Tent City DUI
Other peoples experience at tent city for DUI
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August 2010 timeframe
Here's what to expect:
Self surrender at LBJ (Lower Buckeye Jail): Don't be late. Don't be late. You are allowed to bring 2 towels (although there are guys that were only allowed one towel), a paperback book (no porn), no more than $40, flashlight, and jacket. Note the recording says no hoodies, but there were plenty of guys in there with hoodies. You just can't have your hood up while you are walking the yard.
You will wait outside and they will call you in. Bring your papers with you, otherwise you can't get in.
You will be brought inside, searched, and put into a holding cell. Fill out some paperwork, get asked a few questions, and then you will have your picture taken (mugshot). You will then be placed into a different holding cell. From there you will be fingerprinted and will be issued a prisoner ID card and a slip of paper. DO NOT LOSE EITHER ONE OF THESE.
From the holding cell, you will then likely be handcuffed and transported to a different part of LBJ. More waiting, and then a walk to the tents.
Total time for me from self-surrender to tents: 5 hours. Bring a good book or make some friends while in the holding cell(s).
Enter the tents, and then you will be searched again and then be given your bunk assignment. You will also be given a roll of 2 blankets, pink sheet, and pink towel. You will want to use the sheet to cover the nasty mattress, and the 2 blankets to cover yourself (if it is cold outside, obviously). The towel makes a good head covering.
If you are in there for 24-48 hours, you will likely be placed in Tent 91. This is closest to the "hill" and commissary/bathrooms.
Generally speaking, the people in your yard aren't violent offenders - typically inmates are there for drug charges, DUIs, and possibly domestic violence. This also isn't "N Yard". N Yard is where they house the male inmates who are there for likely more serious offenses and wear the pink undergarments and stripes.
You shouldn't be too scared, but don't be too brazen either. You also don't want to piss anybody off that is serving more time than you. They have it a lot crappier and it's better to mind your own business by chilling with those in the 24-48 hour tents.
Meals are crap. You will get 2 of them. Typically one bagged breakfast/lunch and a hot meal at night. The bagged lunch is 2 oranges, meat (no, not green bologna), 2 rolls, and some crackers. Dinner is a horrid hot slop. You will also be able to purchase food from the commissary, which is really just a group of vending machines. BRING $1 BILLS. You will not be able to easily make change for your $20 or $10. Commissary has burritos and Lunchables, but there isn't a microwave so expect a cold burrito. There are also chips, sodas, candy, etc.
Lockdown is when you must return to your bunk and then there is typically a "headcount" which is when the DO (detention officers) walk around and verify you are there. It typically takes 1/2 hour. Otherwise you can walk around the yard.
The crappers are "doorless" except for some short walls separating each toilet. It smells horrid in there. If you really want you can do some laundry too. But again, if you are in there for a short period of time, you have no need to do laundry.
Should you fear for your life? Absolutely not. You are probably best keeping to yourself for the most part, but there is no need to be scared. Don't be nosey, but feel free to converse with others that appear friendly. They probably are in the same boat as you. This is not a hardened prison - you won't get "shanked" or beat up unless you intentionally try to make trouble. But that could happen on the street as well, so jail is no different. Making friends makes the time pass quicker too!
The "TV Tent" is a tent with a crappy small TV. It is small, there is nowhere to sit, and there is no sound. The TV is also only on when the DO's feel like putting it on.
You will get called for "kick-out", which is when you get to leave. I got called about 2 hours before my release time from LBJ. You will get taken back to LBJ, wait around for a while, get processed, and then will leave *about* on time. I got out 1/2 hour later than when I should have. Big deal.
Don't smoke unless you are seriously jonesing. But even then getting caught is not good (obviously). Some people will sell 'em in there but they are really expensive (about $2). You may also be able to buy sleeping pills too.
When others are leaving, ask for their blankets (assuming they appear to be clean individuals). 4 blankets on a cold night are better than 2.
Wear layers. Seriously. It gets cold and there is absolutely no heat.
