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09 November 2006

Who knew it was this hard to get into jail?

Last week marked Client’s one year anniversary in jail. Roll that over in your brain for a moment. Client, who has yet to be tried for anything, will get to remember his 15th year as “the year I spent in jail waiting for something to happen on that case I caught.” I remember my 15th year as being something like “the year I really really really hoped Andrew Brennan would notice me and ask me to homecoming,” and also “the year I was perhaps overly fond of chenille sweaters.” (It was the mid-90s, people. Chenille was cool.) It was definitely never on my radar screen to think that some people spend their 15th year locked up.

And let me tell you: from the looks of things at the detention center, a LOT of kids are spending their 15th year locked up. I know this because my friend Bird and I, who are both working on Client’s case, went to visit him last week, to talk to him about what’s been going on at these hearings, make sure he understands it, and to update him on his expected trial date (February.)

It went something like this:

9:00 a.m.: Pull into detention center parking lot. 9:05 a.m.: Hand IDs to lady behind glass window who gives out visitor passes; sign visitor log. 9:06 a.m.: Told by lady behind glass window who gives out visitor passes (“The Lady”) that we can’t go in. 9:07 a.m.: Tell The Lady that yes, we can go in, she should check the letter on file listing the students who are allowed to visit clients and we’ll be on it. 9:09 a.m.: The Lady retrieves list of names. 9:11 a.m.: Opens list of names. Gets distracted by friend at adjacent desk. Laughs at unfunny joke told by friend at adjacent desk. 9:15 a.m.: looks at first page. 9:19 a.m.: Flips page to look at second page. Bird and pseudo estimate that there are 20 pages in the book, realize at this rate it will take her EIGHTY MINUTES to go through the thing. Begin to despair. 9:25 a.m.: As The Lady flips to the third page, I call a secretary at clinic office to beg her to fax over another copy of the letter saying we are students allowed to visit clients. No answer. 9:26 a.m.: Call again. Answer. She agrees to fax over another copy of the letter. Hallelujah! 9:27 a.m.: Tell The Lady that our clinic has faxed over another copy of the letter for her review. 9:45 a.m.: The Lady lumbers over to the fax machine to retrieve the fax. 9:51 a.m.: The Lady returns from the fax machine with the fax. 9:52 a.m.: The Lady becomes very confused by the fact that the letter says “pseudo” and my ID says the full “pseudostoops,” saying “you aren’t on here” approximately 35 times before I convince her that “pseudo” is, in fact, a nickname for “pseudostoops.” 9:55 a.m.: The Lady gives us passes to get into the jail.

Nearly an hour after arriving, we were giddy that we were finally going into the jail. Because it was the middle of the day at this point, the kids in the jail were in school, so we went to the school wing, went to Client’s classroom, and said “Hi, we’re here for a lawyer visit with Client.”

“Who?” said the teacher. “Client. He’s our client? About 5’8”, male, 15 years old?” “Never heard of him.” “Any suggestions where we should go to find him?” “You sure he’s in jail?” “Positive.” “No idea. Good luck!”

It took over an hour to find Client after that. No classroom teacher had ever heard of him. The guards radioed and walkie-talkied back and forth- no one knew him, or where he was, or where he should be. (This was not that comforting, by the way. Bird and I were getting a little worried that maybe he was hiding out somewhere or doing some other trouble-making and that we were drawing attention to it by looking for him. Turns out they’re just incompetent and had no idea that his classroom assignment had recently changed.) By the time we finally tracked Client down, got a conference room, and started talking with him, it was almost noon.

I have come to conclude that if there were ever an emergency and I really really needed to talk to my client, I would get into the jail faster if I just went out and committed an offense and got booked and thrown in jail. Though my ability to represent him might be compromised somewhat by my own incarceration. Sigh.


At 11/09/2006 06:44:00 PM, Blogger Green said...

My friend Lisa had to go to jail to see clients sometimes. She'd go into Miami and go to jail and wait around for ages. She said the absolute worst part is that she always had to take her barrettes out to let them feel through her hair for weapons.


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