And a Wake Up
January 1, 2014
“Bozelko, while you were sleeping, I saw your thing,” the C/O told me as I dragged my feet over the black brillo of the mat at the unit’s door, back from a walk to breakfast.
“What thing?” I asked. If flashing a C/O – even inadvertently – didn’t land you in seg, I wouldn’t have cared if any of my privates were on display for a guard; any sense of modesty’s been distilled right out of me. I would worry about people seeing the years of hair growth on my legs but I’m sure I’ve been dogged by the female staff who strip search me and my legs have been described in lurid detail as looking exactly like the industrial doormat they were standing on.
“What file?” I wasn’t sure who this dude was trying to play. I’d never seen him before and six years here taught me there’s one file for you that never leaves the records room.
“You leave this year,” he answered, and handed my time sheet [list of dates of entry and and time earned off your sentence; includes your release date] over the console, one that should’ve been delivered to me before the holiday.
In my experience, talking about when an inmate is going home the standard broach for sex [rape] from a C/O, which never made sense to me. If I know I have sure exit in a few days, then I’ll be far less tempted to risk going to the hole in exchange for a short ride in the janitorial closet. If I’ve been lonely for years, waiting three more days until I can get laid isn’t that much of a challenge. But women here do it, so the staff keeps trying anyway.
“When are you going home?” one of the newjacks invariably asks me after he starts a new rotation in my building. The old guards already knew how long I’d be here.
“Years, years,” I learned to answer. From 2008 to 2011, my delusion that I was leaving any day led me to answer: “Soon!” when they would ask. That was before I caught on to game and I naively assumed that they’d been following my appeals, through my file, the one with the lady in the records room.
One woman in Food Prep who did have sex with a C/O gets that all the time. She’s very pretty and she figured it out that the release-date question was a form of foreplay because it was lobbed at her so often.
“Never!” she started answering them. “Life without parole. Actually, I’m gonna die here.”
Using an inmate’s release records like they’re eHarmony is actually far more insidious than it seems. Because so many women here are homeless they aren’t going home. They’re leaving, sure, but they have nowhere to go and the ones who have a landing spot know it’s tenuous. The fact that a C/O might let them stay for a night when he fucks her holds an appealing safety. I’ve heard it happens a lot and it always reminds me of the Semisonic song “Closing Time” – Closing time/ Time for you to go back to the places you will be from/Closing Time/ You don’t have to go home but you can’t stay here. The chorus of “I know who I want to take me home” is easier to sing when you have nowhere to wake up.
“I do. Seventy-six days and a wake-up,” I how I answered the C/O. That’s how inmates describe their departure: a period of time with a wake-up chaser. Sixteen days…and a wake-up. Three months…and a wake up. Ninety-nine years…and a wake-up. Most women leave on the court run, so they don’t count the six hours they spend here that day as a full day. Saying “and a wake up” is supposed to make your sentence seem shorter but it only shaves off a few hours.
“This is the last year you’ll be here. Today’s the last January first you’ll get up in jail,” he offered, underscoring that all-important wake-up.
“I dunno. I’m sure I’ll be back,” I said and I’m not entirely sure that’s wrong. But the recidivism of an inmate a C/O hooks up with at home is one of his worst fears; she’s back to tell everyone what they did.
“Every new beginning comes from some other beginning’s end,” I continued, doing my usual cryptic schtick, as I walked upstairs to my tier. I have no idea if he knows it’s a line from the song. Most times they don’t know – it’s why they think I’m smart but crazy. I smiled and pulled on the tier door so he knew I wanted to head back to where I woke up alone.
THREE IDEAS IN JUSTICE REFORM FROM DECEMBER 25 – 31, 2017
In Kansas, a man was killed as a result of a prank over an online gaming dispute. One player “SWATTED” another player by spoofing a call from the victim’s house, claiming that a hostage situation was unfolding, and police shot an innocent man. And now spoofing is in the news again. Someone needs to outlaw this technology pronto. Google me and see how spoofing helped me get to jail. Seriously.
A huge study from the University of Chicago found that one in ten people aged 18-25 have experienced homelessness in the previous year. More are families then single men. And it’s an underestimate. Think this isn’t connected to criminal justice? Guess again. Click here to read why.
The Root published its “Criminal Justice Wins of 2017,” a good list that focuses on state and local reforms. Click here to check it out.