If you read my blog then you already know how I ended up on an extradition van, but if you’re a new reader, please take the time to read https://www.sandisaysstuff.com/jail-is-a-country-club-and-other-lies-people-tell-you-part-1/ before this one.
Part 2 –
A private extradition van came to Harris County lockup on day 17 to pick up 2 guys wanted for attempted murder in the same state as my old bench warrant so of course they made room for me in the already packed van. They’re paid per hour per prisoner so they’re in no rush to deliver anyone, dispatched to pickup every inmate waiting for transport within 500 miles that they can get to before the clock runs out. Each body is money in these guys’ pockets.
I had no idea that they could keep me in the van in full shackles for 5 days at a time before they were required to house us somewhere. We drove all around West Texas and up to Georgia before we then went back to Harris County where I had started, to pick up 2 new guys. One for non-payment of child support on his currently 30 year old daughter, and a 28 year old DWI. I was back where I had started and I had already been in the van for almost 3 days. Being a female, I couldn’t be thrown in the back of the van with all the men so I sat in a bench seat between the holding area for the men and the drivers.
We stopped at a local jail twice a day to use their bathrooms and were fed fast food 3 times a day, all while shackled and cuffed. I had no socks so the cuffs on my ankles cut deeper with every tiny step on the bathroom trips. We were sometimes allowed to use the bathroom with one hand free if they were feeling charitable.
By now there were 10 men chained together in a caged compartment in the back of the van, while I was sandwiched between Rhonda and Terrence. Rhonda was born a girl but identified as a boy and called himself Ronnie. Ronnie was from Jersey but was living with his girlfriend in Houston when he started robbing cashiers in grocery stores to pay for their drugs. It took them awhile to identify him, as they were looking for a man and he was listed as a female officially. Eventually the police made a identification based on a tattoo in 2 of the videos and he decided it was time to get back to Jersey, where he was picked up.
We talked about the ins and outs of Harris County lockup since he was pretty sure to be stuck there awhile. Terrence told me he was picked up for drug distribution, but I saw the log sheet had listed his charge as Sexual Assault and a Battery charge. I didn’t tell him I knew he was lying, lots of people in jail lie, especially about sex crimes. When Ronnie fell asleep, Terrence started rubbing my arm and asking me to put my head in his lap. He said my skin was soft and he just wanted to feel it before he’d be locked up for at least 2 years. I felt trapped with no way to escape his repulsive advances. It was dark and almost everyone was sleeping. I couldn’t have gotten the attention of the driver or his sleeping partner from behind the thick plexiglass so I elbowed Ronnie until he sat up and looked at me. I didn’t have to say a word, he just nodded at me and we switched places.
The driver noticed and when we stopped to use the bathroom he closed and padlocked the plexiglass divider behind Terrence as he returned to his seat. It was meant to isolate opposite sex inmates sitting next to each other, but for some reason they didn’t use it until that incident. The team of extradition agents was a husband and wife duo. They looked at me curiously in the rear view mirror a few times but never said anything to me about the incident. I was glad when we dropped him off though. They had told us stories about all the paperwork they had to do to document everything since so many lawsuits were routinely filed against them. I’m pretty sure they just didn’t want me to be the next one.
Eventually we hit day 5 and they brought us to a holding facility in Kentucky where we would wait anywhere from a few hours to a few weeks before being picked up by yet another van. I was booked and given a XXL state issue yellow top and pants that were comically huge. We were locked in a small dorm room with 4 metal tables with benches. individual cells with heavy doors lined each wall and an open shower stall was next to a toilet in 2 opposite corners. The only phone was disconnected since we were all awaiting transport. They don’t want fugitives to know when they’ll be moved to avoid any escape plots. No one knew where I was or how long I’d be there and I didn’t leave that room for 5 days.
I watched the others come and go, sometimes several times a day. The food was awful and there wasn’t much that was edible. No commissary, no phone, no mail or yard time. Just a lot of tension and hostility to keep us entertained. Underwear and bras are always a good thing to have a spare set of when you’re going to prison and a girl named Ashley was about to do 10 years so she stole another girl’s underwear that had been washed and laid on her bunk to dry. Well that girl must’ve really liked those underwear because she went crazy looking through everyone’s stuff for the stolen panties. When she found them she beat the hell out of Ashley until the guards came running in with pepper spray.
Just when I couldn’t take being there 1 more day, they finally called me out to board a van with 2 other girls. I was starving and at least I had McDonald’s to look forward to. In the van I had to wear the street clothes I was arrested in and they were so stained and rancid that I actually looked forward to putting on a stiff but clean state issue uniform. I focused on the little things I had taken for granted before and was so thankful for now. I focused on the others and their stories, holding back on the details of my own.
Every time I thought of my sweet 3 year old or how worried my closest friends must be, I trained my mind to refuse it by replacing it with counting the cracks in the wall or listing state capitals in my head alphabetically. I would not break down or show emotion. I was so afraid that it would consume me, just swallow me whole if i allowed myself to feel anything. I felt like a spectator, not a prisoner, and that is the only way I knew to cope. I’d spend Every strip search, episode of violence or grand mal seizure would have me retelling myself the plots of every book I could remember reading or diagramming sentences in my head. I felt like the reality would break me if I allowed it to be acknowledged.
It would be several more days before I reached the jurisdiction that held my warrant. I would spend a few months in one of the worst jails in the country. But alas, that is a story for another time.
Part 3: The nightmare that is East Baton Rouge Parish Prison…coming soon.