I Can't Go Back To Jail

A few nights ago, I had my first encounter with the Alaskan police. Anyone who knows me must surely be thinking, 'well, this was inevitable'. Indeed.

The evening had begun as it usually does here in Seward - with zero planning. A rumour began to surface about a bonfire that might be occurring somewhere at some point. For unknown reasons, no-one ever wants to commit to a bonfire too early in the day. All alternate options for night time activities must first be exhausted. Thus, late in the evening, after no better plan had revealed itself, people trickled down to the designated area, ignoring the 'no trespassing' signs, and a fire was lit on the beach. Not too long after that, in an unfamiliar and unwelcome twist, the police rolled up.

As a regular viewer and fan of the reality television show Alaska State Troopers, I was really excited to spot one of Alaska's finest emerging through the clearing. As a citizen who realised she might be in some trouble, I was less so.

My first instinct, and one which I followed, was to yell in a loud and what I believed at the time was a subtle whisper, 'Police! Police!' (It bears mentioning that even in that frantic, tipsy, adrenalin fuelled instant, I had to strongly stifle the urge to shout 'policia!' as Ben Stiller does in Anchorman. But it was the wrong time.)

People began to flee in any direction that provided shelter. At the time of the police appearing, I was already conveniently located within some tall grass on the opposite side of the clearing and could easily have disappeared along with the others. Hence it will remain one of my life's greatest mysteries why, when the officer shouted, 'I see you running into the woods, come back',  I obeyed and actually did come back.

Out of a group of around 20, 8 of us remained to meet our fates. Thinking back on those that ran and those that stayed to face the law, I find myself wondering if the abandoners had something else to hide. Were they perhaps running from their pasts? (No. They were probably just running from the police.)

The cop, who disappointingly was not a State Trooper and instead just a local officer, opened by warning us that we were trespassing. We unanimously expressed our shock and surprise at hearing this extremely well known and understood fact.

He didn't buy it. He informed us that we were about to be charged for trespassing and he began radioing our ID numbers in to the station.

Spring Creek Correctional Center seen bottom left
In Seward, there exists an oft forgotten, but powerful incentive to obey the law. From some parts of town, you can see across the bay to the blue walls of the Spring Creek Correctional Center. Spring Creek is a maximum security prison that houses some of Alaska's most notorious and violent criminals, including Robert Hansen (aka Butcher Baker), who murdered at least 17 women and upon whom the movie The Frozen Ground is based. The prison is eerily reminiscent of Alcatraz, with it's isolated-yet-within-reach location, stunning surroundings and constant exposure to the harsh elements of ocean weather. The presence of the prison across the water is a source of fascination, speculation and fear (should a prison break occur). A reminder that crime is not cool.

I was pretty sure that I had not committed a past crime. However - a bit like when you're pulled over for a breathalyser test and even though you haven't been drinking, you still get nervous and wonder if there might have been alcohol in that breath mint you ate 6 hours ago - I was concerned that maybe I had committed a crime and had forgotten about it. In addition, I was questioning - and consistent readers of my blog will already be one step ahead on this - who would pick me up from jail if I got arrested? (See post Night Life of Seward)

Via astute skills of observation and the fact that no-one was immediately arrested, I ascertained that neither myself nor any of my comrades had any outstanding warrants or murders on our records. Good. I spend a lot of time with these people.

The cop must not have had his heart in the arrest because he soon returned our licenses and told us that as long as we cleaned the area, we would receive just a warning. Furthermore, he gave us 2 hours to complete a task that he knew could be done in 10 minutes. The last thing he told us was that if we ever returned to that spot, we would be arrested.

Whilst it should be obvious that this whole experience was magnificent, the best was yet to come. Turns out that every incident in which the police are involved here is documented in the local paper. That's right. I made the Seward Phoenix Log this week.

Seems that the horses got out on Phoenix road again. What a crazy night!

I'm famous, everyone. Famous for doing as I'm told.


Side-note: I've never been to jail and I don't know much about it. The only reason I've titled this post as I have, is because I find it highly amusing that someone out there, for legitimate reasons and perhaps in a somewhat desperate frame of mind, is going to type the phrase 'I Can't Go Back To Jail' into a search engine and this futile and irrelevant post might come up as one of the top results. (You just can't catch a break, can you Tiny/Big Mike/ Joe the Knifer/ Goes-Too-Far Steve?) 

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