of what I don’t know.  Nothing seems real.

But it doesn’t matter now. Nothing does. End it. Something quick. If I was with people I wouldn’t do it.

But I cannot be with people. They know. They look at me and they know. They are as disgusted with me as I am. I cannot be with anyone. There is nowhere to go. Somehow I went on.

And now here I am locked away and still nowhere to go.

GOING INSIDE

How  did I get here on this top bunk anyway?  There must be 40 guys in this room.  Where are the bathrooms?  Do they even have showers?   Is this what my life inside corrections is going to be like from now on?  Doesn’t look too promising right now.  So little hope for anything.  Guess I am not as in control of my life as I thought not so long ago.  Or was it?

I remember the five or six months between my arrest and now.  It really went by in a blur.  Right after the arrest I moved out of my home and got an apartment and a new office instead of one in my home or new cramped digs.  I felt shameful and guilty and more lonely that ever.  In control?  Right.

I know I did wrong, but this?  Having no idea what to expect now I was really hoping I did not know anyone in here.  Of course everyone in this jail is innocent or framed or in the wrong place at the wrong time.  “If only I had done this or that” they lament or “next time I will” they quip as if their time in here is temporary.  Of course for some it is.  But me being sentenced to 2 1/3 to 7 years?  Come on.  Guys admitting to raping young girls get 2 years.  How is that fair that my sentence is so long?  So what if it was an election year and the DA needed notches in his belt.  Guess this old guy with the high profile case played right into his hands.  Or maybe it is a sign of the times.  And my high priced lawyer did me no favors, especially emptying my bank account of over $10,000 without even a trial.  I definitely felt there was some backroom dealing going on, me worth more than a few little fishes.

What made me even think about meeting this person, an under aged teen anyway?  I should have know better, and I really did, stopping several times on the way to the mall, a public place to meet so there could be nothing hidden.  No secrets.  But I pressed on, somehow embolden by my recklessness and ego that said I was in control and doing nothing “wrong” in simply meeting her, a person I had chatted with for over a month and who wanted to meet.  She even picked the spot, an ice cream store in a mall I had never been in.  My arrogance was overflowing.  But there were hidden things, including the 4 or 5 undercover boys taking hold of me, placing me in handcuffs and then the back of their unmarked car out back.

I remember being booked and photographed in the city jail after being arrested– an awful shot of me crying later pasted on the front page of local newspapers.  The officer doing intake was all over me about not just the charge of “attempted dissemination of illicit material to a minor” but arranging a meeting.  That’s when I said something about it would be better if I had never been born.  Well that set off the bells.  I was made to strip off everything, even my shoe laces in my sneakers, then placed in a short (very short) gown of some itchy material like burlap and led to a glass cell in front so all the guards could keep their eye on me.  Look at the jerk in the cage, the moron who chats with young girls then tries to meet them.  To say I was scared would be an understatement.  I was numb.

That night grew as did my panic.  After I lost that day’s meals I worked on the previous day’s.  My system was starting to abandon me.  How would I ever get out of there?  Would it always be like this?  I was so terrified I couldn’t even think about what I had done but only wanted to get out of there.  There were screams and fights, with officers and medics running this way and that passed my glass house where I felt so exposed to everything.  Funny thing was, nobody seemed to notice or care about me.  It was a good thing they did confiscate my laces as the thought of ending it crossed my mind a few times.

I finally was let out to make my one phone call to a traumatized wife who agreed to come and bail me out along with our pastor who, unbeknownst to me, had been at our home since my arrest when several policemen searched the house and office.  Nice.  No secrets in the neighborhood either I guess.  After the call to her I was led back to my cell to wait.  Nothing was normal, nor would it ever be again in my life.  The night ended with a shrink visit, meds, then out for temporary freedom.

And now this, top bunk inside corrections where there is no hope for anything.  The gavel was struck, my sentence pronounced, and I was taken inside where justice would be served when I completed my bid, evening the scales of justice the judge had said.  County lock up.  Direct to jail.  Do not pass go, do not collect $ 200.00.  Only got this ugly brown jumpsuit in exchange for my clothes. What happened to them anyway?  Will this panic that the meds temporarily abate ever go away?  Time is passing very slowly.  But right now, I only wanted everything to go away.  Even my life.

PRISON FOR DUMMIES

Yes, prison is for dummies.  Any smart criminals in prison?  Hardly.  It was my original intent to scribe a brief manual on this topic for the betterment of those going through it for the first time – newbies if you will.  Why write such a depressing book?  Well, it’s purpose is to give dummies like me a heads up about what inside corrections is all about before they step foot in one

So I wrote to a couple of publishers, even the black and yellow book publishers of “__________ for Dummies” and, you guessed it, nada.  Guess it wasn’t such a great idea, or maybe only in my head.  After all, I was in the one percent according to New York State Department Of Correctional Services (DOCS) statistics – the small number of college graduates who go to prison.  I am sure it is similar in most states.  People who are educated get jobs, move up, know people and stay out of trouble – or know how not to get caught, or when they do, they know people.

Me?  I didn’t.  I was just a regular dummy, an old egotistical, self-centered, reckless individual who could not control himself and thus ended up inside the upside down kingdom. (more on that later)  At times it sure felt like that, like I had fallen down the rabbit hole in Alice in Wonderland’s world and I kept thinking someone would yell “cut” or “smile, you’re on candid camera.”  Never happened though, and life just went on cause it was real. As they say, “do the crime, gotta do the time.”

Since through my journey I did learn so very much – about prison, the corrections system but more importantly about myself – I wanted to document all I learned about inside corrections in an effort to help others teetering on the edge between right and wrong, good and evil, lawful and unlawful.  Maybe it would at least cause them to stop and think about their actions before it continued to the train wreck that awaits such actions, changing forever life as you know it for you and those closest to you.  Maybe they then wouldn’t have to lose their lovely spouse, home and business as I did.  Maybe it would lead, as it did in my case, from thoughts of suicide to a face to face meeting with their creator so they might question Him as well as their very existence.  Then again, maybe my hope in penning these letters was that some good might come out of this abysmal crisis I created with such mindless actions.  I did have that meeting with Jesus, made inside corrections and came out with another life changing event.  But I digress.  If you continue to read, time and you will be the judge on that I guess.

So, most definitely prison is for dummies.  I attempt here to balance the scales just a bit so everyone can go forward a little easier into this new world formerly called the penitentiary, where you will find, as I did, a whole culture that is not really underground but alive and well above ground in the “Correctional Institutions” in a state near you.

So I will do it, write that guide, from one dummy who has earned a PhD from inside corrections.  Look for it here and let me know your thoughts.