Friday, April 11, 2014

‘The Gradual Decline’; Freedom is not the only thing you surrender in prison.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

INSANITY: I have heard people say that the definition of insanity is when you do something over and over and expect a different outcome each time… More days than not, I tend to agree with them.

The things that I plan on sharing in this entry may paint me in a deleterious way, but what I about to share with you, comes from deep within. Adapting to an environment such as this mandates a number of critical changes in how one thinks and behaves. There are many fundamental aspects of basic humanity that you quickly learn to surrender. Those changes are not simple or easy and, to a well adjusted individual, very difficult to implement. The following topics are not easy for me to discuss or admit to – but there is a nefarious side to me that I have had to adopt for survival within these walls.

I am in a very reflective and melancholy state at the moment. If you continue to read on; please keep an open mind and try to realize that this is not an easy environment to remain authentic in at all times.
SELF IMAGE
I spent the past Saturday in front of my television watching Lisa Ling on “Explorer”; ‘Documentaries of Prison’; on the National Geographic channel. I absorbed each episode imagining that I had no prior knowledge or experience of what prison is like. Four episodes later, I realized that no one resembled somebody “normal”; in appearance, character, or temperament. The inmates interviewed looked precarious, calculating, and bellicose. Certainly no one even closely represented me; the “Davids” of the prison population. That realization made me increasingly concerned that I may not be the “David” that I think I am - to an outside onlooker. I may very well be seen as one of these men on television.

Like them, I have tattoos though mine are not standard prison designs, but rather nonconforming, bold and Asian. I am in excellent shape, there is a darkness to my eyes and a non-emotional expression on my face 90% of the time. Unlike them though, I did not grow up on the streets or in a gang, but instead - from an upper class lifestyle. Yet still, here I am relating to these men on television. I understood them. I had believed in and adapted to the way of life depicted in front of me.
MORALITY
Veridity; I have become hardened, calculating, merciless and an expert at self preservation. This is a capricious environment and institution. The values and morals that I have had to actively ignore in order to survive I care not admit until my release, I am not shameful about these things – but I am certainly not proud either. I have unfortunately learned to think like a criminal. In fact, I have surpassed them because I can tell you what they are going to do before they know it themselves. I have studied them intently now for 12 years. I call it “aggressive observation”. The advantage is that few individuals are successful at deceiving me. I can see through their manipulations and diagnose their ulterior motives. Everyone has ‘angles’, but it is those who are driven by malice that we must pay the closest attention to.

PATIENCE
Severity; I can discontinue relationships with people in an instant without doubt or remorse if I feel disrespected or played for a fool. Forgiveness is a trait that enables us to be human beings, is it not? Forgiveness allows my family and friends to love me today - despite all that I have put them through. It’s important to me to develop the ability to forgive again. It is an act that we do not do in here.
PEACEFULNESS
Violence; I am now able to validate acts of violence. Those are words that I never would have been able to say had I not come to prison. I am not an advocate of violence and yet, I am able to make sense of why it is used in this environment. Confounding.

SOCIABILITY

Introversion; who do you know that would prefer to live alone in a 6x10 cell rather than in an open dormitory? I am now one of those people. Yesterday, I was describing another prison unit to a fellow inmate and I told him that the cells there, were ‘very nice’. Who in their right mind would ever describe a prison cell as ‘very nice’? Apparently, I would. In the cosmic scheme of things, I lived alone in a cell for the 1st two years of my prison sentence. It was during that period that I became my own best friend. I never complained much then. There was nobody who would listen. Everything that I was experiencing was my own fault, brought upon by my own doing. Once someone has accepted responsibility for whatever it is that they have done, there is no point in complaining.

SELF VALUE
Worthlessness; each passing day, I expect disappointment. I never expect anything to go my way or benefit me. The logical side of my brain says; “why should I have anything go my way?” “Why do I deserve anything at all?” “I am a convicted felon and responsible for 3 lost lives.” What is bizarre is that I am not normally a natural pessimist. In fact, most would actually characterize me as being an eternal optimist. In here though, I am a different being. To my fellow inmates, I am seen as an intimidating force. To my family and friends, I am an intelligent, kind, thoughtful and driven man. To society however, my very existence is defined by a 6 digit number signifying my place amongst very bad people.

