For whatever stupid reason, last year I decided to live in the Bronx. It might've been the cheap rent, or the easy access to anything illegal I could ever ask for, or even just to be in a place where I could do anything I wanted without the cops, neighbors, or anyone in the goddamn world giving a shit. In any case, I was a big fucking idiot.
It was November, and my roommate and I just returned from celebrating his birthday, drunk off of our asses and presumably within inches of projectile vomiting. We had decided to go out and get bodega sandwiches. I went into my room to get my wallet and money, and when I returned, my roommate, who was selling weed at this point, was talking to some random man inside my hallway. I thought it was simply someone from around the neighborhood who knew him and wanted to cop, so I just shrugged and opened the door for the both of them.
I stepped out onto the pavement and started walking towards the store. Immediately, I felt that something was off, and before I knew it, I hear yelling that my drunken ass can't comprehend at all, and find myself slammed against a church fence (those heavy, thick ass ones) being yelled at to put my hands behind my back regardless of the fact that both of my hands are being held for me and I am being pushed against a hard piece of metal. The fucker in my house was a DT, alright. I yell at the officer that I can't move, and he, not surprisingly, doesn't give a shit and just cuffs me. I don't remember my interrogation or being read my Miranda rights much, but I do remember getting made fun of for being a drunk asshole. My roommate and I were then lead into the all-familiar paddy wagon, and chained to the other three people who were arrested before us. The dude who I'm chained next to looks exactly like Ashy Larry from Chapelle's Show. As I'm being put in the back of the van, the cop looks at all of us, and simply says, “Alright. Listen. I don't want any rapes in this van. There was a rape in this van last week and I had to beat someone's ass.” It was my first time being arrested.
Me, my roommate, Ashy Larry, a Hispanic kid , and an old guy were all lead into the local precinct, where I was robbed of $130 of my own money that was in my wallet being cited as “evidence”. I had no idea what I was being charged of (regardless of asking throughout all stages of jail up until the lawyer visit) so I was clueless as to why as my money was being used as evidence. I shared a cell with Ashy Larry, the kid, and my roommate, while the old guy was yelling out random drunk shit in his own cell he was rightfully placed in. While we were waiting to be picked up and dropped off at another precinct, the cops outside the cell were listening to Eric B & Rakim and Wu-Tang. I asked them if they thought it was ironic. “It's just music” they said.
Eventually another paddy wagon came for us and we were all a chain gang again. We drove for about thirty minutes to another precinct, and the car turned off. We waited to be let out. The cop opens the door. “We're going to have to wait. It's full.” He slams the door and turns on the lights, leaving us there for an hour or so. I couldn't move much at all due to how short the chain was between each person, so I was forced to stare at my handcuffs. All I did was read over and over:
SMITH & WESSON
MADE IN U.S.A.
Soon enough, the door was opened. We were all given cigarettes (Parliaments stolen from my roommate) and 2 minutes to smoke them. We were lead inside, and put into a much larger cell, filled with chained groups of inmates from different precincts all over the Bronx. With my roommate being part Indian, I was the only white guy there, but nobody seemed to really care, aside from being really curious as to what I was in for (the arresting cop told people that I was the biggest supplier in the Bronx as a joke.) I was taken away for a moment, fingerprinted (including on the palms as well) and had pictures of my tattoos taken and asked to explain what significance they had. Everybody in the main cell was rowdy as fuck, coming off of whatever fucked them up in the first place, with no drug left unrepresented amongst the group. Various people screamed and made death threats, but nothing serious happened. It was the middle of the week, after all. After a couple of hours, we were transported to the central bookings, located near Yankee Stadium in the South Bronx, the seriousness of jail finally set in. I had been awake past the point of where I stopped being drunk and started having a hangover.
There are a couple of things about central bookings that you should know. First of all, there is no such thing as darkness. Time is impossible to tell or even guess, without a window in sight. There is no such thing as a clean surface. There is not a single position or place you can lay, sit, or stand that is comfortable. In the bigger cells, there are people who are at most 1 foot away from you at all times. When you come into jail, you are no longer a person. You are a body. In fact, correctional officers won't call you anything but a body, saying things such as “there are 15 bodies in this cell.” Another peculiar part of jail is that you are constantly being “moved through the system”, although at the slowest pace possible. Everybody starts in one cell, and is moved in small groups to the next cell, which repeats itself almost endlessly. You have no idea when you will be called to move onto the next cell or even if you will be one of the people moving when the next call is made. The food there is always the same: in the morning, you get a tiny box of rice crispies, which you can only eat with your hands, and a middle school lunch sized milk. During lunch and dinner, you get to eat a sandwich consisting of the most dry, shitty bread made by Riker's inmates with the most pathetic slice of cheese you can imagine in between. The food never satisifies and is barely edible, so you're left hungry and almost to the point of hallucination.
