1. Monday, September 11, 2006

    day three wyoming 

    meinjail.jpg everything started out ok. i woke up, drank some apple juice and checked out of the comfort inn on time.

    and then before i knew it i was in jail!

    because my mother had the misfortune of having me as her first born, shes used to all of my antics, but in order to save her the heart attack: yes mom that is your boy in a utah jail, yes thats my profile mug shot, yes those are handcuffs.

    but thats not the scary part. in fact, that was the fun part.

    ok nothing in here is true, right? ok. the scary part was actually being in the general population with the inmates. after being given a tour of the amazingly clean and organized and modern facility, i was led down a hall with my old friend who works at the prison. she showed me the laundry room and the grate in the drunk tank where people puke and shit and piss. i got to talk with a lot of the really nice people who worked there.

    and then i found myself in the actual room where the inmates live. its not really a room, its more like a shared space where the men watch tv and play checkers when they are let out of their cells. yes i was terrified. yes i was flanked by my friend and two other deputys. and yes the inmates were on their best behavior since it was the opening day of the NFL, but still i was totally afraid despite my xbi training and obvious superpowers.

    it was explained to me that the gentlemen in the orange suits on one side were sorta low-risk inmates. in fact a few of them looked far too young to be in the adult prison but i was assured that they were all over 18. then i was shown a smaller area where the men had on gray uniforms. they had been seperated because they were in the clink for child molestation or other similar crimes that made them at risk if they were put in with the other inmates. for some reason i couldnt even look at those men in the eyes because it disgusted me so.

    even though everyone obeyed the rules and kept themselves behind the tape on the floor they could have easilly rushed us as a group as we were outnumbered, but fortunately the outcome of the cowboy game interested them more than getting in a few cheap shots on a visitor and a few deputies before the retaliation would occur.

    the scene was very much like the tv show Oz except a much smaller version. glass doors, two floors of cells, cable tv. what was different though is these men had no weights to use, no real outdoor facility to walk in, and no magazine pictures or anything that i could see that resembled personal effects. also they slept in rooms that housed about 6-8 people.

    at this point i thought the tour was over. and i was very relieved when we left what i considered being in the bear cage at the zoo – except on the wrong side of the moat. but oh no, linda had another space to show me, the high risk inmates. the gang members and real offenders. and the scariest of all was on the phone and lit up when he saw her and waved with a big smile. linda, of course, had met him when she was on the gang floor at the bigger, scarier prison.

    so of course we went in there. what was different was the cells only held one or two men and those doors were not see-thru because, it was explained, these much harder prisoners would crack the plastic/glass, so their doors were made of very thick steel.

    i was told that my superpowers would not probably work against them.

    there were telephones everywhere but the only access to the Internet was with the guards and could only be used by them. to me that would be torture.

    when we finally get out of there i was completely scared straight and no one had said a thing to me negative or frightening. just being there was enough. very little place to walk so men who wanted excersise paced 40-50 feet while they talked to their buddies.

    then the beautiful nurse appeared. incredibly beautiful mind you. i asked her if these men ever said anything untoward to her and she said nope. that they know better. the entire thing was fascinating to me and i never ran out of questions.

    infact they told me that Paris Hilton did not get preferential treatment as i had assumed when she was processed and released in an hour and a half for her DUI, that most people who only blow a .08 and are reasonable and have someone to drive them home can get out in an even shorter period of time if theres not a waiting list of other offenders ahead of them.

    after a long lunch i left salt lake and drove through the mountains and across a lot of Wyoming and took a few breaks to close my eyes and attempt to nap at rest stops but couldnt so i kept driving, occassionally calling someone on the phone to stay awake. the goal was Cheyenne by midnight and thanks to the 75 mph speed limit (which meant 85 for most of us) i was able to get here by 12:15am.

    i was starving and i drove up the main street but nothing was open as it was sunday night. but i kept driving and there i found the taco smell.

    then i worked for four hours for LAist and now its 527am and i guess its time for bed. the lesson of the day: dont go to jail.