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I was incarcerated on January 19, 2006, after being arrested for “Theft By Receiving.” This arrest was for borrowing a car that was later reported stolen, at my request. I was able to re-acquire the car, but then I was stopped and arrested again for taking the car. I spent many months waiting to go to court for, what was really, a misunderstanding. Then I had to go to another county for a probation violation. Indeed, one can actually be
charged as a felon for driving on a suspended license twice. They call this “A Habitual Violator.”
This whole situation started with a unpaid speeding ticket, then a bench warrant, as I forgot to pay. It all gets really confusing after that. I only say this because I know people with a half dozen DUI’s who can still drive legally. I can’t for 5 years. It is always your word against the arresting officers, and they can do or say whatever they want. The charges I was given in most cases were minor. In most states you would be issued a ticket and a date to appear in court. Georgia is the exception. I heard all kinds of horror stories. You would be surprised how many innocent people had to plead guilty to crimes they did not commit, just because they couldn’t afford legal council. In some cases, as I mentioned before, Public Defenders are absolutely no help. Sometimes referred to as “Public Pretenders” It is your word against the officer's. So often, you are forced into a “No Contest” situation which is not a guilty plea, but it is also not a plea of innocence. It also leaves you with a criminal record.
I wrote most of my poems while I was incarcerated between 3 different county jails in Georgia from 2004-2006 on and off. I had no idea when I would get out or why I was really there most of the time. I made it 37 years with no criminal background prior to these events.
I had two choices. I could sit and waste my time, or do something productive. I chose the latter. I found that when writing my feelings down they seemed to come out as rhymes. I also found that they made other people feel better. I had numerous requests from my fellow inmates to do poems for different occasions for them. This proved to be a time killer that helped me make commissary (jail house store). I had no contact with the outside world at first, so I was dependant on this talent to eat real food instead of the alleged meals offered in jail. If you have been to jail, I’m sure you can relate.
I am writing this to everyone who has been in my situation, and those who still are. I say this because, before this I had no prior record. I was no angel, mind you, but at the same time, I had never been mistreated like I was in Georgia. I know my grandfather, a retired Pennsylvania State Policeman would be appalled at the disrespect of the laws he protected for 35 years. What happened to “Protect & Serve” or better yet “Innocent till proven guilty”. I hope this book will help others who find themselves in a similar situation. Anyone may be surprised when you pass certain Police Officers in Georgia. [more]
Keywords: Belinda Celayir, Jail Diaries, Poetry