Day 10: More Public Defender’s Office, “Contreras,” and Commissory

By | December 10, 2008

by Brian A. Wilkins

This day corresponds with Thursday, July 31, 2008.

A guy I only remember as “Hardy,” a kinfolk, was another one of the new arrivals when Juan got there. During morning chow, he was telling everybody about why he was there and showing people his paperwork. He was charged with three counts of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon for apparently threatening to shoot three people. But that’s not the surprising part. The fact his bail was only $10,000, compared to my $54,000, when I was facing only ONE aggravated assault charge, is what made no sense to me.

Hardysaid the three people were all black, and of course the justice system treats black-on-black crime differently. I thought to myself, ‘was my bond so high because the alleged “victim” is “white?’ Rev overheard our conversation and interjected, “I was charged with armed robbery and violating my previous release conditions…my bond is $16,000,” he said.

I already knew the bond placed on me was unlawful and I was clearly being targeted, but hearing about someone charged with armed robbery and having a bond almost $40,000 less than mine was plain unconscionable. I called the public defender’s office and again, was told to leave a message for the guy. I asked him, again, to come down and talk to me before tommorow. It started frustrating me at this point, as I thought ‘how can somebody defend you if they know nothing about you or your case?’ I called the public defender’s office two more times before it closed at 4:30pm, each time leaving yet another message.

I tried to pass the time as quickly as possible, anxiously awaiting court tommorow and my subsequent, presumed release. Monster and I played at least 8 games of chess between count lockdowns. “Man that’s my girl right there,” he said, as a D.O. I’d never seen to this point did a round in the cell block. “Na, that’s my girl,” The Rev said. Her name, I think, was Contreras. I guess she was semi-attractive. But you would think she was some pageant winner the way everybody drooled over her.

Each and every time she worked, all eyes in the pod would follow her ass. Many of the guys had been in that place for 5-7 months. Subsequently, seeing any woman was a treat. Several of the male D.O., according to a few of the guys who had been in there forever, would retaliate against anyone looking at her since they were all in love with her too. They would go into cells and just take your belonging or lock you in your cell for hours at a time if they suspected you were looking at their “girl.” It was all pretty juvenile.

Right before evening chow, we were all locked down again, which was unusual to me, but I’d find out this would happen every Thursday. It was commissory delivery day. It was treated not only as a holiday, but also seemingly equivalent to “the 1st of the month.” You are told to line up on the bottom tier and you sign a paper saying you received your order. You then take your brown paper bags full of stuff and dump them out on a table where a D.O. can verify your order is correct. As I was walking back to the cell with three bags of stuff, many of the guys would say things like, “damn, you a baller,” or “there’s a high-roller.” My commissory orders consisted of lots of junk food, writing pads, soap, lotion, toothpaste, etc.

I immediately ate a bag of pork rinds, a bag of Fritos, a danish, three vitamin C tablets (since I was still hacking up phlegm all day and night), and drank two bottles of orange juice. I also gave Juan a bag of chips and a honeybun since he was “indigent” and only got the jail-issued indigent package from commissory each week. It consisted of a toothbrush, toothpaste, and post cards with Joe Arpaio on them. There would be much commotion throughout the cell block on Thursdays, as guys had to run around, paying off their poker debts or any other debts they may have accumulated throughout the week or months.

This wood (white guy) guy I’d never met stopped in the cell and asked me for an item to pay the guys who did the cleaning all week. Each week, a different race is assigned cleaning duties, as far as after meals, the showers, etc. Anybody in the pod who ordered more than $10 worth of stuff had to contribute one item to the fund. All the stuff is then distributed to the guys who mopped the floors and cleaned the tables off all week.

Prayer circle that night was the most active I’d ever been in one of them. Since I had court the next day, I was again in the middle of the circle with everyone’s hand on my shoulders, praying. I told them all that regardless of what happens tomorrow, I was glad I got to know all of them and many of us will be friends even when I’m gone. I felt a powerful vibe out there that day; as if something magical was about to happen. Train and Rodney came back to the cell with me afterwards to talk. I showed Train the police report, which drew his ire. “You’re kidding me, right?” he said. “Give these guys a badge and a gun and they think they’re god.”

At lockdown, I laid on the bunk, writing journal entries and a de-facto script as to what I should say to the judge tomorrow. I was thinking of happy things. I had a dream about my high school sweetheart last night and she’s been on my mind a lot today. I could not sleep as my anticipation for court would not allow it. I figured the State of Arizona and Maricopa County made me sit in jail for 10 days without allowing me any chance to talk to a judge and/or lawyer, but if I got out of there tomorrow, I wouldn’t even care anymore. The Sour Patch Kids I was eating seemed to taste better than any bag of the candy I’d ever had. My mood and energy were both positive…that is of course, until I would be blind-sided by the events to come.

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