01 December 2009

Going to Court! (Unreleased: 09 October 2007)

This was originally written on 9 October 2007, but due to its poor composition, I never posted it for public consumption. Here it is, in all of its glory (albeit heavily modified):

I arrived at the courthouse — which, by the way, is two hours away from where I live — not fully knowing what to expect.

Three weeks prior, I had received a citation that simply prescribed that I was to arrive in the Hamilton County (Chattanooga, Tennessee) General Sessions court at 13:30.

One by one, people were called to the stand and testified on behalf of their case. From what I could figure, it was your basic traffic court; if anything, a slightly elevated traffic court for more serious offenses. I awaited my turn. The judge — who happens to be a woman — was making light of what could be considered fairly serious infractions (that is, in the world of traffic court). She even kept her cool when a girl, at best 18, obviously had no respect for authority. Her hearing was but a series of derogatory statements intermixed with juvenile laughter; she was a repeat offender who was caught driving without a license. Even with the complete lack of respect for the court or the infraction itself — not to mention the multiple offenses — the judge gave her a warning and sent her on her way.

It was at this pivotal moment that I, internally, resolved that I would receive such treatment at worst. I wasn't a repeat offender and I surely was not going to make a mockery of the legal system.

By this time, I notice that the court room is all but clearing out. A few unremarkable cases conclude and I hear my name being called out.

Slightly shaken, I stand up and proceed to the podium where I'll soon learn of my destiny.

I was professional; I spoke to the woman using only the utmost respect. I told her that I was remorseful for what I had done and that it certainly would not be happen again. She listened, but I could tell by the look on her face that she had already made up her mind.

Within seconds, I was being handcuffed and soon afterward I was escorted to the side of the court room.

"Please remove any watches, phones, wallets, money, or otherwise 'contraband' type items from your person," an aging, frail man requested.

"Your belt, too," he reminded me.

I had not been prepared for this. It had already been over sixteen hours since my last dose of Suboxone and six or more for Xanax. Both of these medications were in the car and I had decided not to take them until after court. Well, that was one promise I was able to make to myself.

I was sentenced to 48 hours in the county jail. Panic set in. This was going to be tough physically, emotionally, spiritually. I had enough experience with jails at this point to know what I would be in for. At best, I would be in a dorm-style room that housed fifty or so others. This would give me my own bunk and the ability to shower when it was needed.

As luck would have it, the entire 48 hours were spent in holding. This is an area where detainees are held prior to being placed in general population due to a few different variables: one, if you're getting out in the next few days, you are most likely going to the end of the list to begin with, especially if they are backed up — which they were; two, I was there on a Friday, further exacerbating the overcrowding issue. It surely didn't seem as though I would be getting to lie my head down on a mat of any sort. While in intake, you sit around with between thirty and seventy guys depending on the cell you've been assigned to. Time has a way of slowing down in such cases. When I was certain it was midnight, I caught a glance at a clock that smirked 19:00 back at me. I was an entire five hours off! This only compounds the soon-to-come complications of my impending opioid and benzodiazepine withdrawal. One guy had already had a seizure due to extreme benzodiazepine and alcohol abuse. Hopefully this wasn't a sign of what was to come.

To break up the monotony, every inmate goes through a book-in procedure. It takes several hours to complete each individual for what consists of snapping on an armband ID, snapping a photograph, being fingerprinted, and given jail-issue shoes. They surely have the dragging their feet thing down to a science. Furthermore, there are meals. My first meal was not a total loss; I was still not feeling so bad as to prevent me from having an appetite. That would be my last meal for the next 48 hours.

As time went by, my anxiety levels began to shoot through the roof. Soon after, I was feeling each and every opioid withdrawal symptom known: hot and cold flashes, sneezing, runny nose, diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, goosebumps, and restless leg. This, to give you a sense of time, was around 23:00 on the first night.

Needless to say, I did not get a wink of sleep that night. I tried to keep my mind busy by thinking of positive things awaiting me on the outside; unfortunately, I was in such bad shape that I couldn't conjure much up.

At one point, I asked for a Xanax; I mean, why not? I have a valid prescription for it. The look on the lady's face was one I'll never forget; it was like I had just suggested we murder the President. She just could not, or would not, entertain the idea of giving a medicine to a known junkie. It's experiences such as these that make me ever so skeptical of the talk of drug reform (read: legalization). There are too many people that have unbelievably warped understandings of drugs and its subculture for it to ever be a realistic platform for discussion.

While in pre-holding, I watched the police bring in a guy that was obviously under the influence of some kind of narcotic. I spotted him as I scanned the holding cell. Still a bit out of his mind, I decided to approach him anyway. What else is there to do?


1 comment:

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