March 16, 2014

As I settle into my routine I wanted to write about my first few days at FPC Petersburg. It was all a bit of a blur to me. Or at least that first day was. I remember somebody greeting me, however, I could hardly recall what that person would look like if I were to see them today.

My first week or so was spent walking around the compound getting acquainted with my new home. I spent time in the morning weight training, then followed it up with some cardiovascular training. Admittedly, prior to my surrender I hadn’t exercised as much as I was accustomed to. My priorities were focusing on my family and ensuring that my business activities were intact, so exercise took a backseat. In my first journal I wrote about the importance of setting lofty goals. One of those goals is to get my health and body totally back on track. It feels great to exercise again!

Lunchtime is around 10:15AM to 10:30AM every single day. The first few days I wasted some time in the afternoon playing bocce ball, however, that will probably be the last time I ever do that. One of my goals is to make sure that I leave stronger than when I came in. Unless I plan to be a professional bocce ball player upon my release, engaging in recreational activities, like bocce ball, is not high on my list.

It pleases me to report how pleasant and welcoming the 350 plus men are at this camp. The backgrounds of some of these men are so different and diverse from mine. In many cases the only thing we have in common is that we are convicted felons serving time in prison. That said, I admire many of them for how well they handle their term. Our backgrounds may be different, but we are all determined to leave better.

I do learn quite a bit from hearing some of the men open up about their convictions. I’m not necessarily engaging them or asking them to share details with me. Rather, many feel the need to open up about the circumstances that led to their conviction. While walking the track or standing in line at chow hall I like to listen to the conversations going around me. In that process, I’m surprised to learn how many men choose to fight their case at trial. One man for example speaks openly about how he turned down three years. Instead he took it to trial, lost, and received eight years. He’s not alone. For those reading this journal, follow my lead. Consider a deal, in part, because if you lose the consequences are so dire. It makes it hard to even want to fight, to tell it directly. The end game is just too bad it we choose to fight. Some deals suck, but at least you get home to your family sooner. And that’s what this is about: Getting back home to your family. I will be there soon!

In upcoming journals I’ll write more about my sentence and how I feel about serving time in prison, considering my greatest mistake was contractual. For today, however, I wanted to write that I’m adjusting well to FPC Petersburg. The shock and awe of surrendering to federal prison is behind me. And I’m pleased to report that I am already shifting course and constantly assessing how my adjustment relates to the goals I have upon my release. For that reason I’ll be spending less time on the bocce ball court and more time reading, thinking, and writing to my support network to let them know how thankful I am for their continued support. I’m off to a great start. I will write again soon next week.

Andy Rothenberg

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