Interesting Places I Go – #1 Jail


One of the things I love the most about what I do is the places I get to go. People imagine massage therapists in dark, lavender laced rooms all day long; and therapists do that. Personally, I love being out and about, which is why I love chair massage. I drag that baby anywhere and everywhere. And yes, massage took me to jail. Several times.

As an independent contractor, I have been able to visit jails in Laredo, Texas, Pearsall, Texas, South Bay, Florida, and Moore Haven, Florida. A technicality I sometimes forget to mention: I do NOT massage inmates. I repeat: Inmates do NOT receive massages. They do have AC and in some locations, Dish TV, but no massages for breaking the law. The massages are provided as part of a health fair for the employees, usually during Correctional Officers’ Week, and we are typically there to cover portions of each shift. This equates to an 8 hour day for me, which is a long day for massaging, but the traffic ebbs and flows, so I can still move by the end of the day.

Each facility serves a different purpose, which I presume requires different skill sets for their employees. I can safely say that the backs of the men and women I touch here are the most stressed out (think cinder-block walls). In case you are wondering about YOUR local jail, you’ve probably never seen it. These facilities are typically in the middle of no where. The Pearsall facility houses 1904 inmates and is an ICE facility that houses detainees “pending removal processing.” Laredo houses 1900 inmates which houses US Marshall detainees for Laredo Federal Courts. The view? Mexico. Literally. The Rio Grande flows right behind the jail. South Bay houses 1898 and is a medium, close custody facility for male inmates. Moore Haven is the smallest I have visited, housing 985 inmates in a medium custody male facility.  These two facilities are surrounded by sugar cane. Because of the drive, I actually spent the night in a teeny-tiny town between the two cities. Hotel rates were in “high season” because of sugar harvesting. Go figure.

They don’t mess around when you visit jail. We don’t go very far into the facility; the events are usually in the visitors area, which is not open for visitation during the health fair, so we never even see an inmate. However, we can only bring in the bare minimum for the job and some food for the day. No cell phones. Yes, I said it, no cell phone for 8 hours. ID is left at the desk and you are issued a visitor’s badge and in some locations a personal alarm device which must remain clipped on you at all times. You go through a metal detector and there are pat downs at some facilities. All of the facilities have been very well run and it’s always a great pleasure to provide massage where people wouldn’t normally receive it.