Saturday, June 20, 2015

The Holding Cell or The Second of the Anniversaries

Last year on this day, I went to jail in Hennepin County.

Apparently, Hennepin County jail is the "worst" jail.  According to the experts that have spent time in a variety of jails, it is cold and uncomfortable, difficult to navigate, and bad, in general.

At that time I was taking some medication to help me deal with significant depression and horrible anxiety.  I was also struggling with my marriage and the odd behavior of my husband. Nothing felt good or right, and I often relieved myself of my pain by drinking alcohol.

My history with alcohol begins in my thirties.  We started to socialize with the parents of the kids' friends, getting together to play cards once a month.  The drinking was a part of the social atmosphere and "everyone" did it. I didn't abuse alcohol, and I didn't drive or otherwise participate in unsafe behavior.  As time passed, I did drink more alcohol, but felt safe and among friends.  I never had hang overs and I never drove.

Eventually, we socialized more frequently with more groups of friends. I drank more frequently too.  My husband encouraged it; drinking alcohol loosened my inhibitions and resulted in my willingness to more actively participate in things he wanted to do.  I'm not interested in talking about that yet.  It's one of the most painful parts of my history.

Last year, I decided I was going to shop in Arbor Lakes.  I had taken both of my medications and was feeling calm and controlled even though it felt like life was unraveling.  My husband was at the ball field and I didn't want to sit home.  Once in Arbor Lakes, I opted to lunch at Red Lobster.  I had wine there. I didn't realize the synergistic effect of combining the medication with alcohol.  I know when I was ready to leave the restaurant, I didn't feel right.  I ended up stopping at another restaurant where there was a live band.  I don't remember everything after that point.

When I finally decided to go home, I still felt odd.  I felt discombobulated and disoriented.  I pulled into a neighborhood and noticed the lights from a police car behind me. The following minutes - hours? - are a blur.  I know that I felt the most awesome and uncontrollable anxiety I'd ever felt before and I recall being convinced that everything would be okay if I could just go home. When I felt the handcuffs and my arms stretched behind my back, waves of panic washed over me.  I pulled my hands free of the handcuffs.  I didn't know then that I was "resisting arrest."  Having been confined physically and emotionally so many times over the years, I simply couldn't stand how it felt. When the officer put the handcuffs back on, he tightened them painfully and pushed me into the back of his car.  The seats in the back of those cars is molded plastic. I sat on my cuffed hands for more than an hour.  It was hot and sweaty, and my dress had slid high on my thighs.  I remember begging someone to fix it.  Even that small dignity is denied to someone suspected of wrong doing.

I refused to take the breath test.  I wanted to talk to a lawyer, but - like most people - didn't have one in speed dial.  Typically, lawyers don't publish their home numbers or cell phones, so I wasn't able to get ahold of a lawyer.

When I was finally delivered to Hennepin County Jail, sweaty with my panties showing, I sat in the back of the vehicle for a long time.  Eventually, I went inside the jail to be booked.  The booking officer was trying to enter my name into the system and could not get it right, despite having my driver's license.  I remember answering several questions before I finally said, "It's exactly like it is on my driver's license, stupid." That was a bad idea. I was lifted off my feet and tossed into a holding cell.

I stayed in the holding cell from approximately 8:00 until the early morning hours of Saturday.  It was horribly cold - the walls and benches are brick, and I was wearing a sundress.  The walls and benches were smeared with something that looked remarkably like refuse and vomit.  The toilet had something disgusting in it and the water fountain was part of the sink faucet, which was also dirty and disgusting.

Despite repeated requests for assistance, I was left alone for those hours.  I was too afraid to drink water, too afraid to use the toilet, and too afraid to touch anything.  Eventually, I found the cleanest spot on a bench and slept.

I woke to the sound of vicious pounding and voices.  Across the hall from me, a tall man with crazy eyes was pounding his head against the metal door, screaming and shouting horrible things. It seemed like the entire staff was outside the door listening to him.  It was finally then that someone brought me my new uniform and told me to change into it.  Once changed, I waited another hour.

An officer eventually brought me back to the original counter.  They took my jewelry, including my earrings and necklaces. They asked questions I meekly answered - even when I thought they were stupid. Then I was escorted back to the cell and told to take off my underwear and bra as well in addition to the clothes I'd already surrendered.  I was not allowed to have a bra - and I never went braless.  Not ever.  And the "panties" I was given was stained with some unknown woman's menstrual blood. All these months later, I still don't understand that humiliation. I wasn't actually guilty of anything at that point, but still stripped of everything uniquely identifying me and indicating my uniquely whimsical nature.  Being forced to be bare-breasted and to wear another woman's life-giving blood will always be a punishment unsuited to my crime or any established guilt at that point.