You can grab more than 1 mattress for your bunk, but some of the DO's have issues with this.
Don't spit on the hill. This is a no-no with the DO's.
You can make collect calls, but they are really expensive.
Ok - 1 day in and I'm out for work release. Just thought I'd update anybody that wants to know. The amount of time that you have to be in prior to work release can be either 24 or 48 hrs - just depends on what was worked out with the judge.
The detention officers that took in my group of self surrenders were great.
They were all really friendly and they were polite and treated us all quite
well. Our group sat in the first tank for about an hour while they had us fill
out a medical questionnaire. We were then moved to a holding tank that was a
little bit chilly while they took pictures for our ID's and while they did fingerprints
and we were there for quite a while - about 6 hrs or so. There wasn't enough
room for everybody to sit either, so if you want a place to sit, definitely
work your way towards the front of the lines. Then we got shackled and transported
to Estrella. The officers that shackled us were fine and they didn't clamp down
the cuffs or anything either - they were not uncomfortable - well, you know,
for handcuffs... We sat in the van waiting to be moved for maybe 10 minutes
or so, but it wasn't too bad. The guards at Estrella were a little bit more
rigid, but I think that's because they deal with the whole checking in/ out
process as well as having to deal with some "less cooperative" individuals.
Nobody was rude - they were a bit more direct and didn't joke with us.
Oh, hey - if you're a dude and you're on the work release program - SHAVE before you self surrender. The razors there are crappy and you have to be clean shaven before they let you out for work release. Nothing like hacking away at a beard with a 5 cent razor blade...
PARKING - this is huge. When you self surrender, you're turning yourself in at one jail that has an overnight parking lot, unfortunately when you get out of tent city, you're in a different lot and you can't walk from one to the other as the crow flies. You'll have to hike maybe 1.5 to 2.5 miles to get back to your car when you first get out for work release. So, there's the parking challenge - plenty of work arounds if you know this ahead of time and put your mind to figuring out a way. I didn't know about this, but asked somebody to give me a lift to my car and they were cool about it.
The floors of the tents are cement, so you're not right on top of dirt - you do still get ants and crickets and flies and some other annoying things and it is disgustingly hot this time of year.
On that note - BRING TWO TOWELS no matter what. You don't get a pillow, so you will be making your own out of your towels. Beach towels aren't allowed, but get the biggest, fluffiest bath towels that you can find and you'll at least have a half decent pillow.
Not much else to report, but I'll keep posting here as things evolve.
Seems that everyones process-in time varies dramatically. Some went from LBJ to the tents in about 5 hours, while others took nearly 24 hours. Mine was just a little over 9 hours. So, be prepared to be in a holding tank for a while with no food and little water (unless you really want to drink out of the sink/drinking fountain located directly above a dirty toilet).
Once into the tents, you'll get a quick briefing on the rules, a bed roll and a bunk assignment. Pay attention to your bunk number because it'll be your ID the entire time you're there. Also the last number will determine whether or not you have a top or bottom bunk: Odds are top and evens are bottom. Top bunk is horrible! It's hot with little air flow. So, if you're in during the summer months, expect to spend little time laying around taking a nap up there. It's just too hot. Bottom bunk also has it's downfalls. During the night, the giant flood lights will beam into your tent and onto you, making it hard to sleep. You also get a lot of noise from people walking around. But you do get the benefit of a breeze. No matter what, the guards love to yell over the PA all night just to make sleeping that much harder.
Your first weekend will likely be miserable. Try to be prepared by wearing shorts, a tanktop and BRING SANDALS. You are free to wear a tanktop and sandals in your tent and it will really help keep you cool. There are two large water tanks that are filled with not too bad tasting water and ice. Drink as much as you can. This last weekend I was in, I saw atleast 2 people get hauled off because of heat exhaustion (one female inmate was actually taken away by ambulance). Also, DO NOT WET YOUR TOWEL WITH THE DRINKING WATER. The D.O.'s and other inmates don't like that.
