I arrive back at jail, again.
My new “friends” don’t believe that I didn’t get released until I show them the paperwork.
Two of them stun me by offering to bail me out. Both try hard, but things fall through for various reasons.
I have a video call with a close, dear friend, Jeremy Bosco. He flies out to Arizona just to help my family however he can. On the call, I’m in a panic frenzy. I’m not the same person he’s known so well. No matter how hard I try and be normal, I simply can’t. I can only plead for someone to get me out of this place.
He and his family generously, no, incredibly generously, save Amy and the kids financially for the moment.
It’s a regular afternoon and I’m lying on my bunk, starving, as usual. Nubs is lying on his bunk next to mine. He’s starving as well. We’re talking about ways we can get some more food.
Without much forethought, I say, “Hey Nubs, Do you believe in God?” He replies, “Yes.” I then asked, “Do you believe in Jesus Christ?” He answers, and I quote, “F___ yes.”
I then ask, “Do you want to see something cool then?”
After he says yes I tell him we’re going to have a prayer, and I’m going to say it. He’s obviously caught off guard, but hesitantly agrees. I tell him he’s going to have to kneel down with me for this one.
“You’re joking, right,” he replies.
Nope, we’re both going to kneel down right here on the ground.
He VERY slowly gets up.
I’m already kneeling and watching him. He is so uncomfortable and distressed. His face looks like he’s kneeling down to be executed, not just have a simple prayer. But, he does it.
I tell God how hungry we are and have been for weeks. I ask Him to either bless us somehow with enough food so our stomachs are full or cause our stomachs to feel full and take the hunger pains away. It is short and sweet.
I then tell Nubs to not think another thing about it and just watch what happens. I have no idea what will happen, but somehow I have faith something will.
Two hours later, we’re served our evening chow. For no apparent reason, one person after another walks over to our cell and asks Nubs and me if we want the rest of their food. When all is said and done, we have 9 extra trays of food. That never happened before and never happens again.
The food is still disgusting, but we eat until we are absolutely stuffed. We even have lots of food left over that we share with others.
The next morning, Nubs is asked by one of the guards to help out doing some cleaning of the pods. He comes back loaded with loaves of bread, apples, oranges, soy peanut butter, and ginger cookies. He has so much he can’t carry it all. He dumps it all on his bed. As I stare at all the food, I turn to Nubs and say,
“Nubs, do you remember what we prayed for? Look at what happened last night at dinner, and now this morning look on your bed and tell me what you see?” His lights go on.
I am not joking when I say I never have one hunger pain again in jail. Nubs and I have all the food we need.
Here’s the funny part, at least it is funny to me. Nubs spreads the news of this “miracle,” as others call it, amongst the inmates. I start having some of them come up to me the night before their court hearing and ask me to pray that they will be released.
At first, I just laugh. They are dead serious.
They really believe if I pray for them, it could change the judge’s mind. I find their simple faith refreshing. I pray with each one of them, but instead of praying they get released, I pray that in the process of justice, they’ll find mercy.
It is fun to see their faces lit up after returning from court. Several can’t wait to tell me what happened. In each case, the judge is more lenient than they expect. Each one believes it is an answer to prayer. It leads to some great discussions.
Some of these dudes had never heard or uttered a prayer before in their lives. When you’re in hell, you’ll try anything to get out!
During my next 2 1/2 weeks, I witness many more fights and several guys knocked out cold. The last 3 days before my next court date there is a racial riot in our pod. It’s absolute chaos. Guys are getting knocked out and lying on the floor everywhere. There’s blood, bruises, broken noses, etc.
No one ever comes after me during the riot, but I witness a guy right in front of me get knocked out cold.
A small army of men who look like teenage mutant ninja turtles storm the pod. They have protective gear on from head to toe. All are carrying what appear to be black rifles of some sort. They put the fear of God in everyone.
We are put on lockdown for 72 hours. That means we have to stay on our bed (bunk) for 72 hours straight. One person can go to the bathroom at a time. Time gets even slower. Once the lockdown is finally over and we can get off our bunk, we’re still locked up, but it feels like we’ve been set free. It is its own special kind of torture.
I’m administered the Severely Mentally Ill test, and oh my gosh! You’ve got to be kidding me. The gentleman administering it to me apologizes for having to do it, and tells me I should never have been recommended for it. I’m NOT seriously mentally ill.
