Elle Jauffret

Writer & Fork Handler

Prepaid Jail

Jul 5, 2015

My mother registered me in the Volunteer Inmate Program when I was one day old, forcing me to spend my early childhood within the confines of grey walls with badly painted frescos of reunited families and wide-open spaces. She was the first one to use the Prepaid Sentence Program that allowed citizens to be voluntarily incarcerated and prepay for their future, not-yet committed crimes. She was also the first one to enroll a child. In light of my family’s genetic legacy of murderers and organized crime bandits, my mother took all the precautions to offer me a jail free adulthood even if it meant to be ostracized for bad parenting and exposing her child to the ruthless atmosphere of prison. “She’s doomed from the start,” people told her of me. “An inmate from birth is an inmate for life,” they whispered. But my mother stood strong, adhering to her strategy to give me a better life in a world ruled by dangerous bigots.  

As a toddler, I barely saw sunlight, spending my days listening to my mother read literature classics in the local jail’s underused library.  As a middle and high schooler, prison became my study hall, my gym, my daydreaming solitary retreat where I was left alone, accumulating without struggle precious prepaid jail time for the murder I hadn’t yet committed; enrolling in the higher reward program and rubbing shoulders with felons condemned to life to earn more points; tightening the bond with the sentenced inmates for whom I had become the eye and voice from the outside, the messenger, the family’s baby - loved and protected by all.

Universities fought to have me, the “inmate-nocent” as the press called me, in their student bodies. None of my peers had grown up incarcerated in absence of a criminal file or developed a network of powerful ravenous criminals who would prove to be a powerful supporting force.

A week short of my 18th birthday, my mother offered me her booklet of “done time” in which she had accumulated 25 years of prison time, making me the owner of a total prepaid sentence of 50 years. She tied to my hair a sharp razor blade disguised as a barrette and handed me a picture of our country’s chancellor. “The crime chart came up last week. If he becomes our Supreme Leader the punishment for his death by a minor will double to 100 years,” she said with a sad smile while caressing my face. Her eyes were moist but her face stern. ““I promised you an adulthood free from hatred and bigotry. The last step is yours. You have 7 days to save the country - to commit tyrannicide and walk free.”

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