The Safety Cell
After getting my report from the PM shift nurse, I proceeded to check the inmates in Suicide Watch cells. There were a few of them gathered in one cell, donned with grayish robes, Velcro-strapped on shoulders, to keep them warm. One was separated because of his unusual behavior. He kept pacing in that tiny cell, but was calm.
The safety cells were also occupied. These were the cells in nearest proximity to the Intake Nurse’s tiny clinic because whoever was placed there needed a closer monitoring as they were more dangerous than the ones just professing their desires to hurt themselves. The ones in the safety cells had actually done something like kick the windows or doors hard with any parts of their bodies, usually their fists or heads, cut their wrists or arms and other bizarre things.
As I partially opened the tiny metal window and turned the light inside the cell brighter, a face was pressed already, so close against the glass window with a flat affect. It gave me a creepy feeling. His breathing causing the window to fog up a little bit. His naked body not minding the cold, bare cell. He was placed there the day before when he started kicking the Suicide Watch’s windows really hard, with both of his fists, and sometimes, his head. Fortunately, he didn’t sustain any lacerations nor contusions.
I offered water to which he accepted. Opening the tiny, horizontal window in the middle of that metal door, I slipped in a small plastic cup with water, which he immediately took in one big gulp, three times. I reassured him to just try to be patient and sleep until the Psychiatrist showed up that morning to talk with him. There was no response. His face remained emotion-less. He slowly sat down on the floor. But remained calm for me.
I tried to check up on him as often as I could, in between my screening of newly-arrived arrestees on both the male and female side. Not including the radio calls I had to attend to and the telephone calls that took some of my time if officers from other jails had questions.
I turned up the light switch on the wall and opened the metal window. His eyes were right there against the glass window. This time, he started banging on the metal door. Loud. Strong. Louder. Stronger.
“Stop banging on the door!” I commanded to him.
“Give me my meds! Give me my meds!” he responded with a child-like kind of whiny voice.
“I’m sorry Mr. T. But it’s not time yet. It’s way too early. It’s only 4 o’clock in the morning and we can’t give it to you for another 4 or 5 hours,” I softly answered, hoping that his banging on the door would cease. I didn’t want him to be placed on the safety chair. To be strapped. To prevent himself from inflicting injuries to himself.
“No! Give me my meds!” this time he demanded more.
“No!.. If you don’t stop banging on the door, I have no choice but to place you on that safety chair and I don’t want you to go there as much as possible,” I uttered with a firm voice.
The banging stopped as one deputy hovered nearby. Pressing his face again against the glass window, he said, “You sound like my mom! Stop playing games with me. Stop playing jokes with me!”
“I’m not playing any games nor jokes with you. I’m here to help you. I’m telling you about the rule here. And you know that because you were there yesterday when you kept banging the glass window. I thought you wanted to get out of this cell? If you do, then, you must stop hurting yourself. Don’t bang the door or the window! Just be patient and wait for the doctor…”
His cold, penetrating stare followed my every move. But I met those stares with mine and I was sure not to back down. Because I wasn’t playing games and I wanted him to know that. If my gaze wouldn’t meet his, that would mean, I was not sincere. Either that, I would appear as if I was afraid of him, which I was not.
I wanted him to get well. I didn’t want him to be strapped on the safety chair if it could be prevented. Because it wasn’t fun to have that kind of restrictions. Even worse, he would be given a big dose of a combo of calming meds. To lessen his agitation. I didn’t want him to be so drowsy that by the time the psychiatrist would come, he wouldn’t be able to speak with him and voice out his concerns.
The naked body retreated away from the window. His head bowed low. Slowly, he sat down on the floor and then, laid down. He stopped banging the big metal door. But he requested two things:
“Open the window a little bit so I can see...and leave the light on,” he softly stated.
“Of course,” I reassured.
And my mind wandered as I sat down inside the clinic…And took me to those times when I was in that cell before…As I struggled with my own faith when I went through a trial or a suffering. Or when I relied on material things instead of on God, the Physician. Or when I would wait for answers to come and the waiting seemed forever.
