—  Ken and Vesta  —

Wedding and Portrait Photography

541 773-3373

In the Jail House Now

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The above photograph is me, right after I got home from the Big House and the one below it is my mug shot.

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I had just taken a break from working on Amanda's photos, when the cops came. They blocked off both ends of our street, allowing neither people or cars in or off our block. Then three of them came to our door. I saw them through the living room window, so I opened the door to great them.

I didn’t know about the cars blocking off our block. I learned about that five days later, five days after I learned the three cops were there to arrest me for kidnapping. You see, somebody told the grand jury in Medford, Oregon that I kidnapped Devon, then took him out of the state.

And the grand jury believed this person and sent a true bill to the DA, who signed a fugitive warrant with a bail of $110,000. And apparently I’d fled to our house, Vesta’s and mine, so I was really easy to find.

However, when I told the cops that the Devon matter had been settled back in July and that Devon was living safely with his Aunt Chris, they didn’t wanna take me to jail. They unblocked the street and hung around for about an hour, trying to get Oregon to change their collective minds. But they weren’t successful and eventually they had to put me in the back seat of a cop car and take me away.

And that’s what this story is about, my five days in county lockup. It’s not about the unnamed person who lied to the grand jury and it’s not about Devon. This time the story is about me and Vesta, my time in jail, my hunger strike and how great the gang guys in jail really are. Yeah, you read me right, the gang guys. My short period of time with them was one of the best times of my life.

I actually hugged this guy Cody, who goes by the name Nightmare and who I called Grasshopper and fought back tears, because I got to leave and he didn’t. I was safe with these guys and because of that, I liked and respected them, criminals though they me be.

Vesta came last night to tell me via a video visit that the DA in Medford was dropping charges and that I was gonna be released immediately and I told her not so, I had my second court appearance the next day and I was sure that they would release me then, so I told her to go home and she did. Sadly, five minutes after she left, the jail guard in charge of our unit, took to the loud speaker and said, “Douglas, grab your gear, you’re outta here.”

But I’m getting ahead of myself, so I’m thinking I should go back to the beginning of this part of our oddesy to save Devon.

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I greeted the cops when they came. I was out the door, stepping off the porch when one of them said, “Ken Douglas?”

“Yes.”

“We have a fugitive warrant from Oregon for your arrest.”

“For what?”

“Kidnapping.” His hand were on his handcuffs.

“If you’re talking about the situation with Devon, that was settled at a CPS hearing back in July. I was there, if they wanted to arrest me, they had plenty of chances. We even saw a police officer there.”

And then I went on to tell them about the whole Devon affair and how he is now safe and living with his Aunt Chris. I brought them inside and showed them my Daily Face on my Facebook page of Officer Christopher Rose, who came to our house back in July. And I told them that back then we didn’t run from the cops after we found out about how Devon was being abused. We ran to them.

And we got no help.

I told them what had happened to Devon and how we called CPS in Medford and they said we had to bring him back. We called CPS in Reno and they said we had to bring him back. We called the cops in Reno and they said we had to bring him back. But we didn’t do that. Instead we spend four, heart wrenched and hard days dealing with the problem.

They said the report says we took him and Amber (stepmother) didn’t know where he was. But you know, emails and phone records are pesky things, they never go away, so I told the police we had both, proving she’d known all along where he was and we woulda told her where we were taking him, if she’d’a just answered the phone. And because she wouldn’t answer the phone we tried calling her mother, but she wouldn’t answer the phone either.

And the more Vesta and I talked with the cops, the more they didn’t wanna take me away.

They took their cars away from the front of our house and unblocked the street. And they told me the bond was a hundred and ten thousand dollars. And they tried and tried and tried to get Oregon to say it was all a mistake, but they wouldn’t do it.

So in the end, they apologized and a real nice police officer perp walked me to his car, which was now parked on the corner. However, despite the fact that my bail was like the highest he’d ever gone out on, he did not cuff me.

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Aerial view of the Washoe County Jail. The unit on the very top is called the hill. It’s not as bad as it sounds.

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At the jail, I got outta the car and he had to cuff me, because that’s the rules. Inside the jail, he told the guard about my problem and I had to sit alone in a white room for about an hour, because the officer was still hoping Oregon was going to change its mind and say it was all a mistake, because by now everybody seemed to believe the charges were made by a vindictive woman and they were false.

The cops couldn’t have been nicer, but when I overheard one of them say, “Shame on Oregon.” I knew I was home for awhile. At least a couple weeks, because I was facing a three day weekend, and the wheels of justice don’t work on weekends and holidays, and Oregon had ten business days to come and get me, so there was gonna be another weekend in the mix.

