Editor’s Note: On Wednesday, George Zimmerman was taken into custody and charged with second degree murder in the shooting death of Trayvon Martin. He was incarcerated in the Seminole County Jail in Sanford.
Alpha Male Ryan spent several days in the Seminole County Jail in April, 2009 on a probation violation charge, before his case was transferred to Orange County. After his conviction for violating his probation, he spent nearly two years in a state prison.
In this column for Freeline Media, Ryan recounts what it was like being in the Seminole County Jail – and what Zimmerman’s time there as an inmate is possibly going to be like.
Then you get your photo taken, the one that goes onto the jail’s web site for everybody to see.
If you’re in there for a felony charge, you have to be strip searched. They take you into a room and you just hand them your clothes as you get naked, and they search you for contraband.
Then you get your new clothes to wear. In Seminole County, it’s a Navy blue jumpsuit that says ‘Seminole County Jail’ on it.
You keep our own underwear, socks and shoes.
Then you wait for them to take you to your cell block.
You wait. And wait. You’re inside a county jail. It’s high security. You’re not getting out of there.
Eventually the corrections officers come to get you. It could be two of them, or a group of guards. They come downstairs, call your name, and tell you where to line up. Then you walk to the elevator, and they take you upstairs, and they walk you to your pod.
You’re just put in the room with a bunch of other inmates. There are about 12 inmates in there. When I was in there, it was a real mix of ages and races.
What you’ve got there is a cell block with two phones in there, and a couple of tables in the day room … and a bunch of cells. There are a bunch of bunk beds in every cell.
You go into your pod — and each pod is a miniature community. There are three toilets on each tier. You don’t get any privacy using it.
So what’s the daily routine? You wake up early. They’re yelling “Chow!” at 4:30 in the morning. So you wake up and eat your breakfast. They drop it off at your cellblock, and you take it to your cell.
The food was complete slop.
Then you sleep all day.
There are fewer fights in jail than there are in prison – a lot fewer.
The corrections officers also act differently in the county jail than they do in prison. At the jail, it was all a lot more uniform, by the book. At prison, it was more long term supervision, so it was more laid back. In the jail, you weren’t in contact with the guards as often as you are when you’re in prison. In prison, you’re right there next to them every day.