Remember, as far as anyone knows, we are a nice, normal family.
Lying here in my bed on a Friday night as my husband watches the same thing he always watches when he has control of the remote – Discovery ID. I can only handle so much of this channel. Some of the shows are pretty good, but some are hokey, irrelevantly and painstakingly telling each and every detail of the back story, causing me to roll my eyes five minutes in and say, “…and then he/she died. The end.”
I digress. I’m feeling the need to write…partly because it’s a fun thing to do when I’m bored, and there’s always so many thoughts in my head…it’s like the freakin’ Neverending Story.
So I thought I’d write this evening about what happened when I went to jail. Just a warning ahead of time – this is a LOOOOONNNNNNGGGGG entry. So depending on what time you’re reading this, grab you a cup of coffee ☕️ or a beer. 🍺
The last time I was caught shoplifting, it was at Target. I had stolen $1600 worth of stuff, and I knew I was in trouble. The Loss Prevention guy began asking me questions as to why I was stealing, and who I was selling it to. He assumed I was a special type of shoplifter (a “booster”) that steals only to resell the items to another, bigger source, who would then give me a piece of the action afterwards. Of course, I just did it out of stupidity, pride, greed, and the rush I felt from getting away with it. He told me that if I’d tell him who I was selling to, he’d “go easy on me”, whatever that meant. Of course I believed him, but I told him the truth. An officer showed up and arrested me, and I landed myself in N. Richland Hills city jail. I called Kelsey frequently, asking him to once again hire an attorney and get me the hell outta there. I was being held without bail, so there was nothing that could be done about that. He was angry, obviously, and warned me that I was going to jail jail…like prison jail. I was in denial and fought with him about it, accusing him of not trying hard enough. He wasn’t having luck with attorneys – they wanted big bucks to take on my case, considering I was a repeat offender. I was then informed by my husband that he had told my father what was going on, and that he was immediately driving from AL to TX to do whatever he could to help. I was devastated. Kelsey had to think quickly about what to do, so he broke the lease on the house we were leasing at the time and immediately moved everything he could into a large storage unit – then informed the boys that they were going to move into my mother and father-in-law’s house. He knew that with his working schedule and the fact that he traveled so much on business that he was going to need help – and my in-laws were more than happy to oblige. My father got there and asked Brennan if he’d like to return to AL with him – to which Brennan declined. I knew he meant well, but I was offended. I was still in that awful state of mind, and I accused my dad of thinking that I was an unfit mother – to which he agreed when I asked him if he concurred with that notion. That just offended me more…and disappointed me in myself. I swore right then and there that I’d eventually make him proud of me again one day.
I stayed in N. Richland Hills jail for ten days before I was transferred to my county’s jail. I stayed in a dorm with about 100 other women, but because I was withdrawing from medication, I was given my own room. My life there consisted of sadness and the worst depression I’d ever felt – because I missed my family desperately and I had no idea what was going to happen to me. It hurt so much to wake up in that bunk every morning. I begged Kelsey to do whatever it took to get me out of there, but he told me that I was on my own because of the mistakes that I’d made and that I’d need to get a public defender. I did so, and went to court. My attorney advised me that the prosecution was offering me nine months of State jail time, with all three of my felony theft charges to run concurrent. I asked him if they’d consider lowering it at all, and he advised me that the lowest they’d go was eight months if I signed that day. The other girls in the holding cell with me begged me to take the deal – how I’d be stupid not to. I was afraid of how my husband would react, but it’s not like I could pick up the phone and ask him…plus, he’d already guessed that I would be getting some jail time. So I signed. Once I returned to the dorm, I immediately called Kelsey to tell him, and I expected anger, sadness…but he was relieved. He thought I would have received much more. “We can work with this,” he said. That relieved me, and now that I knew what was going to happen, a lot of my stress disappeared. Now I just had to wait to “pull chain” (prison slang for being transferred to the prison in which you would complete two weeks of “Diagnostics”). I was in the county jail for a month before I pulled chain to leave for a prison called Plane State in Galveston. That morning, about twenty of us were woken early and were chained by twos by the hands and ankles before being led to a bus. I was lucky enough to be chained to a girl (how many times do you really get to say that) that had been in my dorm, so we knew each other. We took turns sleeping on each other’s shoulders the whole way there. We stopped once at a tiny city jail in BFE to use the restroom. You were not unchained, so you had to go with your buddy. That was awkward enough in itself, and although I had to pee, I just couldn’t do it with her standing right there…so I held it. Once we got to Plane State, I realized that it too was seemingly in the middle of nowhere. A girl that had been to jail many a time before prepped us before getting off of the bus. She warned us that the guards were mean and wouldn’t hesitate to cuss us out and humiliate us to the best of their ability. I prepped myself internally.
