The Day I Went to Jail

I usually talk about something to do with porn addiction, but this is a bit about what happens when it comes time to face your (well-deserved) punishment. Nobody told me about porn addiction, but nobody also told me what it would be like going to jail and that weighed heavy on my mind the 22 months between arrest and sentencing. So I thought I’d go a little off-topic and share what my first day in jail was like.

The judge granted me one week between my sentencing and the day I was supposed to report to “get my affairs in order.” I think years ago if you’d have ever told me that I was in a situation where I’d have a week before I knew I was going to jail, I would have told you that I was going to form a plan to flee and live as a fugitive. When you find yourself actually in that situation, the bravado disappears. I knew doing my time would bring me that much quicker to returning to whatever normal life I could cultivate.

The truth also is, I did the crime. While I was battling mental illness and addiction, I was well aware I had both and did not take proper care of myself. That led me to eventually convincing a teenage girl to perform a sex act in a video chatroom. I didn’t know her age at the time, but that is not an excuse for my behavior. I got what was coming to me.

My wife and I stopped off at the pharmacy at 8:15 a.m. on the morning of January 22, 2014. I needed to pick up my mental health medication. The whole thing seemed routine, yet I knew that would be the end of routine. I was surprisingly calm.

Heading up the walkway into the building was surreal after my wife dropped me off. I knew I’d be stuck in the building for seven or eight months, but what that meant wasn’t registering. I think part of me started detaching from reality at that point at as a coping mechanism.

I’ve seen enough jail and prison movies to know that intake is a humiliating experience, but it wasn’t as bad as I expected. I was given delousing shampoo and instructed to shower after stripping. Nobody watched me strip or shower and it was in a private stall. Following the shower, I had to show I had nothing in my ears or mouth, lifted my testicles and spread my ass cheeks and cough. The officer who was putting me through the paces seemed uninterested in doing a thorough job, much to my appreciation.

While this was taken before I got there, this was the exact room that I stayed in during my time at Androscoggin County Jail. Photo ran with a story in the Sun Journal.

I was given a beige shirt, pants and a pair of bright orange slip-on shoes. In all, everything was actually quite comfortable, like pajamas and slippers. I wished I had underwear and socks – and I brought these things with me – but was told it would be a day or two before the officer who could release the property to me would be there.

When I asked about why I wearing tan, they told me it was for minimum security. It was the first time I was told I’d be heading to that part of the jail. He then said because of my conviction and the fact I was known in the jail community because of the media coverage, I’d be put into a protective custody pod. That meant at least one corrections officer would be stationed outside the door at all times and that I would always be accompanied by an officer when I traveled throughout the jail. I was given a plastic duffle bag to hold any possessions I acquired in the pod. Inside it were a couple bars of soap, shampoo, a tooth brush and an orientation booklet.

The first, “Huh…I never knew that” moment was looking at the toiletries. They were all “Bob Barker” brand. I went through my entire jail time thinking it was the game show host and didn’t find out until a few years later it was just some same-named dude from the Carolinas who, like me, was ironically a former publisher and elected official. He went on to make jail toiletries. I went on to use them.

Upon arriving outside the pod, I was given a mattress, a sheet and blanket. The mattress was little more than a worn-out replica of one of those mats from gym class you’d do sit-ups on. It was around 11 a.m. when I walked in for the first time. There were six bunk beds and all except one upper-bunk were full of sleeping people. I tossed my mattress on the metal frame and climbed onto my perch.

The pod sometimes got so crowded they would bring in “boats” for people to sleep on placed on the floor. To the left you see the door to the mostly private bathroom. Photo by Sun Journal.

I made a promise to myself that I told many people during the 22 months following my arrest and reporting day. I said that the first thing I’d do when I was situated in jail was breathe a sigh of relief because I knew how much time I was doing and I knew when it would be over. Two years of not knowing really wears a person – and his loved ones – down.

So I sat on my bed and looked around at the 11 people asleep around me. This was my new reality. Every second that passed would be one second closer to being out.

Several years have passed since I left, but the jail is only about a two-minute drive my house and I probably pass it 10 times a week. About half of them I see and reflect on the fact there is an entire different culture going on inside of the building I never want to be a part of again. The other half of the time, I drive by without noticing. I’m not sure which is healthier.

7 thoughts on “The Day I Went to Jail

  1. Thanks for this Josh. Here in the UK we don’t have that ‘get your affairs in order’ time and, facing my own up-coming sentencing, I’m having to organise everything on the basis that I will be imprisoned. Bizarrely, the most difficult part of that is re-homing my cats; if I don’t get jail I can’t simply ask for them back and I will miss them. Driving a bulldozer through your own life certainly makes you discover your true priorities :o/

    1. It’s good to hear from you. All things considered, I was very lucky with my situation. I will write more about this experience and what I learned at another time. My lawyer first asked for two weeks between sentencing and reporting. In retrospect, I’m glad the judge only granted a week. I think I would have gone crazy with anxiety that second week. I have tried to look at everything as a lesson. Perhaps in a few years, once you’re out and have rebuilt something of a life and have new cats, you’ll find yourself at a crossroad of using and you’ll remember that along with everything else, this incident cost you those cats.

  2. Hey, I just found this post (did you post it in the Community Pool? If so, that’s where I found you) and your topic absolutely jumped out, including your willingness to talk about it. This is the only post of yours I’ve read so far but I’m definitely interested in getting your take on topics that are usually not mainstream conversational topics: porn and jail. So, I’m following and will be back.

    I don’t know if you listen to podcasts or not, and you may have written about it elsewhere, but the podcast Ear Hustle is a program about life in San Quentin, produced by inmates. Many are there for life or decades, so very different than your term, but, like your blog, it provides insights and perspectives I’ve benefited from gaining and wouldn’t get anywhere else.

    Again, thanks for being willing to discuss this.

    1. I’m glad you discovered my blog. I don’t talk about jail nearly as much as porn, but this entry has generated more private email to me than any other I’ve ever done on it’s opening day that it seems like a topic I’ll return to soon.
      I’d urge you to just look around the site if you want to read about porn addiction. I’ve been maintaining this for about eight or nine months now, so there’s plenty of material. You can get links to a ton of podcast interviews and other media I’ve done on the Media page. On the home page, you’ll see my memoir about my descent into porn addiction which led to jail. You should buy at least 8.
      I actually do know the Ear Hustle podcast. I stumbled on it a while back and thought it was a great use of the inmates time and a unique look inside a life most people never get a glimpse of. I did county jail. Those guys are doing the super serious stuff. I wonder if there’s anybody there who was doing time when Johnny Cash performed.
      Thanks for following the site, I have a lot of traffic, but I think few people want to attach themselves as a follower to a site with “porn addict” in the title. Appreciate your bravery.

      1. I didn’t feel brave for following your site until your comment here. And, hey, I can see it. In today’s world, anything we do can be twisted and turned by talented (or cruel) folks wanting to suggest things.

        I just figure your experience isn’t isolated. At all. Yet I don’t see many talking about it. You are. That, to me, is brave.

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