I must've been moved through about 15 or so cells in the entire precinct. In one of the cells, there was a guy with his arm in a sling and his eye bruised and purple to the point of where it was swollen shut. It turned out he had lead a police chase throughout the Bronx and had ran from the cops, who beat the living shit out of him. He would moan and whine every time he moved, and would constantly ask the C.Os if he could go see a doctor. Everyone made fun of him and nicknamed him One Eye. He didn't get to leave during the entire 2 hours I was there before being moved to another cell. After changing cells many times, I was finally in the 12th cell, which was the last before seeing a lawyer. I spent about 36 hours in that cell, which I spent talking and listening to all of the other inmates (and going crazy while reading the cereal box nutrition facts over and over). One guy was wearing a velour onesie with gold painted shoes. An old guy who was there said he was arrested for plugging his cellphone into a city outlet and being accused of theft of services. There was a man there who even told us all about a guy he killed which landed him in jail, and how he killed him. His victim was a racist who whipped his cock out in front of the guy's girlfriend. He stabbed the guy in the chest, while his girlfriend stuck her heel right into his throat. They were both being charged for murder. Then we talked about if the iPhone or Android is better.
Hearing everybody's stories was a weird experience. In jail, everyone claims to be innocent. One guy was yelling “Let's hit the slopes!”(aka “let's do coke”). He was in for riding a bike the opposite way on a one-way street directly into cops. Meanwhile, I was actually innocent and nobody believed me still. I found that I couldn't tell if people were telling the truth or lying. Everyone was paranoid to talk about anything that had to do with their actual crime in front of the C.Os. The Hispanic kid I was chained to earlier first claimed he was selling weed and got arrested for selling crack, and he had a baby on the way in a couple months and couldn't go to Riker's. By the time we were in the final cell waiting for our lawyers, he didn't give a shit who knew that he was dealing crack. I was called for my lawyer, at last, and one of my cellmates gave me a pound goodbye. “If your shoes weren't so dirty I would've stolen them.” he said.
It had been 63 hours. I hadn't had a wink of sleep. I'm sitting in handcuffs talking to my court-appointed lawyer. I finally learned what I was in for. The arresting documents said that I had been charged with distribution of marijuana, even though I hadn't had a single hand in the deal that my roommate had made. He told me he was going to move to dismiss the charge, as the only evidence against me had been that I opened the door for my roommate and the undercover. I was arrested for being polite. He told me I could sue the police, but it would cost a lot of time and money, and ultimately end up giving the arresting officer a paid week's suspension. I chose to plead guilty, because it was much less of a hassle.
My roommate and I were charged together. When my lawyer presented my case, he stated I shouldn't be charged with distribution for opening a door. The judge looked at me like I was a piece of shit. I was, after all, not enrolled in college or employed, which he noted. My roommate, on the other hand, was going to a prestigious, expensive school with a full-ride tuition, a fact that his lawyer used in his defense. The judge gave a stern talking to him, and then sentenced us both with ACDs for a year.
I was tired as fuck, hadn't slept in about 76 hours, and felt like death. I was wearing the same clothes for the entire time. I ended up getting scabies from being on the jail floor. I could no longer claim my money because I was found guilty. It was a situation like this that really showed me how fair the police are and the stigma placed upon weed. I don't need to remind you of the facts about how weed dealers are targeted and treated harshly, it is a known fact that the punishment outweighs the crime. It was shown to me personally by the good ol NYPD. Or, as one cellmate said, “New York Pricks and Dicks”.
Outside jail near Yankee Stadium, after the whole ordeal, we went to get one loosie each, for $1.00 combined. The bodega guy ID'd us. All we could say was, “we have no ID, we just came out of jail”. That really sums up the whole experience.
(Everything in this story is absolutely true. Jail sucks. Stay the fuck out of it.)
(p.s.: We ended up getting the loosies from someone on the street, not the bodega, after our sob story. Fuck the bodega.)