Serra Frank has been a longtime Freedom Fighter. She’s seen the ups and downs of activism and still fights. Not only does she still fight, but she left a “legal” State to continue spreading the knowledge and love of cannabis presently in her home state of Idaho. With special permission, here’s Serra’s story taken from her blog, 420 Mommy.
If you would like to read of her past interactions, she has them documented here.
My Adventures in Weed Court 2.0
I haven’t wanted to write this blog. I’ve been avoiding it, and always prioritizing something above it. Because there are parts that hurt my heart to even think about, much less tell the world. But I know I must talk about it. Even if it hurts. Even if it makes me feel bad. Even if it makes me feel ashamed.
Because if we remain silent about the injustices we witness, then evil wins.
That evil is the corruption that is among us.
That evil has many faces.
It is the face of the CPS cases that I fight in family law, as well as the face of Cannabis Prohibition. It is the face of many officials in the police, the courts, and the criminal justice system. It is in the flaws in our system, through the pain and suffering of nonviolent people, that this corruption is continued through our society.
It is because of unjust and archaic laws, and because of the ignorant and arrogant actions of many involved, that many people are harmed and forced to struggle in an already difficult existence.
I haven’t wanted to write this blog, because I never believed that I would be the one I was writing about in a situation like this. I have written about my own life and my own cases, including my Adventures in Weed Court in Southern Idaho (See My Adventures in Weed Court 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9 & 10.); and my own struggles with my debilitating bladder condition, interstitial cystitis.
I have helped to share and expose situations where police officers mistreat others, violating their constitutional rights and their humanity; and even written about my own interactions with such corruption. But never has it been such a violation of decency directly affecting my own life, and never has it impacted me so greatly.
What I am ashamed of has nothing to do with abuse or police brutality in a physical sense. What happened to me is likely super inconsequential to others, but such a brutal trauma in my life because of how my life has been for the last 18 years, living with a painful bladder disorder. What I am ashamed of – I cannot change. I know I cannot change what happened, and it could not have happened any differently because of my disability, and because of the choices of the people involved.
The humiliation and trauma that I feel because of what happened is nothing like the trauma compared to those who have been physically harmed, or even killed by prohibition. My loss is nothing compared to those who have lost their lives or their families to this War on Drugs, such as in “No Knock Raids”; the Victims of the Drug War, or sweet angel, Alexandria Hill, who lost her life in CPS custody over allegations of her father’s Medical Marijuana use.
But it is still not okay that it happened to me. And it has greatly messed with my head since it did. I just don’t understand how people can treat other people the way I was recently treated by officers in North Idaho.
Their lack of humanity has wounded my heart.
As much as I wish I could just end it all as soon as possible through a plea deal, and never think of it again, the importance of changing this system outweighs my desires to make it go away quickly. And in order for things to change, and the only way things like this won’t happen to other people like me, I must share the story and fight back against the injustice I have encountered.
Despite my humiliation and shame.
As my dear friend, John, told me when it first happened – either it has power over me, or I have power over it.
I must talk about what happened to take away it’s power… and take back mine.
So here’s what happened: (I’m sorry it’s so long. I will break it into parts…)
ADVENTURES IN WEED COURT 2.0 – North Idaho
Many know that I have three children – 2 boys and our beautiful princess Lilly. My oldest will be 20 years old next week and is currently attending University for Computer Science. I placed him in an open adoption when I was 17, and he was raised by a wonderful family in the Seattle area. Since he graduated from high school and became an adult, our relationship has grown. We have the chance to start getting to know each other better. When he decided to attend a college that is a lot closer to me, I was ecstatic. I get to visit with him more frequently than before!
I’ve visited him several times since he began going to school up north, and I had planned to go visit him in early November but decided to delay the plans due to an extreme family loss. My younger son turned 17 at the end of October. On his birthday, we were given the most devastating news – We had lost my 16-year-old nephew, my sister’s son Kyler, to a tragic car accident.
Kyler was killed from a head injury caused by being struck by a vehicle. He had been riding with a friend in downtown Boise on one of those Lime Scooters and was struck as they went through a crosswalk. It was devastating and my family was coping as best we could. The weeks that followed were extremely difficult for everyone in my family, especially my sister. So we spent the time taking care of her and being together as a family. We laid Kyler to rest on November 1st. The loss is still devastating and the grief is extremely hard to bear. After experiencing such grief, I had decided that I definitely wanted to see my oldest son – sooner rather than later. In moments of loss and grief, you just want to hug your loved ones tighter. Especially your children.
