The electric chair better known as "sparky" and yes I sat in it!
Infamous Susan Smith...if you don't know who she is you can read more here
Television show on HBO called "OZ" about life behind bars....never a more "reality" based show about life in prison than this! This show was the real thing!
Now before you jump to conclusions I am not here to state an opinion just to give some facts.
Several people have asked what brought me to South Carolina, and I can tell you it was simply because of weather, and job availability. As a graduate nurse I was excited to embark on a new career but as fate would have it, jobs were little to none in Canada at the time..Nurses with 10+years experience were getting laid off, so the odds of a new nurse getting a job were slim to none. That started the momentum of looking elsewhere...I wanted to go to Hawaii where I had been offered a great job with great pay, but the distance was too far for family. I then considered Australia, again same issue distance..I finally decided Florida, the weather was nice and one could get there within 24 hours of driving...but alas my husband just wouldn't agree. Then my school friend suggested SC as that's where the "golf" was and since my husband is an avid golfer the decision was made. Then so began the process of sending out applications, to a strange country, in a strange place where we knew "nobody" (gulp) very scary to say the least! I managed to line up 3 interviews.
The first was at a quaint little hospital in the middle of nowhere! Although it would have been great experience in the ER, I thought no way too far removed from everything, after all I was a city girl through and through! The next was at a small local clinic, just didn't like the atmosphere, I was running out of luck. Then the third at the state medium/maximum security prison locally in the heart of the city.
I remember driving deep into the facility to find the building where my interview was..I remember walking into the underground path that led to the main building..I remember going through a metal detector and having my belongings (pocketbook) investigated...then they asked me to step forward to the front of the gate... I gulped the gate clanged open I stepped in and then closed shut behind me! OMG there I was in a space no bigger than 4x6 surrounded by 3 metal sets of bars. The guard was in a booth to my right...I am sure he kept me there for what seemed like forever to see my reaction! I know that at that moment my heart raced beyond control, I started asking myself " what the he__ are you doing here"? Finally the gate opened and I was escorted by another officer to the infirmary. This is where I met the nurse that was interviewing me. She was a sweet little women, I remember how kind she was and how nice all the nurses were as they greeted me.. then I began to think what great people! We talked for what seemed like forever and then she asked if I wanted a tour of the facility, and of course I said yes! I mean how many people get to see the inside of a maximum security prison, right? She warned me as we were about to go outside to not put my face down or appear frightened, the whole time I was thinking to myself " yeah right, I am about to shit myself" (sry for cussing)
As we walked out to the yard there were several groups of men doing different activities, for the most part they were standing and talking, I remember how loud it was....
We then proceeded about 10 steps into the yard and suddenly it was so quiet you could hear a pin drop.....I gulped and kept my head up and continued walking...I can't tell you how I felt, because honestly most of it was a blur after that moment...I only remember thinking put on your straight face and keep walking! I do remember thinking most of them could probably hear my heart beating because it pounded as though it was going to come out of my chest!
We finally arrived to the other side of the yard and entered into another small building. This was the intake room. As prisoners were transported here for blood work, and several different shots were given, a history taken and then eventually sent to their new home (cell).
She told me to survive here you have to remember 2 things... first, don't ever let them see you scared! Second, although they are prisoners the place usually runs by their rules so pay attention to your surroundings at all times! What the heck did that mean? So eventually we walked back into the first building and she said..."we also have a psychiatric facility" behind the infirmary, for the criminally insane, I will take you there also. But please be warned, these are very dangerous criminals and expect the unexpected" My head was screaming at me now~~"run for your life" but my curiosity kept me intact! So we walked into yet another hall, greeted by yet another officer.. this time the feeling overcame me quickly, this looks really creepy! You know that feeling, when you know something is just not going to be good...well we entered into the double locked doors, we stood on what seemed like the second floor looking down at the cells, she started telling me how these inmates were extremely vile and how they never acted accordingly. Well you know the movie
"Silence of the Lambs"?
Hannibal said he could smell her before she entered the prison? That's how I felt! I figured with all the talk about them being so vile we would never go down the steps and be in their view? Right? Wrong!!! Down the stairs we climbed, she started quietly telling me some of the crimes and behaviours of these inmates, some so ghastly I shivered as we walked 3 to 4 feet away from the cell doors I listened to her ramble on and then "whop" on the floor in front me! OMG! She saw my disgust and fear and we quickly returned up the stairs! We then returned to her office where she offered me a job in the infirmary, a closed 34 bed unit and I accepted! She said simply because of how I maintained my composure was why I got the job? (huh)? I worked there for almost 4 years until moving into another state facility...the stories I could tell!!
I can only say this...as we treated them we were never told their crimes but after awhile it was very apparent....I even got sent to the woman's facility to work and had the DISPLEASURE of meeting Susan Smith face to face.......That's a whole story in itself!
So the long and short of this is simple, if I can handle myself in a maximum security prison I can handle anything! Trust me! So if I seem a little rough around the edges to some, I have good reason, I had to learn to be that way to survive!