From there, they took me to a large room, sorta like the inside of your basic DMV. The men had to sit in a chair facing a wall with a TV we couldn’t hear, telling us about the jail’s rules. The female prisoners were behind us and we weren’t allowed to look at ‘em. And we weren’t supposed to talk, but of course we did.

There were phones there and I kept getting up and trying to call Vesta but I wasn’t getting through. And every time I got up, a new person took my chair and I had to find somewhere else to sit.

After about the sixth or seventh attempt, I got through and Vesta was really upset. She wanted to get me an attorney and post bail, but it was over a hundred grand and they told me because it was, I’d have to post a fifteen percent non refundable bond of $16,500, plus collateral for the full amount of $110,000 and that wasn’t gonna happen, so we decided I’d stay in jail.

I told her I loved her and that I’d call her when I could.

Then I took the only available chair left and the reason why it was vacant is because the guy at the end of the row, sitting next to it was a nut job who was higher then the space shuttle.

“Hey, hey, hey, would you fuck that female cop over there?”

I tried to ignore him, but he kept nudging me and asking. So I said. “My wife wouldn’t approve.”

“I’m not married and I wanna fuck her.”

“She’ll take you down.”

“I’m gonna do it.”

“Kenneth Douglas,” a voice over the loud speaker said. And I got up, turned, saw a guy behind a counter waving at me.

He turned out to be a nurse named Mike and he’d heard why I was there. He did a TB test. He asked me if I was in a gang. I said I wasn’t. He asked if I needed protective custody, which you need if you’re a child molester or sometimes even a woman beater. I said I wasn’t. He asked me if I had AIDS. I said I didn’t.

And he asked me if there was any reason whatsoever why I wouldn’t wanna be put in with the general population. I said there wasn’t. “Heck, I’d rather be with people, than alone in a cell,” I said, and he wrote that down. Then he told me it was a miracle that Vesta hadn’t been arrested too.

Then we talked for about forty five minutes. We talked about breathing exercises, boats, sailing, Europe, the Caribbean, politics and a lotta other stuff. fifteen minutes or so into our wandering conversation, he said, “You know, we’ve been done here for the last ten minutes.”

“I know,” I said.

“So we can keep talking till they take you away, or you can go back to your place in front of the 
TV.”

“Let’s keep talking,” I said. It was kinda neat, because at this point a lotta people in there knew I was in there on trumped up charges and they all seemed to be on my side.

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Then I heard my name called again.

“They want you,” Mike said.

“It looks like I have to go and get incarcerated,” I said and that’s what I did.

They had me line up with seven other prisoners and they took us to another room. Then they took four of us down a hall to where there were plastic chairs with grey bins on them with blankets and other stuff you need when you’re in jail.

There were four showers there and they had us each get into one and strip. Then a guard opened the door.

“Put your finger under your penis and raise it please,” a young guard said.

I wondered why he wanted me to do that, but I’m not shy and I wasn’t smuggling anything in under my peepee, so I did as he asked.

“Turn around, spread ‘em and cough three times,” he said and since I still wasn’t shy, I again did as he asked. I thought it was a silly thing for him to ask me to do, cuz when would I have had a chance to stick anything up there, but you know how it is, rules are rules.

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Then they had us shower and afterwards they had uniforms to hand us. Three of the uniforms were brown, one was red and instinctively, I knew I didn’t want the red one. The first two guys got brown, but the third guy got the red one and they took him away in handcuffs and I got the last brown one.

After I was dressed, I asked the guard what was with the red uniforms. I knew it was bad, but I wanted to know how bad.

“They’re mental or violent,” he said.

“Then I’m glad I didn’t get red, cuz it looks like they’re not in for a fun time.”

“Nobody here is in for a fun time,” he said. However that didn’t turn out to be exactly true, because maybe I didn’t have the time of my life while I was there, I did, actually kind of enjoy myself, the only real downer was I couldn’t get the phones to work. If I coulda talked to Vesta everyday, like everybody else was able to do with their loved ones, I’d’ve classified it as fun time.

Really, I would have.

After the shower, I was taken to a cell block, I least I think you call them cell blocks. Anyway, they put me in Cell 38, which is the last door upstairs on the left in the above photograph. It was around 9:00 or 10:00 or maybe a little later by this time and there was a big man, who sorta reminded me of the Incredible Hulk, asleep on the bottom bunk.

It was dark and I was locked in and I had to get up on the top bunk and I didn’t think it was possible for me to do that. But I didn’t wanna sleep on the floor, next to the toilet, so I grabbed onto the far side of the bed and miracle of miracles, I was able to pull myself up.

But it was cold and I wasn’t sleepy and fortunately there was a window up there so I could see the stars and I spent most of the night looking at them and conjugating Spanish verbs in my head, you know, tengo, tienes, tiene, tenemos tienen, tuve, tuviste, tuvo, tuvimos, tuvieron, etc: till I got all the way through all the ones I knew. 

