Why was I dropped off at a women`s prison when I`m clearly a man and came from a men`s prison? All I can say is that private prisoner-transport services don`t hire the smartest people in the world. It was 4 am and the transport crew messed up and took me to a women`s prison up the road from my actual prison. Being one to never question someone who has a gun when I`m in handcuffs, I let it all play out — for a rather amusing ending.
This private prisoner-transport company, called U.S. Corrections (I think, though I do recall something about Prisoner Transport Services, or PTS, being involved at some point), was contracted by Florida to pick me up at a federal prison about four hours away for a hearing down in Tampa. It turned out that I`d served an illegal sentence years ago in Florida prison and the county court ordered a hearing to decide how to fix that little problem. More on that another day. Let me tell you about the trip.
These private prisoner-transport companies are notorious for transporting prisoners all over the country in what`s been described in court docs at “torture” and “inhumane.” Florida relies on them exclusively to transport its prisoners for all sorts of reasons. I fell into that mess because I was in federal custody and needing transport, even though I wasn`t in state custody anymore.
Although the prison was only four hours away from the county jail, the trip took 23 hours. Seriously. These companies don`t care about getting prisoners to their destination, and they weave all over the place picking up more prisoners to earn more money. They get paid by the body, not how fast they can get the body there. Some of the guys in the van with me had been sitting in there for over TWO weeks! In the same van.
Let me describe the van so you can get an idea of what it`s like. This isn`t a nice comfy ride with windows and all that stuff. It`s a typical cargo van but inside is a cage divided by a steel wall and benches on each side. That cage is then encased in a sealed box with no widows. There`s no light let in at all. Each bench can hold four people, but I found 12 guys in the van with some sitting on the floor. Everyone is shackled at their feet with their wrists cuffed to a waist chain.
Oh, and the A/C was broken. It was an oven in there (it`s Florida, remember).
U.S. Corrections and PTS both say they stop every two hours for food/water and a bathroom. That didn`t happen. They also say they stop every 48 hours to let the prisoners shower and sleep at a county jail. The guys in the van said that didn`t happen, either.
But this isn`t about how god-awful these private prisoner-transport services are. That can and will be its own post one day.
Let me tell you how I ended up at a women`s prison. If you haven`t noticed by my picture, I`m clearly a male. Somehow, there was a mix up.
When the transport worker opened the van door, I saw it was the women`s prison and told the guys in the van with me, “Don`t say anything. Watch this.” The transport worker let me out and said to the woman at the receiving area, “I`ve got one for you,” she responded, “Oh … really!” She pulled him aside and said something to him. He took me back to the van in a huff.
To add salt to his embarrassed anger, I told him that my prison wasn`t open yet and wouldn`t accept me until after 6 am. He laughed and said that was ridiculous because prisoners operate 24 hours. We ended up sitting in the prison parking lot for two hours waiting for it to open at 6 am so I could be let in. That was two hours of listening to this guy complain, but it was worth it.