We've had an awful lot of exposure to local law enforcement. To make an incredibly long and sorded story short, one of our friends is in jail, and we've been dealing with the aftermath.
It has been an eye-opening experience. Generally, trying to keep up with someone who is incarcerated can be pretty dehumanizing and even scarey. We started off at the Scottsdale Jail (whose lobby looked like the lobby of a mid-priced hotel, with nice wood flooring, and plenty of brass fixtures and potted plants). But it turns out that prisoners are never kept at that jail, and are summarily transferred to the Maricopa County Jail.
Basically, the Maricopa County Jail facility is, to be indelicate, a shit hole. Located on 4th Ave south of Madison, it is a four-square block of Hell transported on Earth. We didn't know the area well enough to find safe parking, and had to park on the street and feed quarters into the marking meter (which were inexplicably sticky and malfunctioned often).
This is not a happy place, and generally everyone there was pretty mad. We couldn't meet with our friend, and we ended up sitting in the waiting room (where all the seats were bolted into the cement floor, both bathrooms were out of order, and all of the deputies were behind bullet-proof glass) for almost 6 hours. For much of the time, I held a cap-less ball point pen in my fist to use as a weapon.
After three days, our friend (who at this point we had yet to be able to visit) was transferred to the Durango Jail, located off Lower Buckeye Road in south Phoenix. This facility is not nearly as scarey as the 4th Ave Jail, and now that we have been there several times to visit, we've gotten the hang of things and know where to go and where to park (they have a very nice free of charge gated parking deck across the street from the lobby). This place is more family oriented, and there were plenty of regular folks, and even the children were pretty safe.
- In the name of the Holy Lord Jesus Christ, you don't want to be arrested and you don't want to go to jail.
- We've made excellent use of our Garmin Nuvi GPS. We've driven to "the nasty part of downtown" several times now and it is almost old hat.
- The best place to park for the Jail is a parking deck located on 4th Ave just north of Madison but we never parked there.
- The best place to park for Maricopa County Superior Court Building 101 W Jefferson is a parking garage on the north side of Jefferson between 4th Ave and 3rd Ave. It's something like $2 per hour with a max of $12 per day. I'm going to start parking here for my Jury Duties. It's a fairly close walk to the 4th Ave Jail.
- When you visit someone at the Jail, no one gives you any instructions, and there are very few signs. For some reason, they just assume you know what to do. 1) Go directly to the window and get a visitation form. 2) Go fill it out. If you don't have the prisoner's booking number, you have to call a number which leads to voicemail hell and it will totally mess you up so try to call before and get the booking number. Once filled out, wait for them to call the number they wrote at the bottom of the form. 3) Once your number is called, go up to the window where you will show your ID. If you are not a US citizen, you have to show an immigration ID. You will also have the opportunity to put cash into the prisoner's cash account. One morning they weren't calling out numbers (but didn't make an announcement) and it was assumed somehow that you would know to just bring the form to the window when you were done. 4) Wait until they call your name. You can only have your ID and a single key. Everything else must be locked up in a little locker that takes (I believe) 2 quarters, similar to the type of lockers they have at bus stations. You can't have any belts, any type of jacket/sweater/coat, no hair bands/clips/ties.
- Interestingly, if you allow your GPS to navigate a straight line from Paradise Valley to the Durango Jail, you go right through the center of downtwon Phoenix, now known to us as Shitsville. Your best move is to get to 35th Ave and head south until you get to Gibson where you can make a left, and the garage is on the left.
- I have really gotten to love Google Maps, especially the Street View. It's been very helpful being able to look up the address and then even get street views so I know what some building looks like from the street. I've heard that Google Maps now downloads to Garmin Nuvi's but the street view gives the approximate street address for anything you find, so I can just enter that into the Nuvi and go.
- I'm still getting over the fact that two of my Favorite Places on my GPS are "Durango Jail" and "Maricopa Superior Court."