Into the Darkness

It was May 2nd, 2011 and this was the day that, my then wife, Dr. Mollie Fry and I were to surrender ourselves to federal authorities. We had been convicted of federal cultivation and conspiracy charges, in the summer of 2007, and with the opinion in the Angel Raich case there was no longer any question… we would be serving time in federal prison. The weeks leading up to this day were agonizing, filled with lists of things to tell the kids about how the house was cared for, how the bills were to be paid and more importantly how very much I loved each and every one of them. I have to admit that I was concerned about how my 5 intelligent, yet opinionated and headstrong, children would conquer the task of working together to love and support each other as well as maintain our family home and 27 acres of property. Knowing my children well I secretly believed that once I left I would probably never return to that house.

Driving down to the federal courthouse, in Sacramento California, it occurred to me that this would be the last time I would drive a vehicle or enjoy the sounds of The Beatles for quite a while. The feeling, in our 6 passenger truck, was simply morose. As Mollie and I drove 4 of our 5 children in almost utter silence the predominant silence was intermixed with vague comments wrapped in depression. As we arrived we became witness to groups of people, with signs, chanting to free us. As I gathered my things I suddenly became aware that this was it. I needed nothing as I was not allowed to take anything with me. I handed my watch to my daughter, Heather,  grabbed  my identification and surrender papers, locked the doors, handed the keys to my son and we walked towards the crowd.

I’m not sure I remember too much about what either Mollie or I said to the people there to support us. I thanked them for their support and spoke of how my children had grown, in this movement, to be unbelievably aware and wellspoken young adults. I spoke of the child that my daughter, Caroline, would deliver just months after we surrendered. Before I knew it…it was time to go up to the federal Marshall’s office and get this terribly painful show on the road. I wish I could tell you that I wasn’t afraid but so many things were unknown and that alone would leave anyone fear stricken. I gathered my children and our family walked towards the door of the courthouse. Just before walking in I turned, to the small crowd which had gathered, and waved before we walked into the big metal doors.

After showing our identification we walked quietly to the elevators and took one to the 11th floor. The doors opened to a hallway that led to the federal Marshall’s office and as soon as we entered the lobby they seemed to be ready for us. I handed over the necessary paperwork, showed my identification and was told I had a few moments to say goodbye. My kids were all line up and I hugged and kissed each one of them before turning to the officer to be handcuffed. It wasn’t like I hadn’t been handcuffed before but it was much different to be handcuffed in front of my children and as I would end up saying to myself more times than I can’t count “it is what it is and I can do nothing to change it”.

I was serving federal time and Sacramento had no federal facility, other than small holding cells in the federal courthouse so I was off to Sacramento county jail for processing. I was strip searched for contraband, fingerprinted, photographed and put into a two man cell made almost entirely of concrete. After having my medical cannabis use terminated by my arrest, followed by years of opioid pain medications, the jail medical staff now tells me that they will not give me my pain meds so drug sick here I come.

Opioids are effective for pain, until they’re not available, and then you’re Johnsing like a heroin addict… and boy did I. I was given 1 set of clothing, to put on, and allowed to shower once a day, so my first days were spent sweating, shaking, barfing and crapping into a shared toilet. I spent two weeks in Sacramento County Jail listening to the stories of men waiting for trial/settlement of their cases or doing their time.

One early morning I was loaded up, in secret, shackled, hand cuffed and bussed to San Bernardino County jail on a County jail bus. It was a 12+ hour drive on hard plastic seats, with my ASS on fire and pain from the herniated disks in my lower spine, before we finally rolled into the San Bernardino County Jail. Why was I here? I have no idea because I have been told nothing since I surrendered myself two weeks before and unfortunately I had yet to understand that this would be the norm throughout my “federal holiday”. However, I had been destined for Taft, which is west of Bakersfield, and the buss drove right past the exit so where I am actually headed is the question of the day. I was starving on the bus ride and finally we stopped at an In-and-Out burger about 6-7 hours into the drive. The guards headed in to buy food as the group of us sat in the bus. The driver, who was to retire soon, put on an In-and-Out hat and order device, got in the outside car line and has his photo taken. WTF??? I had heard about stuff like this but these guards seemed to care less about what rules they may or may not had been breaking. The guards finally started to eat and when they were done, we get a brown bag with makings for a bologna sandwich, an apple and a juice. Then we were off again, presumably to the San Bernardino County jail. Once we got to San Bernardino County Jail I was processed all over again. The gossip was that a cho-mo (otherwise known as a child molester) was taken out before someone killed him. I could not believe that I was living in a reality where I was surrounded by cho-mo’s and people who would actually kill them. However, I have to keep one foot in front of the other so I was given some new clothes and I was off to a dorm with over a hundred guys. I was given the middle bunk, in a three high stack, the sheets didn’t stay on the bed and now I’m concerned about the guys in this pod. However, the next morning the medical staff realized that I’m a hemophiliac so I was transferred to the medical SHU (special housing unit, basically solitary). A big improvement over general population because I have my own bed and there’s only a dozen guys here. However there was no hot water, but you could get a warm shower if someone flushed all the toilets so we all took turns. I spent two weeks at San Bernardino County Jail and then I was told “roll up because you’re out of here”. In other words. get your stuff together and roll up your bedding to turn back into staff. Don’t ask where I’m going because no one is going to tell me. Back on the bus for a long trip from San Bernardino to Pahrump Nevada.

Another wonderful ride in a private prison bus this time, again in shackles and cuffs. Because of my hemophilia, I was sent to the medical SHU immediately. It’s really solitary confinement with a bunk, sink/toilet combo and 23 hours and 45 minutes each day in the dark. 15 minutes for a shower, to make sure I don’t stink, don’t ya know. After four days, of the SHU I think I’m going to lose my mind. My neighbor was on suicide watch and screamed all night long. At least I think it’s night; I have no watch so I don’t really know what time it is. Finally a guard comes in and tells me I’m leaving at 1:00 am so he will get me up. Where am I going? Well the answer was shocking because I usually never got an answer but today the answer is Honolulu. WTF? Where? Why?

At 1:00am I got up, stripped and put on the paper suit for transport. This was new, a paper suit? I sat down and waited. Wow, Honolulu. I like Hawaii but I knew that this trip was not going to include hula girls or Mai Tai’s.

Next time we will visit Honolulu…..

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