The news from jail, I am sad to say is not good news. This is not your little county lockup. The guard who did my little "orientation," such as it was told me they house 70+ inmates, and that they get guys from all over the state and that it is a tough crowd. "More," he said, "like a prison population, than a typical county would house. Very tough, very hardcore sometimes." So I should not have been surprised to see L looking pale and thin. He was, he told me "stuck" by a homemade shiv of some kind in the shower last week. He got in a verbal showdown with someone over a card game, and later in the showers where there are no cameras and no guards, he found himself bleeding. I asked him if he told someone and he looked at me as if I had just landed here. Which of course I have--on this planet. "No, Rev. Kate. That is not how it works. You don't rat people out. It just makes it worse." He is on his second room mate or cellie. The first one "did not work out." I didn't ask. By that time I already knew a whole lot about the life he is dealing with there every day. Inmates take other guy's food, they trip them on the stairs, extort them. And you don't tell. You just "watch your back" or have friends to do it for you. If you are charged with certain crimes you are an automatic target. L told me he is "kind of afraid to go to sleep" sometimes. I asked about asking for administrative segregation. He said "I can't do that, because you have to come out sometimes, then it's worse. That's the thing, Rev. Kate, to do anything other than fight it makes it worse."
He also told me he got some papers telling him (as he understands it) that he has more time to serve. The ubiquitous "year and a day." For something from somewhere. I asked him to mail them to me. He says they say something about bonding and bail. Perhaps we can have a bake sale.
On the bright side....there are those cards and letters....from Washington and Texas and places he can't remember from "these ladies that know you Rev. Kate that are praying for me." It was one of the only times he really smiled. And he is going to Bible study. And to AA. This tells me he has not lost all hope. And he is still drawing, though he has had to trade food for paper. He will have some funds in the canteen account soon, so that will improve. His days are long. He says the entertainment is figuring out what brand of soda will come out of the machine. It's random and they put bets on it and laugh at how mad guys get because they still think they are going to get what they push. "It's jail," he says. "What are they thinkin?" I tried to encourage the GED classes. Something to do...and maybe a nicer breed of cat? Or is that just my hopeless Pollyanna trying to look for something good in even this?
He hasn't heard from his new GF...I doubt she even knows she can write to him. He asked me to try to track her down, because to complicate things, she was moving the week he was transferred there. So I'm on a quest for D now. If I can find her, I'll take her along the next time I go visit if she wants to come.
So many things to deal with he has, so many consequences for this act, committed or not....it just seems so endless, like one of those bad dreams that just loops and loops. If it's true about the "year and a day" he will be transferred to a prison to serve that, he says. And those, he tells me are even worse. How much worse, I wonder, can it be, when it hasn't even taken him a month to get stabbed in this rural county jail that prides itself on "running a tight ship."
So once again, we prayed that God will hold him close and keep him safe and be his light in this dark place;will help him remember that he is marked as Christ's own and God's beloved and that nothing can separate him from that love.