Question: How does one prepare for arrest, shackles, public humiliation?
I am honored that my input is sought on any subject. It is a shame that I have no answer to justify someone’s belief that I know something that could benefit them. Nevertheless I said:
You cannot prepare, specifically, for something you do not know is barrelling towards you on the road of fate, about to slam into you. We are all on collision courses with the unimagined and unimaginable. The first time I was arrested it was bc my ex husband said I had slapped him before I left the house on foot. We had argued but it was not physical (on my part.) However, my ex knew he could have me manhandled by proxy. I was in my early twenties and he was 25 years my senior. As I left he shouted that he was the man, I was “just” a woman, and the police would arrest me on his say so. I heard the pride in his voice that he represented society’s winners and this victory was his weapon should he choose to weild it. Officially, publicly he was an egalitarian liberal. But if he needed to reach into his back pocket for the weapon of superiority he was always ready to club me. I did not believe I would be shackled at his request, as if the police did his bidding. Mature, white male vs young black female. Husband vs wife. I was confident when the police car pulled up behind me that I would resume my walk in a few minutes after a brief colloquy. Within minutes after he called to report a slap he did not have to prove, I was not walking but riding–cuffed and perched on the hard plastic that serves as the back seat of Honolulu’s police cars in the 1990’s. I never imagined that my self importance was not recognized by the authorities. They did not know by looking at me that I was a recent Harvard grad. They saw what my color, age, and gender meant to them and it was not a pretty picture. I was not a pretty picture. Today, I know what people think they see when looking at me. I am no longer surprised by the contempt of law enforcement. It does not shock me when police arrive on the scene and lose their urgent manner when they see I was the person who called. .The cuffs, the shackles are there for me if I say the wrong thing. It is simple for them to arrest me, release me 12 hours later with a gruff, “get out of here,” and nothing shows on my record. I cannot prove this happens. I still feel helpless rage and I loathe myself for not making them see me, exactly as I did during my first arrest. But I am never surprised. Is that preparation?
People underestimate the traumatic effect of the whole criminal justice experience. I was the target in a Honolulu street prostitution sting years ago. A sting is where cops go undercover and act as participants in a scene to draw in actual participants and get people who do not see a trap to say or do something illegal so they can be arrested. There are no entrapment laws in Hawaii that would prevent cops from creating a situation that was there at that precise place and time BC the cops brought it. The guy driving the car that had pulled over for me asked “a hundred for everything ok?” The driver had brought the car to a stop along the side of a quiet road. As soon as I said “yes” there was a tap on my passenger’s side window. A large figure clad in all black, including a black ski mask like a horror movie villain filled my view. He was very polite. “Please step out of the car ma’am. You are being arrested for solicitation.” He opened the door for me and I got out feeling like I was in a dream. The car immediately sped off. Seemingly out of nowhere there was a van and like, 17 people, all ski masked, wearing all black including boots and gloves as if they were not in Honolulu , Hawaii. I don’t remember how I ended up in the back of an empty van with two guys in disguise. Both were jovial and eager to ask me questions as if they were young and new and ready to learn, which they probably were. “So what’s it like out here, how long have you been out here, do you always jump in cars with strangers, do you know what day it is?” Each was anxious for the other guy to shut up so he could ask his question. There was nothing about a right to remain silent. They were not collecting evidence but anecdotes fir stories to tell their friends. There was no need for evidence. I was from the street I would get a public defender, I would be guilty. I see now a real attorney could have gotten the whole thing tossed on the vagueness of the question BC “everything” is not a specific sex act like the law requires, but if I could have afforded an attorney I probably would not have been out there. So I was snatched from my life by masked strangers who suddenly appeared and always had the use of force at their disposal. After being kidnapped and during transport, I was subjected to shaming and ridicule as I was held out as an object of amusement. There was no way to know how and when the ordeal would end. For me it would end 20 months later. You realize you have created your own problems just like most people with problems but as one of the lowest people in society you are ineligible for sympathy or kindness–even from yourself. It would be helpful to recognize how injurious this process is and it is worth noting that the cops choose which of the twenty or so women on the street to target. Would not be surprising if some people based upon color were chosen while others were fresh to go. Still, I was out there and arguing that others got a fresh pass dies nothing for me. That was a truly terrible time.
It has been said that people will not want to read a blog written by and featuring anyone with past (in some cases ongoing!) legal issues. Surely readers interested in taboo subjects must realize that it is likely that anyone who engages in forbidden acts might very well have incarceration in their background. Here at Red Light Hawaii we deal with social taboos and legal taboos. Can you handle it? You are probably impacted by arrest whether you know it or not.
