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although not the full flow of a home shower. With my hair wet

Time:2018-06-27 20:13Underwear site information Click:

Crime jail Inmate Law criminal law

I was escorted out the back door of the newsroom on Tuesday in handcuffs and taken to the Effingham County Jail.

As the criminal justice reporter for the Effingham Daily News, I cover the police and courts. While I compile the records of arrests and indictments, or write about proceedings that happened in court that morning, I keep an ear on the police scanner.

The county jail is at the heart of most of what I chronicle in the paper. But like most readers, I don't have firsthand knowledge of how it works. But this is where a whole range of defendants enter "the system" — everyone from people late in court payments to alleged murderers. Some spend a few hours here; others may wait years for their cases to proceed.

To understand that process better, at least a little bit, I approached Effingham County Sheriff David Mahon about the possibility of going through the booking process and spending time in jail. After some discussion, we settled on Tuesday as the day of my arrest.

The jail staff knows me from prior reporting I've done about the jail, and I wasn't about to commit an offense for this story. But Mahon still insisted on making an arrest during a sudden rainstorm. The initial search was quick, checking my pockets and general body for any sort of dangerous implement. Mahon pointed out that I faced two more searches at the jail.

Riding in a squad car with your hands cuffed behind your back is uncomfortable. The body position makes it impossible to lean back, forcing you into a hunched-over position. Even properly fitted cuffs have a bit of a bite to them.

I continued to wear them as I was led by the arm to correctional officers. The first thing was a another search, where an officer thoroughly checked my body for any sort of contraband or a weapon. The questions I was asked varied from the mundane — name and home address — to the unusual: Did I think someone was controlling my mind?

This hopefully filters out those with severe mental illness for additional treatment. Law enforcement regularly deals with people suffering a mental health crisis. During the four hours I was there, the officer placed a woman on suicide watch due to her statements and prior history.

A shower is required before placement in a cell, for health and safety reasons. The inmate is in a room with a correctional officer of the same sex. After removing clothing item-by-item, I was standing naked. But correctional experience has shown that this isn't enough. So I had to lift my testicles, then turn and cough, to ensure nothing was secreted in either place. Theoretically, the coughing exposes or expels anything hidden in the anus.

The shower was warm, at least, although not the full flow of a home shower. With my hair wet, and a drapery between us, the officer pumped an anti-lice solution on my head. Working its slimy solution through my hair was difficult. I had to keep my eyes firmly shut – inmates told me it burns intensely.

Fingerprints are now pressed upon a glass screen, which automatically tells the officer if the print is of sufficient quality. I had several of mine rejected, mostly those on the side of the hand, known as "writer's prints." Once done, they can be instantly sent to other agencies for a check.

I did get the one phone call you hear about; but I was so nervous I could only remember the number for my childhood home. I left a message asking them to contact my wife for a visitation later that day.

Then I picked up my mattress and jail tote, which contained all anyone is initially allowed: toilet paper, toothbrush, toothpaste, comb, soap jail rules, blanket, sheet. Anything else had to be bought — a set of men's large underwear costs $3.93. There wasn't much more in the cells: TV, steel bunk beds, a table. The toilet and sink are built into one steel assembly, with the seat about 15 1/2 inches off the ground.

I was placed in a cell with two inmates — one completing a short sentence and another looking at much more time.

Andrew White, 43, of Mason, has served 26 years in prison across six different stints and faces up to 30 years if convicted of his latest charge. He was arrested on a charge of delivery of between five and 15 grams of meth on March 7, according to a recent list of grand jury indictments I compiled for the newspaper.

"I know how to live in prison," he told me. "I don't know how to live outside."

He started drinking at 9 years old and has struggled with sobriety ever since, he said.

Like many addicts, he finds the structure of custody helpful in preventing a relapse. The fact he can't get easy access to drugs also keeps him going straight. The people he knows and the routines he follows are those of a drug addict, he said, making it difficult to stay clean. It's a common problem for people who leave the institutional setting.

"This is the safest place for me," he said. That's because he can't contact his drug-using friends or get back to his favorite drug, cocaine.

His most recent time outside was successful for almost a year because of a consistent program of treatment, counseling and church, he said.

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