Have you ever been to jail? I suppose not, but I have. So I’ll clue you in to what it is like to be a Canadian female inmate.
When you are first arrested, you’re gonna spend the night in a holding cell at the police station. This is a brick walled closet with a cement block for a bed beside a cold metal toilet with no seat. There is dried urine on the toilet and spit on the floor and walls, often mixed with blood. If there is no roll of toilet paper, you have to ask for one or you won’t get any. This roll could be used as a pillow, even though you probably won’t sleep with the other inmates yelling and banging on the cell doors all night long.
After breakfast, toast and cold coffee, you are taken out, handcuffed to other women who have come in through the night, legs shackled, then placed into a metal compartment inside the paddy wagon. They load the men into the other compartments, then drive to the courthouse.
In the courthouse, you are put into a cell with a tired group of girls who are dressed in their greens (jail clothes) that came from the correctional institute for trial, plea court or bail court. You discuss what you’re in for with the other females in custody; who’s your lawyer ; who you know on streets; and what drugs you’re hiding on you.
If no one shows to bail you out, or you don’t have enough money for your own bail, or you are simply not granted a attainable bail from the judge, you wait until all court is done for the day and to be handcuffed and shackled again to the chain gang and into the ol’ paddy wagon you go for a long ride to the big house.
When you arrive to the jail, you are stuffed into cells with girls from all over your district, many of whom are coming down from various drugs. The smell in these cells could make you sick real fast. You are given trays of food, which most of the girls are still too high to eat at this point, so they give their food to the pregnant girls. You get called to do the paperwork where you are filed with you own number, strip searched, and then see the nurse for a tuberculosis test.
Your street clothes are put into a property bag and you are issued a new set of government owned fashion – forest green jogging pants and shorts, green t-shirt and sweater, cream colored socks, dollar store underwear, and a cheap pair of navy blue shoes. You also get a white towel, a tiny bar of soap, a miniature toothbrush and something they call toothpaste.
If you’re new, expect to sleep on a mat on the floor and watch out because many inmates are quick to start fights and are all too commonly infected with Hepatitis C and HIV.
All meals come with two slices of bread. Most meals come with potatoes and/or pasta. All meals are pretty much a variety of cheap carbs and starches. A few times a week we get an apple or orange.
Food becomes the main focus in the slammer. It becomes a new addiction. Food also becomes commodity since cash is non existent. For example, I’ll trade my donut and a packet of peanut butter for writing paper and envelopes. There’s very little opportunity for cardiovascular exercises and sit-ups and stretches only do so much.
No matter your situation, you are treated as if you are guilty your whole stay. To many girls, this is their second home next to the streets and they admit they are guilty for their crimes. But imagine going through all this, possibly waiting several months, even a year or two, just to be found not guilty, or to be deported to a country you may not know anything about because you were too young to remember and you must leave your Canadian born children behind.