Once we were unchained and led in, a gaggle of female guards began shouting very specific directions at us. “Take off every item of clothing that you have on. Do not speak to us unless you are spoken to. If we speak to you, you are to answer ‘Yes/No ma’am/sir.” If a girl was on her period, she was expected to remove her tampon and throw it away in front of everyone. Several other women – inmates – who were being held in what looked like giant dog cages looked on. I had never been so humiliated in my life, standing there in my birthday suit in front of God and everyone. Then the guards proceeded to tell us to do everything that you could possibly think of all at once while everyone watched, like it was some kind of show. “Shake your hair out. Lift your boobs up. Hold out your arms and shake them back and forth, up and down. Open your mouths and lift your tongues.” Then the worst parts. “Squat and cough. Turn around, bend over, and pull your ass cheeks apart (this was so they could inspect the inside of our buttholes with flashlights). Turn around, squat, and pull your ***** lips open.” As you can imagine, I was quite uncomfortable doing this. “Ma’am?” I was asked. “Yes ma’am?” I stammered in reply. “You need to really pull them apart. I need to be able to see in there.” Terrified, I replied, “I’m doing it the best I can!” I mean, seriously…was this really “part of her job” or to humiliate me further? She let me be after that, thank God. I tried keeping my eyes on the guards the whole time, but every so often, I’d look around and see the other women in the cages ogling our bodies…sizing us up.
We were then given all of our supplies, and I was lucky enough to get a mat that looked like it was about to fall apart at any given moment. One girl told me, “Be careful – my homegirl got a mat like that once, and she ended up with baby spiders all over her and in her hair one night.” As if I wasn’t scared to death enough already, I now had to worry about waking up with spiders in my hair. 😒
We were given these God-awful white, sleeveless jumpsuits that signified that we were new inmates being processed. Many had holes in them and you were lucky if you got one that didn’t have holes in the wrong places. We were expected to carry our mats as well as all of our supplies to wherever we were to be housed. Some girls were lucky enough to be housed in air-conditioned dorms – but not me, of course. I was housed in what was referred to as the “Dog Pound”, where new inmates were held when there wasn’t enough room in the dorms – as well as inmates who were in solitary for doing something wrong. I was housed in a cell with four other women, one of whom talked to herself constantly. There was absolutely nothing to do…no TV, no books (unless we were lucky enough to sweet-talk the girls who were being punished to lend us some us some of theirs)…we were locked up together in the dog pound with nothing to do but sleep, think, talk to one another (which was hard because the other four girls had already been there for a week and had at least gotten used to each other somewhat – an advantage I did not have) and go to the assignments given to us to go to Medical for testing or to Education to test our levels of education. The girls were so bored that they’d used the paperwork they’d been given by the prison to create dominoes and playing cards with, and me? I drew the inside of our cell using my own paperwork, a pencil no bigger than my pinky, and the bottom of my shoe as an eraser. I gave it to a girl to send to her boyfriend. We left the cell only to eat 3x a day and shower – which, btw, had to be done out in the open, even if male guards were sometimes in the guard room. We would try to rotate using each other’s bed sheets to tie against a bathroom stall and one of the cells for some privacy; sometimes it worked (meaning the guards were ok with it), sometimes it didn’t. The Dog Pound didn’t have air-conditioning and it was October – so it was still hot as hell. The building was reminiscent of a giant warehouse, and there were no windows, so you could never see whether it was light or dark (unless we left to eat at the chow hall or had to go to some other building like Medical or Education for some reason). We also never knew what time it was. There was a clock inside the guard room, so we’d try sneaking looks at it when we could – because we were yelled at if we were caught. Like knowing the time was against the rules. 😒