ROAD TRIP TO MOSCOW, IDAHO
So, a week later, on November 8th, 2019; my son’s biological father, Nate, and I traveled up north to Moscow, so we could visit our son together for the first time since he started college. While we were up north, we would also be visiting my dear friends, Ryan Augusta and Arlene Falcon; both of whom live in the area. Ryan is one of the directors of Boise Hempfest, and Arlene Falcon runs Moscow Hempfest. I usually only ever get to see them about once a year, so I was definitely excited to be visiting outside of our normal activism work. It was going to be a full couple of days!
(my baby daddy & bff)
Nate and I have been friends for nearly twenty-one years. For our son’s sake, we refused to let each other go after placing our baby for adoption and our relationship ended. We were children, who had a child, and we grew up together – seeing each other frequently throughout the years. We’ve visited our son dozens of times throughout his life, but, unfortunately, not always together. We hadn’t seen our son together since he had graduated high school the year before, and we attended his graduation together. (I am a proud mama and love to brag how my baby boy is now in college and in his 2nd year of Computer Science) This was an exciting trip for us; and it would be the first time the three of us would all be together, without anyone else there – (his adoptive parents, my other children, friends, family, etc)
That morning, I had left my temporary abode in Oregon and picked up Nate in Horseshoe Bend, Idaho; where he currently lives and volunteers as a firefighter/EMT, (He was formerly Chief of the Horseshoe Bend Fire Department before he stepped down due to time constraints. His other job as a driver for a designated driving service in Boise needs more attention. Nate is an awesome person who has always gone out of his way to help others!)
|White Bird Hill, Idaho Viewpoint|
From there, we traveled north through the Idaho Mountains, the fastest way to Moscow from where we live in the south. We had been traveling all day and were anxious to get to Moscow for the night. We stopped in Lapwai, just outside of Lewiston, for Nate to buy something to drink. I had thoughts that I should use the bathroom while we were there, but it wasn’t urgent and I was in a hurry – knowing that with my condition a quick trip to the bathroom could turn into a half-hour wait.
So I skipped the bathroom, and we headed on our way.
THE TRAFFIC STOP
It was little after 5 pm PST when we were headed into Lewiston, on Hwy 12. It was dark by this time, and I was distracted looking for the exit to Hwy 95 – the route to Moscow. Apparently, I missed the changing speed limit signs and kept going 60 mph as I found the exit to go north. I took the exit and headed up the Lewiston hill, where I saw the speed limit sign for 45 miles per hour.
My 2002 Mustang does not like to slow down while going up hills, so as I slowed, I was likely going even less than 45 mph as we pushed up the hill. This is when an ISP trooper pulled me over. It took a minute because I didn’t know the road very well, but I found a semi-level spot off the shoulder. I turned off the car, set the parking brake, but kept my foot on the manual brake since we were on a hill, and the officer’s car was behind me.
Trooper Braeden Hammon approached the passenger side window. He was young, and could not have been much older than the son we were going to visit – maybe mid-twenties. Braeden told me that his reasons for the stop was speeding and failure to use my turn signal.
|ISP Trooper Braeden Hammon – Cruiser #406|
I hadn’t realized I had been speeding so I told Braeden I didn’t know. My car does have issues with the turn signal sometimes, so I asked him to check if they were working. (I drive a rebuilt Mustang convertible, with a salvaged title; and it definitely has quirks like that. Sometimes the blinkers just stop working and then start again.) I gave him my Oregon driver’s license and Idaho registration for the Mustang. I had just renewed my insurance policy through Geico a few days before and didn’t have my new insurance card yet. So I began searching for it in the email on my phone. Where we were parked, between the hills, I wasn’t getting good reception and it took a minute for the email app to load on my phone. During this time, Braeden started asking questions about whether there was anything in the vehicle. He told us that he was working with a K9 and wanted to know if he brought the dog there, would it alert on the vehicle?
Nate informed him that he had a gun in his suitcase, for protection on our trip, and Braeden joked about it being Idaho, and not caring about that. Then Braeden asked me why I was shaking. I suffer from myofascial spasms, related to my bladder condition, so I am always shaking a little bit – especially when I’m low on meds. I was also nervous, of course, call it PTSD from my previous ordeals with officers in Southern Idaho; And, as many who follow my work against CPS know – and what I confirmed from this incident – I also shake terribly in the presence of corruption. (Facebook video of interaction with corruption in Oregon CPS) Braeden pointed out that my leg was shaking a lot more than my hands, and I felt even more pressure from the break I was pressing. My leg was definitely shaking more and more, the longer I attempted to hold the break down.
