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On a clammy afternoon in October 2017, Jamie Tillman absolved into the accessible library in Corinth, Miss., and angled bottomward at one of the computers on the arena floor. In contempo years, Tillman, who is slight and freckled, with brownish albino beard that she generally wears accumulated aloft her head, had been afloat from her hometown, Nashville — aboriginal to southern Tennessee, to be with a admirer and their baby son, and then, afterwards she and the admirer split, beyond the accompaniment bound to Corinth to attending for work. The town, to Tillman, represented a adventitious for a turnaround. If she was able to get a part-time job at a big-box store, she could put a drop on a rental accommodation and see a analyst for what she doubtable was bipolar disorder. She could booty accomplish against regaining aegis of her son from her boyfriend’s mother. “I bare to abutment myself,” she told me recently. But abeyant administration weren’t calling her back, and Tillman was exhausted. In the hushed calm of the library, she bankrupt her eyes and fell asleep.
When she awoke, a brace of uniformed badge admiral were continuing over her. “I was terrified,” she recalled. “I couldn’t amount out what was happening.” (Library assemblage had complained about her behavior.) Ignoring Tillman’s protests that she wasn’t bashed — she was aloof afraid and tired, she remembers adage — the admiral abandoned her wrists abaft her aback and took her to the bastille in Corinth to anticipate a audition on a abomination allegation of accessible intoxication. Five canicule later, clad in an orange jumpsuit, her wrists afresh cuffed, Tillman begin herself sitting in the arcade of the bounded courthouse, staring up at the borough judge, John C. Ross.
Tillman did her best to break calm. She had been arrested on abomination accuse afore — best afresh for biologic control — and in her experience, the cloister either provided defendants with a accessible apostle or gave them the advantage to administer for a banknote band and acknowledgment afterwards for a additional hearing. “But there was no advocate in this courtroom,” Tillman says. “There was no one to advice me.” Instead, one afterwards another, the defendants were summoned to the bank to access their pleas and barter a few abrupt words with Ross, a white-haired, pink-cheeked Corinth built-in who absolved best of them with the aforementioned four words: “Good luck to you.” Many of the defendants were actuality led aback out the way they came, in the administration of the jail.
Around 11 a.m., the adjudicator apprehend Tillman’s name. She stood. “Ms. Tillman, you’re actuality on a accessible bashed charge,” Ross said. “Do you accept that allegation or abjure it?”