We were there for two weeks. During that time, my husband, who had no idea where I was because I had no way of communicating with him, ended up figuring out my location once he ended up doing a little research online, and sent me some much-needed commissary money (the prison did not provide us with shampoo – only a roll-on deodorant, a small bar of soap, a toothbrush the size of my thumb, toothpaste, and a razor sharp enough to kill a person – guess they figured they’d give us girls a fighting chance at either defending or killing ourselves). I was the only girl out of the twenty that I came with from my county with anything. None of the other girls had any commissary money sent to them by their relatives. I bought only the necessities (shampoo, Vaseline for my severely chapped lips, and writing materials), and I swear, as soon as the other girls found out that I was the only one who had anything, I suddenly became their best friend. Of course, I shared my shampoo and Vaseline, but I was stingy about my writing materials. After two weeks of living in that hellhole, we were bussed back to a privately-owned State Jail/Prison (Dawson) in Dallas, TX. We were treated much nicer there. I spent a night in Seg because they did not have a bed for me when I came in, but the next day, I was moved into my Christian dorm, fondly referred to as the “God Pod”. My first impression was that it was cheerful-looking; there were Christian murals painted all over the walls. I saw book-lined shelves, and two small flat-screen TVs mounted on the walls. However, I was terrified as I made my way to my assigned bunk and trembling, I started to put my things away. Soon enough, I was approached by a girl that would end up being one of my best friends throughout my stay at Dawson, Vanessa, and seeing how scared I was, she sat down next to my bunk and began asking me questions and telling me about the dorm/jail and how everything worked. I found out that it was considered a privilege of sorts to be assigned to the God Pod, because it was run by three male Program Directors that expected a certain amount of rules to be followed during your stay; you even had to sign a “contract” to stay in the dorm, stating that you would follow these rules. There was a leadership team of inmates set into place – a President, a Vice President, and a Secretary. They were voted on by the other inmates on a monthly basis (sometimes longer, depending on how busy the Program Directors were). Like I mentioned in my first post, we were expected to attend classes held in the dorm six days a week. We could be kicked out of the dorm for not attending these classes. The Directors were nice, funny guys, and at some point, all three had been involved in either having gone to jail or some other legal incident in which during that time, they’d found The Lord and collectively decided to start the God Pod program and a halfway house for girls that had nowhere to go after their release. I watched as girls that didn’t follow the rules to a tee get kicked out of the dorm. I wanted badly to stay in it because I had heard horror stories about the other dorms (fighting, ugliness, drama, up-in-your-face sexual activity) – and we were the only dorm that had shower curtains. It took me a very long time before I became comfortable using the restroom around other women, but eventually got used to it. We were given a “State” roll of toilet paper once a week and two the next, and that’s how it went. I learned quickly to stock up on toilet paper each and every Commissary day, which we had once every two weeks. The food provided to us by the State wasn’t bad (well, sometimes it was 😊), but we still stocked up on junk food when we went to Commissary. The girls that had been down before knew how to make the best food out of the simplest stuff. The main staple of every “spread” (what these impromptu meals were referred to as) was Ramen. Girls would heat up the Ramen with hot water from a special hot water faucet we had in the dorm, then make “burritos” out of it, adding chips, hot sauce, squeeze cheese, refried beans, and other various condiments (based on what you preferred). They’d roll them in old potato chip bags that they’d save especially for this purpose, and voilà, you had yourself a burrito. Some girls even made “tostadas”, breaking the block of Ramen in half and spreading refried beans, squeeze cheese, hot sauce, etc. on it. We made do with what we had, all the while watching the guards scarf down on Domino’s pizza and Whataburger through the guard box.
Lights went out at 10pm and then came back on again at 7am. I loved that. I learned that in other dorms, lights were on all the time. Girls mostly stayed up all night and slept all day because it made their time “go by faster”.
My phone system was set up two weeks after I got to Dawson, so I hadn’t gotten to speak to my husband or kids in a month. I was thrilled to hear their voices once it was finally set up, and the first time they came and visited me, I started bawling. I hated for them to see me that way.
So that was my experience. Many things happened during my stay (drama, mostly), but those are stories for later. 😊
Hope you enjoyed this extremely depressing blog entry…lol…and until next time. ✌
Remember, as far as anyone knows, we are a nice, normal family.
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