SENSE OF BEING

Soulless; Prison confinement eats away at your soul. The longer you are confined, the more your soul fades away. I tell myself that in place of the soul I have lost, I have gained personal and mental strength. I am not so certain that it has been a fair trade. Many men in here walk around and go through their same routines each and every day. You may feel the warmth of their skin as you shake hands, and occasionally see a smile on their face, but they are simply not ‘there’. Is it possible to gain – and not to have lost?
 
VULNERABILITY
No more weakness. I couldn’t afford it. Vulnerability is something that we allow to happen to ourselves. If we get hurt, then it is nobody’s fault but our own. Vulnerability is therefore unacceptable as it creates a personal liability. Even in my most panicked, afraid moments, I remain stoic. I must choose what it is that people will see in me.

IDENTITY

Me: I am David, or at least, a version of David that is more cognizant of the changes within. My transformation is evident. I am different. It is safe to say that even the people who are closest to me are unable to recognize this. How could they? The most time that they have spent with me at one time are during the 8 hours of visitation. During those times, I always choose to be happy. When I am on the phone with them, I feel “normal”, alive, and whole; like I have a reason for being and that I do not simply just ‘exist’. When I hang up though, I transform back to that intimidating, non emotional, skilled convict that I have become over the last 12 years. That change washes over me by the time the receiver connects.

As I look at my reflection in the mirror, I know that I am not completely lost. I just need to constantly remind myself of who I am. Sometimes we do things for so long, that we forget.

I forget – a lot.

Scared.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

‘Will Gardner is Dead!”

Monday, March 24, 2014

Today is not a good day.
This is going to sound ridiculous to many, I am sure of it, but I am sure that we all have our favorite television shows. For me that show would be ‘The Good Wife’. I have not missed a single episode since its inception. I watch the re-runs during the off season because often I will catch something that I had not picked up the first time I watched it. In some peculiar way, I have fallen in love with each and every character.

Will Gardner is played by JoshCharles. He is my favorite male kead and I have had a crush on him ever since he played Knox Overstreet in The Dead Poet’s Society.

In ‘The Good Wife’, Will Gardner is a confident, brilliant, loyal, passionate and incredibly sexy man. Hidden within that, is a virtuous, sensitive and emotional character. The conundrum between Will and Alicia, played by Juliana Margulies is both tantalizing and beautiful.

I cannot imagine the show moving forward without him.

Josh Charles will be missed.
 

Saturday, April 5, 2014

‘An Interview with Myself’

Monday, March 24, 2014

“What, if anything, gives you hope?”
Music. I have a deep emotional connection to music. I grew up around some of the best R&B and for me, it correlates back to my life events. When I listen to particular artists today it brings out hope in me. I’m able to remember. These memories propel me to move forward. I a way, I have learned to utilize my past – both the good and the bad – as stepping stones for my future.
The most powerful artists for me are:
Patty Labelle, Anita Baker, Bobby Caldwell, Sade, Deniece Williams, Peabo Bryson, Luther Vandross, Basia, Gato Barbieri, James Ingram

“When you laugh, what is usually the trigger?”
Myself. I have a tendency to laugh at myself more than anything else. I do my best not to take myself too seriously.

“What do yo fear the most in life?”
Personal Failure

“What, if anything, triggers hate in you?”
Ignorance I can deal with… but stupid people I cannot tolerate. (“Stupid is for forever”. -Todd Chrisley)

“What are your physical stats?”
This question always makes me feel a bit ‘Ok Cupid’, or something, but here they are

6 foot tall, 180 pounds, 48” chest, 32: wait, size 11 shoe

“What are your favorite clothing items?”

Grey fleece sweat pants, Tom Ford navy blue flat front slacks, Tom Ford white fitted button up shirt, Chocolate Todd’s loafers and white cotton boxers

“What are your favorite athletic teams?”

Football       San Francisco 49ers
Soccer         Brazil National
Baseball      Boston Red Sox
Rugby         Haly (yes, I love this sport!)
Hockey        Boston Bruins
“Do you believe in or practice an organized religion?”
Not particularly. I consider myself to be a very spiritual person. As I have matured, I have realized that organized religion left e with many unanswered questions. I am however, quite fond of our current Pope.


“Who would be your choice for guests at a dinner party?”
Since I was not given a specific amount of guests, I just went with it. Bear with me…

Audrey Hepburn
David Bowie
Rock Hudson
Harvey Milk
Geisha Cro-Ciosan
Christiano Ronaldo
Tom Ford
Gloria Steinem

“What would be your favorite choices for breakfast, lunch, dinner and desert?”
Breakfast – Eggs Benedict
Lunch – Grilled shrimp, bacon, tomato sandwich on sourdough
Dinner – Sushi
Dessert – Tiramisu

 
“What are the first things you want to do when you released?”