Luckily, most of the people you run into will be decent to you. Keep in mind, most people are in there for the same reason you are. The rules are pretty simple: Don't piss in the shitters, don't steal or go thru other people's stuff, and (if you buy cigarettes) buy from your own race. There are some racial tensions, but it's not bad. They all keep eachother in check for the most part.
To be released for the day, you need to have your ID turned into the box out front of "the office" 90 minutes before you scheduled time to leave. Any later than that, you'll have to wait until the next ID pull to leave (usually the next hour). When returning DO NOT BE LATE. The first couple times you're late, they'll usually just make you pick up garbage, clean the bathroom, or rake rocks. If your chronically late, you'll be rolled up.
At midnight, 3am, 6am, 9am, noon, 3pm, 6pm, and 9pm they call a lockdown for "identification headcount". Make sure you are in your tent and on your bunk with your ID out. Once they come thru your tent and check you off, you're allowed to go to the bathroom or get water and that's it. Don't go BEFORE THEY COME TO YOUR TENT. For the headcounts that are at night while I'm sleeping I have my ID rubberbanded to the rail on the bunk so they don't wake me up. If they can't see your ID, they WILL wake you up and make you show the ID to them. It get's old so bring in a rubberband or take one from the pile of razors in the bathroom.
If you are in longer than 10 days GET A HAIRCUT AND GET RID OF YOUR BEARD/SIDEBURNS/ETC. Otherwise, you will have to have cut all of it off while your in there. They WILL NOT release you. You can't even have a 5 o'clock shadow in the morning. Seriously.
Here's what you can bring in: Two towels, your wallet, $40 (make sure you bring in singles or quarters), a watch, an alarmclock (it doesn't matter if it's battery operated or not. Just make sure it doesn't have a radio on it), a book, sandals, your keys, reading glasses and a flashlight.
Don't wear a tanktop or sandals on the yard or have a towel over your head.
If you are in for your weekend on Saturday and Sunday, you might want to buy snacks on Friday night when you get in. The commissary is usually out of everything or closed by saturday night.
That's about all I can think of. I have to leave shortly to go back down there. If I think of anything else I'll post it up. This site was a huge help to me before I went in and figured I should contribute. Any questions? Go ahead a post up.
Oh and something I forgot to mention in my last post. Here's a good way to keep ants off of your bunk. Take an extra soda bottle and fill it about half way/thee-quarters with water. Go into the bathroom and grab a bar of soap, break the soap up into pieces and put it into the bottle. Shake the bottle until the water is white. Pour the contents of the bottle on and around the bunk legs. The ants won't go near it.
On the weekends we always scrub the floor in our tent with soap and water to keep the bugs to a minimum. If you keep food in your bunk drawer, expect mice to get to it. Yes... mice. Our tent has them everywhere.
One more thing. If you don't want to eat the slop on your "weekend", everyone makes this hodge-podge of commissary goods called "spread". Try it. On Sundays (at the race meetings), they usually sell a sandwich of spread for $1. Our tent makes our own and it seems everyone makes it differently. Here's how we makes ours: 3 bags of chili, 2 bags of jalepeno cheese, 2 spicy sausages, 2 bags of Fritos (crushed), 1 bag of jalepeno Poor Brothers chips (also crushed). Mix together and serve onto a hollowed out roll. It sounds f-ed up, but it's good. Takes like a chili-cheese dog!
Headcounts are simple. The D.O.'s will announce it over the PA. Once they do so "get to your tent, get on your bunk with your ID ready. Clear the commissary, get out of the bathrooms. We're on ID headcount." The D.O. will walk through the tent and mark you off on a piece of paper if you're where you're suppose to be. It's real easy. Just stay in your tent until the call the headcount "clear".
Must be a paperback book. They won't let you bring in hardbacks at all. As far as a notebook goes, it depends on the D.O. Some will throw them away when they search you and others won't. I wouldn't even bother with one.