I explained my medical condition and my concern for taking my foot off the brake on the hill. Braeden said something about not letting it roll back into his police cruiser. As I finished pulling up my insurance email on the phone, I heard Braeden talking to dispatch through his earpiece, and heard him specifically request they send a canine. I asked him what he said. At first, Braeden said that he was just talking to his buddies, avoiding my question. Then, out came the mom’s voice, “Okay, but what did you say?!” I demanded to know as if I was talking to my child. He finally told us that he had called in a canine. Nate asked what probable cause he had, and Braeden started talking about my shaking again – saying that it was suspicious and his probable cause.
We hadn’t even been stopped for more than a few minutes, and he hadn’t yet run my name and registration, but he was calling in a canine after a minute of interaction? I knew this to be wrong, so I immediately invoked my right to be free of illegal searches and seizures, and mentioned the Supreme Court had already ruled officers cannot delay traffic stops to bring in a canine without probable cause.
Braeden started arguing with me, and told me that “it’s different in Idaho.”
So I told him that I was invoking my rights, that there was nothing further to discuss if he didn’t wish to discuss the traffic stop, and rolled up the windows. I immediately called my friend, Ryan; who was waiting for us to arrive in Moscow and had texted recently asking where we were. I told Ryan what was happening and asked him to stay on the phone as a witness.
|ISP Trooper Seth Green|
After about 10 minutes, another officer knocked on the window. I told Nate to start recording on his phone. Nate rolled the window down, and the officer introduced himself as part of the ISP Quad City Drug Taskforce. His name was Trooper Seth Green. Seth asked if there was anything in the vehicle that a canine would smell. I told him I don’t know. He asked why I didn’t know, so I explained I am a medical marijuana patient in Oregon so I didn’t know for certain, because I didn’t know if something had fallen somewhere or something stupid like that.
He responded, “So there is only weed in the car?”
I told him I didn’t say there was anything in the car.
I repeated I DON’T KNOW if it would smell for the dog.
I invoked my rights again and rolled up the windows. After this, we sat in the parked vehicle, engine off, and watched as Braeden placed spike strips in front of my car. After even more time, they finally brought in the drug dog for a search. We didn’t hear what they were saying, but we saw the officer patting the car numerous times and the dog going to each spot.
I commented to Nate how absurd it is that all of this was just for little ole’ disabled me and my marijuana, just miles away from the Washington border – where Marijuana has been legal for almost a decade.
HELD AT GUNPOINT & THREATENED WITH VIOLENCE
Then it turned into deja vu of my Ada County case. Multiple officers surrounding the car, knocking on my window, yelling at me to roll them down and get out of the car. Repeatedly threatening to break the window if I didn’t do what they said. EXACTLY what had happened in the Resisting and Obstructing charge from 2015 – of which I was just acquitted 2 years ago because the jury agreed that this isn’t Nazi Germany and (at least in the eyes of the people) – cops do need probable cause and warrants to search cars.
Having just done this in Boise, I knew that at this point it didn’t matter what my rights were. I was surrounded by multiple officers, and these armed men didn’t care about my rights. They wanted into the car and were going to do what they wanted, even if it violated my constitutional rights. (Reading the discovery later, at this point, we were also being held at GUNPOINT by Tpr. Seth Green)
I finally rolled the window down a bit to try to de-escalate the situation, while continuing to invoke my rights. When the window was down far enough, Braeden reached into the window and unlocked the door, and then opened the door. I knew if I didn’t allow Braeden to open the door, they were going to use violence and force. They would break the window and shatter glass all over me and Nate. No matter which direction they came from, it would go everywhere inside my tiny Mustang. They would also forcibly grab me and rip me from the vehicle – which would then cause me excruciating pain because of my bladder; which was definitely full and hurting at this point, with stress being my biggest trigger of symptoms. Or they could possibly even shoot me if one of them had an itchy trigger finger and decided I was a threat in their eyes (had I known we were actually being held at gunpoint by Tpr Green, this would have been a much larger concern.) I didn’t know these men, or what they might be capable of, and of course, we’ve all heard the horror stories.
So I told the officers I would comply but that I just needed them to be patient because of my disability. It causes me pain to be forcibly moved.
I told them Ryan was on the phone, and he started to introduce himself, as I began to cite the 4th amendment to the video recording. They interrupted us both, and again demanded I get out of the car. I explained I wanted to ensure my rights were invoked and reminded them again that I am disabled, so it would take some time for me to get out. I also explained that if they were putting me in handcuffs then I would need help to walk to where ever it was they wanted me to go and not to pull me forcibly. (Gravity and I don’t get along, and we were on a steep hill).
