I’m a sheriff’s deputy assigned to work the graveyard shift at the county jail. My specific unit houses the criminally insane, who are either awaiting their trials, court competency hearings, or are serving their time in county rather than being shipped up north to prison.
This unit is considered to be the most dangerous in the county because these inmates are utterly unpredictable, given their mental state. One minute they’ll be talking to you like you’re their best friend, and the next minute they’ll attack you without any provocation.
Department policy states that we have to walk through the cell block to conduct a welfare check of the inmates every 15 minutes. Given the type of inmates housed here, we always have at least 3 deputies conducting the walkthrough together. One deputy walks on the upper tier, one walks the lower tier, and one stands at the entrance to the cell block.
Lights-out is at 2200 hours, so it’s usually pretty straight forward at night – all the inmates are locked down and nobody leaves their cell. Sometimes it doesn’t work out that way, so we still have to watch our backs.
Tonight was one of those nights. During my walk, I found a cell door that was ajar. I saw what looked like a milk carton had been shoved into the locking mechanism, which prevented the door from closing. I peered into the cell – empty. My heart sank and I immediately called for backup. There was an unsecured inmate in here with us. I stood there in the dark listening for any sound – any sign of movement.
Suddenly, I heard my partner shout across the cell block, “Hey! What are you doing? Get back in your cell, asshole!” I spun around and saw my partner, but I didn’t see the inmate anywhere. He looked pissed.
“Where’s the inmate?“ I started.
My partner didn’t say anything and shined his flashlight in my face. I put my hand up to shield my eyes and noticed something was…off. What the hell is going on? My- my uniform – what happened to my uniform?? Confusion and horror overtook me as I looked down and saw I was wearing an orange jumpsuit.