Adventures in Wheatland County Jail, Part 1

Today marks one month since my interesting experience being an inmate in a Wyoming county jail. xD Yeeeep…still ridiculous. Anyway, I thought I’d share some of the things I wrote during my 48 hour stay! Some names have been changed for privacy.

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What an interesting place…my visit here started with two hours of me sitting on the hardest wooden bench EVER as they processed me. “These hours count towards your time,” the Sheriff assured me (which would have been nice to know before I accidentally locked my keys and my cellphone in my car. ._.) He’s nice enough, and he laughs with me at the reason I’m staying. Apparently 48 hours is pretty common for high speeding tickets like mine, but it doesn’t make it any less ridiculous. The other girls I’m with laugh at it, too. There’s another woman in here with the same name as me, so they are calling me “Miss 48 Hours” jokingly because I have the shortest time in here, to tell us apart.

Right about now, I might try to make some romantic interpretation of the walls around me, but the truth of it is this: I get a cell all to myself, which is awesome, and so the fact that there’s a toilet less than 4 feet from the bed(s) is not such a big deal at all! So instead of romanticizing my situation, keeping an imaginary tally of the hours as they tick by and staring at the ceiling, awaiting sleep as the boredom overcomes me, I will say that it’s really not that bad here. No, seriously. I have my pen, paper, a book (ironically, Steppenwolf by Herman Hesse is what I’ve been reading…this is the 3rd time since it was mentioned to me that I’ve seen the title, so I take it as a sign. More on that as I continue to read it), and the other inmates are a decent crowd.

Speaking of them, they are the interesting part of all this. Here I am with my lame speeding ticket, hearing the stories of other girls and women that make me think that this life is normal for them. One girl named Beth* looks like she can’t be more than 20 years old (turns out she’s actually 26)., but she has children (who are currently with a violent and abusive ex husband, a divorce that she’ll finalize next month), and she’s in jail until Monday because she ran into her mom’s garage with her car, and her mom called the cops and told them that Beth tried to run her over. It immediately reminded me of my ex’s mom. Now her mom has a restraining order against her, and she’ll need court assistance to get her things from the house and presumably live with her boyfriend in Oklahoma.

Another woman, Judy*, seems to have taken on the mother role of the unit. To explain briefly, the jail is set up as such: there are individual pods, labeled with a letter, and each pod contains 6-8 cells and a common area. The common area is large and had a book cart, board games, a small TV, picnic tables, phones, and a shower area. We eat in the common room of our pod instead of with the whole jail, there are 11 of us in this pod. Anyway, Judy is older, grey hair streaking her loosely tied bun, and she’s either black or Hispanic or both. She’s very nice and has showed me a lot of how things work! She also knocks on my door at mealtime to make sure I don’t miss out–which is awesome because in my night of 2 1/2 hours of sleep, preceding a 2 1/2 hour drive, I’ve mostly just been sleeping. Judy is in here, I’m not sure for how long, because the car that she borrowed from a friend to drive down to Denver to see her son was actually a stolen vehicle. There might be more to it, but I try not to be too nose in case it’s too personal, or in case I find myself not actually wanting to know.

Judy hangs out a lot with another woman, whom I’ve learned a lot about, except for her name (I’ll have to ask after this dumb ass lockdown for the shift change is over). She’s a drug dealer…heroine or cocaine or both I’d guess by her stories, and I don’t think she’s very ashamed of it. The lifestyle comes with a price though–a price outside of just having to be carted around to various jails until her sentence in Federal prison has been determined. Her son, one of five kids, was murdered a while back because of drugs–he was stabbed over 40 times according to her, many while he was still alive, and then one final stab to the skull. How horrible! All in the name of money and getting the next fix. Sometimes I just don’t understand people.

This woman gets out of here on Thursday for 2 or 3 months until her sentencing–on a one MILLION dollar cash bond.. With tears in her eyes, this 37 year old explained to everyone how she’d spoken to her youngest daughter, 5 years old, and how happy she was to hear her daughter say “I love you.” She said she’d prayed for the ability to have a relationship with her mom, who would have passed by the time she’d finished her prison sentence. She said that with these 2-3 months, she’ll be able to do that. She also has a guy, who served 26 years (!!!) in prison, also for being a drug dealer. They’ll be getting married during this short freedom so they can have…you know, visits. This woman has clearly had a very tough life, but she’s still very nice. She made me some tea while she and Judy drank some coffee (made from hot water from the shower…yep), and she’s loaned me a white t-shirt to wear under my uniform, since I only brought a long-sleeve shirt. This came up while we all sat around showing off our tattoos, and while this nameless woman told me about every tattoo EVER that she wanted and what they would mean to her. I didn’t mind this time though like I normally would…I mean what else am I going to do, right?

Not all the women are quite so nice though…as the other Tracy pointed out, there is a bit of a segregation here in our pod. The other group is small and quiet, and they seem pretty angsty. I wonder why? One is named Cathy*, and the other Sarah*, names that were mumbled quietly to me when I first went down to introduce myself. I haven’t spoken to either of them since except to trade foods at lunch. All of our uniforms are this hideous marigold color, but Sarah’s uniform is orange. I was told this means she’s on work release, which means she gets to leave the pod and work outside for the jail (in fact, I remember seeing her while I was waiting on the bench, sweeping the front and taking out the trash).

So that’s Day 1 for you…now the majority of us are going to sit in the common area and watch Con Air. Ohhh Nicholas Cage. I’ll probably read a bit more of Steppenwolf…I can already tell I’m going to like it. And yes, I realize how ironic it is to watch Con Air in jail. xD