The drive in today was an eyeful of all colorful Colorado has to offer. A stunningly beautiful day that springs us alive and free! Three different times deer and antelope graze in an open field along the highway.
Up ahead the prison complex nestles right below majestic peaks standing as snow-covered guards. Yet even in the outside yard, because of high walls, the prisoners never get a peek.
A line of seven cars waits for the 8:30 a.m. opening. At the parking lot, a cacophony overhead turned out to be a flock of geese flying north in formation.
Before locking the car, time to double check you have everything correct. Bring only one car key and driver’s license. Leave everything else locked in the car.
Inside you must know your license plate number. Or you will have to go all the way back out and retrieve it.
All set. Deep breath. Try to look confident as you walk to the first closed gate near the 30 foot guard tower. Pause to read all the warning signs. Yes, you are not wearing green or brown clothes or anything suggestive in the slightest. A momentary twinge of alarm that the sign warns against gray sweatpants but it should be okay, you’re wearing gray dress slacks.
The aluminum gate clanks open. No sign of reaction from the guard tower so on to the second gate. It opens and you enter double doors. Fill out a form. Hand it to the desk clerk.
Then through the metal detector. Everybody beeps it so you get a noninvasive pat down. All staff smile, seem happy and treat you courteously—but you can see they mean business if challenged.
A mother carrying a one-year infant must go back out and change the toddler’s shirt to a non-offending color.
Into the last stop with a Sergeant. She takes your key, license and paperwork. She has power to let you into the visiting room.
“Did you call for an appointment?” Oops. That was a new rule, and I forgot to call!
“Normally I would deny you and send you away. But it’s slow today so I’ll ask the desk clerk to make you an appointment.”
Into the visiting room. Two rows reserved only for visitors to walk down and two rows on the other side of little tables for prisoners to walk down and sit. At the end of a row they can meet for a hug or kiss, and anybody caught up in the excitement and venturing out of their row gets sharply reprimanded. Visitors’ eyes are on the far door where prisoners enter. To the right are five phone-window setups like in the movies but nobody uses them.
Visitors are highly encouraged—but not demanded—to have money to buy snacks for the prisoners and the alluring smell of junk food is hard to ignore if your prisoner has character and doesn’t want any.
At a certain time a lockdown takes place and you are locked in as well! Try to look calm as you go on chatting. By noon the prison guards will have wand-searched under your vehicle so you are free to leave.
After several hours of wonderful talk, with a brother in Christ who waits for Isaiah 42:7 to be fulfilled for him, he goes back down his aisle and through the door, and you go back down your aisle to the controlling Sergeant.
You thank her again for mercifully letting you in without the required appointment. You thank the desk clerk for volunteering to do the adlibbed paperwork. Take your key and license. Nobody pays attention as the metal detector beeps on your way out.
Thank God the two doors clank open! You drive away, careful to stick to the 20 mph limit so you can make your escape.
More honking geese. The deer still graze. A sigh of relief.
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