Jail Part 4: Bad Bitches & Baby Bumps

Hannah was no stranger to EBRPP. She was no stranger to jail in general. At 23 years old she had already spent more than 2 of the last 3 years in jail and prison. Out on parole she started doing drugs again and decided to get the hell out of town with a drug dealer she knew. Ultimately this road trip and the resulting chain of poor decisions landed her back in jail on a new parole violation, this time for stealing a car. In Oklahoma.

I knew she was trouble, but I liked her right away. She was pretty, with a slim build and dark wavy hair framing her face, but not in a way that was intimidating. She had thin scarred lines on both her thighs and arms, which I knew better than to ask about. She was playful, smart and very funny, but most of all, Hannah was part of the corrections system’s revolving door. She knew the regulars and was the perfect person to make sure a newbie like me didn’t fall in with the wrong crowd or get myself in trouble with the police. There were some scary/shady/violent inmates that seemed harmless to me until some time had passed.

She was also a lesbian, although it took awhile for me to figure that out, as she was definitely not interested in me and it took awhile for her to open up to me about her girlfriend.

One of this jail’s most prized commodities was coffee. Here you couldn’t buy the instant stuff or get access to a microwave in the chow hall until you had served 90 days and became a part of the SPIRIT Club. We made alliances with a couple of those ladies and eventually negotiated a trade with an inmate kitchen worker that could sometimes sneak it out of the kitchen depending on what shift was working. The price was high, two pairs of socks and a belly button ring, but it came with a little baggie full of sugar so it actually tasted alright. The normal practice was to put a spoonful of instant coffee in a square of 1-ply toilet paper and eat it, which I just couldn’t bring myself to do, despite the glorious caffeine boost it promised.

Hannah was a great “bunkie” but on my other side it was a totally different story. This lady had braids in her hair that obviously itched A LOT because she constantly scratched. It became a sound that grated on my nerves to such an extent that I pondered different ways to get rid of her. I wasn’t seriously considering actual murder, but jail is a stressful enough place that something like that can set you off easily. She also masturbated loudly and often. It was pretty rude and even though it meant leaving Hannah, I was relieved to be moved from S-02 to S-03 when I returned from my brief shipment to Concordia thanks to overcrowding.

S-03 had an interesting cast of characters and I wound up making friends with Kati first. She was a cute pudgy brunette that had occupied the bottom bunk to my left for awhile before I got there. She was very upset about the judge in her case deciding that she had too many open cases to be allowed bond. BUT THEY’RE JUST MISDEMEANORS!┬áThat was her mantra. The judge was not moved by her argument.

When she told me she was pregnant, I just didn’t quite believe her, but I did understand why someone would pretend to be. Bottom bunks were in short supply and required a medical pass. I have a bad back so I was lucky enough to be granted one. Seizures and pregnancy were pretty much the only other conditions that would get you a pass. There was also an afternoon snack of baloney sandwiches and cereal to sweeten the pot for the pregnant girls!

After a few weeks she finally arranged her transfer to a rehab facility that wouldn’t take her if she was pregnant. She had the most convenient miscarriage in history that afternoon and a week later she was gone. I haven’t seen or spoken to her since then but I do know that she has been back at least once or maybe twice since I left. This is not as uncommon as I would have hoped for, unfortunately. Everyone’s big plans have a way of falling apart once they walk out those doors and old habits die hard.

An actual pregnant lady took the bunk to my right, and she was in a most unfortunate situation. Brook had not committed any crime, nor was she on probation or parole. She had no priors either, but was stuck in jail for months with no way to pay her meager $250 bond for her baby daddy’s “unauthorized use of a motor vehicle.” The charge against her was dropped as soon as she saw the judge, as we all suspected it would be. Unfortunately for her, she had to spend half of her pregnancy in the East Baton Rouge Parish Prison before she had that opportunity.

Pregnancy is uncomfortable enough, but when you add in a lumpy cot and constant toilet paper shortages, it can really start to suck bad. We were issued 1 roll of single-ply TP a week when supplies were available and they were not double rolls! This led to a near constant panicky vibe about running out. New intakes that were waiting on their bond to post would be pounced on before they made it through the door. Give me your tissue! Give me your tissue! This led to some hoarding, which led to some stealing, which led to some beat downs. It got downright ugly.

I slept with my precious roll under the head of my mattress and never left it on my bunk unattended. This would prove to be a tough habit to break and got me some pitiful looks when I moved in with my best friend upon my release. Without even realizing it, I would take the roll with me every time I left the bathroom, toting it around with me until someone pointed it out. Turns out, this is only socially acceptable in jail.

Without a doubt, my jail experience got just a little bit easier after my court date came and I had the coveted out-date I’d been waiting impatiently for. Just 5 days and I’d be free! Despite all the uncertainty about what awaited me in the free world, I was thrilled to know I was in the home stretch. Never give your stuff away until they call your name to go home! I saw a few ladies learn that lesson the hard way, having to wait days or even weeks for paperwork to go through, without shampoo or socks because they gave it all away too soon. It is an every woman for herself type of environment so once you hand it over, you’re not getting it back.

With the exception of Brook, every close friend I made there has been back there for one reason or another, despite swearing that they’ll never return. Usually, it is because of a drug addiction or a romantic partner they can’t detach from. Obviously, jail isn’t working as a deterrent for criminal behavior, so what can be done to put some real corrections in our correctional system? Is that even possible? What do you think of the practice of incarcerating indigent people that haven’t been convicted of any crime?

 

Leave a Reply