THE DEADLIEST DAY OF MY LIFE… Part Three out of Six
Needless to say, with each time I entered the Federal building thereafter I felt worse and worse.
There was a snake of a guy who did something called a ‘pre sentencing investigation’ on me.
I had never been arrested in my life. I was a good person with depression problems, and I obviously
had made some very bad choices. Now this.
I remember the day when he told me….
You are nothing more than a wolf in sheep’s clothing’. Wow! I thought, he is so wrong. I am really a nice
person and this is not really that big of a deal for him to think this of me. I was still very innocent.
I began attending the hearings with these lawyers of mine
Supposedly they knew so and so, and were
going to do something about all of this to make it go away. At first they said I had like four
charges of counterfeiting citizenship documents or something like that.
My lawyers said they were going to throw it in their face and tell them that the word counterfeit only referred to money not to documents – I was so proud of them that they had caught that very important loophole. But when we went back to prison after them asking for a dismissal the Feds came back with another story.
This time I was charged with 120 fraudulent creation of birth certificates and 555 possess with intent to sell illegal social security cards. And everything carried a potential sentence of 5 years each.
Suddenly I no longer had any faith in my lawyers. I was calling Woody from the pay phone in the Federal Building wondering why he wasn’t there with me. He wasn’t worried about it he said, ‘just keep telling them you’re innocent’ was his advice. He never went to court with me. I was scared to death.
So as I sat there each time there was another hearing I began to notice a pattern of the other people who were further advanced in the process than I was.
Every single one of them was found guilty by pleading guilty. Not one had a jury trial because they were told if they wasted the government’s money they could be stuck with their entire charges and multiple sentences.
And I then noticed that every single one of them was sentenced to prison.
Not one received probation. Seemed that probation was a thing for the state charges but not for Federal.
So sure enough, my lawyers brought me into a room with pre-sentence investigation guy and another guy – I’ll never forget – Mr. Shaw. Mr. Shaw was a big guy who had this little meeting with me and asked me about where I would like to try to be sent ‘if’ I was sentenced to prison.
Of course I just knew I would never be sentenced to prison for something this non violent, just a few bad choices which they surely knew I was sorry for by now and would never do again – ever. This was a huge enough wide awake wakeup call for me.
The day of my sentencing Woody did make it down there. So did miraculously enough my mother and the family I lived with before and after prison.
I realized that with all that potential for hundreds of years in prison they gave me no choice but to say ‘nobody had anything to do with my pleading guilty but I plead guilty anyway’ – the deal they finally offered me to stop the mountainous charges from getting huger was for me to shut up and admit I did it.
Hell they did catch me red handed so there was no need to tell them ‘I’m innocent’ till they gave me a thousand years in prison. I just wanted it to be over and get on with it. They told me if I pleaded (like all the other fools before me) It would only be for one charge of up to 5 years maximum.
It sounded a whole lot better than centuries behind bars.
I stood up with my lawyers and said the fateful words
I plead guilty blah blah blah.
The judge said whatever he said and hit the gavel down. All I heard was something about three years. Out of a possible five – it sounded okay.
My mother jumped up and screamed out ‘three years probation!’ – my lawyers turned around and told her. He didn’t say anything about probation.
He said prison time to be served. Whoa! That was a whole new scenario….
Now it made sense to me – why Mr. Snake in the grass pre sentence investigator, and Mr. Shaw had taken me into the little room asking me about where I would ‘like’ to go if found guilty.
It was because the whole thing was a pre-arranged set up deal. I was doomed from the start.
I just didn’t realize it. Now I was ushered off to Mr. Shaw’s office again – this time feeling like I had just been shot with some deadly disease and had it to bear all alone. Now Woody and my mother and my friend just stood there looking at me with a blank look on their faces.
I had really done it this time I felt like saying. And where were all the guys who if I got caught they were going to save my butt.
I was sentenced to three years in prison
My best friend and sidekick Woody Yates took me over there. I remembered them making me in the entrance area long enough I thought about leaving back out to the world. They had trusted me on my own recognizance to turn myself in. I was nervous of course but had no idea of what would lay ahead – not even one second of it. Soon a guard came, she was a small Hispanic woman and she motioned for me to come through the heavy steel door she had another guard open.
It rolled open clanking as it went and as fast as it slammed open it began to close. I hugged Woody and I walked into the ‘box between the two doors’. I turned to see a very sad looking Woody just standing there looking at me.
I was so taken by the whole experience I didn’t really have any feelings about it. I was just trying to get on with whatever would be the first step towards my release someday not really realizing when that may ever be.
I realized I knew nothing about this experience because only someone who was going through it could ever know how it feels. It was like dying or something very lonely and alone in a unique experience that others
around me could see me going through it but I was the one who had to go through with it.
No turning back.
Shortly after my arrival onto the unit I remembered the so-called Christmas ornaments every fifty feet or so hanging from the bleak ceiling. I thought to myself ‘I guess they even have a sort of Christmas in prison.’ The elevator I came up on let me out close to a center area with a a table and chairs around it. Women were welcoming back others who had been gone on a special furlough. I thought ‘welcoming someone back to prison is sick.’ It was December 27, 1982, while sitting in the guard’s office waiting to be processed I heard a guitar playing and a beautiful voice singing. I asked, who is that? The guard turned to me and said, ‘it’s a nun – Sister Marie’. Wow I thought… no wonder I was in prison if they were sending nuns.
All I could think of was to tell the guard who I later found out was also an exconvict for killing her husband and spent 11 years for murder – I told her mistakenly that I was there just to be good, serve my time quietly and get out of there. She laughed in my face and said ‘we’ll see about that now won’t we?’ I knew I should not have let her see my fear of the unknown but thought I would give it a try anyway.
A few days into this adventure I was standing at the door to the unit waiting to be let out to go to the chow hall. It was only 4pm and they were feeding us so called dinner.
As I stood there a big black woman came running up on me and pushed me up against the wall, saying ‘you better get outta my face!’
So surprised because I was just standing there minding my own business, and she ran up out of nowhere.
I remembered a movie line and I bowed up and told her ‘hey! If you feel so damned froggy then just jump!” as amazingly as she appeared she vanished and backed off. I thought wow that was weird and I just got here.
To be continued tomorrow.
Article written by Del.
Hi Hendrixson together with Del.