The stainless steel toilets inside the Multnomah County Detention Center function as cell phones, reports the Oregonian. Local jailbirds have discovered the plumbing carries voices from cell to cell, floor to floor, toilet to toilet. “You’d be amazed at how clear the signal can get,” said inmate Jamie Coleman said, dropping to his knees to bail water out of the bowl with a foam cup.
Five minutes later, the water drained, Coleman draped a white towel over his shaved head to trap sounds and lowered his mouth toward the drain’s hollow darkness. “Hey, hey.” His voice reverberated. “What’s up?” Jail code says chatting in the loo is disruptive behavior, punishable by a loss of privileges. Officially, Coleman was simply demonstrating. But every night, when the deputies go home, the clandestine party line is alive with the echoes of gossip, fear, rage, regrets, withdrawals, proclaimed innocence, sports talk, singing, laughing and some Romeo trying to woo an unseen Juliet on another floor.