What time is turn down service and lights out in jail?
April 14, 2012 7:29 PM   Subscribe

What would spending a week or two in the Atlanta City Detention Center be like?

I have a pending charge that could end up getting me sentenced to a short stay in Atlanta jail. I have about six months of advance warning to prepare myself in any way that might be helpful. Also, I want to get a sense of how much effort I should put into avoiding doing any time at the ACDC as opposed to whatever my other options are. I found this one review on yelp, although it's not terribly helpful.

If it matters, I'm late twenties, white, well-educated, not poor, and am facing a minor city infraction for which I might refuse to accept a plea deal for ideological reasons. I do have a lawyer, although I have not brought this up. Is a lawyer a good source of information about what jail is like?

What is going to jail for a week or two like? Mild inconvenience or potential worst experience of my life? Would there be any chance of violence or sexual assault there, or would I likely be physically safe?

Is there anything I could do in the next six months that might prepare me for a short stay in jail? Learn to meditate? Take boxing lessons?

Any and all information about what jail is like would be appreciated and I recognize there are probably general jail resources out there, so anything specific to Atlanta would be most appreciated.
posted by crocodiletsunami to Law & Government (6 answers total)
Oh, and there is memail or email in my profile if you would rather not comment publicly.
posted by crocodiletsunami at 7:32 PM on April 14, 2012

Over at Reddit's Ask Me Anything area a lot of people have described their incarceration experiences at all levels of the criminal justice system. It's searchable so you could at least find accounts of time in jail (not sure about Atlanta specifically) vs state prisons or federal penitentiaries.
posted by carmicha at 7:48 PM on April 14, 2012 [1 favorite]

Never been in jail, but I am an attorney who represents lots of people who have. No experience in Atlanta, but lots of experience in a comparable large city.

It won't be that bad. People of all walks of life survive short stints in jail without much trouble. Keep your mouth shut, don't talk shit with people, mind your own business, and you should be fine. Most people in jail don't want trouble, either.

And chances are, you will not spend any time in jail. Not taking a plea deal does not default to jail time. People with no prior criminal record, in my law practice experience, do not get jail time for "minor infractions."
posted by jayder at 8:06 PM on April 14, 2012 [1 favorite]

You will be bored, too cold or too hot, there will be questionable food, everything is filthy, and you will be bored. Don't "disrespect" anyone, sarcasm does not translate well in jail. But most of all, you'll be bored.
posted by sacrifix at 8:14 PM on April 14, 2012 [1 favorite]

From what I've heard from those who've been there, the city jails that aren't infamous for being terrible are usually not in the "worst experience of your life" kind of territory. There's little respect for your privacy, your comfort, your wishes, etc., and it's not pleasant or interesting, but people don't come out scarred by the whole thing, and it's generally not like what you see on MSNBC's "Lockup."

Make sure not to bring any stuff you like very much, and have a way of getting money so you can get things like beef jerky and such. You may want to brush up on your Spanish - it looks like ICE uses that facility as a detention center, and I have no idea to what extent the populations mix when that happens.

Your lawyer should know a lot about the subject, assuming they've done much low-level criminal defense work (1st-3rd degree misdemeanors, etc.) - you end up visiting clients for interviews in jail a LOT from what I can tell. Local bail-bondsmen probably also know, though I can't imagine you'd have a reason to talk to any of them.
posted by SMPA at 8:49 PM on April 14, 2012

The New York Times recently had an article on the burgeoning industry of prison consultants. One woman quoted in the article who was trying to get help for her incarcerated son indicated that lawyers were not knowledgeable about conditions in prison. This is probably true.

I would also strongly suggest you read this piece by former MO state Sen. Jeff Smith, who spent a year in prison himself, in which he offers advice for former IL Gov. Rod Blagojevich on how to survive inside. Almost everything revolves around social awareness.
posted by Conrad Cornelius o'Donald o'Dell at 11:45 PM on April 14, 2012 [2 favorites]

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