17 Hours in Jail

When a member of the local media gets in trouble with the law, we’re likely to write about it here on The ‘Ville Voice. So it would be hypocritical of me to not report this story, which I hope you’ll find is less about me doing something wrong and more instructive on a Metro Department of Corrections that has some serious flaws.

The news is this:  I spent 17 hours in the local jail Monday and Tuesday as a result of a citation I’d received for driving with an expired license plate. Of course, there’s a lot more to the story.

It turned out to be a rare opportunity – like being an undercover reporter and seeing the ugly underside of corrections from the POV of an inmate – which is the way I was classified and treated. It’s not a pretty picture.

On Monday, I was in a delicate situation at home (I’ll spare you the details of that) in which I requested the help of police. While there, the police officer checked a list of bench warrants and found my name. Turns out I failed to appear in court after the citation. My memory is of getting the license issue fixed right after I got the ticket, in Sept. 2007,

But the responsibility for the warrant was mine. I screwed up by not getting it fixed, and forgetting about it. You can check to see if you’ve got a warrant right here. Still, I figured I’d get in and out and maybe even make the four o’clock meeting I had scheduled. At worst, I’d be out in time for the 7 p.m. U of L game and my regular bowling night at 9.

The arresting officer, who had put me in handcuffs at my home, arrived at the Corrections Department, I was placed on a bench where I could make calls. I had no idea what I was in for. Here’s a link to a story about the frustrations Jake was experiencing trying to get me out.

Read the rest of our own personal scandal after the jump…

An Officer Grossman frisked me. I later spoke with the new Corrections chief, Mark Bolton, who told me that he’s making efforts, among other things, to change the attitude of the workers there. He could start with this guy.

The booking room features a series of chairs split into two sections by a four-foot wall – one side for men, one for women. Everyone comes in this way, and every single person is rudely instructed to take a seat. If you stand up for more than 30 seconds, you get yelled at and told to sit down.

Got a question about your case? Ask anyone in a uniform and you are told to sit down and wait.

I was in this room for about eight hours – no cell phone, nothing to read, no standing and one bologna sandwich. I went through getting a mug shot, fingerprints, pretrial conference, medical check and finally selection. Well, there is a phone, but it has a three minute limit and the recipient knows that the call is coming from an inmate.

It’s an unpleasant place. Every once in a while, some drunk is escorted into a holding cell in front of the crowd, chuckles all around. They beat on the doors and try to get other inmates to help, while the officers laugh at them. One guy who was particularly out of control came in about 10, and got out by 5.

So a crazy-eyed drunk gets himself released before me, here on a traffic issue.

During my processing, they got me confused with another inmate with my name. I believe this cost me several hours. When I told an officer about it, he looked on a computer screen and said “That’s all you’re in here for?” as if it was funny. It wasn’t.

I didn’t know it at the time, but a judge had agreed to release me on my own recognizance before 6 p.m. Despite this fact, I could get no help from anyone in the booking room, and didn’t really know about all the efforts Jake was going through to get me out.

At 1:30 a.m., my name was called with a group of four others. While there was hope I might be leaving, I was actually going somewhere that was worse. They call it a dorm, but an actual dorm room would have been a giant step up. Three rows of metal bunk beds. Grab a cot and a blanket, get inside and shut up. Now there wasn’t even an inmate phone, and you couldn’t get the attention of anyone in charge.

So I had a fitful couple of hours of sleep, roused at 4 for a breakfast of lukewarm scrambled eggs, cereal and skim milk. The worst meal of my life, maybe after the bologna sandwich 12 hours ago.

By morning, my ex-wife Shelley was a little frantic when she learned I was still incarcerated; now going on 15 hours. She called pretrial and got a guy named Roger, who told her that someone had dropped the ball on my case, that I should have been released long ago. I think it might have been his reaction to Shelley’s frantic pleas that ultimately got me freed. That, or Jake pulling in big favors from his political friends.

