I registered as a narcotics offender today. Following explicit instructions from probation, I drove downtown to the Los Angeles Police Department. I checked in at the main building, where an officer with a mustache directed me to go a few blocks down to the detention center. I called my home monitoring PO right away to inform her that I would be walking to a new address, and headed down the unswept street toward the center. The sun on the concrete gave the appearance of warmth, but I felt a biting cold as I approached my destination.
I stepped into the building to find the usual metal detector and security setup directly inside, with officers buzzing around. I am unfazed by this kind of scene now, for good or ill. It’s the same at any Federal building, courthouse, etc; all of which I have spent a fair amount of time in these past two years. I could see just over the security entrance that the room was small and boxy. Every one of the cheap plastic chairs was filled with someone who was there to register as either a narcotics offender or an arson offender. I guess that they make the sex offenders register somewhere else. Thank God.
The moment I enter the room, a young officer calls out from inside a glassed-in (probably bulletproof glass) reception area, asking how he can help me. “I’m here to register as a narcotics offender.” “Oh. Okay”, he says, taking in my appearance. My fellow offenders are already eyeing me from the waiting room. I’ve got my iPhone and keys in the bin ready to go through security when he tells me to walk through the detector. “Um, you’re probably going to want to just use the wand. I’ve got an ankle bracelet on.” Eyebrows and curiosity raised, he walks out from behind the glass to induct me.
I’ve gotten used to people being surprised by the fact that I have a court-ordered GPS device on my ankle. I have to say though, that when a police officer or someone at the probation office acts surprised, I can’t help but feel surprised in turn by their reaction. Last week when I did my first drug test at the probation office, one of the security guards was so taken aback by the obviousness of my device that he started in asking me a lot of questions. When I told him that I was sentenced to be on the program for one year, he said with a laugh, “Oh, wow. Who did you piss off?” He said that this is the lengthiest sentence to house arrest that he has heard of. Once I told him what the other sentences were in my case though, he told me that I ought to feel lucky. For the record, the other sentences in the case were 10 years, 6 years, 4 years, 3 years and a day, one year and a day, and one person who was finally sentenced last week to 9 months in prison and 9 months of house arrest. I do have many reasons to feel lucky, especially when you compare my sentence. I can certainly appreciate that.
After dedicating at least three hours to registration (the vast majority of that spent fielding unsavory looks from people in the waiting room), I rejoined the infamous LA traffic to go home to charge my ankle bracelet. Yep, that’s right. I am required to literally plug myself into an outlet twice a day for half an hour to charge the thing. It has made for some awkward moments, greeting guests as I’m basically locked to a corner of the apartment. Though it clearly doesn’t lend itself to social graces, it never fails to be entertaining.
338 days to go.