James and Emily left the hotel room at 8:30am to make sure to report to Atlanta Jail at 9:00am just as the judge had sentenced her to do two months ago. Before leaving the hotel room she took all of her medicines because she wasn't sure she will be able to bring them with her. That was her biggest fear. (She had been on an antidepressant since 2002. She tried weaning herself off of it twice before she got pregnant in 2006. It was a painful and horrible experience). James drove. She didn't pack anything. This is one trip that required no packing. When she called to get information she asked if she needed to bring underwear and the person on the other end responded, "we clothe you." She did bring eight books: A leather journal, leather datebook, "Wise Mind / Open Mind," "Accused," "The Glass Castle," "Soul Without Shame," "You Have Chosen To Remember," and "What's Your Book?" She was hoping they will let her have some reading material.
To get there they used the directions from the iPhone maps. Downtown Atlanta have wall to wall buildings, and houses that have been made into businesses. There were churches in every corner and there also residences. Atlanta was known for its traffic. It was a true metropolitan area. James parked the car in the designated parking place. Although she brought her purse with her, Emily knew she couldn't bring it in. The car was still full of stuff from the office. They had just emptied her offices days ago. James got the parking permit from the kiosk. It was a brisk winter's day. Emily wore black pants, shoes, top, with a flowery kimono top, and an outer winter coat.
The officers at the front desk sent Emily's sentence papers to the back. Thirty minutes later she was taken to the intake holding cells with another black woman who walked with a cane. Officer Felton was a black female intake officer. She was in her regular blue officers uniform, her hair was tied in a bun. She had a kind look on her face and she told Emily that she can bring two of her books. She also allowed her to bring her medication bag with her. James told Officer Felton that he was going to wait for Emily to get her number so he can put money on her commissary. They walked in and she and the other lady were put in a holding cell with their regular clothes.
James and Emily lived two hours from Atlanta. They only had five hours of sleep before she had to report to the jail. Emily immediately fell asleep as she sat up in the cold holding cell. A couple of hours later. She was interviewed by the nurse and she asked to use the bathroom. Around noon another lady black lady came, she was very talkative. She asked Emily what she was in there for which struck her as somewhat tactless. She said Medical Assistance fraud and returned the question. The lady's name was Deborah. Deborah responded that she was there for Failure to Appear and Probation Violation. Unlike Emily and the other lady, Deborah was arrested.
Officer Felton, gave the three ladies 3 food trays with sandwich bags. Emily tried to eat the food in the tray but it was so bland she couldn't tolerate it. She proceeded to consume the bologna and slices of bread.
Around 7pm, Emily called home to check on James and her children: Edwin and Sabrina. They were happy because they got late Christmas presents from Emily's older sister.
Another hour passed by and another black lady was put in their holding cell, her name was Wendy. She looked afraid and anxious. And Deborah, being herself asked what she was in for. "Hit and run," she said. She also asked the older lady with the cane. "Shoplifting," she said. Eventually they were led to the sallyport and given female issue. This means their jail uniforms (which is orange), white T-shirt, white panties, white sports bra, blanket, sheets, shower slippers, a roll of toilet paper, soap, toothbrush, toothpaste, towel, and wash cloth. All four ladies stripped to their birthday suits and donned their jail clothes and underwear. They were instructed to put their clothes in a brown bag that has all their information written on it: name, birthday, and that day's date. Emily thought, "well at least I have slippers for when I shower unlike in 'Orange is The New Black.'" She is counting the small blessings. Once in their orange uniforms they were joined by two other inmates. One was a transfer from Henry County and another just got arrested. Everyone was talking about how they ended up there, except for me. Deborah engaged me by saying, "I know she's smart because she figured out how to defraud the state Medical Assistance." At this point I had to explain what happened (which I don't want to go into right now. I'm sure there will be other days when I can write about it). From my soliloquy, La Keisha the inmate from Henry County, said, "somebody turned you in exchange for no jail time or probation." It made so much sense. I've always thought that Tim who worked with me from 2009 to 2011 turned me in even after he promised that he never would. There is just no chance of getting out once you've been audited. After our talk, Deborah said "Time is an illusion in here."
Wendy was notified that her bond was paid and she didn't have to go into the pods or housing units.
We were given our arm bands identifying our housing units and we were escorted to the fourth floor. At this point it was almost 11pm. Deborah was taken to the South side and the rest of us were taken to the North side. Instead of being taken straight to our bunks we were led to the multipurpose room. There was an inmate already sitting there. She said she got into a fight. After just a few more minutes a male inmate worker brought us bed pads and we were led to our housing units. Three of them went into pod 400: Emily, Fantasia, and Constance. Fantasia was bonded within an hour and left the housing unit. As Emily approached the door to her bunk a big dark figure was looking out. She figured it was her bunkmate. She's never seen anyone so black before. In fact, everyone she's met including the officers were all black. She was the only Asian this whole first day. Her bunk mate introduced herself as Mandy and she said, "I've been praying to get a roommate. It's been so lonely in here. Now I have someone to talk to." Mandy, must have been almost 400 lbs. She had braided blonde extensions in her hair. She occupied the bottom bed. Emily climbed up and fell asleep quickly.