My story

Hardman, David



My Story 07/05/2020 I stare in the stainless steel mirror, grey hairs starting to announce my age louder every day. I think how did I end up in prison? It seems just yesterday I was getting up preparing for another day of work, but that day and life disappeared three years ago. How did a mild, passive 55 year old white man end up in Federal Prison? I have worked full time since I graduated High School in 1980. I joined the U.S. Marine Corps to get away from a small Florida town and the restrictions of the parents. I had no desire to stay and go to college, marry my high school sweethart or have kids. No, I just wanted to get away! After my Honorable Discharge in 1987 I began PT 1 - 1 - technical work in Orlando, Florida. My starting wage was $5.60 an hour, almost two dollars more than the minimum wage. This "temp" job became a 20 year career. After five years I transferred to Cocoa Beach Florida. Cocoa Beach allowed me to pursue another of my long time passions - photography. Since high school I had a desire to photograph women - especially in bikinis and swimwear. The beach scene was full of beautiful girls to fulfill my passion. I started a side business in 1994 photographing girls and women for my production themes. During my career, the steady paycheck paid for living expenses, while my photography products started paying for my 'toys' and allowing me to save money for the future. Pt 1 - 2 - August 2007 I changed technical careers and began work in the Aerospace Industry. I was part of an engineering team building spaceborne reflectors for the booming mobile cell phone companies. Two of the satellites I helped build are orbiting the earth today. However, due to the financial crisis of 2008-2009 I was layed off. My stepfather had always advised me to have a plan 'B', and often encouraged me to take time to go to college, but who listens to their parents when young? Being arrogant and prideful, I didn't apply wisdom and was going to do life my way! Unfortunately my way led to some fateful poor decisions. Ones that I am paying for now, as I write this Story sitting in a hot concrete box, surrounded by loud, vulgar inmates. Pt 1 - 3 - As I write this, we are suffering from the BOP mandated national lockdown for fear of Coronavirus and civil unrest gripping the country following the George Floyd death and riots/protests. (This lockdown has naturally restricted movements and access to the typewriter, so I hand write this.) On the morning of August 17, 2017 my modest home was surrounded by a task force led by FBI agents. This task force consisted of federal, county and city officers demanding I open the door to serve a search warrant. I had an idea why they were here, but could not function logically and froze. Traumatized by a unability to think clearly with all the yelling and screaming outside my doors and windows, I panicked with the immense pressure Pt 1 - 4 - and made a fateful poor decision - I picked up my weapon. Why? To this day I don't know. I didn't know what to do. I thought about death. My overwhelming thought was I was too young to die! I had too many things to do, to see, to dream and experience. I had been planning for a great retirement full of 'toys' and travel. I was unable to load the weapon as my trauma shook my hands. The calls to open up got louder and more frantic. Finally, one FBI agent broke my sliding glass door and stormed in with agents like I was an international terrorist. Enraged at the intrusion and damage to my home, I ran. Obliviously, I was tackled and restrained. All gone. My lack of education and worldly experience Pt 1 - 5 - in police matters led to my second poor decision that morning - waiving my Miranda Rights. I was slowly starting to realize I had just thrown my life away. For what? Some pictures? Some videos? Realizing I would likely be dead in a couple of weeks I felt I had no need for a lawyer. The three FBI agents, full of arrogance and swagger dragged me to my garage and began to grill me about allegations in the search warrant and other things. Unfortunately I had no sense of self preservation as I had seen TV shows and reports on how people in jail were treated with a possible sex crime. I was sure I would be killed in jail. As I sat there handcuffed for the first time ever, full of shame I Pt 1 - 6 - mourned my losses, 40 years of possessions and material wealth all gone in a blink of an eye, gone for a stupid decision. As the Bible says: "In the blink of an eye wealth disappears, for it will sprout wings and fly away like an eagle" Proverbs 23:5 (NLT) What free people don't understand, prisoners relive that day, that terrible "bad day" - everyday while we are locked up. At least I do. Our own self torture as we sit staring out the bars. I was formally arrested for assault on a Federal Officer and allowed a T-shirt as I was escorted out of my house in front of my former neighbors and TV crews. Former as not one has contacted me since my arrest. Heading to Orlando, the three FBI guys laughed PT - 1 - 7 - and joked like teenage boys - their unprofessional behaviour and arrogance was incredible - even mocking me as they replayed my "statement" on the way to court as if I was some major Kingpin. They even joked about me not killing anyone if I got bond. They knew there would be no bond. My public defender asked for a continuance