This is the story of my day in jail.
No, really, I spend a day in jail. Honest.
Okay, fine. I wasn’t arrested and put in jail. I spent a good portion of a day shadowing a nurse at the local county jail, as part of our community nursing studies in nursing school. We students got to list our top three location choices from a list provided by the instructor, and we would spend a good portion of the day at our assigned spot learning about nursing in the community/outside of a hospital or nursing home.
I didn’t think the instructor would let me go to the jail; I mean, I look like I’m 13 years old, so me going to a jail was a weird choice, but I’m glad that he let me go (at least I didn’t ask to go to the boy’s juvenile detention center – that was another young-looking girl in our class!)
I showed up early and met up with the nurse I would be shadowing. She was the only nurse on duty that day, and I learned that she was often all by herself, though they had just hired a new nurse (one of the graduating class before me, as a matter of fact – I saw her name on a Post-It note by the computer). A good portion of the morning was spent sorting out morning medications for the inmates. Rather, the nurse sorted and explained while I watched and listened. The nurse explained how the jail worked and the different levels for inmates, and then we went out and delivered the morning meds. We had to be accompanied by a security guard at all times, just in case. Oh, and I learned that some inmates who committed more blue-collar crimes could go out on a sort of work release, and they would come in to the nursing office for their morning meds. That caught me off guard at first when an inmate came waltzing into the office for his morning insulin!
During our morning rounds I got to see the jail guards in action, when one woman in a room full of inmates started acting up. I could hear the other women telling her to keep it down, that she would get in trouble again, but the woman refused to settle down, and after a warning (which went unheeded) the guards told her to gather her things and then they took her to solitary. That was weird.
Going into the maximum security section of the jail was the strangest part, though in a weird way I enjoyed it – getting to see a side of society that I don’t normally see outside of movies and/or TV was kind of cool. It felt like something completely out of character for me, and I think that’s the main reason I enjoyed it.
The saddest part was shadowing the nurse during the re-admission of a female inmate who had just had a baby a short while before. She was taken to the hospital for the birth, and after she and the baby were stable she was brought back to the jail to complete her sentence. She hadn’t committed a particularly violent crime, and she was heartbroken that she had to leave her newborn child with friends and family while she went back to jail. This was when I got to see the counselor side of this nurse, as she comforted this distraught woman.
The next day I emailed one of my bestest friends and told her that I had spent the day in jail. I have pranked this particular friend many times before, (love ya, Oreo!) and I was delighted when she mostly believed me! I am working on training this friend to be less gullible, and I am proud to say that I am making a fine skeptic out of her… but I’ll save that for another post 🙂