Brown Alert

The new job means going to new jails. One jail is literally so new that it doesn't even smell like jail yet. If you've ever been to a jail, you know exactly what smell I'm talking about.

Anyway, so I went to a new jail-processing unit today. I'll try to explain the layout. First, there's glass doors that you walk through to come in from the parking lot. There is a fairly large foyer area there. (With some family members standing around waiting for someone to be released, or recently released men waiting for a ride home.) Then there's a glass-windowed guard booth. And then there's a heavy steel door for when they let you in. But the guard booth kind of spans both areas, so they can see and speak to the people who have just come through the front doors, and the people who have already come through the steel door.

So, I got in through the steel door, but the guards held me there a while before I could progress into the jail, because they had to process my ID and take my picture.

While I stood there, I could hear all sorts of things coming and going. An officer came in with a K9 unit, a different officer came in and informed the guard at the desk that a class would be coming in for a tour, another officer came and told the guard that he was expecting some additional prisoners from another jurisdiction. All of this happened on the other side of the steel door, and I could only vaguely hear what was going on, mostly only by hearing the guard's side of the conversation (and not seeing any of it).

Finally, I saw the guard pick up the telephone/intercom microphone and shout "BROWN ALERT! BROWN ALERT! I REPEAT BROWN ALERT!"

I was so curious about what could be happening on the other side of the steel door. Had someone escaped? Was someone injured? What could be going on? I wanted to ask the guard, but it seemed like everything was in such a panic mode that I might somehow be interfering.

Also, I had once gotten stuck in a lockdown in a scary stinky county jail for about two hours when I was a public defender, so I was a little worried about that. It's a lot like being stuck in a really stinky elevator.

Then the guard picked up the phone again, and again over the intercom he shouted "BROWN ALERT, BROWN ALERT! REPEAT, BROWN ALERT!"

Lots of other officers and guards ran though the secure area, everyone was excited and shouting. (Mostly shouting "Brown Alert! Brown Alert!" as they ran out or ran past.) So, finally, I asked one of the guards, "What is a brown alert?"

And the guard replied, as he ran out the door, "It means the coffee truck is out in the parking lot! C'mon, let's go!"

Seriously, at least they exhibited a good response time. And they're well-caffeinated so they'll have their energy in case of an escape or a fight.


  1. Hahahaha. And here I was thinking it was like a "Code Brown" in hospitals.

  2. OMG..that is too funny.

    At first I thought it meant that someone had pooped in the hallway or something like that.

  3. I was thinking poop too! Too funny!

  4. I assumed it was like the hospitals too! Glad it was SO much better than that!

  5. That is some good stuff...I'm familiar with a local county jail (maybe my own...maybe not) that has a code: Henry Charlie. The male guards use it when there are Hot Chicks in the lobby. Yeah, I know...they're just begging for a lawsuit.