Tommy Chandler went to the Denver Detention Center two times this year for 54 and 55 days. One was a theft charge and the other was urinating in public. He is 44 years old and 93 days sober after using meth and marijuana for 33 years. He wrote this in jail:
The bricks have no warmth here, nothing but the cold reality surrounding you. Caged in like the mighty lion that got caught, his instincts slowly fading away. Your aching back is begging for freedom again. Until then nothing but a cold metal bunk bed with a two-inch-thick broken-down mat is all you get. The loud snoring in both cells on each side has you sandwiched into never-ending sleepless nights.
Once a week, most look forward to commissary day. Some will be smiling like kids on Christmas, others just sitting enviously like kids in the corner that Santa forgot, wishing they would have heard their name called to go get their bag of goodies.
Loneliness constantly creeps into your mind and heart. But you’re never alone as you’re constantly surrounded by other inmates and guards. Most of whom couldn’t care whether you existed or not.
Few inmates can remember phone numbers of contacts in their cell phones. Those that can need their friends or family to prepay phone time to accept collect calls. Unfortunately, most have burned everyone outside due to drugs, bad behavior and bad decisions. So phone calls and visits are rare.
The food is repetitive and lacks in so many ways they just call it chow. It is served three times a day. There is a twelve-hour span between your last meal that day and breakfast the next morning. So your options are to starve, save and hide food for a snack later or eat commissary. Some pitch in together and combine items to make spreads, giving them something that tastes good and fills stomachs until the next meal. The hungry ones sit watching and wishing they could join in, almost like that little fat kid who didn’t get picked to play ball.
Once a week, you get a clean uniform and linens. First you turn in your dirty ones. Then before being given clean ones, everyone is put out into the courtyard. Then the guards search the entire place. They rummage through everyone’s belongings, making a mess to clean up, confiscating items not issued to you or bought through commissary, removing anything extra that might provide comfort, individuality, or a sense of home until your release.
This wasn’t written to complain or condemn the system, jails or prisons in any way. Reform and retraining grown adults is not easy to do. I commend all you officers trying to do your best to enforce our laws and protect our rights. What I am saying is if you have ever done drugs, domestic violence, been abusive, or if you just plain keep making bad choices and bad decisions, then please change or this will be your life as an inmate.