There’s a million stories in here. The crazies that try to run, or so whacked out on drugs they beat on their cell doors. Others, like me, mystified about being held on minor charges. One guy got picked up on a 9-year-old bench warrant. Another had his yellow release papers in his hand but was still there when I left eight hours later.

The process of actually getting out took more than 90 minutes. At the end, when they handed over my stuff, the $16 in cash I brought in was gone, a portion of the $25 they charge for this fine service.

The problems with the jail are many. There’s an inherent negative atmosphere from the surly staff members. There’s an antiquated paperwork system that means that every processing move takes three hours. Looking around the room, it seems more like a case of workers not caring about what happens to inmates.

No one’s in a hurry. Act up, like talking when you shouldn’t or refusing to sit down, you get put in a solitary cell. Every few minutes, somebody gets called down for standing up.

I heard from the Corrections Chief, Mark Bolton, who apologized for any ill treatment and told me he’s working to change the culture over there. Good idea. He says he’s trying to modernize the paper trail that leads to mistakes like the one that kept me there for so long.According to communications director Pam Windsor, the problem in my case was that my paperwork never got transferred from the judge’s office to the jail. Windsor didn’t want to put any blame out on that, but it was obvious to me that someone in pretrial had dropped the ball, as our guy Roger admitted.

I can laugh now, because Windsor told me that once Roger got the ball rolling for my release at 6:20, I was out in just over 90 minutes. That’s a modern-day record, apparently, for processing paperwork.

I now know from firsthand experience now that the Corrections Department has a tough job. It processes 45,000 people a year. There are 600 employees. I don’t want Mark Bolton’s job. And I sure don’t want to end up in that place again.

57 thoughts on “17 Hours in Jail

  1. In case you forgot you were arrested and placed in jail!! Did you ever try to think that maybe the Corrections Officers were doing their job!?! They usually book around 80 inmates per shift…most of them are criminals, drunks, drug addicts or worse. They handle their job as they were trained to do and are very good at it! They can not worry about what each inmate is “accused” of, everyone is treated the same. How about you try and be a Corrections Officer on the booking floor for one day and then tell us how to do their job! Maybe you should have just renewed your license plate!

  2. Hi Rick,

    I am a 30yr Pre Op Transsexual, I also have a Masters Degree, After completing school and beginning my career I decided that my life wasn’t exciting enough, so in a desperate and stupid effort to bring excitement into my life, I turned to prostitution. And with that was introduced to the wonderful world that is Metro Corrections.

    I do say wonderful world with a bit of sarcasm because it was anything but wonderful. I would think that jail is not supposed to be pleasant. People are not supposed to want to go to jail. It’s not a happy world of farts and flowers for a reason. Jail is supposed to scare you. Scare you into not wanting to go back. Apparently it wasn’t scary enough, since I was a repeat guest three times.

    I had to learn how the system works so that I could get through my time with as few bumps as possible. Some of the things I learned along the way.

    Officers: The provide security for the facility, staff and inmates. Nothing more, nothing less. They are there for that soul purpose. The reason why they can’t give you information about your case is because they don’t have that information. It’s not their job. They have to be firm and strict at all times, with everyone, because there are not signs around the inmates necks stating their charges. So the individual officer does not know if he/she is talking to an accused murderer or some tool that forgot to pay a traffic ticket. In all my dealing with the officers, they have always been polite and courteous. The only people who think differently are the ones who decide to act stupid.

    Civilian Staff( Pre-trail, Classification, Medical ) Metro Corrections houses close to 2,000 inmates at any given time. 45,000 people a year are getting processed. Handling each and every complaint and gripe of each and every individual is not realistic. They obviously have to handle the more serious cases first and foremost. Do you think you getting out of jail in time to watch U of L play is more important than processing the guy who just murdered, raped, tortured, and burned the body of some teenage girl. I don’t think so. They have a job to do. Anyone who has ever worked in an office environment knows how easy it can be to misfile paperwork.

    I realize that you are frustrated about your experience and with that want to throw an temper tantrum. Realize though that there are 44,999 other people going through the same thing every year and they are not bitching about it. Maybe they are taking a more mature approach, learning from their mistakes and going on with their lives. They did the crime, did the time and continued onward without seeking shoulders to cry on.

