Friday, March 6, 2009
Seventy-Four Days Until My Release From Taft Federal Prison Camp
Today is a visiting day at Taft Camp. I would like to spend the day under the bright lights of the visiting room with either my mother and Ken, my father and Ronda, my brother and Sunny, or with my friends Brad and Sam. It’s my fault for not coordinating a visit, as if I had told any of my family and friends to drive from Los Angeles we would be sharing our time together eating food from the vending machines. I miss home.
Fortunately, I’ve adjusted well enough to life in prison that I’ll make some progress through the day. I am scheduled to remain inside these boundaries for another 10 Fridays, and I’ll visit on many of them. But the countdown is really on. Each day I’m feeling more enthusiastic about my upcoming return to family and friends.
As a consequence of my daily blogging, I receive correspondence from other people who are beginning their exposure to the criminal justice system. I empathize with those people and with their family members. My time in prison may be coming to an end, but my family, my friends and I have been struggling through various aspects of this system for several years already. I certainly feel as if my experiences have made me an expert, and I’m happy to share what I’ve learned to help others through the journey. In fact, I feel a duty to help.
To pass through my longing for home today, I’m going to respond to a lengthy letter I received from a man who was about to plead guilty to charges for wire fraud. Obviously, he worried about what was to come. I wanted to assuage the anxieties he expressed through the letter he wrote.
Wire fraud sounds like a complicated offense. It boils down to using the telephone, a fax machine, or even the Internet to transmit a message that contributed to the crime. The sentence that would be associated with a conviction for wire fraud hinged on the amount of the financial loss, or the potential for financial loss. Other factors would also influence the sentence, such as the degree to which the defendant cooperated with the government’s investigation, the level of remorse the defendant expressed and the actual role the defendant played in the offense. Also, the judge could take extenuating or aggravating circumstances into consideration to either enhance or reduce the term imposed.
After my regular two-hour exercise session, I would write a lengthy letter that described all I learned from having gone through the pleading and sentencing process of the system. I’d spend time discussing the pre-sentence investigation, elaborating on how that document could influence the offender’s time in prison and potentially qualify him for a program that could advance his release date. I’d also explain what I had learned about appeals and post-conviction matters.
The lengthy letter I would write in response to the letter I received would serve two purposes. It would help a fellow human being during a moment of weakness and uncertainty, and the effort I invested describing all I had learned through my lessons from prison would help me make it through one more day.