I totally scored a prison bitch, which was awesome. No, not like that. I got booked in with this girl and we stuck together like we were glued.
Even more awesome is that I only had to be there for 24 hours and I have a mother from whom I hid this, as opposed to the inmate who told me that she was really excited because her mom was getting transferred from the main jail to the Minimum Security Facility next Wednesday.
Good job, Mom?

I just felt sorry for these girls. They all know each other from the street, they are all familiar with crack and crack is mostly the reason that they ended up hooking, which is how they ended up paying for the crack. And eventually, crack and prostitution are how they ended up in jail. One of the girls was very forthcoming about the situation on the streets - there's a girl working right now who is HIV positive and the inmate was also very clear to tell us that their customers are not sleazy old men and desperate teens but they are our boyfriends and husbands and they are professionals in nice cars who go to South Tucson for a blow job because they "can't get it at home". I have a different theory but I have male readers and my theory might be too hardcore for those guys. I don't want to come off as Valerie Solanas but men will do anyone, including other men and I'm talking about straight, smart men. Their sex drive is just different from that of a woman. But that's a different essay. This is about jail and the women in jail. By the way, some of the other inmates told this girl to stop telling us stuff about the streets. I didn't take it personally - if they need to think that I'm going to run out and tell the whole Internet secrets of street life in South Tucson, they are positively correct.
It's this insane cycle and people are born into it.
I was very clearly a dominant personality in jail, which very much surprised me. First of all, the girls thought I was about 24. That's because they are so aged and used that I look like a baby. I also have a baby voice, so I'll let that one go. I kind of noticed that I was using my "bar walk". It's not intentional to have a way of carrying yourself in a situation in which you need to appear confident. My bar walk is a name I thought of when I was reflecting on the whole experience. I remembered the way I walked by the C.O.'s desk to ask to go to the bathroom, or to fill up my styrofoam cup of water. It's the same saunter that I used when I went to the bars and wanted to be the center of attention. In jail, as the center of attention, I wanted to make sure that all eyes were on me so that I could take in everyone at once and know how the other women were looking at me. At first, I never purposefully strode around a pool table but I sure did figure out that I was doing it and eventually learned to affect my carriage so that I could see everyone and they could see me.
In jail?
Same thing.
Secondly, it wasn't an easy 24 hours. One hard thing about being there was that I didn't belong. I have straight white teeth and clean hair, even after 24 hours without a shower. Also, at .09, I think most people thought that I was lying and that I had some other crime I had committed to be sent to jail at that low level of dui.
They are wrong.
The other hard thing was not knowing what was coming next. Lockdown? The hell? Where is everyone going? Fuck! Okay! I'm on my bunk! Shit. Okay. This is right. This is what everyone else is doing.
That's how jail felt to me. And I know that they, the inmates and the C.O.s are TOTALLY going to know if I am just trying to look busy. Crap. WhatdoIdo? WhatdoIdo? WhatdoIdo? Unless somebody tells you what to do, somebody whom you sense you can trust, you better move as quickly as possible over to the nearest Corrections Officer. Jail is so much about scrutiny. I spent more time on that damn bunk, in lockdown, that I, the Mistress of Lazy, was bored.
I know!
I lay around ALL weekend, on any given weekend and I, Sarah Louise: Bored.
There's also a lot of cleaning. I called out of lockdown for talking and was told by the C.O.: "Follow the light."
"Just follow Hines, follow the light."
In my head, I was thinking that there is no way in hell I am following anyone into the bathroom while the rest of the dorms are on lockdown and the inmate that the C.O. wanted me to follow into the light was one of the few that I got a really BAD vibe from.
Most of the girls didn't make me feel like trouble was lurking but a couple of them were absolutely not to be trusted.
So I'm getting into what is about to be a stand-off with the C.O. (No kidding - I was not going to follow any inmate without knowing why, and knowing from the authority figure who is being paid in part to ensure my safety - hell yes I would have risked further punishment in order to get a C.O. to act right) and another couple of inmates are standing there, not wanting to answer for the C.O. and I'm looking from one inmate to the C.O., just wanting to know why I am being asked to walk off into the light and FINALLY, a trust-worthy inmate came up to me with a spray bottle and some gloves and told me that I needed to help clean the bathroom.
Yes, I'm going to register a complaint against that Vile C.O. Earlier, she called an inmate a bitch and when the inmate told her that her actions were really unprofessional, guess what?
We were in lockdown for I'd say, a good 70% of my 24 hours. I read Oprah! magazines from 2001. When I start a book drive for prisoners, you bitches better help me out because I know from whence I come on this: Jail is Boring. I think that's the goal though - sedation through boredom.
You get lights out at 9pm and when there was too much talking, the C.O. turned off the fan. Ummmm. Go ahead and make as many assumptions as you want to about jail during lockdown, with no fan. Tucson, heat, fans, summer, and anything else you might want to throw in there and you have in your imagination, is what I actually experienced. No, there were no roaches THANK GOD because no strut or attitude can change the fact that I am a screaming little baby about roaches. And for the record, one more time, .09.
The other "weekenders"? .25, .24, .18, and .22. When I left, the officer at the desk was totally and completely serious regarding how my case didn't get dropped and how I ended up in the slammer.
Excellent question, Sir, your guess is as good as mine but probably has less profanity.
So jail. It's this big mind-fuck with controlling your physical needs in order to get you to control your mental capacity for experiencing emotion at an adult level. These girls are just that - little girls and part of the reason that they are little girls is because they are treated like the children that most of them probably were - ignored, controlled, exploited, and never allowed to relax and be comfortable.
And that's why many of them were not particularly concerned with getting out... what's there to get out to? Their home lives were a lot like their jail lives, they at least get fed in jail and they aren't using crack. They hate junkies and I think that might be the intrinsic difference between a junkie and a crackhead - junkies want to be using after they quit; crackheads don't after they quit.
Seriously, if all you've ever known was a fucked up home life and prostitution in order to con people and make money for drugs, would you WANT to go home?
It's not exactly like these girls are going home to their Bitchin' Hondas and their puppies and fretting about bills.
They don't have cars, healthy puppies, or bills.
They have jail and I guess that in the end, I can see why they like it there.
I, on the other hand, have $4.00 for the rest of the week and am very much enjoying fretting about the bills, driving my Bitchin' Honda to my cubicle job, and wearing Rosie out, even when I would much rather be sitting on my ass, playing Tetris.

p.s. I shattered my record in 40 Lines and I'mn now looking to break 340. Huh. 40 lines. How apropo, considering the company I kept last Friday.

arizonasarah at 2:16 p.m.

previous | next