    1.You were given orders by Law Enforcement Officers” I didn’t know they could do that” People who are sworn to uphold the law telling you what to do… WOW.
    2. Sat in a waiting room longer than you wanted. Where is you article about the DMV or a certain doctor’s office.
    3. Had to eat food that you didn’t find all that appealing. Remember grade school, high school, your ex-wife’s cooking?

    This article might as well be about you doing your morning business and your finger accidentally breaking through the toilet paper. So you can let the world know how bad your finger smells.
    Maybe take the time you spent writing this article and put it towards your super secret family issue that landed you in this predicament.

    Lastly, you called out Ofc. Grossman in your article, I know exactly who you are talking about and you are completely wrong. I have had some interaction with him every time I was locked up and if there is any officer working there who is more professional and polite than him, then I didn’t see them. Let me guess, you took your hands off the wall.. Never take you hands off the wall during a search..

    I’m sorry you had a bad experience but, I’m sure you will survive. 44,999 other people this year are going to do the same thing with dignity and not become whiny little pussies.

    Hugs and Kisses


  3. You know Rick, you and all your little cronies on here seem to think Chief Bolton needs to be fired. You know in the few months that this new cheif has been here he has done more than Cambells (former corrections cheif) done in his entire tenure. He has done more for officer saftey than any chief or deputy cheif in that departments history. Let me explain to you what a corrections officer’s job is like. Are you ready pay attention now:

    First an Officer arrives at roll call to recieve a briefing from his commanding officer. He might be told things like, there was a fight on J4 one inmates at the hospital now and there is said to be several shanks (thats a home made knife, that can deform and even kill you) hidden in the dorm. Or maybe this, LMPD is enrout to the jail with a disruptive that assaulted an officer earlier.

    Thats just a few examples, so the offficers get dismissed from roll call, place there gun, baton and pepper spray in their gun box, because all an officer has to defend himself against that potential idiot with a shank or that one guy who just got arrested for a bench warrant but wasn’t happy so he decided to punch an officer, is a good ol’ pair of handcuffs.

    So as the officer gets to his floor he learns that it is just goin crazy. One inmate is up walking around pacing back and forth and when asked to have a seat he starts walking towards the officer with a cup in his hand. The inmate asks politley “I’am sorry sir what did you say?” the officer turns to him and dropping his guard beacuase the inmate seems harmless begins to explain it again. The polite inmate suddenly throws the contents in the cup on the officer containing fecies and urin that he aquired while walking around unprotested. Now the officer can’t do nothing about it because he must be professional at all times.

    After the officer cleans himself up he notices a young kid seemingly sleeping on the bench. Since the young inmates name has been called several times the officer goes over to wake him. The young inmate is not coming to, it turns out this inmate is overrdosing on unknown drugs and is dieing. The officer calls for medical and EMS and then procedes to do CPR, the officer revives the young kid and still he has no idea who or what this kid is in jail for.

    After the adrenalin rush the officer gets a call that the disruptive inmate is coming in the jail. When LMPD takes the cuffs off of the disruptive inmate, he lunges towards the officer striking him in the face. The officers struggle for several minutes trying to get the inmate restrained in the only weapon they have to fight back with their handcuffs. As they get the inmate under control and begin to escort him to the hold cell the inmate turns towards the officer and spits in his face striking him in the mouth. Once again the officer can’t do nothing, because he must be professional at all times.

    The officer has to immediatley get a court order to draw blood from this inmate because now there is a chance this officer has just contacted HIV, Hepatitus, TB or any of the other sickness people might have.

    Finally the end of the shift for this officer he goes home and his wife ask “how was your day honey” and the officer simply replies “It was Ok” because they don’t want them to worry for them, and they don’t want them to know the truth about what they go through day in and day out. The officer must find an excuse on why he can’t make love to his wife tonight or for the rest of the week because he is waiting on the test results to make sure he doesn’t have HIV.

