Inmate & Jail stories

Jan. 3, 2018

Ron

After talking with the family of my Special Forces inmate, Ron, I learned that when he came home from the Army, he no longer wanted any physical contact with people, not even a hug. When a fellow inmate accidentally came into physical contact with him, Ron beat the mess out of him. At the time, Ron was refusing all of his psyche meds.

Another time, a fellow inmate was passing by and said something smartly to the six-foot-four, 310lb Ron. He was also attacked. When the jail finally allowed me to give him candy with his medication, he refused several times. It took a while, but eventually he came to trust me enough that he would take the candy and the pills I offered him.

His parents couldn’t afford to give him money every week for commissary, so an officer and I would secretly put money into Ron’s account to allow him to order snacks. Otherwise, he would become so irate and belligerent we would have to keep him locked down for a couple of days.

For Ron, it was a treat to come to medical to see me, to take his medicines and to get his candy. He was so formidable even the officers assigned to guard him were intimidated. When Ron came to medical to see the doctor, the doctor would instruct me to have the candy ready and present it first.

A new officer, who didn’t understand the situation, refused to let Ron come to medical one morning and you could hear my patient as he pounded on the cellblock door to get to me. Hearing the commotion, the corporal came running and demanded the officer let Ron out immediately.

“But he’s too dangerous,” the newbie whined.

No. he’s dangerous to you, but he won’t attack the nurse,” the corporal explained. “He always comes to the nurse.”

When Ron needed a new pair of shoes, he stood by the door waiting for me. The officers said he refused to budge until I came into work and they were afraid to touch him in order to make him go back to his cell (Ron could see me coming and going to my office).

We asked him to go back three times,” one officer admitted.

“After the third time, Ron said he would bust us in our heads if we asked him again so we just left him standing there waiting for you.”

One morning, Ron came down for his medicines and took a seat on the doctor’s stool. As he sat there quietly, I sensed he wanted to talk to me. Finally, he looked up at the officer and told him to leave.

I can’t leave,” the officer denied. “I have to be with you when you’re with the nurse.”

You have more to fear from me than she does,” Ron replied honestly.

As Ron, in a threatening manner, stood up from the stool, the officer backed out of the office, closed the door leaving it ajar, and announced he’d be right there on the other side of the door.

Am I in a jail?” Ron asked as an expression of puzzlement filled his face.

I was so stunned. “Yes,” I answered after a few stalled seconds. I informed him what jail and county he was in.

Why am I here? I didn’t do anything wrong. I was at another hospital that you sent me to and they said I was going to come back to where you were.”

Do you remember hurting your mom and dad?” I asked as the realization dawned on me that this man was in far worse mental shape than I had originally thought.

Ron denied the memory and was adamant that he would not hurt his parents knowingly. He also confided to me that sometimes he has terrible dreams about his missions, but would not discuss those dreams with me. We talked for a few more minutes and then he took his candy and went back to his jail cell.

By this time, Ron had been in my custody for right at two years and without any medical help for his mental well being other than the medications I administered, he maintained his demeanor which bordered on irritation most of the time.

The administration denied Ron had even been set a trial date for his crime. They explained that because of his mental status he could not be tried for his crime. They insisted I work on this problem (two years later).

I called a colleague of mine who worked in Columbia with the primary psychiatric hospital for those that are terminally mentally impaired. I told Martha what had happened and about Ron and my conversation. She called me back a week later.

I don’t understand why he’s there,” she said to me over the phone. “He should have never left this hospital and to be honest, I thought he was still here. At least, he was here when I was moved into my new department two years ago. I’m going to fax these papers to you, call me back after you read them.”

They were notes from the head psychiatrist who evaluated Ron. In the papers, he stated that Ron was criminally insane, and without medication, could become a potential risk of endangerment in a social setting. Judge Peters had ruled that Ron needed permanent institutionalizing (Ron’s day in court). I went through Ron’s files again (the file that was sent back with him) and nothing, not one shred of paper about this information was sent back to me.

I called my colleague back and she confided this doctor does things like this all the time when he doesn’t want to take charge of a patient. “He just dumped him back off on you,” she exclaimed. “One of these days, he’s going to get into a lot of trouble doing these things!”

