Part Two – The terrors of a society brainwashed to be scared of people not like themselves
Have you ever been in jail for more than a night in the drunk tank, say at least two weeks? Have you ever faced a jury of your supposed peers, and seen the hatred in their eyes. Looked at the members of your jury and not seen one that would be willing to take notice of you with a smile or even a lightning flash of sympathy? Have you ever been taken to a jail or prison intake area, stripped down to your absolute nothings, forced to walk with a whole busload of naked others through a spray of water so cold and so biting that you think you have been secretly transported to a summer day in Antarctica barely warm enough to turn ice into sleet and hail that burns your body red, makes your eyes water, and your testes pull so far into your groin area that you think they will never come out again, come hell or high temperatures? Then one at a time you are given ugly prison uniforms, one-size-fits-all, which is all you will be able to wear for the next 2 to 25 years, unless you are allowed to wear nice clothes at your appeal, if you can afford one. Meanwhile, if you stole a fair amount of money and were able to keep it hidden from the police, your lawyer will gratefully take it off your hands, and if you give him enough, he will actually TRY to get your verdict overturned, or your sentence shortened. Money might not buy you justice, but it will buy you the appearance of justice.
Okay, so I’ve got you standing in line, still naked, prison uniform grasped tightly in your arms, when the line starts moving and a line of inmates called “trustees” (because they can be trusted to fink on you to either the authorities, as represented by the prison warden, or the group leaders of gangs of prisoners, some gangs which are local and temporary, and some that are in every prison in the USA and even some in prisons in Canada. And those same long-term gangs will be there as long as prisons and penitentiaries as we know them are allowed to exist) where you will be handed that prison’s version of what is counted as bedding. Meanwhile, before you can get dressed, and IF there is a doctor available in the prison, he or she will examine you to see if you have any obvious problems visible to the eyes, ears, or fingers. After listening to a few beats of your heart and cursorily checking your skin for signs of viral or bacterial infections, they will then stick a finger up your vagina if you have one, and your anus because everyone has one, because it might contain contraband, which is illegal to smuggle into a prison. Only then will you be allowed to get dressed, and then you will wait around, even if it is mealtime, until the last of your group of prisoners are dressed.
Finally you are on the move as a group once more, still grasping your holey, and/or threadbare and/or flea-ridden blanket to your chest lest someone attempt to rip it out of your hands. At last you leave the intake area and enter a “room” one side of which is an outside wall, and the other having runways full of cells stacked upon cells all stacked upon even more cells; probably at least ten levels of them, and no elevator in sight anywhere. Meanwhile, you realize the trustee leading your group is giving a long-memorized speech explaining the laws and culture of the common room, the eating rooms, cell runways, and everything else he or she thought you would need to know for your first day there. After that you would be on your own to survive or not depending upon which gang you chose to become a part of. (In the movies or on TV, the star always remains somehow “unconnected,” but this isn’t a movie, it is real life, and the threat of death is palpably imminent, so choose wisely.)
Suddenly the line in front of you is moving up the stairs, and at each landing sets of names are called, and those people move through an iron door that slams! shut after the last “new piece of meat” goes through the entryway. The same scene repeats itself at every floor landing. Eventually your name is called and you go through the entryway. Already a guard is walking down the runway, tapping open doors, saying a name once, and moving on. As you are busy hoping you didn’t miss your name being called, you hear it at last, and you enter the cell, where either one or two double bunk beds are standing against the side walls, and before you even look at the people sitting on or lying down on the bunk mattresses, you see a seatless toilet bowl in the middle of the back wall, where you will have no privacy taking a crap for as long as you are there. Then you turn your attention to who your bunk mate(s) is(are), and where an unoccupied uncovered mattress is awaiting you. You quickly go to it, hoping the other(s) are not able to hear or see how scared you are. No matter whether you are brainy or brawny, you throw your armful of bedding on the bare mattress, thinking that you are lucky you made it this far.
“Get your stuff off of my bed,” a vicious voice booms out, and you jump high enough to hit your head on the ten foot high ceiling. As you crash down you stutter, “But… But I… I thought…”
That same voice cuts you off, “You don’t think out loud in here. In fact, it’s better to not think at all. You’ll get in trouble that way in here.” At least this time the voice is flat, emotionless. Not friendly, but not unfriendly either. With a tiny bit of uncertainty and fear in your own voice you say, “Which one is mine?” Luckily you are in a one-bunk-bed cell, or at least you hope it is luckily.
“I’m sitting on it,” the voice states, daring you to make him get off. And at last you realize you are being tested. Your happiness while in prison just might depend on how you answer…
You are just coming to a decision when a far-away voice calls “Close’m up!”and the door to your cell moves and hits the doorjamb resoundingly! The sound is echoed by every cell door within hearing. Two-hundred and fifty doors (you don’t know this figure yet, you missed that part of the trustee’s speech) slamming and slamming and slamming within tenths of a second of each other. By the time the sound clears from your ears your mind reminds you, “That’s it, no more freedom for…” and the guy/gal sitting on your mattress is staring at you with a sneer on their face and a gleam in their eyes. “How you feeling, new meat?”
So, dear reader, how “are” you feeling right now? You’re unsure of which tactic to take, you’re still feeling humiliated from having to stand around naked so long in a group of naked strangers, but with fully-clothed guards looking at all of you at once, but you’re sure one of them is staring straight at you at the same time. And then that doctor, feeling inside your private parts for God knows what, and having him or her sticking their finger up your orifices with just a thin film of plastic glove between his/her skin and your insides. And then the walk of shame through the common room, and you are so relieved that you are finally dressed again even though neon orange is not your best colour, it’s the same colour every prisoner except the trustees are wearing, you’re tired from the long bus ride from the city, and its hours since you last ate, your stomach is gurgling in desire, and you have to make what might be the decision of your life. How do you really feel deep down in your gut? What are you going to do?
To be continued…