Through unfortunate circumstances my best friend ended up in jail. I visited her on weekends and here's what it's like:
  1. Scheduling inmate visits online is pretty easy. There's even an app to manage them.
  2. My friend and I always stop by McDonalds before going to the jail. Something about it feels right.
  3. You're supposed to show up 30 minutes before your visit. The waiting area is in the basement. It's full of sad people. And lots of kids.
  4. You're only allowed one key and your ID. You go through the metal detector and then walk down a really long hallway to an elevator.
  5. There are multiple levels- 1, 2, & 3. My friend is on the 2nd level.
  6. Once you get out of the elevator you are in a tiny room. There's one door in front of you that opens to the visiting area. There are 6 stations divided by glass, each with one round metal stool.
  7. You wait for your inmate to show up, then you can talk through a phone. It's very hard to hear anything through it.
  8. Up to 2 visitors at a time allowed, but there's only one seat so we have to share.
  9. Lots of mothers are there, with family members bringing babies and kids to visit.
  10. I tried to do the super dramatic hand on the glass thing to my friend but she didn't think it was funny. The phones cut off after 30 minutes. Even if you're in the middle of a sentence.
  11. She said the women are all very nice to each other.
  12. She buys snacks every week with her inmate account. She hands out candy for fun.
  13. There's a basketball court with a deflated ball. She just does handstands while the other women play basketball.
  14. Her public defender has a terrible reputation. I yelled at her once. She told me I should feel lucky because she called me on her lunch break. I told her I was SO sorry for interrupting her hummus snack and she hung up on me.
  15. The court system in LA is unorganized and ridiculous.
  16. On the way out of the jail, two men handed us bail bond business cards.
  17. During one visit, a woman overheard us talking about bail. In the elevator she gave my friend a number and said he was the best bail bondsman because she uses him all the time. We had to call him and say "the lesbians sent you" and he would know what we're talking about and give us a good deal.
  18. We never called the bondsman.
  19. After two months, my friend was released on Monday. I picked her up at the LAX courthouse. She was wearing a black jumpsuit made out of weird paper material and breakdancing in the parking lot.
  20. Jail is not fun.