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Tim’s Journal: Life in Dallas County Jail

Jan 4th, 2010 | Category: Dallas County, Stories

Day 1: 11/29/09
Today I turned myself into Dallas County for probation violation. Here’s my plan: To write to this journal every day if possible. And the scary part? To be truthfully honest with myself and with the journal. Even now my mind is backtracking on the honest part; the repercussion, the feelings it will hurt, etc.
So you want to know what to expect for yourself or a loved one here in Dallas County? Breakfasts that are unsuitable for human consumption, bologna for lunch every day, and dinners that will only anger you. Forget balanced nutritional meals. Forget if you think anyone in here cares if you even eat. Pray that you’re able to make commissary in the mornings. (where you can buy some snack food that is edible). But pray that no one angers the commissary lady and she decides to not sell anything or you don’t order fast enough so she closes you down.

Forget about privacy or any quiet time. The other inmates don’t care about what you want or if you can sleep. They only care about what you can do for them. More about the inmates later—let us discuss the guards.
The guards are angry. Not at you, but at their situation, forced over time, forced breaks, with nowhere to break. Anger a guard and you could/will be beaten, you could/will end up in a chair chained down, naked in a cold room, and yes, you still have not yet been found guilty of a crime, but you will be guilty in their eyes until…You leave.
Oh are you cold and shivering? Well, you shouldn’t have come to jail. Ha, you need toilet paper? You need to use the restroom? Ha. You need to use the phone? Oh, there are 15 people ahead of you.

This jail is very easy to be lost in and forgotten.

Day 2: Wrong clothes
Well, today was interesting but yesterday was horrible. Let me speak about yesterday. You would think that a person turns themselves in they maybe given a little bit more respect. Well, Dallas County doesn’t give a damn. And I screwed up by wearing a T-shirt, shorts and sandals to give up. Dallas County keeps it real cold to cut down on disease (or so they say).

I get here at 2pm and don’t get out of the first holding tank until 5 am the next day. I took my shirt and tried to stay as warm as possible, arms inside, and shirt stretched over my lap. When I asked for some pants, I was ignored. When I informed them that I had been in holding for over 10 hours and people that came in after me had been processed, I was ignored. Finally I asked the correct person around 2 am and was in court by 5 am.
No Bond. Well that threw me briefly, but I wasn’t going to bond out anyways, unless it was free. So then I’m moved to another area to get clothes, etc. Surprise—someone lied and I couldn’t bring my own underwear and socks. No big deal?! Thank god, I had some money to put on the books. But wait, lookie there, they are taking, not asking, but taking $10 for me talking to the nurse. Why wasn’t I told about that before I was made to see her? Oh well, but here is a question: Why did she want me to see a doctor and all but the guards decided I didn’t need to? I wonder who gave them medical licenses.
Well, I’m smart enough not to push the issue. Don’t fuck with the ones with the power without one hell of a back up plan. So tread lightly, they can kill you and not pay for it. Hell, they may have to give your family money, but you’re dead, and they are laughing about it while your people cry and are heartbroke.
Do we, as criminals, have any rights? Does the asshole who killed my father in law deserve any compassion from me? I expect it and am shocked when I don’t get it. Does he feel the same? Am I being a hypocrite? Yes. I suppose I am. How do I change that? Do I just accept full accountability?

Day 3: Hunger
Woke up at 4:30am for a breakfast that was supposed to be good. Waffles and sausage. Oh my God did that suck! But I’m not worried, I’m going to make commissary, right? Wrong! They call me out for court so I stand in the hallway as Commissary is being done on my tank and I can only stand there hungry as hell. So we are taken to a holding tank. I hear later we are moved to another holding tank, and, wait for it…..
Two hours later moved to another one. So I can’t wait to meet my attorney. He was the only bright thing of the day so far. He just gave off a vibe of caring. I pray this works out. Is pray the right thing to say? Does that make me a hypocrite? Do I only pray when I need something? Or do I pray just to say thank you? God knows what I need and I can leave that in his hands, so I wonder do I have to voice it. Does the sound of my voice make the need greater? What about the sound/cry of my heart? Is asking this a sin? I don’t believe so. God gave us intelligence, so why not use it.

I feel the nervousness more and more but at the same time I’m able to shut it down somewhat. [Tim was not receiving his prescribed meds, of course, as is often the case in this jail and others]. You know, talking about what I did actually feels OK. Could that tie into earlier statements about God?

Asked guard on floor for another roll of toilet tissue. I had to ask the 1st shift guard also. I have been told no both times. No toilet tissue.

Why do some of these guys need so much damn noise? I’m deaf but damn. They have the TV so loud it should be dangerous for our ears. One of my Cellies didn’t/couldn’t eat the crap they fed us. What happens to nutritional balanced meals??? For supper we got 5 tiny meatballs, 2 scoops of green beans, 4 cookies, and 2 crackers. I haven’t eaten any of it since I’ve been here. The food is that bad.

