Not many people ask about jail anymore. I guess because it’s been well more than three years since I was released, so those who were curious enough to raise the issue have had their questions answered. Many people, like my mother, still treat the idea I served six months as taboo and seem shocked when I openly talk about it. I’m not ashamed I went to jail. I’m ashamed for what I did that got me there.
I figured today I’d share a few things I learned in jail that still get asked about. Not all of them are nice or positive. Some are not politically correct, but they were my reality. So, you’ve been warned…
- Those who commit sexual offenses of any kind are known as “skinners” which I guess means that they like skin-to-skin contact, although there was never any reference book for me to fully understand it. Either because I was one of the leaders in our pod, or because my offense was hands-off and mild compared to some of the sexual offenders in there, I was almost never referred to this way. Once in a while, when a new guy showed up, he’d try to use the term. I’d just say something like “You sold heroin to a child and you’re trying to take the moral high ground with me? I’m going to be out of here in a few months. How long do you think you’re going to do when you get sentenced to prison?”
- Buttressing that last thought, since I was placed in minimum security, and protective custody – which means there is a guard stationed outside the pod at all times – the group of men I was with weren’t going to physically fight. Many left non-protective custody because they were the victims of attacks in other parts of the jail. If you go to jail, immediately ask for protective custody. Once I realized, probably about six weeks into my stay, that I was in no real danger of physical violence, I stopped biting my tongue. I know there were times that I could be downright mean, and I know those guys were easy targets, but that was my defensive, survival posture. I think less people messed with me because they knew they’d end up looking like a fool to the others should they get in a verbal battle with me.
- If you’re going to call the police on your partner for domestic violence, make sure you’re 100% positive you want to press charges. I’m not saying domestic violence is OK by any means. The men who were in my pod for it were mostly overgrown boys in their early 20s who didn’t know how to deal with conflict. I would guess in 90% of the cases, their female partners wanted to take it back, but that’s not the way the system works. I saw many of these women during visiting hours pleading for forgiveness from their guys because they didn’t understand the ramifications and real punishment that comes with domestic abuse allegations. I’m sure they called the police because they thought they were in mortal danger, but once that danger passed, they wanted to recant their statement. The DA continues with the charges regardless, which I think is good. I firmly believe any victim should seek help, but that’s easy for me to say because I’ve never been in that situation. It was an eye-opener seeing just how many regretted their decision.
- Commissary isn’t a place you go to get candy bars, playing cards and the like. I figured it was like a jail store. It’s actually just a list of items on a piece of paper. If you wanted anything, you first need funds on your jail account. Money could be added by people on the outside by either calling it in or using a kiosk in the jail lobby. You’d call the number at the top of the piece of paper, then type in the item number and how many you wanted. It didn’t matter if it was pencils or bags of chips – you could only order up to 5 of something per call. Since I went through mini-golf sized pencils like crazy with my writing, I’d have other guys order pencils and I’d pay them back in candy bars. Deliveries from the commissary truck out of Massachusetts came twice a week. I’d guess items had about a 25% markup from the outside.
- If you think you’re ever going to go to jail, learn how to play the card games Spades before getting there. I’d guess it was what was played 90% of the time. I never actually played it, but in hearing it played six or seven hours per day, was able to glean the rules. To make it interesting, the guys who played would either bet their side dishes or desserts from dinner.
If you have any questions about my time in jail, I’d be happy to answer them. I can’t say that my time was similar to someone else who went to prison or was in jail in another state, but I’ll answer them to the best of my ability. Just ask in the comment section. I was able to do a little research about the county jail I was going to before I started my sentence and it helped settle my mind immensely. Just knowing we had private toilets and showers allowed me to enter with a sense of relief.
There’s a lot I didn’t talk about here because I’ve covered it in other jail entries:
The Day I Went To Jail – First impressions, and actual pictures from the pod I stayed in
The Bathroom Situation – The number one thing I still get questions about
The Strangest Thing I Did in Jail – It involves Reese’s Peanut Butter cups
So How Was the Food in Jail? – The second-most asked about topic
Visiting Days – It’s great to see loved ones, but they’re coming to visit you in jail
The Wildest Thing That Happened to Me in Jail – I still can’t believe this happened
Out on Probation – The punishment isn’t over just because you’re released
Reflecting on My Third Anniversary of Entering – It’s an experience that sticks with you
The Legal Ordeal is Over – I wrote this just as I came off of my three years of probation
Intimacy with Sex/Porn Addiction – I learned a lot listening to my fellow inmates