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GOING TO PRISON



I thought I would write a peace on what going to prison is like. It has been almost 40 years since I went to prison, for a three-year sentence. You may note that my descriptions might be a little vague.

The very day you are arrested, you will most likely be in a courtroom. As soon as the judge passes your sentence, you will be immediately handcuffed. Two police officers will grab you by the arms, and begin pushing you out of the room as quickly as possible.

Your mind will start flashing on and off. As you are shoved toward the door, you will look around to see how your loved ones are reacting. They will be in tears and screaming. Your main concern right now is not for yourself, but for them. You will try to stop in order to comfort them. However, you find that you are caught up in a forward motion you cannot control or stop. Your mind will cut on and off as they push you down the stairs heading to the police car.

As the police cruiser makes its way along the roadway, you will look at the free people walking down the street. You will wonder how they could be smiling and talking with each other, when all of this is happening to you.

Once you reach the jail or prison, you will notice that everything is quiet outside. It all looks so peaceful. The grounds are well kept and manicured. You stand there waiting for the large steel door to open, but always afraid of what might be on the other side.

You are fingerprinted and photographed. You are pushed and shoved from department to department. The sounds of typewriters are heard in the background, and there are many telephone conversations taking place. Police officers and guards are taking people in and out of various rooms. Your heart is beating ninety miles per hour and your blood pressure has skyrocketed. Your face feels hot and your palms are sweaty. You are doing everything you can to hold some form of composure.

You are finally locked in a small "holding cell," completely alone. The temperature is cold and there is nowhere to sit except a hard cement bench built along the wall. There is no toilet and there is no sink. Your throat is dry and your eyes are burning. You are on the verge of crying, but something tells you that you must not break down. Several minutes later, you remember from watching television that you are entitled to one telephone call.

"Excuse me," you say to the jailer as he walks by.

He pays you no attention, whatsoever.

"Excuse me," you say once again, as another guard walks by your cell.

He, too, ignores you.

You now begin to realize that you have become unimportant in this new strange world. The real world keeps moving while your world, and your life, begins to stand still.

You stand by the door holding onto the bars with both hands. Your hands begin to ache, because unknowingly, you are squeezing the steel bars as hard as you can. Your body is now starting to react to sounds and happenings, which it has never before experienced. You rest your head against the bars, close your eyes, and hope it is nothing more than a dream.

You jump as the guard calls out your name. You move back from the door as he unlocks your cell. For a moment, you wonder if some great miracle has happened. Maybe you are going home, to a place where everything is safe and secure.

The guard orders you to come with him. You walk down a tiled hallway leading to a room that smells of mildew. You are ordered to undress. For the first time in your life, you start to feel helpless. Your mind is confused and you do not know what to do. Your mind races in a never-ending circle of thought, always trying to decide what you can, or cannot do.

The thoughts, "who does he think he is?" and "I will not undress in front of anyone," come into your mind.

The guard sees that you are stalling. "Do it, or we will do it for you!" he screams at you.

You look at the guard's face and see that he is serious. Slowly, you begin to unbutton your clothing and look for a place to hang them. When you remove your shirt, or blouse, you will try to cover yourself.

"Throw that crap on the floor," shouts the guard.

You drop your clothing to the wet floor, and you try as best you can, to shield your exposed, naked body with your hands.

"Turn around and bend over!"

Very slowly you turn around.

"Bend over and spread the cheeks of your buttocks," orders the guard, as he puts on a rubber glove.

Your head feels as though it is going to explode as you wait for the unthinkable to happen. Your body is cold and it begins to shake. First your legs, then your arms, then the rest of your body. It feels as if your entire body is in a state of seizure.

"Relax and hold still," yells the guard. He tries to force his fingers into your body.

If you are lucky, you will not have an accident when his fingers exit.

You are ordered to enter a shower stall and you are sprayed with several chemicals. The cold water is turned on and you are rinsed clean. With a towel wrapped around you, you are herded to the laundry room. You are fitted with some type of an outfit that clearly marks you as being a criminal. You are now a person who is no longer entitled to respect, or consideration.

Your body begins to change its chemistry within an hour. You begin to walk with your head down, your eyes looking only at the floor. Your shoulders now slump forward as if you were a child who has been beaten or molested. Your feet no longer rise above the floor as you walk. They now slide along as if you were a patient in a mental hospital. Your brain tries to shut itself down, but it cannot. It is being overworked trying to process what is happening to you. Occasionally, you forget to swallow and saliva runs down you chin. Without thinking, you wipe the liquid away using your wrist. You never even know that it happened.

You try to get yourself together as you are taken to another part of the jail, or prison. You are paraded past hundreds of other prisoners who are screaming and grabbing at you.

"Fresh meat," and "going to get me some of that tonight," are some of the comments yelled out by the inmates.

As you walk along you look into the prisoner's faces. You see nothing but contempt. By now you are ready to collapse, but you keep pushing forward. You know that you have no choice. Even the people you love have not entered your mind for hours. They are a long lost memory, which you will not even begin to think about until you are finally alone in your cell later that evening.

Buzzers, bells, and whistles will sound constantly. You will hear the sound of slamming steel doors, hour after hour. The sound of every buzzer or bell will confuse you. You will not know what you are supposed to do. "It is time to eat?" Is it time to stand up?" Is it time to go to bed?" "Is it time to take a shower?"

These thoughts will race through your mind, one after the other. When you finally get a moment to yourself; you will place your face into your hands and ask God to please make all this go away.

What I have written only explains what it is like in prison for the first three hours. Most of the really bad stuff, I cannot remember -- those memories are rather vague now.



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