Sunday, July 15, 2018

What I Learned In Jail-tales Of A Nurse

by baynurse (writer), Novato, California, June 30, 2009

working in SF county Jails, as a nurse, I saw first hand the strange yet common reoccurances and atrocities.

I am not here to share statistics or number games, they are useless to reality in my opinion.  What I have seen working in the jails in SF is more alarming than any statistician could ever come up with.  The realities of what goes on in jail and who goes in to jail is barbaric.  I worked both women's jail and men's jail, for over 3 years.

A hostile environment full of anger, hate, and ignorance.  A place that would easily lose face in comparison to a zoo, or a dog pound, at least some keepers actually like the animals they care for. 

A jail is a smelly, loud, hostile, energetically degrading place, where human beings are made to follow someones orders, live with other people who don't care for themselves, addicts, theives, murderers, rapists, chid molesters, drug dealers, and inocent folks.

The lack of human kindness, abounds, a criminal does their time, only to get out with more hostility and hatred and now the experience of hell, with no intention of going back nor the intention of changing thier ways that got them into jail in the first place.

Fights over using the toilet, fights over saying something someone took personally, fights over jealousy, or domination, or lack of language skills, or perceived threats. Constant vigilance over what is said or done, or eaten, or made. people who have let go of living thier truth, and begun living in hate and anger only to beget more of the same for themselves and from others.

imagine the lack of a gentle touch or a gentle word, imagine all your belongings that you had on you, being constantly eyed by theives and addicts. imagine roomates, hundreds of them, all in the same situation, without regard for safety or integrity.

Jails are not places to rehabilitate, they grow the sense of powerlessness and disparity among classes, races, and sophistication in crime.  kindness begets kindness, cruelty begets cruelty, are you begetting something today?

About the Writer

baynurse is a writer for BrooWaha. For more information, visit the writer's website.
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5 comments on What I Learned In Jail-tales Of A Nurse

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By Digidave on June 30, 2009 at 11:25 am


This is Digidave - the editor of Broowaha. GREAT piece.

You know I run a nonprofit that fundraises for journalism. Here is one of the stories we are doing that is related to your piece here:

I can only imagine some of the things you've seen. The reporter behind the pitch that we are working on has said that there are real attrocities of public health taking place in prisons.

Keep up the good writing.

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By TonyBerkman on June 30, 2009 at 01:26 pm

The process begins when someone is charged with a crime and even before they have been found guilty.    If people are really innocent until proven guilty why are they treated with such hostility from the police and investigators, including being placed in a cell upon arrest,  handcuffed,  photographed with numbers when there has been no determination of guilt?

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By David M Payne on June 30, 2009 at 02:19 pm

Unfortunately those who really are criminals kindness and no prisons to them begettes more crime, not less. You made some valid points, but what is your solution? No prisons? That would be a disaster for the vast majority of people that these career criminals prey on. How about real job training that could lead to real jobs to go with a more humane way of dealing with criminals. You must also face the fact that some people want to be criminals and all of the kindness in the world won't change that, so for them we still need prisons. If we get rid of the stupid soft drug laws we would really reduce the numbers in prisons, as overcrowding leads to many of the things you talked about in your essay.

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By cristogianni on July 02, 2009 at 01:56 pm

This is a great piece, BN! Concise yet graphic, it is truly a "must read" for both would-be criminals contemplating crime, and those in charge of our Federal Prison system. Both would be wise to heed your words of experience. Nice job!

Cristo ;)

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By John Donnely on July 14, 2009 at 05:10 pm

These “criminals” are mentally ill, and should be classified and treated as such.  By giving them the name “criminal,” that mistakenly glorifies them and they revel in that “glory.”  Mentally ill cuts them down to the real size they are and eliminates their “glory” attention.  Mentally ill also allows for and demands a diagnosis and treatment plan.

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