I spent my evening in jail. The title of this post is somewhat deceptive in that this is not my first time going to jail, it’s actually about my fifth. I’ve been several times before to visit clients who were there. Four were behind the glass with those dirty phones you see on tv and the fifth was in a room but that is because there was a new lobby officer and he sent me to the wrong place accidentally. He was probably fired for that.
Tonight I went there for my orientation session and had my picture taken for my ID badge. I signed several documents one of which was a waiver saying that I would not discuss what I see in the jail. I wouldn’t ever give specifics anyway of course because I am there in a professional capacity and my work with clients is confidential. That doesn’t stop me from giving general information though. The orientation manual contains quite a lot of information in it about protocol, emergency codes and ways to treat inmates so you are not manipulated and they are not victimized. What I remember most though was the Do’s and Dont’s list of how you react if you have been taken hostage. There were a lot of Dont’s and only one Do. The Do was “take food and drink if offered”. I thought at first it was a typo but no really, it was a Do because the units are searched every four -five days so inmates would not have the opportunity to stock pile food. Because a hostage situation could last for days you are to take the food and drink if offered because you don’t know when you’ll be eating next. We were assured however that most likely we would not be taken hostage. We were also shown a lovely display of everyday objects that had been obtained and turned into weapons.
I have enjoyed the work I have done with my clients in jail. In each and every occasion that I saw one of them, the crime (or alleged crime) that they committed had occurred in the past and they had each made efforts in their lives to rehabilitate themselves and were seeking help. In prison a day can feel like weeks so any positive contact, especially from the outside can mean the world to someone. It can provide hope where there is none and encouragement and support to make the best of the time they have inside and create a plan for when they are discharged.
I hope the picture on my iD badge looks okay. I smiled as big as I could then asked the lady if it was okay or was I supposed be no expression like in a passport picture. She told me to smile away because the inmates didn’t see too many of them inside 😀