We went to visit our friend at Durango Jail yesterday. This was the first time I myself went back to visit, I've been letting my roomie visit while I sat out in the waiting room or in the car. I just didn't want to go back there. Also, there is a sign on the window where you sign in and they take your driver's license and check to see if there are any Wants or Warrants out for you. For some reason, as ridiculous as it sounds, I had this strange anxiety that they'd run my license and then I'd get arrested. Then, I guess I could get a really up-close-and-personal exposure to the Maricopa Jail experience.
Of course, that didn't happen, I registered for my visit without any problems or surprise arrests.
So after all these weeks, I finally know what happens when you actually visit.
- When you visit, if you don't have someone that can hold your stuff for you, plan to leave everything in the car except for your car key, your ID and 2 quarters.
- You are called by name to the door, where you are reminded that you can't have on any belts, earings, jewelry, hair ties, bracelets, short pants (shorter than your lower thighs), etc. You also can't have any kind of jacket/sweater/coat with a hood or a zipper. No sleeveless shirts or shirts with plunging necklines.
- You are allowed to bring back one single key.
- Everything else has to be locked up in a locker or returned to your car.
- Once you are allowed past the door, you pass through a metal detector.
- Then you go back into a large room with, oh, about 40 tables (about the size as what you would see at a fast food restaurant). Each table has a double-width chair on each side (again, same as you'd find at a fast food restaurant).
- On one side of the table is the prisoner, in striped black-and-white prison garb. His hands are handcuffed at the wrist and attached to the table. His ankles are also chained.
- Across the table is a 4-inch tall wood barrier. Prisoner and visitor(s) are not allowed to reach over the barrier.
- No touching, kissing, hugging, holding of children, passing of any items whatsoever from visitor to prisoner.
- Children can visit with the parent but they can't be running around the place, they have to remain seated and have to behave well enough to be in control during the visit.
- Even though the visits have been for 30 minutes, we notice the guards have let visits last as long as 45 minutes.
- At the end of the visit, a guard comes up and taps the table with his/her fingers and tells you "time's up" and you leave.
Other interesting facts I learned about life in the jail:
- Durango Jail was originally built as a mental institution, and there is currently some litigation going on because the facility is filled with asbestos and lead paint.
- Prisoners are housed in "pods" with 16 prisoners per pod. There are no locked doors or bars separating the pods.
- Prisoners can walk around at their leisure but must be in their cots for "body count" for an hour each night.
- Guards (both male and female) walk around the pods every 12 minutes.
- To use the commissary, prisoners place an order for miscellaneous items on Sunday for the following week.
- Sodas are about $1.50, which I thought was pretty reasonable since I've paid as much as $2.50 in high-priced hotels. However, sodas are warm and they don't have access to ice.
- There is a network where prisoners share their books that they've bought from the commissary.
- There's no way for a prisoner to call a phone number without using a long distance per-minute account. So even if you have a local non-cellular land line, they can't call it without spending about 25 cents/minute.