Nate had already been removed from the car on the other side. They placed me in handcuffs, and surprisingly, weren’t extremely forceful as they took me to Braeden’s car – where ISP Tpr. Tauna Tyler, and several other officers, surrounded me as I tried to explain my disability and they changed my handcuffs from the front to the back.
There were at least 6 officers there by now, and I watched as they – like little adrenaline junkies – excitedly searched my car without my consent, and without probable cause or a warrant. Then, once again in complete deja vu of my 2015 case – I was verbally charged with Resisting and Obstructing, Possession of Marijuana, and Possession of Paraphernalia. My heart sank as I watched them take away a month’s supply of medicine (dab oil and some joints).
After they were done searching my car, Tpr. Tyler tried to put me into the back of Braeden’s car, still with my hands in cuffs behind my back. The moment I sat in that position on the hard plastic seat, I had an intense stabbing pain in my bladder and abdomen. Tpr Tyler noticed my exclamation of pain and asked what was wrong. I told her I couldn’t sit in that position without it causing problems. She was very nice and found an officer with an SUV that could potentially transport me without the pain. She even held my arm so I wouldn’t fall down the hill as I tried to walk 6 car lengths away to where it was located, while in immense pain and with zero balance because of my hands behind my back.
Once we got there, it caused even more pain to sit in the seat of the SUV. When I told her, Tpr Tyler told me she didn’t know what else to do, so I requested an EMT be called. At this point, Braeden insisted that I be placed in the back of his car so he could just take us to jail. He was apparently in a hurry about something else and had to go. I told him I needed an EMT. When he obviously started to get upset with my answer, I told him whatever, just do it.
They put me back in the original car, and Tpr Tyler told me I could sit sideways to try to alleviate the pain. This time Nate was also in the back of the car. They were charging him as well, and impounding my car. I begged for it to be released to Ryan, who I knew would come and get it so I didn’t have to pay impound fees. I only had the money for the trip, and the money I was saving for one of my college courses and for Christmas presents for my kids.
I was already going to have to bail out and lose all my Christmas money. But I really needed the money it would cost for the impound so I could at least stay in school.
Of course, they didn’t listen to me, so we went to the jail with Braeden. I had warned him that when we hit bumps, I might make noise from pain. It is extremely difficult for me to ride in vehicles when I am having complications of my condition. As we took off, he fishtailed into the center lane, where we were almost hit by a car coming down the hill. He tried to pull out again really fast, and barely missed another car before stopping again. I realized he was young and was going to drive like a teenager, so I just held my breath when the pain came and pushed through to the jail as much as I could without crying out. As we made our way, I could feel the familiar urgency and pain that comes with a full IC bladder. I knew I needed a bathroom soon or I would lose control. For the last 18 years of suffering this condition, which includes extreme symptoms of urgency and incontinence, I have been able to pride myself on always making it to the bathroom in time; because I listen to my body.
At that moment, my body was screaming at me.
I notified Braeden that I would need a female officer to immediately assist me with the bathroom as soon as we got there. He ignored my request. I distracted myself the rest of the way to the Nez Perce County Jail by talking with Nate about how fucked up the whole situation was; knowing Braeden could hear me and was likely recording. I would be able to get the audio through discovery, later.
DENIAL OF REASONABLE ACCOMMODATIONS
Once we got into the Sally Port at the Nez Perce County Jail, Braden removed me from the car first. We went into one set of doors into a little room connected to the booking area.
Here, a young female officer (later identified as Deputy Ashley Morrow) was waiting. I asked her, “are you here to take me to the bathroom?”
She told me that we had to do a pat search first.
I told her to please hurry, I really needed to use the bathroom or I would lose control. Other officers came into the little room – so now there were at least 3 men standing in the room in front of me, including Braeden; plus Ashley doing the search.
As she did the pat search, I had intense shooting pain, from my bladder down into my urethra, another urgent and telltale sign that I needed to use the bathroom immediately. I instinctively grabbed my groin and was yelled at to put my hands back on the wall. I did so and crossed my legs to avoid an accident. They forced me to uncross them and I started crying. It was becoming too much. I pleaded again for a bathroom.
Ashley finished the pat search and then told me I had to take off my jewelry and go do a strip search. I objected, and again told her how urgently I needed to use the bathroom. I requested reasonable accommodations as a disabled person.
I explained I was disabled with a bladder condition and that I would lose control of my functions if I didn’t use the bathroom immediately.
She demanded I first take off every single piece of jewelry I was wearing.
For context, I typically wear nine different bracelets on my wrists, six rings, a necklace, and 4 earrings. Usually the same ones every time I put them on — all sentimental treasures I’ve collected on my journey through life.
|Some of my jewelry from that night…|
I started begging for the bathroom. The jewelry could wait. Ashley again told me no.