    The officer gets no award for saving the young mans life or for helping his fellow officers detain the disruptive inmate. The media(Like You) reports no story on his heroism or gives them no credit for all that they do.

    Instead this officer arrives to work the next day and finds a article that a former inmate wrote about how him and his fellow officers and how they should be fired for their “bad attitudes” and how their cheif is doing a bad job. The officer physically drained from last night knowing that he is about to do it all over again reads on about how his co-workers were mean to this former inmate and their food was bad.

    The officer just smiles and shrugs it off just thinking IF THEY ONLY KNEW!

    Rick don’t worry we ae professionals and we do a job that no-one else including the police will do. Don’t worry Rick if you ever get locked up again we hold no grudges and have no hard feelings towards you. We only hope that you can educate your ignorance and arrogance and know these people that you insulted go to work everyday and risk body and mind for you so that you can have a little bit of security knowing there is fewer murders and rapist on your streets because these people keep them detained.

    Also Rick just a little fun fact for you, you not only insulted all these local hero’s, but over half of these men and women have served in the military and fought for this country from everyhting to Vietnam to Iraq. Congrats Rick on your peice of writing at our expence.

  4. it sounds to me like someone believes they are “above” others who are arrested. you say you felt like you were treated like an “inmate”? i hate to break the news to you , but…. YOU WERE AN INMATE!!!! if you are arrested, and taken to jail YOU ARE AN INMATE UNTIL YOU ARE RELEASED!!! BE PREPARED TO BE TREATED FOR WHAT YOU ARE AT THE TIME!!!
    take it from someone who has previously worked in the criminal justice system, there are MANY areas where the “ball can get dropped”. first and foremost by you for not going to court. what kind of idiot doesn’t know he needs to appear in court if he receives a citation? you should have learned that in junior high civics class!!! what did you think was going to happen?
    so i guess, because you were in there on a “minor” charge, you should be treated differently? well as you stated they deal with 45,000 people a year with a staff of 600. that leaves pretty much one option….. treat every inmate the same. there has to be a STRICT, uniform code of discipline inside a corrections facility, mainly because the people there are there because they COULD NOT follow a LOOSE CODE OF DISCIPLINE ON THE “OUTSIDE”…. LIKE GOING TO COURT!!!
    if you hadn’t had the “incident” at your house that, hhmmmmmm, wonder what kind of run the police were making then, you would still be a FUGITIVE!!!!!!! WANTED BY THE LONG ARM OF THE LAW!!!! hey maybe they did you a favor and kept you from having to run for the border to escape this repressive system!!! (you know, the one that gives you the right to bash others for doing their job).
    so get a clue, climb down off that cross you are crucified on, build a bridge out the wood and GET THE FUCK OVER IT!!!!!!!!
    thanks for clogging our judicial system with the time wasted on filing your bench warrant, having it processed through all the proper channels, and then executed. they should have charged you for all the costs involved because you were TOO LAZY or STUPID to go to court!!!

    be glad that the “incident” at your house didn’t lead to any further charges!!!

    by the way, anyone want to see the reporters mugshot???? go to mugs.com.

    thank you for your “time”!!!



  5. So…..you are telling me if you have every had a citation you knew you had to go to court….. Well apparently I’m the idiot… Is there anyone else out there that has gotten a citation….. Gone and paid the citation and thought it was over…… NO!!! Wow….guess I’m the only one….. So all those times I have done that …thinking it’s all done, its not!! So I probably have a bench warrant out for my arrest. Wow William, I am so glad you cleared that up for me. I’m sure you have never made a mistake…..but I have always heard…what goes around comes around….you could be the next one. But don’t worry…I promise …I wont be LMAOF at you.

  6. “the best ten”- best comment on this topic..these people dont relize what happens, what needs to happen when a problem arises. they are not trained to react in a seconds notice. fights ,attacks, threats, drunks, drug heads, mental health, food, phones, water, counslers’, pre trail, classification, security minded, nurses, meds, programs. use your head people… MARK—name dropping? do you know what anyone in that jail goes through? heck no, only thing your worries about is the louisville and a gourmet meal. sry you went to the wrong place

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