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Call Somebody Who Cares

When I was in high school, a common taunt when anyone complained about something was, “Here’s a dime: call somebody who cares.”

Thing is, in the 1970s, if you wanted to actually follow that advice, it wasn’t much of a problem. You simply offered to accept the dime — later a quarter — found a phone booth, and dialed the number you’d memorized for those who might actually care.

As Stephen Petrick recently learned, it doesn’t quite work that way anymore.

You can read the linked story to get the details, but basically, Petrick was arrested, locked up, and effectively denied bail for five days because he hadn’t memorized the ordinary — that is “not-a-cell-phone” — numbers for anyone who might care about him. Numerous people did care, but all they could do was sit and wonder, “Where in the world is Carmen SandiegoStephen Petrick?”

Actually, I guess cell phones are now “ordinary,” and home phones are becoming more rare.

The news story covers a number of significant points. For one, as with Mr. Petrick, many — if not most — people today no longer memorize phone numbers. We rely upon our cell phones to “know” how to call our family, friends, doctors, favorite restaurants, and just about anyone else with whom we’ve ever had significant contact. When that fails, we turn to the Internet.

Surprisingly to some, there is no dearth of both cell phones and the Internet inside most county jails. And let’s not even talk about cellphones in prisons.

But if you don’t have a detention officer or deputy in your pocket, you likely won’t have a cellphone there, either.

And Petrick clearly had neither.

But that’s not really what inspired me to write a blog post about him.

No, the part that struck me is the way the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department — which, I believe, holds the U.S. national record for cell phones smuggled into the jail by their deputies — justifies not providing the fucking yellow pages to those they incarcerate:

Nicole Nishida, spokeswoman for the L.A. County Sheriff’s Department, confirms there are no phone numbers provided for bail bondsmen near phones to which inmates have access.

“And we have no plans of doing it in the future,” she says.

Nishida calls the problem a “vending issue” that would have to be resolved by the L.A. County Board of Supervisors. She says it boils down to fairness: making sure the Sheriff’s Department does not display favoritism toward any particular bail bonds businesses.

God forbid, by the way, that anyone other than a correctional officer or deputy should try to smuggle a cell phone into the jail.

Yeah. Regarding Petrick, the jail spokesperson’s message could not be more clear:

Not our problem. We just lock up human beings, take away their freedom. Eventually, they have some legal recourse.

Maybe.

Maybe not.

Hey. We’re only the Land of the Free. Home of the Brave.

Or so the ads say.

Truth of the matter is that, these days, no government agency gives a flying fuck about whether what they do is right, or just, or fair, or…

The only goal is to keep the money flowing. Create a sizable underclass from which the parasites can continue to make a living. Who cares if they’re treated fairly? Who cares if the system is just? Who cares whether they’re guilty, or not?

If people — in court we pretend they’re special, by saying, “the People,” with a capital “P,” but we really mean “the prosecutor,” who doesn’t give a damn about people — if people get hurt in the process, well, that’s just a sad side effect of the need to make sure that sadists (law enforcement officers, probation officers, parole agents, correctional officers, district attorneys and their deputies, judges, etc.) continue to collect paychecks.

But one of these days, the people — I mean the real people this time, which is why I used a lowercase “p” — are going to revolt. They’re going to turn on those with who abuse them, those with uniforms, those with robes, those with badges. Blood will flow.

You’ll find me standing out front of the courthouse, waiting.

With a bagful of dimes.

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