Working next to guys working for The Man

Saturday was community cleanup day in our creeks.
I got to work on my neighborhood waterway, Olney Creek.
Alongside five guys from the county’s work release program.
The little old ladies and gentlemen at check-in wore nervous faces when the guys got out of the sheriff’s truck in their orange vests with “INMATE” stenciled on the back.
“Can we talk with them?” a little old lady asked the sheriff deputy. “Are they OK?”
“Sure, they’re all OK,” she said. “They’re good guys.”
Two parole violations. A kid with a DUI. A guy with a domestic violence charge. And a kid with a long list of violations – his last a drunk in public and resisting arrest charge.
They worked their asses off, and talked a little about what got them to work for the county (the jail is so overcrowded that nearly 100 people do work release nearly every day in the county; hard labor mostly, but others worked on the county farm or washed county vehicles).
“I’m a veteran of Desert Storm,” one guy said. “My house got burglarized and the cops found weapons I brought home with me from the war.
“And I got fucking got busted for having unregistered firearms.”
Granted, he had a Desert Eagle .50-caliber handgun and a M1 (“I had it converted to fully automatic”), and the state reduced the charges to having unregistered ammunition.
“Is that a felony?” I asked.
“Yeah. I got 60 days. State dude wanted to give me 120, but the judge wouldn’t do it.”
(The saying goes, everyone in jail is innocent; but it ends up I know his wife and they’re very religious people and so I believe his story.)
The guy with the domestic charge was quiet. He quite probably was an alcoholic; he did say he was a seasonal firefighter and a laborer who I know works his ass off every single day.
The five got a break, and I kept quiet and listened.
“Fuck, I didn’t give The Man nothing,” the domestic guy said. “They wanted me to cop to disturbing the peace and drunk in public, if they reduced the domestic. Fuck that. They didn’t have nothing. I’d rather sit in jail. I don’t know why she made a big deal out of it anyway, I only hit her with a burrito.”
“What?” the other parole violator said.
“Fuck, she threw her burrito on the wall and I hit her with my burrito. Fuck, wasn’t all that big of a fucking deal.”
“I dunno dude, you get one of those pound burritos and you could hurt somebody,” the kid with the drunk in public said.
And everyone laughed.
The kid with the DUI looked lost and out of place in jeans, a T-shirt and his orange vest.
We were in the creek, hauling rounds of oak that workers had cut the day before. He kept to himself, but there’s just so much room in the creek.
“How many days did you get?” I asked.
“Forty-eight hours, but I have to do two days doing this. Two Saturdays.
“Know the kicker? I had to pay $67 to do this – 20 bucks a day and a $25 for whatever.”
“Man, that’s tough,” the guy with the ammunition felony. “I have to pay $5 a day – but I had to pay $300 for work release just to get out of jail.”