An animator's sketches from the LA County Jail


Elana Pritchard (see her kickstarter), an animator who is a protege of Ralph Bakshi, was thrown in the scandal haunted LA County Jail for three months for violating a court order; on Bakshi's advice, she kept herself sane by illustrating her experiences using a golf pencil and scrap paper.


The dreaded squat-and-cough: You have to do it every time you enter the jail. In a room with about 40 other people, you strip naked, lift up your breasts, open your vagina, squat down and cough on command. If nothing falls out, you get up and put on your jail uniform as fast as you can. After the ordeal, they give each person an orange juice and a microwaved burrito. It's the closest thing you get to compassion in jail…


When you arrive in jail, you are (eventually) given an "indigent kit," a little bag filled with a few packs of shampoo, a miniature toothpaste and toothbrush, a bar of soap, a comb and some foul-smelling deodorant cream. After that, beyond basic bar soap, you're on your own. You have to order supplies through the commissary system, a sort of monopoly drugstore run by the Keefe Group out of Missouri. This is where you purchase everything from hygiene supplies and chips to a Styrofoam cup. You place orders once a week, and the following week a delivery guy shows up with a cart piled high with plastic bags of stuff. If nobody on the outside puts money on your "books" (inmate account), you can order a second indigent kit. But as soon as someone sends you money, Keefe deducts that cost. And with a 20-cent pack of ramen costing $1.18, just like most monopolies throughout history, goods are sold at an inflated rate…


One day as I was innocently sitting in class, I got yanked out and shipped downtown to Twin Towers Correctional Facility, where they kept the AB-109 people ā€” those who are sentenced to a year or more. This was not my classification and I still don't fully understand why the Sheriff's Department transferred me. Twin Towers is primarily a men's facility, with women occupying only a single floor. One of the perks of this arrangement was that, if you drained the water out of the toilet and yelled at the top of your lungs, you could almost have a conversation with the men on the floor below. I never did this. But you could sure tell when someone was doing it, especially if you were trying to sleep.

When a Cartoonist Landed in L.A. County Jail, She Drew What She Saw, Using Only a Golf Pencil [Elana Pritchard/LA Weekly]

(Thanks, Larry!)