Entry 1 – October 9, 2013
It's 6:30 a.m., and I am about to be rudely awakened as the guard flicks on the 300 watt florescent light in my 15 by 7 foot cell. Another day begins in paradise's prison, otherwise know as the Federal Detention Center in downtown Miami. It's been a couple of weeks since I first wrote a letter to the editor of SFGN to tell my side of the story of my arrest. Perhaps you saw the headline, "Wilton Manors Man Pleads Guilty in Child Porn Case". In case you missed it, allow me to bring you up to speed. My name is Christopher Reina. Some of you know me as the guy that handed out the pet food at the Pet Project, others know me by my (hot mess) online persona "huntnpeckr" (or some variation thereof), though most of you don't know me from Adam. I was arrested this past April by the FBI for distributing child pornography. Now, as bad as that sounds, and believe me, I know it sounds pretty awful, there is, as they say, more to the story. At the invitation of SFGN, in this and future articles I hope to tell those of you who are interested enough to read them about what led up to my crime, what happened as a result, and what life is like now as a gay (HIV and Hep C positive) inmate in a federal prison. I'll try not to bore you as I think my story has a lot going for it; sex, drugs, betrayal, forgiveness, hope, and, dare I say it, some surprise special guest-star appearances by the big man upstairs.
Eventually I would like to relay what life is like after I am released and trying to survive probation living in Broward County, FL as a modern day scarlet-lettered S.O., or Sex Offender. As I observed in my three month long stay in the Broward County jail system, with its multiple crowded sex offender housing units, some of you could conceivably be in the same boat with me, though I certainly hope not. In terms of numbers, it appeared to me that sex offenders are today's equivalent of the crack dealers of the '80s and '90s. The Sun Sentinel typically runs one to three articles per day regarding sex offenders. I know because I was one of those stories. Inmates in the Broward County jail have access to the newspaper, and believe me, we followed each story closely as many of those written about ended up in the bunks next to us.
In my previous letter I wrote that I was awaiting sentencing before what turned out to be a very stern and serious judge. Well, I have been sentenced and thankfully only received five years of what could very well have been a twenty year incarceration. I actually believe that the prosecution was on my side as much as they could be. It seemed as though they concurred that the evidence in my case showed that I was less a potentially predatory pedophile and more a reckless drug addict that got in over his head in a seedy, sexual internet subculture. Less a danger to society and more just a danger to myself. I'll address the "distribution" facet of my crime in another column, but what it all boils down to is that I broke the law, and in doing so learned a very painful lesson about how it is possible to re-victimize innocent children whom I have never even met.
As George R.R. Martin wrote, "Sins may be forgiven, but crimes must be punished." And the powers that be in Congress have decided that five years in prison is the appropriate minimum sentence for what I did. Still, five years. The longer I contemplate those two words, the more the walls in my cell seem to press in around me. If I think about it for too long it simply becomes overwhelming, and the anxiety makes it feel like my gut has been replaced with a swarm of bees. Killer bees. I can only close my eyes, take a deep breath, and shut that door in my mind. I tell myself that today, this very moment, is all that really matters. The rest of it will take care of itself, right?
Before I sign off I'd like to praise SFGN for having the guts to publish a column written by a convicted felon. I am exceedingly grateful for being given the chance to tell my story. I would never have guessed in a million years that an opportunity like this could come from such a nightmare. Thank you. Until next time... Stay safe everybody.
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