Playing cards are sold in the commissary and most inmates have a deck of cards. The game of choice is "Swiss". It's pretty fun and kills lots of time. If a group is playing a game in your tent, try to join in.
I don't know about the special diet. But, the Ladmo bag has 2 rolls, 2 or 3 oranges/plums (one or the other, not both), a pack of cookies and Emu meat. Skip the meat and eat the rest. The dinner tray ("Slop"; Contains some kind of meat) is usually the main course of crap, applesauce or grapes, carrots, a roll, and spinach.
Commissary has (from what i can remember): RC Cola (diet, regular, cherry), Squirt, and other sodas ($1.50), Lunchables (turkey or ham)($2.50), ham and cheese sandwiches ($2.50), bagels with cream cheese ($1.50), Chili ($1.50), Summer sausages ($2.50), Chips (different throughout the week; $.75), Corn Nuts (.$60), and Jalepeno Cheese Spread ($.60).
Then in another vending machine in the commissary: Soap, shampoo, conditioner, toothbrush/toothpaste, razors, shaving cream, lotion, advil, Halls, mosquito repellant, etc.
Try to eat before you come in during your week and eat what you can during the weekend.
There are showers (not very private) if you feel the need to clean up.
Really there is NOTHING to be nervous about. Just understand you'll be very bored and the weather isn't all that great right now. In September it'll be a little bit better though.
You will have to buy atleast a bottle of water or soda from the commissary. The water they give you come from 2 55 gallon barrells and they do not give you a cup to drink from. So, right when you get into the tents, make sure the commissary is open and get in there and buy something (you will be thirsty and hungry after being processed in).
By the way I just did my process out. It sucked. I was in the holding tank for 7 1/2 hours. No sleep and no food or water with little room to move around. There were about 30 people in the tank at one point.
just got done with my 24 hours and let me tell you it sucked !!!!
First i sat in a holding cell at LBJ from 7 in the morning until about 2:30 . There was about 25 of us in a small holding cell the whole time . It got so bad it was hard to get air . Most of the people were ok though . Everyone was kinda funny . The detention officers were very mean though .
From there they put about 16 of us in a bus with no air or windows to transport us to Estrella . It must have been about 120 degrees in the bus but the driver drove fast so it only took like 5 minutes to get there . We sat in a holding cage for about an hour which was nice because it was kinda open and we had cold air and a place to sit . But then they came in with a bunch of women and they stuck us in a very small holding cell for about another half hour until they came to get us for the tents . DO NOT TALK CRAP TO THE GUARDS !!! one guy in my group did and they almost put us all back in that small cell .
Finally got to the tents around 5 in the afternoon . The tents were the best part . you had food and cold water . My bunk was not nasty and the mattress was clean . If you smoke you can get them for 2 bucks but i did not want to risk getting caught and having to do more time then my 24 hours so i would not suggest doing it . I had a top bunk which was really bad because you dont get any air flow . Once the sun went down it was not that bad though . Watch out for the mice running around . I did not see any other bugs though. Also watch out in the bathroom because the floor is coverd in piss so wash the bottom of your shoes after going in there .
They called us out at about 10 that night to go back to estrella so i was only in the tents about 5 hours . sat in estrella about 45 mintues until getting on a bus back to LBJ . Sat in a kinda large holding tank until about 2:30 in the morning . Then they called some of us out and took our Fingerprints again and moved us into a VERY SMALL holding cell to waqit to get released . There was about 35 of us in this very , very , very , tiny cell with no air . I was almost at my breaking point when they openend the door and called my name first and then about 10 others . It was 4 in the morning and they let us out . I guess i am very lucky because i got out 3 hours early !! so that can happen !!! .
Over all it was not something i would want to do ever again . I read the post on this thread before going in and it helped me a little so i thought i would share . Just keep to yourself and make sure no one in your group says anything to piss off the officers and you will be fine . Bring a book and BRING TOWELS because my ass still hurts from sitting on that damn floor with no padding .
These accounts were gathered from another helpful forum: Prison Talk