Other than getting on the first flight out of Arizona that is destined for Boston, Mass, my “to do” list consist of the following:
  1. Walking barefoot in the grass
  2. Taking an actual bath
  3. Perusing the shopping market aisles (weird, but true)
  4. Sleeping in a real bed
  5. Wearing anything that is NOT orange


“What would be your first getaway destination?”
Snowboarding in New Hampshire or Vermont
 

“If you could choose any place in the world to live, where would it be?”
There is not just one place that I would choose. There are however, places that I would very much like to live if the opportunity presented itself.
Barcelona, Spain
Cologne, Germany
Florianopolis, Brazil
Boston, Massachusetts (done)
New York, NY

‘Political leaders whom I feel made an impact on history’

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

ELIZABETH I (1558 – 1603) Queen of England;
Advanced the Act of uniformity in 1559 which create an independent and uniform litany for religious worship; the act had thirty-nine articles in 1563, a compromise which formally separated the Anglican Church from the Roman Catholic Church
Enacted the so called “Poor Laws” during the 1590’s, culminating into the “Poor Law Act” of 1601 which made local governments responsible for their own impoverished citizens.

Margaret Thatcher (1979-1990) Prime Minister of the United Kingdom
“Failure?? Do you remember what Queen Victoria once said?” -  “Failure – the possibilities do not exist.”

Zâyed bin Sulân Âl Nahyân (1971-2004) President of the United Arab Emirates
Zayed was a pivotal figure in maintaining the unity of the UAG Federation and worked to establish powerful peaceful relations with nearby countries such as Saudi Arabia and Oman. The sheik also helped broker peace between Oman and the former People’s Democratic Republic of Yemen during their border conflicts in the 1980’s and between Iran and Iraq during the Iran-Iraq War between 1980-1988

Carrie Chapman Catt (1920) American Women’s Suffragette Leader, President of the National League of Women’s Voters
“There are two kinds of restrictions upon liberty; the restrictions of laws and that of custom. No written law has ever been more binding than unwritten custom supported by public opinion.”

Harvey Milk (1977) Supervisor, San Francisco Board of Supervisors
The 1st openly homosexual public official of the Untied States. Mile & friend George Moscone, mayor of San Francisco were assassinated by a disgruntled coworker and former actor, Dan White.

Chandrika Kumaratunga  (1994 – 2005) President of Sri Lanka
The 1st female president of Sri Lanka. Just days before the presidential elections in December 199, she narrowly escaped a suicide bombing/assassination attempt with only minor injuries. Despite the bombing, attributed to the LTTE, the elections went on and she was re-elected to a 2nd, 6 year term.

Hugo Chavez (1999-2013) President, Venezuela
A self-appointed styled populist who won the allegiance of Venezuela’s poor while alienating the upper classes and broad sections of the middle class. In foreign affairs he cultivated close relations with Cuba, rejected efforts to establish free trade zones with Latin America and defied the United States on many foreign policy issues.

Bill Clinton (1993 – 2001) President of the United States
The most popular president of the 20th century. Implemented the Department of Defense directive; ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ which forbade the military from inquiring about an individuals sexual orientation. Publicly supported gay marriage in 2009 and actively lobbied for the overturn of the Defense of Marriage act (DOM). He was the 2nd president to be impeached (later acquitted).

'Do I believe the criminal justice system to be fair?'

Thursday, March 20, 2014




Up until the time that I had to deal with my own criminal defense, I never gave much thought to whether I believed the criminal justice system to be fair or not. Most people, I suspect, would agree to that. Unless you have someone that you know who has gone through the justice system, or have been through it yourself, there really is nothing to compare it to.
I want to be very clear though and share that people should be punished for particular crimes against society. Certainly there needs to be consequences for people’s actions when they break the law. Unfortunately, in my opinion, many of the sentences that are handed out are extreme and in some cases, unwarranted.