Once dressed in my grotesque panties, heavy gray t-shirt, blaze orange uniform shirt and pants, and a disgusting pair of enormous plastic sandals (they were out of socks), I was told to wait in plastic chairs with other people who were also being booked.  There were a few men and a few more arrived while I was sitting there.  Without exception, they all stared at my chest.

I was called to sign for my belongings in a log book and watched them pack everything into a garment bag and store it.  Then I went to the photo booth for a mug shot.  Following that, I went to a different holding cell.  This one was full of women.  Some were sleeping, some were crying, and others were staring vacantly. Occasionally, they talked to each other.  I thought they knew each other and only discovered over the next several hours that they'd all been strangers.  Booking makes sisters of other women quickly.

There was a toilet in the holding cell.  It was surrounded by a short brick wall.  The cell had windows on all sides. In my inexperience and niativity, I thought I would be allowed to use the real bathroom across the hall.  Umm.  No.  Squatting over the toilet in the group room was the only option.  I had to do it twice.

Eventually, prisoners go through a variety of stations.  The first station was similar to a train station ticket counter.  I was read the arresting officer's report and told that I was on a 36-hour hold.  It's not really a 36-hour hold though.  There are all sorts of mitigating factors involved, and the end result was that I wasn't going to be taken to court until Tuesday morning.  If I wasn't charged by noon on Monday, I would be free to go home.  Even if I wasn't charged by noon on Monday, I could still be charged after that time; they just couldn't hold me longer than that.  Also, the officer explained that I couldn't go to court until I'd been charged.

Next, I went to the nursing station.  The officer/medic there took note of my injuries; by that time both of my hands were swollen to twice their normal size and I had no feeling below the palms of my hands.  The damage appears to be partially permanent; I have no feeling in either thumb or the first two fingers on each hand.  I had an officer's handprint on my left shoulder and an enormous bruise on my right arm.  I was bruised on both legs, and the side of my face.  I requested photographs of the bruises and injuries and the officer told me to ask once I was at my cell. I was allowed to have and ice pack and some ibuprofen.

There was another station where an officer asked a multitude of questions.

Finally, I went to fingerprinting. The process is interesting now that they are using technology.  The officer puts some substance on each finger and then presses it down on a reader. I would have been fascinated if not for the excruciating pain the pressure caused.  Apparently, they don't really trust the technology yet, so I did a second set of fingerprints the old-fashioned and very messy way.  That too was very painful.

In its entirety, booking takes approximately 22 minutes of contact time.  Being shuffled from one place to another, and being shuffled back to the holding cell between each station, and being called one-by-one to go to the next station results in the process taking much more time.  I was in the holding cell for a little more than two and a half hours.

Once I visited each station and the "work" of booking was complete, I was allowed a phone call.  At 7:30ish on Saturday morning, I finally contacted my husband to tell him where I was.  I was relieved that he answered the phone, but his attitude then and over the next days was difficult to stomach.  I know what he thought of others who were in trouble over the years, and I knew he didn't understand anything about what I was going through.  He decided that I was an alcoholic and my behavior seemed to support that.  He spread that story to many friends and colleagues.  I'll never know exactly who he told or what exactly he said, but he lied and defamed me.  I let him do it by my own actions.  The why is the easy part to understand.  My husband needed to turn me into a villain so he could justify turning his back on me and engaging in his new relationship. 

There's so much more to say about what happened in that cell, and in my life. This walk down memory lane is both therapeutic and exhausting.

Last year at this time, I didn't sleep much at all.  That statement was true for many, many nights over the coming months.

Last year at this time, fear invaded my life almost as a living, breathing entity.

Last year at this time, I was in the news:

Friday, June 20
James Janeksela, 54, of Maple Grove was arrested for fourth degree DUI alcohol concentration over .08, fourth degree DWI driving while impaired-criminal penalty, failed to change name/add on license, careless driving and fail to signal turn on the 12600 block of Elm Creek Blvd.
Kari Hoglund-Kounkel, 44, of Monticello was arrested for third degree DWI driving while impaired, DWI test refusal, obstructing the legal process, careless driving and fail to obey traffic control device on the 13500 block of Grove Drive N.
Last year at this time, I was dying.


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