Tuesday, January 05, 2010

but do they have wifi...

I want to go to jail.
Wait. Allow me to clarify.
I've always been fascinated by prisons and prisoners, as evidenced by our New Years Day viewing of Dead Man Walking wherein my friends freaked out and I kept saying, "What? This is interesting!"
In reading the Texas Department of Corrections Offender Orientation Handbook this evening (and you thought I was kidding), I started to get kinda nervous. Ever since my immensely humbling rehab experience, which was kinda like 1/4 jail and 3/4 meditation retreat, I've been better at being able to put myself in other people's shoes. 2 years ago, I'd have gladly read the Offender Orientation Handbook and been interested but detached. Now I gladly read the Offender Orientation Handbook and automatically imagine this applying to me. Getting locked up doesn't seem that impossible to me anymore. Shit happens. Of course, I'm a lot less likely to commit a crime now that I'm sober.
So in perusing the dress code, the cell rules, the whole protocol for owning a towel as detailed in this Offender Orientation Handbook, I'm curious to see if I could do it.
I've always thought I'd be a moderately popular prisoner because after my fellow inmates looked past my blatant Private Benjamin vibe, they'd slowly start to listen as I inspired them to protest for better ceramics classes and more advanced French lessons. If rehab was any indication, my hunch is not far off. I mean, I was Senior Peer. I holi-decorated the Serenity Lounge. I choreographed dances with a 50-something crack-addicted former prostitute. I'm surprisingly good at fitting in. I would hope this skill would crank into overdrive up the river.
I'm more worried about how I'd get along with the guards. These are some serious rules in the Offender Orientation Handbook and I'm guessing women's prison guards do not respond well to self-deprecating humor.
Let's examine some of the rules.
In one's cell, one is allowed:
One canned drink or cup of drink
One opened container of food, enough for self-consumption (i.e., chips, cookies, candy, no canned food)
One newspaper, book, magazine, (no pornography)
One Bible
Board games
Writing materials, pen, pencil, (no stamps, no legal materials)
Brush or comb
Sheesh. Although I'm down with the board games. And I need a brush. A comb is no good to me. They also say that female offenders will wear (not should wear. WILL wear) socks or hose with state-issued shoes. Pantyhose? Are you kidding me? I would think one of the few perks to being in the clink is the casual dress code. Hose? Thank you, no. I'll take the socks.
Offenders are allowed a shower a day, unless they're a paraplegic in which case, they can shower whenever they feel like it. Then there's a whole thing about the commissary, which just has me excited. I can shop anywhere. I will find something, trust me. You could stick me in a medical supply warehouse or abandoned truck stop and I'll gladly go on a spree (shopping, not crime.) A prison commissary sounds fucking fabulous.
Anyway, imagine the blog posts! I'm really curious and slightly nervous to see if I could really spend a couple of days in the pokey. I think it would be an amazing and challenging personal experience. So if anyone can find a legal, relatively safe way for me to live as a prisoner for a brief period of time, I AM SO IN.
Some birds aren't meant to be caged. Their feathers are just too bright.
I am not one of those birds...


generic said...

Wellll ... as I'm sure Sweet Melissa has pointed out, there's County Jails, State Prisons and Federal Prisons. Depends on which you get sent to and for what. Federal white collar is basically Fat Camp with chores. State can be hell on earth.

I know for a fact (cough) that some County jails in California have a pretty impressive cable TV package and will let you watch it all day long. Which sounds great (right?) except that 60 channels means 60 choices, and the convict hierarchy kicks in. (FUCK YOU, NIGGA. WE'RE WATCHING THE HISTORY CHANNEL!)

I've said too much already.

Beth Spotswood said...

Wow. You're right. Mel and I were just discussing that and as my lead council, she informed me, "If you commit a crime, make sure it's a federal felony." Or something like that. I leave it up to her to negotiate my incarceration in the event I'm convicted of something.
Also, I'd be delighted with the History Channel. Although that whole who gets to pick the channel thing makes sense. No doubt people get shived over the Barefoot Contessa all the time...

bernie madoff said...

Perhaps there's some sort of federal prison fantasy camp that one can attend? This looks interesting.

Elizabeth said...

Funny you should write about this because JUST YESTERDAY I posted about how my friend Joe got an unexpected letter from an old neighbor who is no longer his neighbor because he has moved to San Quentin!


Based on Duan's request, I believe that San Quentin inmates are allowed to have stamps, which sounds much more exciting than living a stamp-free existance in a Texas state prison.

Jeremy said...

Apparently they watch a lot of Travel Channel at SF County (in San Bruno). The baristas at the Pirate Cat Radio Cafe say they've been getting a lot of customers fresh out of County who saw the San Francisco episode of the Anthony Bourdain show and come straight to Pirate Cat when they get released to try a bacon maple latte.