Granted, my personal experience has only been in Arizona, but there are a few reasons as to why I feel this way;
Sentencing
  1. When it comes to assigning punishments, sentencing guidelines are inconsistent, and frequently unfair.
  2. Sentencing practices between judges vary wildly
  3. Inequitable legal defense is provided based upon the offender’s financial means
  4. Punishment given for nonviolent and juvenile crimes is more harsh than appropriate
  5. Mandatory minimum sentences are routinely given to drug offenders rather than ordering treatment or rehabilitation
  6. Correctional Systems have become a for-profit business and the court system absolutely plays a role in fueling that economy

Classification
Offenders are often classified inappropriately. They are housed together based upon crimes committed. Unfortunately, offenders are individuals and they should be seen as such because every case, every offender, is unique and different. A person who has taken a life through a vehicular accident, without malice, has no business being housed with an inmate convicted of capital murder, and yet they are.

There needs to be a comprehensive screening process with interviews set in motion at the offender’s initial intake. Often times, there are psychological issues to take into consideration. The offender may not warrant placement in a pysch ward, but living within a general population in a state prison might not be a suitable location.

Alternative Punishment
There has been a decided shift away from utilizing alternative disciplinary measures. Many offenders are either first time offenders or have committed crimes which may not warrant incarceration. Unfortunately, alternatives punishments to prison are not considered. These underutilized mechanisms are:

  • Extended home arrests for nonviolent, non repetitive offenders who have stable homes and families
  • GPS ankle monitoring systems
  • Increased work-furlough programs
  • Reimplementation of military enlistment deferment
  • Assigned FEMA work programs

Antisocialism – creating a culture of hate

Offenders learn unacceptable social behavior traits in prison. Correctional facilities propagate this behavior by not correcting it as it develops. Inmates learn to segregate themselves by race, religion, sexual orientation and by gang affiliation. They are taught to hate. These traits become deeply planted and are carried back into society. This dynamic absolutely hinders their ability to be successful in the real world.

Rehabilitation
The system has lost sight of its mission to rehabilitate offenders while they are incarcerated. There is instead, intense focus placed upon penalization. In doing that, they create and promote a negative, violent environment that induces violent behavior in human beings.

Recidivism

Upon release, most offenders are ill prepared to reenter society. They are required to report to a parole officer within 24 hours. Consider that the majority of offenders have no money or means of transportation. But they must find housing and be employed within 30 days of their release or they are in violation and are sent back to prison. These requirements would be challenging to any citizen, but in this economy – they are completely unrealistic. It is difficult enough for a college graduate to find a job. Imagine how challenging it would be for a convicted felon.
The average offender has no stable support system when they are released; no friends, no family who are waiting and willing to assist. That in mind, offenders are rarely able to succeed. There is a direct correlation as to why the recidivism rate is now in the 80 percentile.


I am hoping that this entry does not come across as though I am searching for empathy in any way. I am not. I have accepted things as they are because I have had to in order to be able to move forward in this environment. Many things in life are unfair. In my case, I committed a crime. Despite the simple fact that I had no intention or desire to cause an accident which would take the lives of others, I am, by society’s standards, a murderer. It is because of this, I deserve to be in prison.

This is my life.

‘Ten pieces of advice for someone facing prison time.’

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

LEARN TO FIGHT
I am not an advocate for violence. Personally I feel there is never a winner in any fight, but still, physical combat pleas an essential role in prison. It is primal and testosterone fueled. It occurs daily and is completely acceptable within the inmate population. Get in touch with your body, learn how it moves and know your limitations. I am not exaggerating when I say it is ‘Fight Club”.

BUILD A FINANCIAL CUSHION
Prison is incomprehensible without money. You will need applaiances, food and clothing. You will receive the bare essentials in a very miniscule amount but once they are gone, you are expected to feign for yourself. Assume you will need a minimum of $200. Per month through your entire stay to be ‘okay’. For $400 a month, you will live the most comfortably in prison in every aspect. It is not cheap – but I suggest you take heed to it. In prison, money = comfort. In my twelve years of incarceration, my mom has sent me almost $60,000.00 dollars. If that doesn’t put things into proper perspective – I don’t know what will.

DO NOT GET INTO DEBT
Stay away from gambling and the inmate run stores. If you can’t pay, the consequence will be that you have to fight. Depending upon the amount of money you owe, it could very well be life threatening.

ELIMINATE ADDICTIONS
Addictions will inevitably put you in debt and this form of debt – IS life threatening.

BE PREPARED TO THROW THE 1ST BLOW IN A FIGHT
If somebody disrespects you, calls you a word that is not acceptable of owes you an unpaid debt, you must make the 1st move. If you do not, your respective race will assault you for making them appear weak.

