This past weekend a person I knew was picked up on a failure to appear (ever forget? Happened to them) and a DUI. Strangely enough, the person had not drunk enough to go over the limit, and a “careless driving” charge was tacked on as well. A cop friend of mine said that “careless driving” is one big catchall. If the cop saw you swerve without crossing the lines, he could tack that charge on without a problem.
This person was not informed of what their BAC was at any point, and it was claimed they “totally bombed” the field sobriety test. The person told me that yes, they did stumble, but it was more the result of being up for over 24 hours, and arthritis. The cop also said that he declined an attorney when I know he didn’t. The person said they were never offered one. I fully believe this. Because of my cop paranoia, I have rubbed off on everyone and if ever something happens that results in them going to jail, they most certainly would not decline an attorney.
Yes, we plan on fighting this, but that’s not what this is about. This post is about the conditions at the local jail.
I was there for two weekends last year and while I was not there long enough to see anything major, I can share stories from girls who had been there a while.
First up, in the three days I was in that holding cell, I was not allowed soap or toothpaste. This is not good, especially when at any given point, we had up to seventeen girls in a cell designed for four. Every one of us would use the same toilet and fountain, and nobody had any soap to wash their hands with after using said toilet. Is it any surprise that I came out with MRSA? (I tried to do something about getting MRSA, but I was met with, “You shouldn’t have gone to jail. It’s jail, not the Hilton!” These people failed to realize that if I catch MRSA in jail, I’ll wind up spreading it once I got out, yet the jailers did not care that inmates were getting MRSA.)
I was told stories by some of the girls who had been there before, and one of these stories was about an older woman. Nobody could remember what the woman was in for, and it doesn’t matter really. She was an insulin dependant diabetic, and down there in this county jail, you won’t get insulin. You’ll get metformin and that’s it. It doesn’t matter how bad your diabetes is, the metformin better work, or you’ll be screwed and according to the jailers, it’s your own fault.
One day this woman wasn’t feeling well, and she had vocalized it to the other inmates. Then she went to the toilet, came out and collapsed on the ground. The inmates rushed to her to try and help, but when they realized they could do nothing, began banging on the doors, trying to get somebody’s attention. Over fifteen minutes passed before a jailer even walked by, but he didn’t stop. He just glanced in and kept walking. Finally, a jailer came down, most likely to punish for the inmates making noise, and opened the door. When they showed her the girl on the ground, the CO went up to her, kicked her in the side and shouted, “GET UP.” The inmates tried explaining that the woman was a diabetic and needed to go to the hospital, but instead, this officer slapped the woman across the face in an attempt to get her to stop faking it (they always think you’re faking it). Finally, after fifteen minutes of no response, the jailer mumbled, “well I guess I better go get someone” (acting like it had just ruined her day) and she left. By the time an ambulance arrived, over an hour had passed. This woman is lucky to be alive today.
Then there was the story I just recently heard from my friend.
While he was in there, an asthmatic began having trouble breathing. If you think the jail will just give you an inhaler, you’ve got another thing coming. Sometimes, they won’t let you bring in your inhalers. Why? Well, it’s jail. Not the Hilton. You better not have any trouble breathing in there because you won’t get help.
This man collapsed to the floor, and the inmates did what they could as one inmate ran to his bunk to get his inhaler that he somehow got in. I don’t know how he got it in, but good job sir. The inmate returned with his inhaler and they worked together, someone checking pulse, another doing what he could to get the fallen inmate to inhale the inhaler (that sounds weird). Eventually, the man was able to breathe again. Imagine if you will, what would have happened if nobody had an inhaler snuck in.
Then there was the man with a “spider bite.” It was swollen quite a bit and looked like it was filled with something. To top it off, there were red streaks going up his arm. This is a sign that you need a doctor, right then. No fucking around.
Instead, corrections officers squeezed the bump until pus flew out, gave him a band-aid and sent him back to his cell. The next day, his entire arm was swollen, and the red streaks were even more prominent. After arguing with their “nurse” (I fully believe jail nurses are working in jails for a reason. If they were any good, they’d be in a hospital setting or a doctor’s office. There is a reason for this, and this is not an insult on nurses.) who wanted to squeeze it again, they finally took him to the ER. While in the ER, the doctor lanced it in a professional setting and proclaimed that it was MRSA as pus flew out. Of course, this man was prescribed medicine that he would not receive while in jail.
As far as prescribed medications in jail, the person I know has several conditions and is on twelve different medicines. While he was in there, he was not given any of his pills. They wouldn’t even allow us to bring them down for him. A couple of his conditions has disasterous results if you abruptly stop taking them, like an SSRI or an Anti-psychotic. That and the nurse argued with him over an anti-seizure medication being given for migraines. “But this is for seizures! Do you have epilepsy?” when he said no, it was for migraines, along with the beta blocker he was on, she continued arguing that the medicines were being used wrong. Basically it was foreshadowing. He didn’t have epilepsy, therefore, in her eyes, he didn’t need that pill. He didn’t have high blood pressure, so he didn’t need the beta-blocker. She was an idiot. The person I knew went four days without his SSRI for depression, and another pill, I don’t remember what, that you are to be weaned off of. Not abruptly stop.
I get a lot of you like to say “Welp, don’t go to jail. I’m a law abidin’ citizen!”
Hah, no you aren’t. Do you speed? Do you forget to use your blinker? Do you jaywalk? Do you stream movies for free? Ever downloaded a song without paying? Ever taken a medication that was prescribed to someone else because it was an emergency for you?
You’re a criminal too. You aren’t any better.
I have touched on jail reform many times, but nobody listens. Half of the people in county jails are in there on petty or victimless crimes. A majority are in there for marijuana. They aren’t bad people, in fact, some of the nicest most caring people I’ve met were inmates in jail. I trust those inmates more than the CO’s. Mind you, not all CO’s are bad. When I was in, a woman tried to sneak me some pens and paper so I could work while in there, as well as some toothpaste and a small toothbrush so I didn’t have to go THREE DAYS without brushing my teeth (weekenders don’t get commissary. They also don’t get toothbrushes or toothpaste.). She did manage to sneak me the dental items, and when she did, she said, “you make sure to keep this hidden. Before you get out, flush it. Yes, the toilet can handle it. I could lose my job because of this.”
I did as she asked.
The real issue is the MRSA. You can sit there all smug thinking, “it’s jail. It’s a bunch of criminals. Who cares what happens to them (even though you’re a criminal too)?” all you want, but you fail to realize, the majority of inmates will get out. They will wind up touching the same things you touch, sneezing in the same area you walk through and you, Mr. I’m a law abidin’ citizen, you will be exposed to it and could possibly get it. MRSA has no real cure. If you or your child ever get MRSA and you can’t figure out how, remember this blog post. Realize that a former inmate, trying to get his life together, probably went through where you went through. Maybe then you’ll start petitioning for some type of jail reform.