Answer me this: What would you do for 52 days in Isla Vista if you had to live on terms forbidding you from leaving the house after 10 at night – if you were lucky – and reporting where you were 24 hours a day? Ponder that for a second, if you live in I.V. For the average guy, girl or dog – yes, a dog can legally be put under house arrest – that is one hell of a question. For me, this became a reality on Wednesday, Feb. 27, 2008. For the next few weeks, I will be documenting 52 days of house arrest in Isla Vista to determine how this all plays out, tearing down my reputation and building a new one at the same time. But first, let me tell you about Wednesday.
To be completely honest, this is my second article about house arrest. I guess you could say this second one is really my first revised. My first one was foresight into what was going to happen, and was going to be published Monday. I am more than happy it wasn’t. Boy, did I not know what I was talking about.
For the last few months, I had been studying the ins and outs of this system they call house arrest, which is defined as confinement often under guard to one’s house or quarters instead of in prison. To my knowledge, my system was going to be an ankle bracelet about the size of the digital watch you wore in second grade. Not too bad. It’s pretty small and, best of all, I could still rock the shorts. It runs off of a radio signal, a box plugged into a phone line in my house. It can only tell if I am within range of the box, so it doesn’t really know where I am, once I’m out and about – doesn’t mean they don’t check up, though – only if I come back on time or leave too early. Seemed like it would be a piece of cake. I would still have some privacy, plus a good story to tell people when they saw me on the streets.
Boy, did I get fucked on Wednesday. Of course, the nights proceeding the Wednesday didn’t provide me with the best of sleep, so I had no problem waking up and going to the Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Dept. at 8 a.m. At that time exactly, I became an inmate of Santa Barbara County. As a group of us sat there and talked, checked in and talked some more; those more experienced with this system began to question why it was taking so long. Then we saw it: an “improved” device. All of my Internet research and interviews of people who had been on house arrest went right out the window.
There are 52 weeks in a year, and that would tell you there are about 52 Wednesdays too – the only day they put these on people. Well, with my luck, I get the one weekend to be part of a new pilot program. Let me tell you, this is no watch running off of a radio signal. No, this one isn’t that easy.
I sit down to get myself tailored to this device and my eyes widen. I mean, bigger then the first time I got down and dirty. This guy pulls out a device bigger then my BlackBerry, equipped with a speaker, microphone and call button. Not only that, but they explain we don’t need a box – this one is GPS. In an age where conspiracy theorists and freaks talk of the government implanting chips in people to track their moves, I become living proof it does exist.
The upside is the fact that it’s a pilot program. I am the first group of house arrestees to don one of these in Santa Barbara. Because my furniture store takes so much time – as does school – I won’t really be around to enjoy all the movies I planned. But until this Game Boy comes off, let’s have some fun together. I know some of this 18,000-person campus would love to chime in.