She also gave me the number of the judge who deemed Ron criminally insane and required permanent institutionalizing. Instead, I attempted to call the head psychiatrist who denied my many phone calls. When he refused to call me back for over a week, I called the judge who in turn, called the doctor.

I noticed the doctor suddenly found time to call me back. He had decided that Ron needed to be returned to the hospital immediately as in, the same day (a month following our phone call, I learned that the doctor had been relieved of his duties and a new one was taking care of Ron).

When I hung up and had my patient brought to me and I explained the situation. He stated he understood and went back to his cell without incident. When his transportation arrived, Ron asked the officers to call me upfront.

He was sitting on the bench when I came up. He looked up at me as I approached and asked, “Am I going to see you anymore?”

No, Ron. You’re going to the hospital again. I called your parents and told them where you were going to be,” I explained.

As Ron stood up so he could be shackled, he reached over to hug me. I noticed everyone ducked…everyone but me. 

Nov. 8, 2017

Not long after I took over the post of HSA (Health Service Administrator) for the jail, an inmate was brought in for assault and battery. His name was Ron. He was six-foot-four and weighed 310lbs. He was muscle, no flab.

Ron had been a pilot in the Army, Special Forces when his plane was shot down twice. After the second time, he suffered severe PTSD and the Army sent him home. While living at home with his parents he had an incident which brought him to me.

One evening while enjoying a quiet evening at home with his mom and dad, a plane flew over their house a little too low. I was told Ron freaked out. Not understanding what was happening, Mom and Dad tried to restrain Ron and he ended up beating them both pretty bad. Thankfully, he lived in a small town as it took the police several days to find him and bring him in.

Three months later, I finally had him sent upstate for a psychiatric evaluation, and hopefully to be committed. A month later, they sent him back to me and I cringed. I knew I had my work cut out for me. I scoured the paperwork to see if there was anything I could use to send him back, but nothing came with him except medication records and new doctor’s orders.

They had him on a slew of pills that he refused to take. I knew Ron needed these medications so for the first few days I begged him to take the pills.

“I don’t want them,” he insisted. “They make me feel funny.”

I had him pick out the ones that made him feel funny and then called our doctor to have it switched to something else. Meanwhile, much against the policies of the jail, I tried coaxing Ron with candy, which he always refused. However, as I pointed out to the administration, our choice was either I was to give him a piece of candy with his pills and get them in him or, don’t, and he goes without the pills and will eventually wreak havoc in the jail.

They didn’t believe me until…one afternoon, Ron had a flashback and went berserk. We had to put him in solitary confinement until he calmed down. Three days later, Chief Brown opened the cell door and asks Ron, “Are you okay? You ready to go back to your cellblock now?”

Ron crouched down and replied, “Yeah, I’m ready. Bring on the whole squad. I’ll take them all!”

Chief Brown quickly slammed the cell door shut and said, “Not today!”

After that, I was allowed to give Ron candy with his medicines. As a matter of fact, I was allowed to give it to him right away. 

Oct. 9, 2017

Jody’s Hearing 

Jody Ward just had a hearing on the 2nd of October. Several things were discussed, one of which being he wanted to represent himself with his lawyer being co-counsel and the judge ruled against it.

Self-Representation.—The Court has held that the Sixth Amendment, in addition to guaranteeing the right to retained or appointed counsel, also guarantees a defendant the right to represent himself.262 It is a right the defendant must adopt knowingly and intelligently; under some circumstances the trial judge may deny the authority to exercise it, as when the defendant simply lacks the competence to make a knowing or intelligent waiver of counsel or when his self-representation is so disruptive of orderly procedures that the judge may curtail it. The right applies only at trial; there is no constitutional right to self-representation on direct appeal from a criminal conviction.263” (copied from Jusita US Law ©)

We also heard motions about prosecutorial misconduct in where the previous solicitor (several times removed) had withheld evidence. Motions were made for a retrial, a new hearing for the above mentioning of offenses, all of which were overruled and denied.

Jody’s lawyer did point out that he had already been granted another hearing by another judge so this one decided he would reconsider and then let him know at a later date (undetermined date at this time). I felt his lawyer could have been more aggressive and even expressed that to him following the hearing.

