My story starts with the first day I got arrested.
Two police officers in uniform escorted me into San Diego Central Jail, a massive building that looked like an apartment building from the outside but was actually a high-rise jail in the center of the city.
I pulled into the sallyport, and there were police cars all the way along the carpark. As I entered the sheriff’s car, I thought to myself, how did I end up in this position? I came to America for a better life, yet I somehow ended up locked up.
When the car pulled in and stopped, two deputies got out and opened the back door. I was still in handcuffs at the time, just wearing my boxing tradepants and Puma sweater with a Nike track and field singlet underneath. As I got out of the back of the cop car, the officers jerked me out and pulled me toward an electric sliding door in the central jail.
As soon as I arrived, I could smell rotten leftover turkey ham from the sandwiches they give for lunch. They had been sitting in the cells for days going putrid. They led me into a side room, where I was processed by a Chinese lady, who was brutal with her questions.
She asked me where I had been, if I was intending to harm myself, if I had been to prison before, if I had gang affiliations. I answered, “No,” to most of them. They then gave me a suicide gown and put me in a glass observation room with nothing but my Nike singlet.
It felt like I was waiting for hours. Then someone finally came and put me in a room with nothing in it but a shithole in the middle. The walls were all padded.
Disclaimer: The views in this article are those of the author. Prison Journalism Project has verified the writer’s identity and basic facts such as the names of institutions mentioned.