Chris Brown at the Men’s Central Jail

Men's Central Jail_MILLION DOLLAR ROWIt’s hard not to mock Chris Brown’s stay at LA’s Men’s Central Jail

It’s also really hard not to mock Chris Brown.

To paraphrase a web commentator: No one suffers like Chris Brown, just ask Chris Brown.

But Chris Brown at the Men’s Central Jail reminds me of election campaign rallies where attendees are pre-screened for cross-eyed party loyalty regardless of candidate, and at the same time showcased to media as “a diverse array of everyday voters.” Or of how Dick Cheney used to make those surprise visits to Iraq: no way in hell was that man gonna subject himself to real Iraqis or suffering, but gosh those visits were all hearts and minds nonetheless, weren’t they? The parallel in Brown’s case is that the court never intended for him to see the particular Men’s Central Jail he’ll no doubt brag of surviving. I’ll get there.

First, since the LA-leg of the girl-punching celebrity inmate’s tour of custody is over, let’s consider a few of the realities he’s facing that he’s probably been able to sidestep so far. Number one having been diagnosed with PTSD and bipolar disorder, as apparently Brown has. It’s no excuse for beating the crap out of a 90-pound woman – period.

Did Chris Brown get RAT status?_Where Excuses Go to DieNumber two, though, is that the L.A. Men’s Central Jail unit where Brown briefly resided is called “Million Dollar Row” for a reason. It’s where O.J. Simpson stayed during his trial, and it’s where everyone else with a million dollar bail or higher  –anyone whose notoriety is equal a target on their back–  is detained.

So yes, it’s dreaded administrative segregation (“protective custody”), considered worse than leprosy to the general population. Child molesters, rapists, wife-beaters, suicide prospects, and girlfriend-punchers are the primary recipients of PC status, but they’re not the biggest reason it exists. No, no: Administrative segregation’s most important function is to house snitches. It’s where rats soften up their mattresses with their little claws before sleeping.

See what I did there?

When you become a character, rather than earning character, you surrender to the world your right to control your own narrative. In effect, Chris Brown just gave me and everyone else permission to imply that he’s no better than a pointy-clawed snitch. It’s why he can’t be near other inmates, and is something he can expect from the public.

The_Power_and_Control_WheelAnd I’m gonna say it again, being diagnosed with post-traumatic stress or bipolar doesn’t mitigate beating a woman’s face with your fists. Chris Brown deserves to be separated from his fellows, both while in custody and until so determined by the appropriate court – from society.

He also deserves the future awkward moments he’ll face when his entitled ego compels him to deny he was kept away from regular inmates, not because he’s a celebrity, but because he’d be killed as batterer.

With the tapestry of incarceration stitched together by the steel cable of domestic violence,  believe me, I couldn’t hope to fully translate the hostility imprisoned men and women have for guys who like to slap girls around.

Kicked out of a Malibu rehab resort for reportedly behaving “inappropriately” with a female staffer and boasting of his prowess with knives and guns in a group therapy session, Brown most recently refused to submit to drug testing, frankly earning himself the flat metal shelf on which he slept at MCJ, affectionately called a “cookie sheet.”

All alone with yourself_Where Excuses Go to DieAs relayed to supporters and social media sites, Brown’s thoughts on all of this range from his losing all hope, to custody being the worst experience of his life. It may be his only saving grace, should he experience an epiphany of some sort while in custody, but I wouldn’t bet on it.

I submit that it’s not his MCJ custody, the isolation, or the cement box Brown is living in that’s the worst thing he’s ever experienced. I think it’s probably facing the noise in his own head that takes that cake. Coming to terms with having no one to blame but yourself is far worse than handcuffs and crappy food. Yet declaring he feels like a “caged animal,” as Brown has said via his defense attorney, is about what I’d expect (personally, I felt like a caged dumb-ass). Bragging about how much tougher prison made him? That’ll leave only laughter for the hollow tiger he creates out of his time “inside.”

Am I biased? Maybe. Men’s Central Jail is where I discovered I was actually the most powerful I’d ever been. Down at the bottom, you see, insight is in greater abundance than hindsight.


Characteristics of Abusive Men