One surprising fact is how many people are touched by incarceration. If you include people who are close to someone who has been arrested, that’s got to be most people. If you just count people who know someone who knows someone who has been arrested you’ll probably have a list of just about every American. When I was growing up I did not know anyone who had been to jail, myself included. Now, everyone I know has been to jail, myself included. I should clarify my explanation of arrest structure by stating am talking about jail as it pertains to Hawaii, specifically the main island of Oahu where the capitol, Honolulu, is located.
ARREST + Its Immediate Aftermath
There’s getting arrested. After arrest you go to cell block, the underground mini jail where arrestees are processed, finger prints, mug shots, etc.
This dungeon has dim 60 watt bulbs that make it hard to imagine there’s such a thing as sunlight. Cell block is 60°, a temperature the officials believe is cold enough to slow bacteria growth. I think hardy bacteria can handle the cool but it is uncomfortable for people dressed for a tropical climate. I have huddled with a woman I did not know under the stuff, scratchy institutional blanket trying to combine our body heat to combat the 25° temperature drop. You feel like you’re freezing but you are not literally freezing. You’re just shivering violently.
In this state, you wait for the first available court date. You hope for court in the morning where the judge will release people accused of misdemeanors and snitches. The judge will not release people they see all the time, which is how many people with serious mental illness end up jailed for petty offenses they may not know they committed. An egregious wrong the public knows little about and probably does not care.
People charged with felonies get sent to jail along with the mentally ill. They could spend two days in cell block waiting the 48 hours the state has to officially charge a person with a felony. At this point of being handed a paper with the formal charged they will be given a bail. If the accused cannot use their phone call to reach someone who can help them bail out, they could be in cell block for up to five days if they get arrested in a Wednesday before a three day weekend. That’s hell.
JAIL in Paradise
Each island has a jail which is the equivalent of mainland county jails. OCCC is the Oahu Community Correctional Center (pronounced O triple C). jail for people sentenced to a year or less AND for people charged with felonies who cannot raise bail. It is estimated that 70% of people in jail are awaiting trial. Innocent until proven guilty. A felony bail is at least $11,000 and many bondsman will take the 10% in cash and work out collateral that could be worth far less than 10 grand. But that $1,100 in cash is non negotiable. For people with drug habits who are willing to do once unimaginable things with strange men to get $20, that amount might as well be a million. Families are usually troubled to begin with and they cannot help. Maybe families never cared and do not keep in touch, or they have their own drug money to raise, or they want the person off drugs and refuse to post bail. Refusals come quickly when people are asked for bail money again. That’s how a person gets stuck for about a year.
Reminder of Jail
What made me think of jail? The article about blending gray hair instead of covering it which requires constant maintenance. In jail people’s roots grow in and to my surprise just about everyone dyed their hair. Even in jail the roots distressed the women and the first thing they did upon release was their hair. I bet men do not worry about their hair so much that it is the first thing they take care of upon release.
Follow the link above to read my 2019 take on one of the biggest risks I faces on the street.
Disclaimer: I never said my stories are true. I never said they were false. I never guaranteed they are about me. These stories are about experiences that really happened to people in downtown Honolulu, around the year 2000. Just so you know! Thanks for sharing your life with me right now.
Snitches are typically portrayed as seeking opportunities to betray unsuspecting fellow criminals to police who don’t respect them but will use them for the greater good. In truth, from what I have been told, police recruit people to act as snitches and send them on assignments. I was told by two different people that after they were arrested an officer said, “I thought we would be hearing from you.” No one wants to look like a snitch so both people told the story as if they blew off the cop who approached, but I know better. People do what they have to do to stay free or get free. One clue someone is a snitch is an inexplicable release from custody. I knew someone who told me an associate had been arrested at 2 a.m. on a Sunday. I called cellblock and he was there are 3 a.m. I called cell block at 6 a.m. and there was no record of that person in the system. I later asked him what happened. He said they took him into a cell in the dungeon-like holding area and asked him for names. According to him they were surprised that they did not know him since he was “so big” as a dealer and he knew so many people. He said they mentioned people to him, he did not volunteer names. If they said a name he knew he confirmed he knew that person since they obviously already had the information. Despite minimizing his role, I think he was very involved in telling on people he pretended to befriend. Or, he was lying to the police about what he was doing. Either way, he was not someone who could be trusted because he was perfectly willing to lie when it suited him. And like most liars I have met, he never called his lies, lies. They were just things he had to say. What disturbed me was one of the people he confirmed for the officers would commit suicide by cop, meaning he pointed a gun, unloaded I heard, at officers, knowing they had to shoot. The informant claimed he kept the guy in the loop about what the police were asking. Even if this was true, could the guy have felt hopeless knowing the police were actively pursuing him and his fate was in the hands of that iffy person. Who knows. What I do know is police are often catalysts and not criminals.
I could have been arrested but I wasn’t because I followed the advice of the veteran working girl who spent 40 minutes with me telling me how to be careful.