Bearing too much pain, and nowhere to go to, I resorted to trusting Him despite my doubts and even if I didn’t understand.
But somehow, I met Him somewhere, sometime by His grace through faith. And the doubts I had, even if real, led me back to a greater faith in Christ, the Physician, as seasons came and went.
I found out much later, that this faith that saves did not come from any philosophical arguments…It is His gift.
For there was no other place for me to go to…but to cast myself into His mercy. And knowing at that time that as I waited and trusted in Jesus…that would be the only way that I could be set free.
And so for everyone else in every safety cells…feeling hopeless, wanting medications to numb their pain. There is nothing else you can do but to believe and wait and trust…For these are matters of faith.
The Attacker (5/15/09)
The sun was just peeking from the Eastern skies.
Out in the prison’s yard, some huge Sheriff’s buses were illuminated by the soft glow coming from the lights all over from the tall lamp posts. Their engines were turned on, warming up, before the buses would take the inmates to the different courts where they would have their trials.
Orange-uniformed men were lined up in pairs, joined together with handcuffs and chained, forming a long line. They already had their breakfast and had their morning medications prior to going to courts. Some were fidgeting, as they waited to board those buses.
All of a sudden, all hell broke loose! Two men were engaged in a fight, using weapons they made secretly for a while. Deputies called for help on the radio, both for custody back-up and medical staff, as well.
When the air was cleared and the other inmates were secured, one man was down on the floor. He sustained multiple gashes but two of them were deep. One cut was vertically etched from his left ear going down to the jaw line. The other dangerous cut was horizontal on his left neck, close to the jugular vein. Pool of blood dripped all over the floor. Holding his bleeding neck, he was pointing at the other inmate few feet away, being guarded by the other deputies.
The other man being accused was not hurt. There were no lacerations nor any other signs of trauma. He was obviously very agitated as he was being questioned by those deputies, while the medical staff started treating the other man on the floor. They cleaned the wounds and controlled the bleeding. That man was sent to the nearby hospital.
When the investigation was finalized, it turned out to be that the “downed man who was accusing the other inmate” was the attacker and the other one who didn’t have injury was the one attacked. The deputies found out that it was the second attempt to attack the unhurt man. Both attacks on him failed. He was well-prepared after the first attempt on him, that when the second attempt was done, he was able to defend himseld and ended up injuring his attacker severely.
[Source: Life Application Bible]:
We also have an “accuser of the brethren.” Satan and his army of demons are the enemies of God and of everything good.
“Because God’s children are human beings – made of flesh and blood – Jesus also became flesh and blood by being born in human form. For only as a human being could he die, and only by dying could he break the power of the Devil, who had the power of death.” –Hebrews 2:14
Because of what Jesus had done [dying on the cross], we, who live in constant fear of death shouldn’t be afraid anymore. Jesus had freed us from that fear so we can live for Him. When we belong to God, we know that death is only the portal that leads into “eternal life”. [“Thank You Lord!].
Paul warned us, too that we also battle against the evil forces of Satan, who is a vicious fighter. But to be able to withstand their attacks, we must depend on God’s strength and use every piece of His armor. We face an army whose goal is to defeat Christ’s church. When we believe in Christ, they become our enemies. They will try any device to turn us away from the Lord.
Fear not! For God has provided His supernatural power to defeat Satan and his army, through His Holy Spirit within us. So, arm yourselves with God’s armor.
Let us be strong in the Lord's mighty power. Let's put on His whole armor to resist the enemy's attacks: put on the sturdy belt of truth and the body armor of God's righteousness. For shoes, put on the peace that comes from the Good News, so that we are well-prepared. We will need faith in every battle as our shield to stop the fiery arrows aimed by Satan and his army. Let us put on salvation as our helmet, not forgetting the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God. Let's pray at all times, on every occasion in the power of the Holy Spirit. We must stay alert and be persistent in our prayers for all Christians everywhere. [Ephesians 6:10-18].