Wednesday, March 4, 2009

I Did Jail Time

I was shaking as I walked down the narrow corridor. My heart was pounding heavily in my chest. I couldn’t believe it; I was actually going to jail. The elevator button was pressed, we were headed to the 13th floor.

Not only was I scared out of my mind, I was feeling superstitious, too. What kind of building has a 13th floor, for goodness sakes, usually the buttons skip from 12 to 14?

Suddenly, the doors opened and before me I saw the jail’s visiting booths. You know the kind with the phones and thick glass walls. I stepped to the left and walked towards huge steel doors.

This place is a fortress!

A small slot in the door opened. A gruff voice told me to hand over my identification. Slowly the massive steel panels slid open. I felt faint…

I had made some bad decisions in my day. Was this really the path I wanted to follow?

.

.

.

It would be my first day of nursing on the Jail Ward.

Armed sheriff’s deputies manned the front desk. Behind them, the wall was lined with semi-automatic AR-15’s, at the ready for any riot. A no-nonsense sergeant gave me a large, bangle-like metal ring with a key on it. “Before you go in there,” he said sternly, “there ’re a couple of things you’ll need to know.”

“When you want to go into the inmate’s room you will first knock on the door. The prisoners must all sit down on their beds,” he said. “They shall remain there until you leave. No sharp objects are to be brought into the room. If you receive anything but full cooperation, report it to an officer immediately. If an inmate is well enough to harass a nurse, they are well enough to return to jail.”

Following this debriefing, he told me how to locate the charge nurse. Down the hall and to the left I found the jail’s emergency room. Just outside the door, a fully restrained prisoner laid on a metal gurney. Froth flowing from his mouth, he was growling like a wild animal. Despite the restraints, he bounced the heavy gurney off the ground. A nurse walked out from the adjoining room. Seeing me, a wide eyed rookie, she glared with contempt and then, looking down at the patient, muttered “PCP…I’ve had enough of PCP”.

Glancing over my shoulder in disbelief, I hurried on down the halls. The ward was clean, but cold, and without personality. The dull gray floor tiles were freshly mopped, the smell of institutional disinfectant was strong and a bit irritating. Coming to the first of two nurses’ stations, the charge nurse greeted me. “This your first time on the Jail Ward?” she asked.

Was it the deer-in-the-headlight look that gave me away?

After another brief orientation, I found myself on my own. The night nurse was ready to give me report. She ran down the patients’ medical conditions, but conspicuously omitted any mention of their criminal histories.
“What did this guy do that he’s in jail?” I cautiously asked, pointing to one of my patient’s Kardex.

“We never know what crimes the patients have committed,” she said dryly. “It’s better that way.”

Better? What have I gotten myself into?

(to be continued…)

21 comments:

April said...

Oh.My.Goodness! I would be shaking in my shoes! You HAD to have been so scared! Is it worse or better not knowing what crimes the prisoners committed? I'm not sure! I can't wait to learn more about your experience...don't keep us waiting too long...PLEASE!

Hey Mama where's my... said...

You are a much braver women that I am! I don't do psych or drama lol~ I call security if I hear mama's and daddy's fussing in the room~ I am a wuss hahaha!

Mighty M said...

Yikes! Looking forward to the rest of the story!

Momma_Hug said...

You are a brave person! And a fabulous story teller. Can't wait to read more!!

Semi-Slacker Mom said...

Oh my! This is really scary. You are a better person than me, I could never do that!

Go back to the baby stories!!! :)

He And Me + 3 said...

Oh my...I am on the edge of my seat. You really need to write a book. Great story so far.

tollesons4him said...

WOW!! You are a very brave woman and I don't know if I could do this or not and I honestly thought I was reading an insert from a book. You are a gifted writer and story teller.

blueviolet said...

This is intense and I can't wait to read the rest of it! I'm loving this.

Casey said...

Yikes! I can't imagine...although we did have an inmate once- but she was on our turf. We didn't have to go to hers.

Elaine said...

Can't wait for the rest. =)

brian said...

Always suspected you did time...Now the truth comes out :)

Becca Cosmetics said...

I would have been shaking in more then my shoes! Good for you! You are braver then I am!

Becca

Please visit me at http://www.askbecca.com

Orah said...

Like a chapter from a novel, I am breathless with anticipation...

Jen said...

Oh what a cool story. I can't wait to read more.

Melissa said...

I was right!!! I knew that because I work for an electrical co. and monthly I have to go into a medium security prison to read the meters...although it does not feel medium security when I'm in there! It's surely a different world. Is this a permanent position foryou now? I will be curious to read on...

Becca~TimeWellSpent said...

That is one job I could never do. My hat is off to you. I look forward to the rest of the story! (I hated my locked down psych rotation in school. I would have never survived a prison!).

E @ Scottsville said...

Oh goodness! That would be just a tad bit intimidating. Best of luck!

Eyeglasses & Endzones said...

Whoa...I thought that was as excerpt from a book and then NO...it was you...this is great...keep going, I can't wait for the To be continued!!!

Helene said...

Wow, you could seriously write a book about all your nursing experiences! I thought that was from a chapter in a book or something...wow, now I can hardly wait to read the rest. I can only imagine how scared you must have been...I kept picturing the whole Hannibel Lecter/Clarice Starling scene when she first visits him in jail...ugh.

Beth E. said...

Oooo..a cliffhanger! Don't keep us waiting too long until the next part...you've had me on the edge of my seat with this post!

Rebekah said...

You reminded me of my own experience in Nursing school with the locked psych unit rotation. When we went into the locked unit we were issued keys. I was so scared one of the patients would know I had a key and attack me for it. Then I was really scared when a women walked up to me and introduced herself as Mary the mother of Jesus. I was so glad to be done with that rotation