I think it’s the first bit of good news I receive in jail!
By the end, I speak with my friend Carson Brown on the phone. I remember feeling very hopeful after speaking with him. I also speak with his father-in-law and friend, Tim Olson. Both are very kind and encouraging. Tim offers to let me stay in his cabin in Flagstaff until I find a place to stay. Carson is willing to pick me up from jail when I’m released and take me there.
All of this information is relayed to my public defender so the judge doesn’t have any reason not to release me. I learn they’ll hold you longer in jail if you don’t have a place to go.
The day arrives for me to go to court again! I’ve been locked up now for 48 days. Every box has been checked. My mentally ill test is complete. I have a ride and place to stay. I’ve spoken with my public defender and she’s assured me I’ll be getting released.
I’m now going to see the judge for the 4th time. I am filled with nervous anticipation.
I go through all the same routines as always and spend the day mostly locked up and waiting.
My name is finally called and I’m escorted into the same courtroom again. It’s the same old judge. Amy, my sister’s Jennifer and Jill and my daughter’s Amalie and Kelsie are seated. As last time, their faces are expressionless.
My heart is POUNDING. My public defender lays out a strong case for my immediate release, no strings attached. The judge asks if I have a place to stay. She tells the judge I do, gives him the name, and even informs the judge that she has verified with Tim Olsen via telephone that morning.
The judge asks the prosecutor if she has any objections. She tells the judge there are no objections as long as I’m released on condition that I stay at Tim Olsen’s cabin as agreed until I find a permanent place. Everything seems to be fitting together like a puzzle. Everyone is on the same page and both sides agree on me being released. The judge never even mentions the seriously mentally ill test.
Finally, I’m starting to feel some relief…until the judge opens his mouth again!
When he does the entire courtroom audibly gasps in disbelief.
He denies my release again!
This time on grounds that Tim Olsen is not present in the courtroom and therefore he can’t verify with him directly.
I literally jump out of my seat. I am flooded with shock and anger, and at this point I’m way beyond thinking about the consequences of my actions. I want to physically beat this judge. My public defender rushes over to me. I can tell she’s upset as well, but she gets me under control in fast fashion. She tells me it isn’t over yet.
I’m escorted out of the courtroom and into this small conference room where I’m told to wait.
After some time my public defender comes in with some paperwork. It’s a plea agreement. To be released, I have to plead guilty to disorderly conduct. The other two charges are dropped. I also have to agree to 3 years probation! At this point I’m shaking I’m so distraught. I can’t go back to jail. I’ll sign anything.
So, I do and we go back into the courtroom. The attorneys inform the judge of the agreement. He looks it over and based on the plea agreement he orders my release.
I now have extreme emotional whiplash. The entire experience is extremely brutal. When the judge finally orders my release, my emotions have been taxed beyond their limit. Tears stream down my face.
I still have to go back to jail. My cell and bunk number should be called in the evening of that day. Here’s what they say. I’ve heard it many times for others.
“51 bunk 3 roll up. You’re going home.”
I can’t wait to hear those words.
I’m cuffed and taken back to jail. I announce my release to everyone. I feel relieved, joyful, and happy. I can hardly believe I’m really going to be set free.
I eat dinner and patiently wait. It turns 7 o’clock, then 8…9…10…midnight and my cell and bunk number are never called.
I press the button to go to the guard’s station. I ask them why my cell and bunk number haven’t been called yet. They inform me I’m not going anywhere. They never received any paperwork from the court about my release.
It’s Friday! The courthouse doesn’t open again until Monday. The officers tell me to go back to my cell, I’m not going anywhere.
I am scared of no one at this point. I point blank tell the officer he’s sorely mistaken and that the only door I’m walking through is the one marked EXIT!
What happens next takes 5 detention officers to contain me. Things go from good to really bad fast. All the inmates are watching from the pod windows.
I’m WAY beyond being afraid of the consequences at this point. I threaten one of the officers. Immediately, I am forcibly cuffed. The sergeant is called and they keep me surrounded until he shows up. They try and calm me down. They’re not successful.
When the sergeant shows up, he finds out really quickly that I’m way beyond my breaking point. They have a special place where they hold inmates who have done much less than what I’ve already done and said to these officers. It’s called, “The Hole.” I just know that’s where I’m heading, and I’ve heard all the horror stories.