I was Working As a Streetwalker
It was somewhere around 2003. When I was using the days ran together until months and a couple of years went buy without me really noticing. Truth be told, I liked the formlessness of my days after the regimented life of school and work I had lived all of my childhood and in the very beginning of my adulthood. I felt free, like I had nowhere to be, nothing to do, but the truth is I was a slave to the drug that kept me on a hamster wheel while my experience was that of freedom. I was finding tricks-taking money for sexual favors-copping dope-finding another addict with a hole in the wall–getting high–running out–freaking out–race walking back to the stroll–finding tricks…there was never any past or future, I was always at some point in this sequence as if I stood outside the normal passage of time during which change occurs. Because nothing changed. I was still young and beautiful then and thought I always would be, like every young and beautiful woman whose face and body gravity has yet to discover. I was responsible for me and my habit and I was having fun.
I Jumped Into A Guy’s Car
It was the middle of the day, and I “caught a date” as we said in under 50 seconds. I know because I liked to time how long it took for someone to screech to a halt and affirm for me that I was desirable. This guy did that for me when he pulled over and I liked him for it. But I didn’t like him enough to violate the rule the old hooker had taught me–say nothing. She probably wasn’t really old. She was dying of AIDS and I bet she just looked old but never had the chance to reach the age I am now as I write this. Anyway, I sat quietly in the passenger seat and the driver drove without a word. I looked out the window at the passenger’s side rearview mirror and I saw what I knew I would see eventually, two cars following us. The first was on our bumper the second was right on the bumper of the car immediately behind us. We all turned together, close enough to be boxcars on a train. There were a number of parking lots we girls took our dates to because they didn’t have security. My guy pulled into a lot that had security. Just so happened to be the four story parking structure serving as the residence of my dear late friend, the medic in Vietnam. It did not escape my notice that the guy did not ask where I wanted to go or if this place was ok. I mean, he was stone cold silent, and no one is ever like that. So I knew.
I Wasn’t Surprised When The Passenger’s Side Door Flew Open
Get on the ground! Now! Now!
Two plainclothes undercover officers instructing me to exit the vehicle without assistance
They didn’t put their hands on me but let me climb out of the SUV type of vehicle by myself. I was grateful for that courtesy. I did not want to join the ranks of black people who had been mistreated by police. I liked to be indignant from the comfortable distance of dealing with other people’s issues. Instantly the the driver was gone, he was just out of there so fast I barely saw him peel out. I barely got a look at him or the car, before I was left alone sitting on the parking lot ground with the two men looming over me. I never notice what people look like, to the point that it is almost like I don’t see them because I can’t remember a thing about what they look like but I remember what they said.
What are you doing jumping in and out of cars with men you don’t know? What do you think that looks like?
The question of the indignant police officer who seemed to genuinely dislike what I was doing, and me for doing it
I was inspired. I had nothing rehearsed. I was afraid every single date, and I did 3-5 a day every day, every single date I was afraid of getting arrested. Yet I never rehearsed what I would do. Probably because I had never been arrested before so I had no way to imagine how things would go. I think my inspiration was due to the fact that they attacked me in my area of strength–I was a smooth talker and a quick talker. I had the situation well in hand.
I am from the Big Island. We hitchhike all the time over there. That’s just what we do.
Yes I had lived a few months on the second most populous island in the state of Hawaii which is not very populous at all. Yes The Big Island is very rural and hitchhiking is such a way of life that people will automatically pull over when they see someone obviously out of place (like a young black woman) and cheerfully offer a ride that the walker cheerfully accepts. No, I was not hitchhiking in Honolulu.
The officers had jumped the gun. There was no way to know what I was thinking, especially since everything I chose to share was true. No talking meant no agreement to exchange a specific sex act for a specific thing of value. I was glad they weren’t the type of officers who were going to arrest anyone who fell into their trap because they could have arrested me and their story would be taken as gospel truth by everyone that matters. But I must have been right in my perception that these guys were really law and order types. They let me go. What else could honest cops do?
The High Of Undeserved Freedom
I scampered off, delighted to be near my medic friend so I could share the incredible story. I was still having fun. My dangerously warped view of reality was reinforced. I don’t know about the Law of Attraction, because they say perception is reality but my perception was not reality. I didn’t know it then because I did not need to know.
There was no better high, without drugs, than the high of getting away with something when I was totally guilty. That feeling of running away, scott free, made me even more manic inside my mind than usual. My thoughts were happily tumbling all over each other, is the best way I can describe my state of mind, and I had a physical feeling of …lightness, I guess I’d say, in my chest. I did not get off on taking the risk. It is no fun thinking I might get caught. But it was a whole hell of a lot of fun to enjoy undeserved freedom. Well, undeserved freedom was only a temporary state of being, as I would find out soon enough.