I tried to comply again, this time asking for Ashley’s assistance in removing bracelets I’d received from my Dad after he took a ministry trip to Kenya – to build mud houses for the poor, ten years ago. They are long beaded necklaces that I had wrapped into bracelets around my wrists, one on each side.
They have tiny twists clasps and need two hands to remove them, but one of my hands was busy holding my groin area to prevent the unintended evacuation of my bladder.
Every time I had to grab myself to avoid a loss of bladder function, I was yelled at to take off the jewelry. I started begging and pleading. I tried to cooperate and started again to remove my jewelry.
Suddenly, I felt the urge to urinate even more intensely and knew I was about to lose control. I sat down to prevent it from happening. They yelled at me to get back up. I put my head back against the wall and saw a security camera in the corner of the room. Great, I thought, this embarrassing moment would be caught on tape. How humiliating!
I looked at each of the officers standing in front of me. I realized they were all men so I begged Ashley to at least have other female officers in the room instead if they were going to make me lose control in front of them. I was told again to stand up, so I did.
This time knowing, I wouldn’t be able to keep control.
Then it happened. My worst fear as a disabled person with a life-altering bladder condition. I lost control.
It hit me like a ton of bricks. The humiliation, the shame, the inability to control my own body. Feelings I have struggled with since this pain began 18 years ago. Feelings I had never felt so deeply until that moment.
I wanted to run away and hide from this group of men just staring at me. I fell to the floor again. This time bawling. I heard one officer exclaim, “Tell us what is happening!” So I did. And that it didn’t matter anymore.
I asked if they were happy now. With Ashley’s help, and now that the urgency was over, I was finally able to remove the remainder of my jewelry. Then they demanded my shoes and socks. I kicked them off, still sitting on the floor, feeling the warmth of the urine soaking my pants as I hung my head in shame. They picked me up off the floor and escorted me to another tiny room, where they put me inside and then locked the door behind me.
|Nez Perce Sheriff Deputy, Ashley Morrow|
After a few moments, a metal window on the other side of the room opened up, and Ashley was standing there. She told me to take off my clothes. If she was gonna see me naked, I at least wanted to know her name, so I asked. She said “Deputy Morrow.”
I asked what her first name was, and with a snide tone of authority, she again said “Deputy Morrow.” I shook my head sadly and told her I would know her name soon enough. Again, Ashley told me to take off my clothes. I complied, handing her my wet pants, panties and the rest of my clothing as I removed them. Then she told me to spread my buttocks and cough. I told her that I still needed a bathroom and that if I did as she asked, I would lose control again.
She told me to do it anyway. I begged her for a toilet again, and sat down on a metal seat in the room, once again crying. I could hear Ashley say, “She’s just sitting there and not listening to me.” The thought of those men barging into the room, with me naked and even more vulnerable than before – just to force me to comply with Ashley’s demands – was enough to get me moving again. I stood up, and said, “Fine. Let’s do this again.”
I did as she said, and coughed, losing control again – this time directly on the floor. Then, Ashley said to cough again. So I did. Losing control of my bladder for the third time.
After she was satisfied, Ashley gave me faded black and white striped inmate clothing and told me to get dressed. Once I was dressed, she led me to a holding room. I was in excruciating pain at this point and had to hold on to everything I passed just to continue walking. She seemed impatient waiting for me to catch up. As we walked, I noticed that within ten feet of the booking cell, was a marked employee bathroom. When we passed the booking cell, I noticed that two doors down from the cell was yet another marked bathroom. I counted the holding cells as we walked through the room, at least 4 more cells – with 4 more toilets.
That was 6 toilets… all within 10-30 feet of the booking cell where I had been forced to lose control.
Ashley put me in one of the cells, next to the booking desk, and locked the door. She went to the desk and sat down with my purse and started going through it, documenting the contents. The room she put me in had a hard concrete bench, and a jail toilet connected to a sink. I immediately used the bathroom, but the toilet wouldn’t flush. I tried repeatedly to get it to flush. I knocked on the window to tell Ashley what was happening and then sat on the bench.
Immediately, sharp, burning hot pain ripped through my bladder. I jumped up, yelping in pain. I tried several times to sit back down, but the concrete was too hard and I couldn’t sit on it without the pain returning. I knocked on the window and asked for a blanket or pillow to sit on. Ashley told me I would receive it once I was booked.
With nowhere to sit and rest my bladder, I clung to the ridges on the window in the cell door and leaned all my weight against it. This was the only relief I could find from the intense pressure building inside of my abdomen. With more pressure came more pain.
