Sunday, October 16, 2011

Jail: Part II

St. Louis County Jail is maximum security.  Meaning that to get to the where the prisoners are, you have to go through three or four guarded steel doors.  To get in to the first door you have to go through a metal detector that is so sensitive that it always beeps so then you have to be wanded by a guard with one of those metal detecting wands.  There is a long list of things that can't be brought in to the area where the prisoners are even if you don't plan on having them get their hands on it; sharp things, phones, poison things etc, because prisoners are cagey (ha ha, no pun intended) and can do a lot with a little.  I loved working at the jail because it was so interesting, for one thing, and I really loved the women I worked with who ran the activities program for prisoners.  The leader of these women was Robyn.  She was strict and I think now is the big boss at the jail.  

One time Kira found a teeny tiny bunny out in the grass in our yard and brought him in the house and said she wanted to keep it.

It was so small I thought it was a mouse or a baby squirrel or something.  I've never seen a bunny that small.  I didn't think it would live, but I got it a tiny bottle, some kitten formula and read up on bunny raising.  They need to be warm and fed about five hundred times a day.  I thought I was up to the task and I kept up the pace for a few days but then came the one day of the week I was supposed to work at the jail.  I would be gone for 8 hours and I couldn't leave the bunny for that long. The following week we were supposed to take a family vacation to California and I still hadn't figured out what to do with the bunny while we were gone because you can't take a little wild bunny on a plane, can you?  What was I going to do with this little bunny that I had totally fallen in love with?  Kira couldn't be trusted to take care of it, and Mitch wouldn't so I really had no choice but to see if I could smuggle it into the jail. I figured if I could smuggle it in to the jail, I could easily get it past airport security.

I put on my hideously ugly overalls, stuck some velcro on the top of the chest pocket so I could close it so the bunny couldn't poke his little head out and give us away, I put the bottle of formula in another pocket and off I went.  I went through the metal detectors and of course the clasps on my overalls set it off so I had to be wanded.  Thankfully there is no bunny-detecting wand!  I got in and felt like I had just broken out of Alcatraz.  I beat the system!  Now I had to avoid detection for eight hours.

About every 20 minutes I went to the bathroom and fed the little bunny.  I got through the first six hours and was feeling pretty smug.  I wanted to tell someone!  I was just so proud!   Before my last class I went in to Robyn's office with a ridiculous smile on my face. She knew I was up to something.  She said, "...what.....WHAT?"  and I cracked.  I reached in my pocket and brought out the tiny bunny.  The look on Robyn's face was PRICELESS.  She was  stunned, and pissed, and overcome with the cuteness of the little bunny.  She gave me the obligatory lecture about contraband (but Robyn, nobody said anything about baby bunnies that need to be fed every 20 minutes) but then she couldn't help but say, "OOOOOOO!  HE'S SOOOO CUUUUTE!"  and she reached into a drawer and pulled out a perfect sized plastic cage for him and stuffed it with tissue so it was all cozy and comfy.  Apparently I'm not the only one who smuggles in cute animals.  She said I couldn't take him into my last class and I would just have to leave him in her office.  Fine with me.  I gave her the bottle and she snuggled him in her arms and fed him and said, "What were you thinking!"  I told her all about how this was a test run to see if I could get him past airport security and she gave me another lecture about how irresponsible it would be if I did that and he got taken away!  What would happen to him!  She would take care of him!  Jesus!

I went and taught my last class and when I came back to her office it was dark.  I thought she was gone, but she was sitting in there, in the dark, with the bunny.  I said, "What are you doing?" and she shushed me and told me the bunny was sleeping.

So if I can smuggle a mammal into the jail on my person with nobody being the wiser (and notice I said ON my person, not IN my person) what else is being smuggled into jail??? And HOW???  Believe me, you do not want to know.  I'll just tell you one little story.  This guy got arrested and was waiting to be processed so he was sitting on this out-of-the way bench in the booking area and he was handcuffed.  Apparently he was a plan-ahead type of guy, because he was prepared for just such a dilemma.  There was a camera trained on him while he got his pants down and grunted out the handcuff key he had shoved up his anus earlier that day? week? part of his morning routine?, and he unlocked his cuffs. TA DA!!!  It was quite the production which the guards were so fascinated by that they let it go on to see if he could get out of the cuffs.  And then they took his disgusting key away from him and recuffed him.


  1. I think I just threw up in my mouth a little over that keyhole (pun intended!).

  2. I'm with Eva on this one! Love the pic of Kira with the bunny!

  3. I love this story; you bad ass! And I like hearing about life on the inside... your take on the interactions with the people on the "inside"... both those who work there and those on lock down. I mean, I often wonder about those who choose to work there... are they just as crazy? Or are they just trying to help others, or is it just a paycheck? Prolly no different then any other job.

    My friend's hubby just took a job teaching at an alt. high school in Mpls. So far, he says he's really enjoying the interaction with these kids. I wondered how Alt school compares to say a regular school, which made me think of you and your experience with both. That's how I came to really think about you teaching in a prison and how that all relates, too.

    So, regular school vs. alternative school vs. prison... which one do you prefer? Discuss. (if you want)

    Thanks Sarah!

  4. that little bunny! what happened to it? do you still have it?

  5. Anne, I liked both alternative school and prison. I guess alt. school better because there is some kind of possible bright future with kids. After they are strung out, grown up and in jail, there isn't much hope for improvement.

    Simone, The bunny thrived and was wonderful until he jumped out of his pen at the end of the summer. I was heartbroken and I still miss him. I think he probably lives around here. I'm sure the fact that he used to lay down on his side and shut his eyes to nap whenever he got a little tired never had any bad consequences for him in the wild. I'm sure of it.


I would love your comments.