LISTEN BEFORE SPEAKING
90% of the time it is better to say nothing. Silence can be very powerful and it prevents others from twisting your words in their favor.

ERASE THE FOLLOWING WORDS FROM YOUR VOCABULARY:
Bitch, Punk, Son of a Bitch, Mother Fucker, Pussy, Nigger (Nigga is, however, acceptable)
MENTALLY PREPARE TO LOSE SOME OF YOUR FRIENDS AND FAMILY
The adage ‘out of sight, out of mind’ is absolutely true. For many people, keeping up with the emotionally draining requirements of maintaining relationships with people in prison is unfathomable. Try not to hold it against them.

REMEMBER THERE IS ALWAYS SOMEONE WORSE OFF THAN YOU
If you complain about having a 3 year sentence and you are talking to someone serving a 200 year sentence, you will likely have somebody put your foot in your own mouth for you.

 

 

Sunday, March 30, 2014

'Those who stayed'

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Many people ask me if I have lost many friends because of this journey. It is difficult to explain because I truthfully didn’t have any real friends before I came to prison. The people that I was “close” with, would really be classified as acquaintances. They did not know the real me and in turn, I never really knew them. It wasn’t authentic and so, I cannot, in good faith, refer to any of those connections that I had with them as ‘friendships’.

Over many years, I have continued to grow and come into my own. The people that I did have in my life that are special to me, who I have not lost… well, I cannot call them just friends. They are so much more than that. These individuals are incredibly important to me. I love them with such a passion that even I cannot understand it at times. The many layers of my personality, my past, present and future are equally important to them. They know who I am and accept me, flaws and all. I can be vulnerable to them and for that, there are no bounds for what I would do for any of them.
Here are those people and this – is for them.
(Each of you know who you are.)

HELLO KITTY
I love you more than I love myself – or anything else in the world for that matter. There is much that I am so sorry for and yet you have never failed me. We are ‘one’ and I dare say that we always will be. It is amazing how we can hold a complete conversation without ever uttering a single word. There are secrets that we hold for one another that nobody could begin to imagine. The memories of another life, a previous chapter, if you will, are what define you and I. Those moments are sad, tough, fun, crazy and ours alone. Soon enough, we will make new memories. Life will begin again and it will be all about us. I will do my best to remain as your rock. Considering that I owe you my life, I’d say that it is the least I can do. You are my song, my favorite cigar, my Kettle/Grapefruit and the uni on my plate. 6 ½ 10 ½

PATHFINDER
I have loved you for my entire life. You have protected me and loved me unconditionally. You have been my motivation for my career choice; physical, wellness, the outdoors, animals – and of course, my obsession with football. I will never forget all the 49ers games, the music concerts, the ski trips, and our drives to the planetarium. You always let me shift your gears in the Alfa Romero. And you taught me to drive a manual in the Pathfinder over the hills of San Francisco. There will never be a way to thank you because you are too many things to me. You have been my friend, my parent, my advisor, my psychologist and so much, much more. I love you.

MS PENN STATE
Hi gorgeous! What can I say? To me you are like the finest dirty martini in AZ88. You are classic, always in style, and ready to conquer the world. Like so many people in my life, we have developed our own unique bond. I have come to trust you with my secrets just as you do with me. Thank you for being you. I love you!

MISSION HILL
How you and I got to this place is beyond me. Perhaps it is kismet that you are the Ying to my Yang. I will forever cherish that element between us. You challenge me to be better, push me and make me crazy in ways that I never would have imagined. God knows that I never understood that I could want to hug and slap the person I love at the same time until I met you. There are times that I believe that we came into one another’s lives simply to call each other out on our crap. If that is the case, well then I welcome it. Thank you for keeping me sane. I know it has not been easy. I love you unconditionally – even when I want to slap you.

MS FERRARI

You are remarkable, beautiful, hard, a ‘BOSS’, feminine and too damned smart for your own good at times. One would think that we’d be a very odd couple, but in another life, I would marry you in a second. (That is providing of course that in that other life, I came back as a heterosexual…) The bond that we have never dissipates. I admire and love you. Thank you for being such a wonderful part of my life.

So there you have it. You are all my heart, and yes, you are all my ‘friends’.
In time, I know that when I can put this experience behind me that I will meet new people. I look forward to developing authentic and lifelong friendships in the future.

It’s time.