to gather positive information to try for bond. So I was sent to Orlando's infamous "33rd" Street jail. I had no illusions of what was waiting for me. Surprising myself, I was calm. The booking process was surreal. I had never been arrested for anything in all my life, yet here I was surrounded by the likes of people - both men and women I had never been around, let alone talk to. PT 1 - 8 - Watching was my new mode of living. I remember the elderly nurse asking me why I was in here. I said I had done something stupid. She looked at me with sad eyes and replied "this place has no mercy." Late that nite our names were called and we formed a line to grab a bedroll and shuffled to the elevator. A lot of eyes looked at me, an old white guy with no tattoos. I've been told I have an angry face - even when I'm at peace. Nobody said a word to me. We were led to a openbay area and I grabbed a top bunk, watching and waiting. Some time later a 'CO' came and got the few Feds and took us to another pod. The next morning we were walked to a general population pod. Pt 1 - 9 - Outwardly I was calm and respectful, inside, however I'm cursing myself and looking at ways to 'jump the rail' if things got real bad. The blackness and despair inside me was overwhelming and I had done this to myself! It was terrible. The pod was a four cell unit with seven men per cell. One cold stainless steel toilet. Five blackmen and one young white kid. Within hours I was called "pops" or "old school" or "OG." I had to wonder what "OG" meant. I figured old Guy. My first tray of jail food was "what the Fxxx is this?" more curse words followed. I have heart disease (two stents placed in 2016) so I was automatically placed on a diet tray. There was some sort of ground "meat," and was told PT 1 - 10 - it was 'cat food.' Really? Or a jail joke? I suppose it was some sort of low sodium product, but regardless I lost 12 pounds in my week stay. The pod was hot, full of tension with four fights during my week stay. I learned some rules, a major one of no spitting in the sink and the requirement of using your sheet for a privacy curtain when on the toilet. Cold stainless steel toilets will be a lasting memory. Our pod had cameras looking into our rooms and the shower area. A aluminum rail covered our crotch area from the dayroom and we had to use our sheet to fashion a curtain to block the windows of the lower cells. I was told numerous female 'CO's' liked to inspect the Pod when certain men were in the shower. Pt - 1 - 11 - I was sort of adopted and given lots of instructions about jail. I believe I was the only first timer in the unit. I was full of shame when I had to call my family and one close friend to tell them I'm in jail. Tuesday, August 22 2017 I was woken up at 3 am for court and sat in a holding cell for 5 hours before being transported to the Federal CourtHouse in downtown Orlando. My public defender tried a little to get bond, but was extremely disappointed I had spoken to the FBI, the "three stooges" as she called them. Needless to say the lead FBI agent lied under oath about my computer images and my intentions with the gun. I was denied bond, labelled a PT - 1 - 12 "extreme danger to society" and remanded to custody. Of course I had no idea what was going on, and lawyers want it that way! I think lawyers tend to assume ordinary people know law and court rules. Bond Denied. The next morning at 3 am, told to pack up and wait for transport to the courthouse. I had no idea what was going on and was freaking me out as I was supposed to meet my new paid lawyer that morning. I had thought I had a plan and information that was going to be my "get out of jail card." So I was desperate to contact him, only I was not allowed! Another long day sitting on cold stainless steel benches waiting and waiting. PT 1 - 13 Finally, we were loaded into another van and headed to Seminole County Jail. I had survived my first week in a rough jail - but no one knew of my possible sex charge - that came later. After being up nearly 30 plus hours I was ragged and extremely tired and my booking photo made me look like the Unabomber. What a mug shot my former coworkers would see! After the booking process I was escorted to the G-Pod where mostly Fed inmates were housed. During booking one of the inmates was snorting some drug in the holding cell, how did he pass inspection? I prayed that I didn't get a room with him! Luckily my lawyer found me and I was sent to G-2 pod later that night. PT 1 - 14 - Seminole County Jail was a world apart from the 33rd jail - so much brighter, cleaner with less population. You could feel and sense less despair and darkness from the environment. The first man to greet me in G-2 Pod was a huge black man, full of joy and a huge smile - full of gold teeth! 'Mike' was the spiritual leader of the pod. You could just feel the joy of God coming from him. My darkness surrounding my soul started to lift. My new expensive lawyer started to work on my sprit as well to begin the long fight to come out of the darkness and start to live and fight again. End of part 1. PT 1 - 15

Author: Hardman, David

Author Location: Georgia

Date: July 5, 2020

Genre: Essay

Extent: 15 pages

If this is your essay and you would like it removed from or changed on this site, refer to our Takedown and Changes policy.

Takedown and Changes Policy
Browse More Essays