As I suspected, a few think that my kindness is a weakness. What a rude awakening they will have if they decide to try that thought. I believe if I have it and don’t need it than someone is welcome to it if need be. It’s amazing?? You give someone a shot of coffee and you’re a bitch/ho? What? Some people just try to be too damn tough.

Just tried to call Donna and got told by an operator robot that the call couldn’t go through that my phone had a block on it. What the hell is that? Then here we go: a brother don’t wan to se what’s on TV so he changes it to what He wants with no regard for others. See, that’s what I’m talking about with regards to respect.

Day 4: No Calls
I have been jittery all day. Can’t get through to Donna and don’t have the phone numbers to call my mom. This inability to talk is driving me mad, but. But the fucked up thing is I’m letting it.

Yeah, I didn’t get the numbers from Donna today. Oh well, I will, or should tomorrow. I can’t let this minor stuff get to me. Am I so dependent on this technology that I am going to allow it to dictate my feelings or my mood? How would a Zen master handle it? I can sit here and try to not… no, I can sit here and not worry about it, or I can allow it to control me. Not getting a letter or being able to talk to someone for these 2 days has really…no, I have allowed it to mess with me. I know I’m stronger than that.

I got a visit from Larry, the MHMR guy here on Wednesday. He asked how I was doing so I told him about the way the guards are being.
I spoke to Larry about my Zoloft and how bad it was without it. He said he would get it for me. Monday I also saw the medical Doctor about my chest, feet, and sleep apnea. The Doctor told me he was going to move me to medical and single cell, and for Donna to bring my C-Pac machine. I called Donna and asked her to bring it.
Fast forward 8 hours. Still no word on being moved. Called Donna, she stated that they drove all that way to bring the machine, but wouldn’t take it and the guy was extremely rude to her. Well, that pissed me off, but I hold it in. Politely ask a guard who told me to ask about it in the morning if nothing happens. Well, nothing happened.
I tried to get picket guard on intercom, pushed button for about 45 minutes with no answer, (what if I was dieing, afraid for my life, or someone else needed them?). Finally, Office Agular looked up from playing a computer game, looked like Tetrius. I waved to get his attention, and that visibly pissed him off. He waved me off. So I asked another inmate to ask and tell him I needed to talk to him and what for. Well, the other inmate when he got back from recreation, 1 hour later, told me that officer Agular stated, “I don’t care, I’m not a nurse.”
About 2 hours later, Mr. Larry, from MHMR showed up. So I related this story to him. Also told him that I still hadn’t received my Zoloft or a generic version of. He stated he would get onto it immediately. But then asked the most random question: “What do you do for Texas Jail Project?”
BOOM, what a wave that was!!! I paused, smiled, asked why and how he knew about it. He smiled and said he had connections also. So I told him how I contacted you, and that I write you and all. Then, in 6 hours. I’m down in medical.

Day 5: Medical Unit
Last night was the first night I’ve slept since being here!!! Last night was the first night I’ve been able to cry for my family without fear of having to fight for showing that “weakness.” Last night was the first time I’ve been able to tell Donna how much I love her and how much I miss her and how much it truly hurts to be away from her and the kids. Thank you Texas Jail Project!!!

Transcribed from letters by our wonderful volunteer Rachel Garringer.

TJP reports: Tim is the first man in four years to call our line and leave us a message asking for help for his family and nothing for himself. He was turning himself in for a parole violation but all he could think about was the situation his wife would be in; she had been seriously ill and is also the caregiver for seven children (some are adopted, special needs). He thought she might be too proud or depressed to ask. Through a wonderful volunteer in Dallas named Mel, and through contributions from some of you, we’ve been able to help Tim’s wife and kids a little bit. (You know who you are and we thank you!) Tim came up with the idea of a journal, writing about what it is like in the Dallas jail. He agreed to us posting it.

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Anonymous

My daughter is 21 and has bipolar disease. She was arrested2 nights ago and I am scared for her safety. I am also concerned that she may become suicidal again while in these conditions. I told her attorney about those concerns tonight and his reply was that she is in the safest place. He said they will watch her closely. Oh my!!

Anonymous

WHY DOES THE DALLAS COUNTY JAIL GET AWAY WITH WHAT THEY DO TO PEOPLE THAT THEY LOCK UP? THOES PEOPLE R STILL HUMAN

Anonymous

They treat you like an Animal, then acted surprised you turn into one. My stay here was horrid and I feel victimized by the system and angry. I want to fight back. Dallas County Sherri”s department is an embarrassment to “Law and Order.” While there my medical needs where ignored, I received the bad treatment from the guards because I was on spiced watch, they assumed I had not answered questions, but I had and revealed I had a history of mental issues. They soon pulled up a record that I had been locked up in the psych ward at… Read more »