I was a little confused because the judge is not the trial judge, but the resident judge so I didn’t understand how he could rule on whether to let him represent himself with co-counsel. I know judges can do a lot of things, even if it is to dismiss another’s ruling on a hearing, but it just makes me question the situation. I don’t understand all the ins and outs of a lot of things pertaining to law, however, after watching the hearing, it made me question what was really going on.

Jody is adamant that he was railroaded. Was he…?

Jody is equally adamant that it was someone else who murdered the two young men. Was it someone else…? 

“The truth is, Jody, the only ones who know what really happened that night are you, the two victims, and God.”

“And the one who killed those boys,” he added.

We’ve had several conversations in which he has always maintained his innocence in taking part of the actual murders. Impressively, everything he tells me and repeats later has been consistent. It’s always the same unwavering story.

I don’t know what happened that night, I can only tell you what he says, what I see, and offer my own views on what I have seen. In the end, my heart goes out to all the families affected by this: his and the victims. 

Sep. 12, 2017

Every now and then, I would have an inmate that touched my heart. This particular inmate’s name was Kareem. Kareem was a lively young man, so full of vigor. He was facing a first degree murder charge, breaking and entering, and burglary charges, but you couldn’t tell it by his actions.

“Did you do it?” I asked, already knowing he would deny it.

“Nope, I did not,” he answered with much conviction.

Over the course of a year, his story was told to me: mostly shared by him. When I was told a good story, I always checked with the officers to find out what was truth and fiction. Being a small town, the officers usually knew the skinny, or at least some of it.

“Are you trying to tell me there wasn’t a murder victim?” I asked on one of Kareem’s visits to medical.

He answered with one of his infamous grins, “Oh there was a murder victim, but it wasn’t by my hand.”

“If you didn’t do it then who did?” I prompted.

“It was my girl’s cousins,” he answered. “See, in order to be charged with conspiracy, you have to have three people say they saw you do it, and her three cousins are saying that I shot the man’s brother and tried to rob them (the family). I wasn’t even there, Michelle.”

His story is that they were all hanging around one day and he needed to pick up a pack of cigarettes. The three cousins (also housed in the same jail on different cellblocks) offered to drop Kareem off at the store on the way over to their friend’s house. They were going to pick up something and then come back and pick up Kareem on the way back through.

“They never came back,” Kareem said of that fateful day. “I hitched a ride back to my girl’s place. Later, I heard what had happened. They went over to steal the weed and got into an altercation with the man and his brother, and next thing; they were all whipping out guns and shooting at each other. The one boy was shot dead.”

“What happened after that?”

“Two days later, the police show up at my door and arrested me.” Kareem paused to shake his head. “They said the other three told them I was with them when the crime took place. Even the man they went to see, and his daughter, said I was nowhere near the place. They didn’t even know who I was and insisted there were only three people…those three! The man at the convenience store confirmed I was there at the time of the crime buying cigarettes.”

Now I was shaking my head in disbelief. “So how did they arrest you?”

“I told you, they need three to confirm conspiracy and those three are sticking to their stories. They went over there to rob the man of his weed and ended up shooting the brother,” Kareem explained again. “Things just went from bad to worse and you know what they say…misery loves company. I’m pleading not guilty, Michelle. I will not go down for a crime I did not commit. If they say I did it, then they better show me the proof. That’s all I got to say, show me!”

As Kareem’s trial date inched forward, the other three went ahead of him. The first culprit made it all the way through trial and the jury found him guilty and gave him forty years. The other two, having heard about the fate of their cousin, pled guilty and each received a twenty-year sentence.

Kareem was walking by my cart on his way to court. He stopped to smile and say, “I’m going to walk out of here a free man, Michelle. You watch.”

His trial was three days. He was brought back to the jail to be processed out and refused to leave until he stopped by medical to speak to me.

“I told you I would walk out of here free,” Kareem said laughing.

“How did you do it?” I asked, completely amazed at this kid.

“I told the jury my story. My lawyer did not want me to testify, but I made him put me on the stand,” he said of his trial. “I told the jury the truth and I guess they believed me. They found me not guilty.”

“That is amazing,” I admitted.

“Well, it worked in my first murder trial, so I decided to tell the truth again and it worked in this one, too,” he confessed.

“Wait…first murder trial?”