I used the bathroom again. And again. And again. Each time releasing only a little bit, and unable to sit on the short, cold metal toilet for very long. By this time my stomach had ballooned into what is called IC Belly – swollen from the inflammation inside and around my bladder. I felt like I was 5 months pregnant and probably looked it too.
Still unable to flush the toilet, I knocked on the window again to let Ashley know. I was concerned they would try to say I had purposefully clogged the toilet if I kept using toilet paper and the bowl filled up. She notified her superior (later identified as Patrick Adler) and they told me to keep trying to flush it; then went back to what they were doing.
During this time, I saw an officer escort, Nate, out of a strip search cell, and put him into the cell next to me. I knocked on the wall quietly and waited for his response. I smiled when I heard him knockback.
I watched as another deputy took a mop and bucket into the booking cell. He was one of the men who had been in the room with me when I lost control and had obviously just cleaned up the strip search cell I was just in with Ashley. He saw me watching him and gave me a small, sad smile.
I paced back and forth and continued to hang on the door, still in immense pain. I knocked on the window again and asked Ashley, “Can I please have something to sit on. I absolutely need to sit. I am in pain.” Once again, she told me I would receive my bedding after I was booked.
I watched another deputy pull Nate out of his cell, and ask him questions for the booking process. I heard the deputy give him a cordless phone to call the local bail bonds company. I tried to tell him through the door that I would take care of it all once I was able to use a phone – I knew Nate didn’t have any money – most of his work is volunteer – and luckily I had the Christmas and school money.
Ashley yelled at me not to talk to him. After about an hour of hanging on the door, watching Ashley sit at the control desk, slowly going through my purse, and chatting with her co-workers, I asked again for something soft to sit on. Again, she told me not until I was booked. I shook my head, noticing two blankets sitting on the counter directly behind her. I knocked again and asked if I could please use one of those. Ashley ignored me. So I knocked again, and this time she said “What!?!” obviously frustrated to have to talk to me.
I said, “You could be nicer” and stared at her. She gave me a look like she was seriously thinking about what I had said, so I walked away from the window. After I had used the bathroom half a dozen more times, I knocked again and told Ashley that the toilet was still not working, and my concerns that they would think I was clogging it because I kept having to use the bathroom. Finally, Adler went into the next room and tried to “turn it on.” When I told him it still wasn’t working, he opened the door and tested it for himself – as if he thought I was lying.
With Adler in front of me, I asked for something soft to sit on. I tried to explain my disability and he interrupted me, asking if I had a “disability card.” This is when I realized they didn’t believe that I am actually disabled. I replied, “there is no such thing, but Deputy Morrow will find my disability award letter from the Social Security Administration… if she ever finishes going through my purse” – motioning at Ashley in the doorway of the cell.
Adler just ignored me, and then told Ashley to put me into a cell with a working toilet. They transferred me to another one, on the other side of Nate’s cell. As they were transferring me to the larger cell, I told Ashley I needed to see the medical staff. Again, she said – “not until you’re booked.”
At least in this new cell, I had more space to walk around and a working toilet. I still couldn’t sit on the concrete bench, but at that moment, the toilet was my best friend. I used it many times in the hours of waiting that followed. I killed time by tapping patterns back and forth with Nate through the wall.
After a bit, I watched as they led Nate to a little room on the other side of my cell. A few minutes later, they took him back to his cell. Awhile later, Ashley knocked on my window, holding up a vape cartridge she had found in my purse. I had completely forgotten it was there. She asked if it had Marijuana in it and I replied that I don’t answer questions. (Nate told me later he overheard them trying to decide if they should charge me with a felony for bringing it into the jail – despite that, it was Braeden who brought my purse in with me. I hadn’t touched it since getting out my license at the beginning of the stop).
She came back a bit later, and this time asked what my bladder condition was called. Interesting, I thought, NOW they want to know? I told her it is called Interstitial Cystitis
After a great deal of time passed, Ashley finally opened the door and told me I was being booked. It had been hours since we had arrived at the jail, and almost as much time since Nate had been booked and received his phone call. I could tell early in that they were deliberately delaying my booking. I assumed that in their eyes, especially since realizing they didn’t believe I am disabled, all my requests for accommodations was me being uncooperative – and the delay in booking was my punishment.
When I got to the desk, Ashley presented me with a list of things she had found in my purse. I read through them, noting that, even though it took her hours to go through it, she obviously hadn’t documented EVERYTHING in my purse. (I jokingly call it the “black-hole” – as most women know, a purse becomes a “catch-all” especially with children around. It contained a lot of random stuff that day.)
