By Aaron Singerman
CEO of Redcon1
My three little boys jumped out of the car and ran toward me. Two of them, my youngest, held signs saying, ‘Welcome back, Daddy!’ And the other saying, ‘I love you, Daddy!’ My oldest son just ran toward me, full speed ahead, and jumped into my arms.
If you haven’t heard, I’m out of prison and back in Boca at the helm of Redcon1. I got out on December 1st, and let me tell you, it was an emotional experience. I woke up at 6:00 a.m. just like I usually did. I had my morning coffee with my protein shake and anxiously awaited the guard to come get me, not knowing when I would be processed for release. I had already given away all my worldly possessions, my packs of tuna, my mackerels, and even the highly coveted packs of salmon. I gave away all my toiletries, clothing, batteries, radio, and everything else that had value. I had the remaining stuff that I wanted to keep fit into one duffel bag in a small box. I wondered a lot about what it would feel like to be in that same room I was processed in, but now, being processed out.
Once I was in the room, it was a blur. I got fingerprinted again for some reason, and I guess to make sure that I was the same person; I was given all the money I had left in my prison account, about $2,500, in the form of a debit card. The other gentleman that I was processing out with had almost no money, only the $40 they give prisoners when they leave. I decided the right thing to do was to give my $2,500 card to him and help him start back in the real world. We walked from the R&D building down the long sidewalk past my warm bed, passed a dorm, and passed the chapel, where I had spent so much time. That was the home of RDAP, the residential, drug, and alcohol program and the office of the infamous Dr. Profit, who ran the program. It was also where I met with the Rabbi weekly and where we made our Friday night dinners.
By this point, I could see the iron gates of the Navy base in which FPC Pensacola was housed. I had spent many hours, staring at those gates longingly, thinking about how it would feel to walk out of them. I got there eight months ago after spending several months in transit and in detention facilities. Those were like hell on earth in comparison. In a way, I was grateful for those callous times before I reached Pensacola because it made me realize that I didn’t have it that bad. But now, it was all coming to an end.
As I approached the gates, I told myself to be strong and not break down in front of everyone. Many people were coming to pick me up, and when the two Suburbans went through the gate together, I knew it was my guys. As soon as they parked, my three little boys jumped out of the car and ran toward me. Two of them, my youngest, held signs saying, “Welcome back, Daddy!” And the other saying, “I love you, Daddy!” My oldest son just ran toward me, full speed ahead, and jumped into my arms. He immediately started crying so hard that I got concerned. He was hysterical, making me wonder how my time away affected him. The other two stood there for a moment, I think, shocked at how their older brother reacted, but I reached out with my arms for them to come too. They all hugged me in one big Singerman family hug. It was a great moment, and we stood there for at least a few minutes. Then I walked toward the SUVs and hugged all my friends who had come to see me become a free man. We got into the trucks and headed out of those gates, and I said to my boys, who were lying, sitting, and hugging all over me, “I haven’t been out of these gates in eight months.” My oldest told me, “And we’re never going back again!”
This a message to all my friends still in prison: I promised you that when I got out, I wouldn’t forget my prison experience, and I would do my best to change the system. We have a tremendous problem with sentencing guidelines, selective prosecution, and an ineffective prison system. Among many other things, it isn’t a focus of many politicians and even fewer citizens. For people who haven’t experienced a family member or themselves inside “the system,” it’s hard to understand and even harder to have compassion for us – the inmates. But I have news for you: it could happen to you or someone you love, even if they never did anything wrong or made one mistake. Think of your worst mistake that you never got caught for. Your worst deed you regret. Now imagine if you’d gotten caught. How would that go? I can tell you firsthand it would go bad, and if you got the wrong prosecutor or harsh judge, it’d go REAL bad. There are A LOT of good men in prison. Many valuable citizens don’t deserve to be there for so long.