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Justice & the Prison Experience…

“What’s the first thing you should do when you find yourself in a hole?”

     Walking around the track one day at FCI Ray Brook, Lake Placid, NY, one of my exercise buddies—a general contractor from Virginia—showed me a letter he wrote.  It was addressed to the Attorney General of that state.

     Bruce had been convicted of bank fraud in a contracting scheme, where he had also stiffed his sub-contractors.  He was doing a 10-yr bit, “old law,” which meant he would-max out after 7 yrs. 

     I read the letter and was frankly astounded at his political and social naiveté—to put it politely.  He was a pretty conservative type and was always good for a lively argument, but this was simply beyond the pale.

     Basically, it was a mea culpa, accepting “full responsibility” (guilt) for his crimes, pleading his born-again status in Christ, and throwing himself on the mercy of the prosecutor and court.

     Based on his clippings, the case had apparently been a huge one, involving millions of dollars in the fraudulent development of a housing and commercial center.  The state clearly wanted a hunk of his hide in addition to the feds.

     “Bruce, have you thought of simply filing a motion for speedy trial, since the state already filed their detainer?  One, since you’re already doing a 10-yr bit, they might just blow the rest of the case off.  And two, you can always plea bargain down the line.  It seems to me that keeping your options open makes more sense.”

     “Aha!” he responded.  “That’s the difference between us, Max.  You’re always looking for a free ride and how to beat the system.  I accept my responsibility in the crime.  This is the right and moral thing to do.”

     I liked the guy.  He was relatively young—maybe 40—good looking and in excellent shape, and had a young family.  True, his theft (stiffing) the sub-contractors and workers showed a serious character defect.  But he already had plenty of time to work on that.

     Resigning myself to his apparently obsessive belief in systemic justice, I told him, “Bruce, don’t send the letter.  They don’t care about your beliefs.  To them you’re just a pelt on the wall, a notch in their gun.”

     He sent it.  It was not much time before the detainer was served and they took him back to Virginia.  The next time I saw Bruce, he was devastated.  They had stacked another 14 yrs on him to do when he completed his fed time.

     What’s the first thing you should do when you find yourself in a hole?  Stop digging

               Dr. Publico

Category: Plea Deals, RayBrookFCI
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