Ashley told me to sign at the bottom. I looked to where my name was with a signature line and saw her full name and another signature line right next to it. “It’s nice to meet you, Ashley,” I said, inflecting on her first name. (I had told her I would learn it soon enough. The look on her face confirmed she hadn’t realized how soon that would be, or that she would be the one to give it to me.)
As I was standing there, another woman walked up. She was a bit older than me and wearing nurses’ scrubs. I asked if she was with Medical. She told me yes and started asking questions about IC. I told her about my condition and answered her questions. When she asked what I used for pain, I told her I am a Medical Marijuana patient and that nothing helps me, except for the Cannabis the cops had now stolen from me. She offered me over the counter aspirin, which I declined, explaining that it would only make my condition worse.
I asked for a heating pad or something to help with the swelling, showing her my extended belly. She said she could get me a hot pack and then ordered that I could have aspirin if I was booked into the main jail. She said she would check to see if I was still there when she came back for her shift after the holiday. I told her that I was bailing out and, no offense to her, but I hoped I would never see her again after that night.
When I got back to the cell, they had finally put some bedding and a mattress pad on the concrete bench. I laid out the pad and sat down, and then jumped up, immediately in pain again. The pad was too thin. I doubled it over, topped it with all the bedding, and was finally able to sit down semi-comfortably – as long as I put most of my weight on the wall behind me.
(Nate informed me later that he NEVER received his bedding, even after being booked way earlier than me. When he told me this, I wondered if maybe they had started to realize that they actually had fucked up… but it was definitely too late if they had.)
At approximately 10:00 pm, after almost 4 hours of waiting, Ashley finally brought me a phone to call the bail bondsman. My first call was to my youngest son, who (thank god!) was at home in Oregon. I had to make sure he was alright and tell him what was happening. When he didn’t answer, I called a friend to try to check up on him (it was 11:00 pm his time and was probably sleeping.) Then I called Ryan, who said he would co-sign to bail us out and had already been in touch with the bail bondsman that Nate had called hours earlier. He told me which bail bonds company to call, so I did that next.
Once I had that phone, everything went very quickly. After the bondsman ran my credit card for almost $400, he said he’d have us out in about 45 minutes. I was happy to be getting out but extremely saddened because all of the Christmas money for my kids was now gone.
As I was waiting, I called my son again and finally reached him. After that, I wasn’t anxious to let go of the phone and the connection to the outside world. I called another friend, and then Ryan once more – who told me he was on his way.
I finally gave the phone back to Ashley, and then tapped excitedly on the wall, hoping Nate would understand what it meant – WE WERE GETTING OUT! (He told me later he knew what it meant the moment he heard me knock. Apparently, Adler had told him I wouldn’t be bailing him out because I only had twenty dollars in my purse. He had also noticed that they were delaying my booking and phone call, so he was a bit concerned for a while and grateful to hear an exciting knock.)
I started feeling better, emotionally if not yet physically; and decided to be productive with the unexpected time on my hands. I started writing notes on the paperwork Ashley had given me when I had finally been booked. The nurse showed up again with my “hot pack.” She handed me a ziplock baggy with a wet medical cloth inside. It was cold to the touch. I told her it wouldn’t help because it was cold, I needed heat to make my muscles relax. She just shrugged her shoulders and said, “I did what I could” as she left.
After they locked the door again, I randomly tossed the bag to the other side of the cell – and called it worthless – and then continued to take notes about what had happened. I had told them all several times that I am going to sue the fuck out of them for their denial of reasonable accommodations, and I wanted to make sure I had all the information correctly documented.
(I’m also currently using these notes to write this blog.)
At some point, the deputy that had cleaned up my mess in the booking cell and strip search area came by the window, obviously doing checks. He locked eyes with me and gave me that same sad smile, and a thumbs up. Out of everyone I encountered, he was the only one who actually treated me like he was also ashamed of what had happened, and felt bad for me.
After the 45 minutes of waiting was almost up, Ashley and Adler opened the door and took me into a little room next to my cell, where they finally took my fingerprints and my photo. I noticed on the computer screen that there were only two people in the list in front of me: Nate, and his cellmate – a guy who had come in around the time we had arrived at the jail. He had eventually either been put into the general population, or released. Both had been booked several hours earlier. I had not seen another inmate come into the booking area from outside nor seen anyone else waiting to be booked like I had been waiting for so long.
They put me back in the cell. Within minutes, I heard them take Nate out of his cell. A few minutes later, Ashley came back to mine. Still aching terribly, but not in as much pain as before, I slowly followed her back to the strip search room; where she gave me my freshly laundered clothes.