Kareem laughed at my expression. “Yeah, the first time I was charged with five counts of first degree murder. These guys broke into my house at 4:00 in the morning to rob me of my weed and I shot and killed all five. The jury said I had a right to defend my home even if I was only protecting my drugs. Funny, how I was charged for doing the same thing the three cousins did, huh? I guess it’s true, what goes around comes around.”

I could not help but laugh at this kid’s audacity and asked, “Kareem, I hope now you’ve learned your lesson and are going to straighten up?”

As they were leading him out to be discharged he smiled that infectious smile and said, “I’m going to enroll in college when I go home. Then, I plan to move the hell away from this place. You won’t ever see me again.”

And, I didn’t, either. I do hope he made good on his promise to himself and went to college. Wherever Kareem is, I wish him all the luck in the world. 

May. 23, 2017

Do You Think I’m Sexy?

 

I am a people watcher. I enjoy watching and learning the social behaviors of others. Over the years, I’ve observed and learned much about our body language, false bravados and how society behaves romantically. The one thing I’ve noticed far more with women than with men is, when it comes to sex appeal, the more women want sex, the more insecure she feels about herself, as if the desire makes her vulnerable. However, the opposite is true with men. The more men want sex, the sexier and more irresistible they think they are to all women, with emphasis on all.

This couldn’t be truer than in the jail and prison systems. When I worked the medical department, I had inmates come to my office and flirt with me, some more outrageously than others.

I’ve overheard them telling their comrades (pertaining to me), “She wants me … watch.” 

I asked one inmate, “Why would I give up a marriage to the man I love for someone who is locked up?”

One particular inmate, Yassir, had to receive daily medical treatments. We usually chatted about different things during his visits. I can’t recall how the subject came up, but one evening we were discussing how the men on his cell block thought they were sexy and every woman wanted them.

“Man, they’re just horny,” Yassir confided. “I hear a lot of that talk in there.”

“Well, I’m not about to give up my husband for someone who can’t even brush their damn teeth. Their breath is so bad most times, it about knocks me out whenever they talk to me,” I said laughing.

Yassir, being one of the cleaner inmates in the facility, agreed. “I’ve told them myself they need to shut the hell up and go brush that damn tooth they have hanging out of their mouths. Some won’t even take a shower. They say it’s because they don’t have any money for soap, but I don’t care. At least go rinse your nasty ass off with some hot water!”

I agreed, too. “You cannot be sexy when you’re unbathed and have terrible halitosis.”

“You can tell who has been to prison and who is just a jailhouse bitch,” he said explaining the difference. “If you’ve been to prison, you’re well groomed. The jailhouse bitches haven’t done hard time so they don’t know they better wash and stay clean.”

“Why is that?” I asked.

“Because they’ll cut your ass in prison,” Yassir exclaimed incredulously, as if that is something I should have known. “No one wants their cell block smelling like someone’s dirty sweat socks. You better stay clean if you know what’s good for you. But people who never did a day of hard time won’t know that.”

As I said, Yassir was pretty clean so it definitely raised a question. “So … you’ve been to prison before then?”

“I have,” Yassir added with a nod.

“What for?”

“Basically the same thing I’m going for now: RICO charges,” he admitted. “Except this time, I’m not getting a slap on the wrist. I’m looking at twenty years. I’m still here in county waiting for the powers-that-be to hash out what they need to hash out and give me my sentence.”

On another visit to medical, Yassir asked me the strangest question. He asked if I ever had sexual dreams about him. I remember I stopped what I was doing and turned to look at him to see if he were serious. Even the officer stood staring at Yassir as if he’d lost his mind.

Finally deciding the inmate was serious, she (the officer) turned to me and said, “Well, you know sometimes nurses and officers develop a thing for some of these inmates, so I guess it’s a legitimate question and Yas does have to come down here nightly for treatments. You never know.”

“Yassir, why would you ask me something like that, though?” I asked, as the people watcher and behavioral inquisitor came out in me. “Have I done or said anything to make you think I had a romantic interest in you?”

“No, but that’s not why I asked,” he answered. “Yesterday, the corporal on nights told me she has sexual dreams all the time of the two of us getting it on. She wakes up wishing I was there.” I guess my look of horror matched the officer’s because Yassir added while laughing, “That’s what she said. It’s not my fantasy! I swear.” 

Needless to say, that corporal wasn’t working there much longer after that admission came out.