I've been going to visit prisons and jails since I was a baby law student. They're all very much the same and yet different. The procedures for setting up attorney visits with inmates are all pretty similar. We get special rooms or the entire visiting area to ourselves. Sometimes we are made to have a guard kept near us, sometimes not. Sometimes we're put in rooms that have panic buttons. Sometimes it feels like we've been put somewhere we might never be found again.
It always makes me a tad nervous to be inside the secured area. Once you're inside the sally port, you're a little bit at their mercy. Someone in a control room has the final say on whether you get back outside. Wherever they put you for your visit, you can't leave that spot until a guard or employee escorts you back out. When you get to your visiting area, you almost always have to wait for your client to be brought in. Even if you've set the visit up in advance, you inevitably end up waiting a bit for the client. Time is not of the essence in a lot of prisons and jails. The guards have other things to do and what are you going to do about it, anyway? You're on their turf.
I've always wondered what would happen if I were inside, in the belly of the beast (for some of my visits, I go right into the maximum security cellblocks themselves), when something happened. A disturbance, a missing inmate at count, something that would lead to the facility being put on lockdown. I'd like to believe that the guards would take care of me, keep me safe, get me out as soon as possible. I've also wondered what would happen if my visit coincided with a shift change and the new shift didn't know I was there. Could I just be forgotten about?
I really want to believe that wouldn't happen. But I'm sure this guy wanted to believe it, too. I'm not going to say this is my ultimate nightmare, 'cause there was no physical injury and my deepest fear isn't represented in this scenario. But it's up there. Being trapped somewhere, being unable to get out, no access to food or water. No way to communicate with the outside world (can't take your cell phone into a jail). Four hours in a small room with no sign of anyone coming for me would feel like a very, very long time. I don't think I would take it well. Not at all. I do believe I would be traumatized. And, yes, I think I would consider a lawsuit because I would have some very real emotional injuries.