May 20th, 2019
She didn’t look much different. I didn’t expect that she would. Actually, she looked a bit better than before. Her left hand was a little red, but the burn seemed to have healed completely. The girl still looked kind of edgy. She didn’t smile.When she blinked, it almost looked like she was wincing.
Karin and I hadn’t seen the girl for over a month. We had been on the road, traveling extensively throughout the South and the West. Now we were back, and it just happened that we made it home in time to visit this young woman in the Kenosha County Jail. We had been unsure about where this girl would be when we returned from our journey. It was very likely that she would have been transferred to the prison in Taycheedah by the time we got home. As it turned out, she was still in Kenosha.
Karin and I had visited her at the jail many times in the past. We knew the drill. We each filled out a little slip of paper, and we slid that, along with our ID’s, to the guard on the other side of a window. Then we waited to be called, just like everyone else in that hallway.
There weren’t many people there to visit prisoners on that Sunday afternoon. There was a young back man, his ear glued to a cell phone. There was a middle aged white guy, who seemed familiar with the place. An old woman sat in a chair waiting, her eyes tired and her breathing labored. There was an old, emaciated black man there. He had tattoos on his neck, and he wore a baseball cap that a slightly askew.
Each of us got called in to see our favorite inmate. Karin and I could not visit the girl at the same time, so I went in first, and then Karin followed me. Each visitor got only ten minutes with their prisoner. Because Karin and I went in consecutively, our girl got twenty minutes.
The time went quickly, as always. Karin and I walked to the elevator after our visit. The old, thin black man walked along with us.
When we got to the elevator, he spontaneously said,
“This here is a sad, sad place.”
Karin nodded in agreement.
The man went on, “I only got ten minutes to talk with my wife. She is only in here because she violated her probation.”
“Yeah, I hear you”, I replied. Then I said, “Our girl, she is waiting to go to prison.”
The man looked at us and asked, “How long she going in for?”
He shook his head and said, “That ain’t too bad.”
The elevator came, and all three of us got into it.
The man said, “You know, it’s like a revolving door. People get out of jail, and then they break some rule, and they go right back in. They get a bad PO, and they right back in jail.”
“Well, our girl, she probably would have killed herself if she was still out. It’s better that she is here, than her being dead.”
The man nodded.
Then he said, “Yeah, maybe so. It’s just a hard thing. My sister, well, she’s in for life. That’s a different thing, you know. My wife, now, she just broke some stupid rule, and she’s here again. It still ain’t right.”
“No, it’s not.”
The elevator door opened.
The man got out. “Y’all have a good day.”