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"My Ten Days In The County Jail"

Ten days in the Erie County jail ended my life of crime for good. 
I have followed the straight and narrow ever since because it scared the crap out of me.

I help little old ladies across the street whether they want to go or not. 
I tip the IRS twenty percent. 
I take folding chairs to the homeless, so they can stop sitting on the ground. 
I've gone straight.

I spend half my time keeping my nose clean, because the sheriff told me to. 
Here's how I wound up in the slammer:

I had joined a National Guard outfit in Buffalo. 
I told them I worked weekends as a musician and that's the only time 
I wouldn't be at their disposal. 
They said they understood, thanks for warning them, and just sign here. 
We made a deal, right?

About a month later they started wanting me to 
join them for weekend romps in the woods. 
I reminded them of our arrangement, but they didn't seem to hear me. 
The only income I had was my steady weekend gig and I had rent to pay 
on a small cottage that I was renting in front of a slaughterhouse in Tonawanda. 
(I wondered why the rent was so reasonable.) 
The National Guard didn't offer to pay my rent, so I had no choice but to go to work. 
They started sending me rude letters.

One early morning a deputy knocked on my door and wanted me to go with him. 
My hangover saved the day. 
I must have looked bad because he asked me if I was sick. 
A very creative lie just popped right out of me: 
"I've got the measles." 
He took a step back.

He said when I get better the sheriff just wanted me to come in so he could talk with me. 
That didn't sound too bad. 
Maybe I was worrying too much.

I walked into the county court house about a week later to get the little talk over with. 
They started taking things from my pockets and putting them in a bag. 
They took my watch. 
I began to think there was more to this than a good talking to.

After three days in jail I was taken to Guard Headquarters and tried by court-martial. 
The judge officer said I could pay a fine or do ten days. 
My commanding officer, a real pal, wouldn't accept the fine. 
He wanted to make an example of me because I was a Military Policeman. 
I went back to jail. 

They didn't have their own stockade, so it was back to the county lockup, 
with my new friends who screamed all night and ate their dinner right off 
the dirty cot mattresses, in lieu of dining tables.

I learned a valuable skill: 
rolling Bull Durham cigarettes in the cheap paper with no glue.

I learned one other thing: 
They could solve a lot of the prison overcrowding by giving 
shorter sentences to nonviolent offenders. 
I met a guy in there who lost over a year of his life 
for writing a check on his recently ex wife's account 
to pay the mortgage payment on the house she was living in. 
He wasn't a crook, just a nice, gentle man who got in a jam and made a mistake.

Keep the people who hurt people, 
but ease up on the good ones who are not a danger to anybody.

Ten days did the trick for me.

Copyright  February 6, 2001 by Jack Blanchard. All rights reserved.


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