And between doing that, I tried meditating on Vesta's face, but every time her face came into view, she was like nineteen or twenty. Once she was like thirty something and on a boat. All in all not a bad night, a little chilly, but not so bad.

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About what my cell looked like, though there was no window on the bottom. I did get orange rubber shoes like those pictured above.

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The Hulk woke up when they announced breakfast over the speaker in our cell. Turns out the guards can call to one or all of the cells and hear you when you talk back. Heck, maybe they can drop on in and eavesdrop on anyone in the cell block, which was okay with me, cuz I didn’t have anything incriminating to say about myself.

Awake, I introduced myself to the Hulk and he mumbled his name, but I didn’t get it and I didn’t wanna ask him again, so I just thought of him as the Hulk. When they buzzed our doors open, we took our cups (brown plastic glasses about three inches tall with about an inch and a half diameter) and marched out to breakfast. I followed the Hulk and did what he did.

There were guys in orange shirts and I guess they’re trustees. I don’t know what they’re called in this jail system, but in prison I’m thinking they’d be trusties. Anyway the orange shirt guys gave us a cupful of powdered milk and then a thick grey tray (pictured above) with only one of the cubbies filled with corn meal. It seems they rotate between corn meal, cream of wheat and oatmeal.

And we took our trays back to our cells and ate. It was pretty awful. It was lumpy and awful. How do you fuck up corn meal mush, I don’t know, but they can do it.

A couple hours after you eat, you get tier time, where you can leave your cell and hang out in the sorta courtyard affair between the cells and you can make phone calls. Well everybody could make phone calls except me. I pushed the right buttons, but the phone told me in a robotic female voice that it didn’t recognize my pin.

Later that evening, they took the Hulk, who was in for stealing from the place where he worked and he had multiple priors, away and I was alone.

The Hulk left a romance novel in the cell and I picked it up. I didn’t have my reading glasses, so I didn’t have a tinker’s chance in hell of being able to read it, but I sat in my upper bunk (I’d thought about changing to the bunk below, but I liked being able to see outside, so I didn’t) and I stared at the first page.

And guess what?

After about ten or fifteen minutes the words came into focus and I read for about an hour and a half, then the words all went blurry again. So I rested my eyes for a half hour our so and meditated on seeing the Vesta from a long time ago. Then I could read again. Go figure, maybe I never needed those reading glasses after all.

Plus, I had to go back on the blood pressure meds after our trial with Devon, cuz we were under a lotta pressure. And I didn’t have my meds with me. However, they took my BP every morning and it was lower everyday. Jail, it appears, was kinda good for me. So far anyway.

My next cellmate was a guy named Tom, who was doing weekends, because of his second DUI. So he could work and he could drive, but for seven weekends he had to be in jail. He didn’t sleep as much as the Hulk, but he slept a lot.

I was still trying to call Vesta every tier time, which was twice a day and still not getting through, so Tom said he’d send a text to Vesta after he got out. So, I wrote out a message telling her I was fine and that I loved her. But I didn’t know if she’d ever get it, because I was beginning to think she’d been arrested too.

On Sunday night, Tom went home and I was alone. But shortly after he left I got called out and told that I was being changed from a brown shirt to a grey shirt. Grey shirts go on maximum security risk people and they moved me into a cell with a woman beater named Nick. His girlfriend was pregnant and he beat and tried to strangle her.

She called the cops after he stopped, but when they got there, she decided she didn’t want to press charges, but the cops didn’t care, they took him away anyway. Like the Hulk, he slept the whole time I was with him.

And also this was the second day of my hunger strike. Yeah, hunger strike. I was so convinced they weren’t letting me talk to Vesta on purpose, so I decided to take matters into my own hands. I figured if I stopped eating, I’d get so weak they’d have to take me to the hospital and since Vesta was my emergency contact, they’d have to call her if she wasn’t in jail. So if she came to the hospital, she hadn’t been arrested and if she didn’t, she had been.

Pretty smart, huh? I thought so. However, as crummy as the food was, I was getting pretty hungry after the first day.

I spent the whole night in a semi lotus position, doing my Spanish verb conjugations in my head again and meditating on Vesta face, not how she looks now, my mind was still conjuring up twenty and thirty-year-old Vestas.

It was cold, but I didn’t wrap a blanked around myself, because I wanted to see if I could meditate the cold away. And the hunger too, I tried to make that go away as well. I did good with the cold, but I stayed hungry the whole night through.


But around morning, I wasn’t hungry anymore. Plus the weekend was over, so I was gonna get to go to court and maybe I could talk to the judge and let him know just how badly Reno screwed up when they listened to the liar from Oregon. I was sure I’d be out in no time.

But just in case, I kept the hunger strike going.

