Monday, May 7, 2007

Over the hump almost, another installment inside the Hanoi Hilton

Well, I was out for one more day on work release. Tuesday and Wednesday, I will be spending at the 'tents' for a full 48 hours or more until I get out at 1:30pm on Thursday to go to work. So far, it's been ok and it doesn't really bother me knowing that I will be out next week around Wednesday.

They moved our tent over to a newly completed tent that has the new frames. They have been erecting frames on the concrete slab where the tents rest in order to do away with the poles that are usually used. Funny, my bunk was 5620 (tent 56, bunk 20) and now I am at 1945, which holds some kind of significance for me since I love WWII history. I have been reading while here, some things printed on the web about Tent city and DUI's and other things. I do agree that it is certainly not a good thing to drive while drinking and there should be consequences, but I think the system goes overboard, even as the one guard told me the same thing. I am not complaining by any means. I know what I did and I am taking full responsibility for my mistake. I think it's interesting how so many people are uninformed about DUI laws in Arizona though. This is a NO TOLERANCE state. It doesn't matter whether you had one beer or several. They claim the legal limit is .08 but that doesn't mean anything, as it is a NO TOLERANCE state. That means that the arresting officer can cite you with DUI if your BAC is .03, .05 or .08 or .250. They make the determination and usually they will hit you with it. Let me tell you why.


Plain and simple. Since most average taxpayers are reticent to have the taxes raised, they get around it by imposing daunting fines and fees in connection with traffic offenses and to 'teach you a le
sson.' When you are charged with a DUI, you go into the system and they make you 'patronize' institutions connected to the court system that supports their jobs. Also, they hit you with a 'DPS Fund' that is money not set for the Dept of Public Safety or in other states known as the Highway Patrol. Local agencies share in that money to fund new equipment and officers. It is spread amongst the various agencies and some of goes toward prison building, for our esteemed Gov, Janet Napalareno, no finer man that walked the planet I say and now that we have gone HD at work, when he shows up, he will need more MAACO auto body puddy to cover up that 5 o'clock shadow.

I don't have much time to post more of my experience tonight as I am on a time constraint, but I
wanted to prime anyone who reads this for the next installment when I get more time. I harbor no ill will toward anyone in the "Hanoi Hilton", how can I? I wasn't thrown in there for being a 'good guy', but I wasn't thrown in there for being a 'bad guy' either. I was put in there because I broke the law, plain and simple. I made a mistake and thank God it wasn't tragic, but a mistake nonetheless, but I can say, the 'D.O.'s' go way overboard to make your stay as unpleasant as possible. I guess that's the price you pay for doing something dumb. But that's what it is, a mistake.

I will try and explain how the system works and break down all the various fines and fees they impose on you when I can. I am also on a mission to get a 'Ladmo Bag' out so I can photograph it and put it on the next post so people can see what they look like. The one on the left is the original bag they gave children who went to the old TV show here in Phoenix. The version Sheriff Joe gives you to eat is well, less appealing to say the least. For those of you that don't know, Wallace & Ladmo was a popular TV show through the 60's & 70's here in Phoenix that was broadcast on my former TV station, KPHO Channel 5. It was very popular. That's the cast up in the right.

Some of the people in there feel they have been done a severe injustice, or they were wrongly
done. Let me explain something, I am not a convict. I wasn't 'convicted' of anything. I chose to plead guilty and until you get an aggravated DUI or one that involves personal injury, including death or destruction of property, it's still a misdemeanor. Until you are 'convicted' in trial by judge or jury, you are not a convict. I am not trying to make light of anything about my particular situation so much as I am trying to describe my experience in the "Hanoi Hilton". It's not pleasant by any means, but it's not unbearable either. If you decide to get through it with a good attitude, you can. There is no sense in having a bad attitude when you go in as in most cases, it's going to pass. And again, I say, you wouldn't be in there if you hadn't done anything wrong in the first place. I am amazed at some of the people I have talked to who claim they shouldn't be in there for what they did or they are living in mortal terror of being there. It still is, for all intents and purposes, America and you can either use the experience as a learning tool to not repeat the mistake or you can let it embitter you against law enforcement or society in general.

I am trying to remain an impartial observer of all I see and hear while there. Once I get out and finalize my notes, I will bring some things to light to help people who read this. I don't like being
there, but I have to be there, it's what I am supposed to do. Someone asked me the other day if I felt bad about myself or any shame for what happened and I said, no, why should I? If I felt bad for every mistake I ever made in my life, I would probably be dead by now, most of us would. I am lucky in the fact that I wasn't involved in an accident or hurt someone, including myself. I am also lucky in the fact that it could have been a lot worse. I have a lot of friends that are helping and supporting me in this time of tribulation and God is with me where I go, so I don't fear anything. I will get through this with a greater appreciation of all that is good in our system and an awareness of what is wrong and needs to be addressed, including drunk driving. Reading some of the stories I have read many stories and seen a lot of stories in my career in broadcasting to know how serious it can be. In fact, I can recommend a good website to go to where you can read some horrific stories about DUI and it's consequences here. Trust me, it ain't pretty.

So, Thanks to all my friends and family that have supported me thus far. I have to get ready to go spend the next 2 1/2 days in the "hanoi hilton" and just get through it. Stay tuned, I will post some more of my experience when I can get back to a computer to do so. Until then, don't drink and drive or in the words of the late Flip Wilson, "Don't have one more for the road cos the road is already laid out." I will be back soon and maybe I can show you all the great 'cuisine' they serve in the Hanoi Hilton.

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