Then Ashley escorted me back to the desk, where she had me sign paperwork to be released and a copy of my court date (for Tuesday, Nov. 12th). Then she led me to another room – where Ryan, Nate, and the bondsman were waiting. As she opened the door to let me in, I told her it was an unfortunate way to meet her, but I would see her in court soon. She gave me kind of a bewildered look.
As soon as they were within my grasp, I hugged Ryan and Nate as hard as I could and started crying again, trying, as usual, to hold back my tears. I had told Ryan what happened over the phone, and he had brought me extra clothes, in case I needed them. So, I hugged him again.
Some paperwork and a few moments later, we were finally free. It was almost midnight as we breathed in the fresh air and slowly walked to Ryan’s car.
It would be the next day before I could bail out my car. Ryan drove us to Moscow – where I barely slept. To occupy my mind, I started researching the American Disabilities Act, and the Department of Justice’s strict requirements of local jails and detention facilities.
Included is a statement from the Department of Justice, that lists an accessible toilet; not just once, but TWICE – as being a strict requirement of all correctional facility compliance with the ADA:
I felt a bit better knowing I had some sort of legal recourse for what had just happened at the jail. They had repeatedly denied me an accessible toilet, which was necessary for my bladder condition. The nurse had also denied proper medical treatment. They had either intentionally violated the ADA because they didn’t believe I am disabled, or didn’t know they were required to follow the ADA when they encountered someone who is disabled – BOTH of which are extremely fucked up scenarios and not how disabled Americans should be treated.
My heart was hurting from the lack of empathy or awareness of the officers.
Even ISP Trooper Braeden Hammon had just sat there watching as I begged them all for reasonable accommodations and repeatedly told them I am considered a disabled adult child (because my disability began before the age of 22).
I could not even begin to process the thought that NOT ONE SINGLE OFFICER in that booking cell had asked the question “Maybe we should get her to a bathroom?”
Where was the decency and humanity? I began to question all of society.
If this was how the system treats vulnerable people, can it even be changed?
I replayed it over and over in my mind. I wondered how they would have felt if they were me… what they would have done in that situation. I wondered how they would have felt, and what they would have done if it were their wife, or their mother, or their daughter; instead of me.
How would they feel about someone they love being treated with such disrespect and apathy by public servants who are supposedly there to “protect and serve.”
Every single person alive knows what it is like to urgently need a bathroom. With IC, it is so much more. It is pure and unrelenting agony.
Combined with the grief I was still suffering from the loss of my nephew in the weeks before, my heart was aching and my brain wouldn’t shut up. Finally, I cried myself to sleep as the sun started to come up.
The next morning, after a few hours of sleep, Ryan took us back to Lewiston to find my car. It cost almost as much to bail out my car as it did to bail out both me and Nate. And now all of my school money was gone, too. I cried as I pulled the cash from the ATM… I needed it to pay for one of my Applied Psychology classes in order to continue with my program. At this point, I was beginning to realize that I was going to have to withdraw from school until this was all finished; so I can save up the money again. The money I did have left was needed to get us home again – plus I needed to buy more meds.
Though, there was a silver lining in the entire thing – when we got back into the car after paying the impound lot, I discovered the officers had not actually taken my dab pen (vaporizer) as I had thought. I also found a cigarette pack on the driver’s seat, obviously set there during the search of my vehicle and belongings; and it had 1/2 a joint inside. At least I had a little medicine left and didn’t have the quite costly expense of replacing my medical device.
But now we had to extend our visit for two extra days – because Monday was a holiday (Veteran’s Day) and we had to wait until Tuesday, November 12th, to go to the courthouse to make our pleas of not guilty. I had thought to hire an attorney to appear for us, but it was the holiday weekend and I couldn’t reach anyone. I only had a few hundred dollars left – and meals, gas, and meds were going to take up the rest of my money.
So we ended up staying with friends and waiting for the two extra days. I called my dad and told him what had happened, and had him go be with my son for a while since I was going to be delayed. Being stuck in Idaho is not very much fun when you want to leave really badly, but we still had a good time! We went bowling, and to a local bar for live music. We were goofy and tried to enjoy the adventure, despite everything we were feeling. Anything to get our minds off of what had happened!
I was ecstatic for the extra time with our son, but anxious to get home again – where I would no longer be considered a criminal for choosing a better quality of life than what opiates offer.
We had already decided we would absolutely NOT be traveling home through Idaho. It was a much longer route, but Washington and Oregon were much safer for my health. I had hope that we could just call the Nez Perce County Courthouse on Tuesday morning, and maybe do the plea over the phone since we weren’t even in Lewiston anymore. Then we could head home earlier than the hearing time we had been given for that afternoon.
However, that is not what happened.
TO BE CONTINUED….