The court was a jail court, the benches jammed to the gills with prisoners all waiting for the judge to appear on a wide screen TV we were all facing. But before we got the judge, we got this hot Latina public defender.

And I know, I know, I’m being sexist. I shouldn’t have made any reference to how hot she was, but she was gorgeous. Smart too. She told us to watch what we said on the phone, cuz she’d lost cases because clients of hers forgot the calls were being recorded, even though they tell you every time you make one, and said too much.

After about five minutes or so, I knew I wanted her defending me in Reno. This woman really knew her business and she really cared. I just knew she’d get me outta the hoosegow pronto. But I was gonna have to wait till after the judge was done with us, before I could talk to her.

And on came the judge and all he did, was call names and when yours was called, you stood up and he told you the charges against you and your bail and that was it. It was hard to listen among the buzz in the room, but I listened the best I could to a lotta burglaries three thousand dollars, assaults five thousand dollars, batteries six thousand dollars and he went on like that for about twenty minutes.

Then I heard him call out my name and I stood up and he said “Kidnapping a hundred and ten thousand dollars.” And the room fell silent and everyone was looking at me as I sat down, including the public defender lady.

But after he was done reading the names, a guard told me that there were too many people who wanted to see her and that I’d half to wait till tomorrow. Then they marched us all back to our various cellblocks.

And then they moved me and my cellmate Nick—who’d beaten his pregnant girlfriend and tried to strangle her—to a place called the hill, which is the upper most cell block. If you look on the black and white photo of the prison above you can see it, it’s the six sided cellblock in the center, top of the jail.

I thought I was gonna be paired with the girlfriend beater again, but not so.

The guard told me to go to Cell 16 and I headed over and unlike the cells from my last cellblock, these cells had great big windows (see the photograph below) and there was this tough looking gang guy boring into me with steely eyes as I approached.

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The guy pushed the door opened and in I walked with my tub of stuff. Inside the cell, I saw that there were a lotta legal looking papers on my rack.

“What are you in for?” the guy said.

“Kidnapping,” I said and then I went on and told him my story.

“Read the papers.” He pointed to the paperwork on my bunk. And I started reading about his checkered past with various law enforcement agencies in Nevada and California, both inside and outside of prison. He’d done a lotta real not nice stuff, including beating a cellmate senseless in Lovelock which cost him eleven months in the hole.

“And you wanted me to read these cuz why?

“I wanted you to see that I’ve never done anything against a child or a woman.” He smiled. “Now can I see your papers?”

I handed my single sheet over.

He took it, read it, handed it back. “Okay, you check out.”

And then I got it. He wasn’t trying to show me he’s a tough guy, he wanted me to know he hadn’t ever and never would hurt a woman or a child. And after that we got along very well. So well, in fact instead of calling him by his gang name as he’d wanted, I called him Grasshopper.

He was twenty-six years old and he’d had a hard life, growing up in various foster homes. In one of ‘em, his foster parents had him delivering drugs, because he was underage, so nothing much would happen to him if he got caught.

Anyway, I don’t wanna go into everything we talked about, but we talked for about five hours. And during that talk, I took a break and one of the gang guys punched my numbers into a phone and transferred the money Vesta and Tiffany had put on my books to a phone account, then after that he dialed my numbers plus Vesta’s number into the phone and voila, I was talking to her.

And a couple hours after I made that phone call, Vesta was at the jail and made a video call, but I didn’t know how to work the video phone screen and another tattooed gangbanger came over and pushed all the onscreen buttons, till Vesta appeared on the monitor.

After we said hello, Vesta told me Devon’s Aunt Chris had spent the morning with DA in Medford and she was gonna drop all the charges. Vesta said I’d be going home tonight and I thought probably tomorrow and I was pretty happy. After the call, I went back to my sell with Cody and told him and he smiled wider than Julia Roberts ever could.

And then we talked some more and somewhere during that conversation I told him about my hunger strike, about how I’d planned on getting so weak, that they’d take me to the hospital and they’d have to let Vesta see me.

“That’s the dumbest thing I ever heard.” He laughed. “They’d’a let you starve to death. They don’t care.”

“Then I guess it’s good I didn’t tell anybody I was doing it.”

“No kidding.”

Anyway, it’s all over now. I’m home. Devon’s still safe. And I made a really good friend while I was in the big house. And I learned that maybe gangbangers might look tough and threatening, and maybe they are tough and threatening, but the ones I met were all pretty nice people.

Later, that evening, when I was home with Vesta, she said, “So what do you think happened to Nick, the guy who tried to strangle his pregnant girlfriend?”

“I hadn’t thought about him.”

“Well?”

“Well, I think maybe he didn’t get along anywhere nearly as much with his new cellmate as I did.”

“I hope he gets what’s coming to him,” Vesta said.

And, you know what, I’m betting he did.

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