Why You Don’t Want to Spend a Week in Jail
Overworked individuals, type-A personalities, and even workaholics often express that a week in jail would be a welcome reprieve from their daily stress. Those fortunate few, who actually get their wish, invariably change their minds within a few minutes.
If you happen to be one of those who feel this way, let me give you a few reasons why you should always pay the bond and make bail before you even try this bad idea. For brevity’s sake, let’s skip over some of the details so we can highlight just the good stuff.
Let’s assume you get arrested on a minor charge. The arresting officer will place you in handcuffs and take you to the county facility. Don’t bother complaining about the handcuffs crushing your wrists, the officer will tell you they are supposed to be uncomfortable. Your hearing is in a week and you are offered an opportunity to make bail or wait for a week in jail; this is the vacation you were looking for.
While you wait to be booked into jail, you will wait in a holding cell. Depending on how busy the jail is, you can be in this cell for one to two hours or more. This will feel like days. You have surrendered all your belongings so it’s just you, four walls, and eternity. Many type-A personalities may start pounding on the door after a while demanding better service, which of course, either annoys the staff or makes them laugh.
Three days in solitary
After the holding cell, you lose the rest of your possessions, which means of course, that you are naked. They hand you one pair of underwear that appear to have been worn by a few dozen people, some odd colored pajamas, and some foot gear, like crocs or flip flops. You then get your new things; a 2” pencil, a chip of soap, a towel (just a big wash cloth), a 2” toothbrush, and toothpaste.
Most jails, at this point, will put you into an observation cell for three days, away from the general jail population. They want to see what happens to you when you have nothing but time on your hands. If, on the outside, you were a multi-tasking, clock-watching over achiever, these three days will seem like eternity. You might hear your own voice in your head saying, “Be careful what you wish for.”
To pass the time, you lay down on your mattress that feels like a slice of white bread placed on the floor. The reason they want to observe you for three days is that when your body has nothing to do, your brain becomes a Ferrari, racing between the past, present, and the future, visiting every moment of regret you may have had in your life. Some people lose it at this point. You probably won’t, but you will completely understand those who do.
Meet your cellmate, Charlie . . . Manson.
After the three days of observation, you get to “join the jail population.” Most larger jails have several cells that hold two or more cellmates surrounding a large gathering area. No matter how different your cellmate is from you, he will be a welcome change to spending unlimited time with yourself. You shouldn’t be surprised that your cell-mate has been in jail and prison before. He may or may not offer to help you learn the unwritten rules of the gathering area where you and 50 or more inmates will rub shoulders during the day.
No matter how inconsequential your offense may be or how heinous the crime committed by your cellmate, everyone in jail is equal. By equal, meaning, everyone wears the same designer suit and everything you own on the outside doesn’t matter. Who you are does matter though. If you are a nice person who respects others, that won’t go unnoticed in jail. If, however, you tend to get your own way without regard for other people, that will be obvious in jail as well. Your reputation will spread quickly.
One thing you will rediscover in your last few days in jail is the joy of reading for the sake of reading. There are only a precious few books to choose from so you might end up with a book you would never pick up normally. You escape into the pages; no matter how flimsy the story line, you are no longer in jail. After you read the only book available to you, twice, you are back in reality.
By now, you may have acclimated a little but you no longer see jail as a vacation. You are on a rigid schedule reminiscent of grade school. There are so many parts of your busy life that you miss; you can’t even name them all. You realize this is not the place for you. As you look around at the people, with whom you have shared a few days, you hope they are able to get out soon as well.
Some people, who spend a week in jail, say that the experience changed them. However, they say that if there were a next time, they would pay the bond and make bail.