When I was in my early twenties, I was unjustly thrown in jail. I awoke one morning to find a team of local “SWAT” officials pointing shot guns at my head.
One year later, on the advice of my attorney, I signed a plea agreement which subsequently disappeared, and I was sentenced to spend the next thirty days locked in a jail cell.
I remember sitting next to my mom and dad in the court room that day. Court was just getting started, as the bailiff escorted several toothless, tactless, dirty women clothed in orange to the front of the courtroom. As those women sat in their seats, picking at their faces, scratching their elbows, sniffing and shifting nervously, I looked at my dad and shivered. My dad leaned over, “Isn’t that the most depressing scene you’ve ever witnessed?” I nodded slowly.
Moments later the hammer dropped and I was told to go sit next to the women in orange suits. The bailiff handcuffed me to the lady with stringy black and yellow hair. She continued to smack her toothless gums, taking no notice as the handcuffs clicked shut. I sat on display for over an hour while other cases were heard. I remember watching my mom and dad and the little girl who had been sitting on my other side, next to her parents. All of their faces shown with grief coupled with astonishment.
For thirty days I sat in a dark room with no windows; was surrounded by people whose minds had long since been destroyed by meth; would wake up to discover somebody taking a shit only inches from my head; was violently attacked and had to violently defend myself.
I was not, am not, and have never considered myself to be the “type” of person who goes to jail, so the whole experience was tilting to say the least.
While sitting on a stone floor that was stained with urine and mace spray, I scribbled these words onto a piece of paper. This was my first piece of writing outside of a classroom.
I am sitting here in silence, in this pit of bars and chains
There’s no pride left to boast of self, for here self-pity reigns
Perhaps I’ll place the blame on those who placed me in this hole
I know the blame is not for me, but for some other wicked soul
And if this song of pass the blame is what I choose to sing
Then I’ll walk the streets tomorrow, and I’ll not have learned a thing
But if perhaps I choose to think, while in my dark despair
Of all the wrongs I’ve done this week, the blame I’ll start to wear
Then when I am released out of this place of rampant sin
I’ll remember what I’ve learned here, and a knew life I’ll begin