January 29, 2014

Five Months in Prison

I became a runner in federal prison. At the top of my goal list prior to my surrender to Taft Federal Prison Camp list was getting back in shape. The prison advice I received prior to my surrender guaranteed me that I would have ample time to exercise and leave physically fit. That advice was spot on!

I mention running because earlier today a friend shared a press release with me about a chiropractor, Dr. Lawrence Herman, who is a marathon runner. In addition to being a marathon runner he is also a convicted felon who will be surrendering to federal prison to serve a five-month prison term.

From the article I read about Mr. Herman, I read that he pleaded guilty to filing false statements related to an auto accident.

My friend who sent me the article asked how Dr. Herman could be so foolish and jeopardize his career. The answer, I told him, was that Dr. Herman didn’t fully understand how one bad decision could influence the rest of his life. It’s that simple. Certainly, Dr. Herman didn’t have fraudulent intentions. He didn’t wake up each morning thinking of ways that he could cheat, steal and take advantage of other people. If you were to ask his patients I bet they would tell you this he is a wonderful doctor. I would bet his conduct was 100% aberrational.

But like many men on the wrong side of prison boundaries he succumbed to the toxic triangle: he felt pressure, he rationalized, and of course he seized an opportunity to cross the line and with that bring lasting pain and shame to his family.

But like me and the throngs of men who choose to work hard in federal prison I know that we can find meaning through this experience and come out stronger.

He’ll have five months in federal prison to reflect and to think about the lessons he’s learned through this experience. Fortunately, as a man who ran thousands of circles around the oval dusty track in federal prison, he’ll have plenty of time to continue to pursue his passion for long distance running. Arguably, that was the best part of federal prison: the time to run around a dusty oval track to think about the decisions that led us to a life of khakis and white T-shirts.

Justin Paperny


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