Every dorm in the Men’s County Jail is represented by one elected inmate, that inmate is the dorm’s House Mouse.
Originally called the House Mouth his role is to liaise between the dorm and the police. He fixes problems, discovers when holds are lifted, dates of release, learns when the police are likely to come into the dorm for unusual reasons and generally makes life easier.
If there is a fight in the dorm it is up to him to get the truth of the fight and make appropriate punishment decisions.
A fight may result in the loss of ‘Programme’: TV, vending machine, late night privileges, even access to the commissary or when things really get out of hand…and the police raid the dorm and rip everything up…we end up without blankets or mats sleeping on ‘steel’ which never happened when I was there but we sure came close.
The House Mouse is a tough job, he has to command total respect from both the inmates and the police. He needs to understand who he can ask for favours and who he needs to leave alone.
The first dorm I lived in was a mess. The 5300 Mouse was disrespected. When he called for silence during the time set aside for dorm business nobody took a blind bit of notice. When silence in the dorm is required he would call ‘Radio!’ I’ve no idea why but that’s what they do in jail. It means, shut the fuck up.
In the second dorm 5200 our House Mouse Carlton, a young, great looking black man. An ex gang member, all he needed to do was call ‘Radio!’ once and there was silence in the dorm.
I made friends with Carlton when he learned how good I was at playing Spades. After a couple of weeks he moved me into the bunk next to him. Intelligent, wise and stylish he really shouldn’t have been in jail. If he’d been white he wouldn’t have been.
The language of jail has to be learned quickly. If, for instance, we were walking outside the dorm and found ourselves approaching a deputy we would be obliged to call out, ‘Walking!’ which alerted the deputy that an inmate was behind him. Once, I was being escorted to the attorney room and told that I should always be more than five foot from a deputy.
Many of the the younger deputies came to California to pursue other dreams but those dreams had to be set aside because of the recession…here they were marshaling men who simply hated them. Marshaling the disenfranchised, feeble-minded, surly, mental patients…I mean…there were so many people in the jail with severe mental health issues. They needed nursing…not policing.
Many inmates were just nuisances rather than criminals. It’s an expensive way to look after the mental health of the state of California.
Some of the cops, of course, are unapologetic sadists. Yet, even though I witnessed unsavory behaviour I had sympathy for those men and women. They are, after all, in jail too.
We were allowed out of dorm 5200 a great deal. School of course, outside on the roof once a week for three hours, church on Sundays and AA. The AA meetings were not like any AA meetings I had ever been to in my life. Imagine 300 trannies from 4 gay dorms catching up on gossip, not giving a damn about the ‘experience, strength and hope’ of who ever was brave enough to come into the jail and share it.
Some of those tranny hookers were really convincing. Like really high-end chicks with dicks. Some of them were just really ugly men with make up and long hair and over weight, crafting some sort of cleavage out of their fat pecs.
The tranny hooker market is so huge that most of them put very little effort into looking like real girls.
When Rosemary walked into the dorm the less attractive, more masculine tranny hookers looked very perplexed.
Rosemary was 5 foot tall, well cut hair, perfect tits, hips…a really pretty girl. Even the deputies looked at her askance. Obviously intrigued. She commanded a huge amount of attention. Good and bad. She was caught telling another tranny in Spanish what she thought of a particularly fine-looking deputy. Unfortunately he understood her, pulled her off the line, bawled at her, frisked her and threw her against a wall.
A big man throwing a small, delicate girl against a wall is not a very heartening sight.
The gay dorm in the County jail is unique, I have no idea if beyond California these dorms exist. I know that they don’t exist in prison. Which, by the way, was where everyone wanted to be. Prison rather than jail. Prison condition are a million times better. Nobody wanted to do their time in jail. There are three kinds of prison, the jail (run by the police) the state prison (greater freedoms) and the federal prison which by all accounts is like a country club.
The problem with the Los Angeles County Jail is that is it falling apart, it is over crowded and technically condemned. There is no money to replace it and no political inclination. During the boom time the jails were a luxury used to lure voters to vote for those who promised to fill them. Now the prisons and jails are a huge financial burden and nobody has the guts or political gall to face this crippling problem head on.
The two biggest unions in California are the police officers and the gaolers. Even if crime numbers fall the police make sure that the jails remains filled. Consequently, There are a huge number of parole violators and drug offenders inside the jail squandering precious tax dollars.
Even more galling? Whilst the police arrest and the judiciary hand down custodial sentences the LA schools are falling apart.
There is a correlation between these two facts.
A fearful tax payer would rather pay for more police and prisons rather than educate their kids.
Just look at the draconian Californian three strike law that keeps many, many men inside who really shouldn’t be there.
It is a totally broken system with too many vested interests.
The twins are living here with me in Malibu once again. They are dancing downstairs. Their friend Kevin has moved in too. It’s raining. I have to see my lawyer today. Blah, blah, blah.