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My actual car
My actual car
Packing up and headed to prison. This is not my dream car, it's my actual car. --Leigh Sprague from "Convicted white-collar felon takes a road trip across the country to his sentencing in California." on AND Magazine. | Photo: Leigh Sprague | Car, Trailer, Mercedes, Jail, Prison,

A Convicted Felon Takes a Cross-Country Trip to be Sentenced

In my recent top ten list of things to do before prison, I recommended that felons, if they have the opportunity, take a road trip. There's something appealing (at least to me) about that most vivid symbol of freedom - hitting the open road - before losing that very freedom.

Lest you think I don't practice what I preach, I am leaving today to do just that. I'm packing my things and saying goodbye to my friends and my apartment in Wisconsin. (For those of you who may be wondering, I found a wonderful home for my dog, Sorbet). In an hour or two I'll hit the open road.

I can imagine the pictures dancing through your head of me tooling across the country on a motorcycle or classic car, the wind in my hair and a smile on my face.

I wish.

In this instance, fantasy definitely surpasses reality.

My ride of choice is not an old Mustang or rumbling Harley, but a white Budget rental truck from that vintage year of 2011. But despite some peeling paint and scratches along its sides, the heater works and the motor manages to lug my car along behind it at 70 mph, at least on the straightaways. That's faster than my car manages to go, by the way. We'll see if it makes it over the Rockies.

I picture a road trip as a jaunt across the country, unconstrained by time or destination as you amble the byways far from the interstates and cities. Here again my road trip doesn't live up to the myth. My destination is very hard and very fast: my sentencing hearing scheduled for 2:30 p.m. on March 24 in San Francisco Circuit Court. That is one appointment I better not miss. "Sorry, your honor, I couldn't make it because my car broke down in Utah." That ranks right up there with 'my dog at the homework.'

Although it may sound like it, I'm really not complaining. Not at all. Of course I am scared of what awaits me at the other end of I-80 and sad to leave my life behind in this involuntary fashion. Saying goodbye to Sorbet yesterday was one of the hardest things I've done in recent memory although of course it was easier than leaving my children when I was forced to depart Moscow. But I'm excited about this little trip despite what awaits. And I'm thankful that I have the opportunity to take it. Many felons by this point have been languishing in jail for months.

My dream car:
Mustang, 2011 Limited Edition
Mustang, 2011 Limited Edition

2011 Limited Edition '68 Steve McQueen Signature Mustang - The St. Louis-based company Gateway Classic Mustang has partnered with the Steve McQueen Estate to produce a modern rendition of the 1968 Ford Mustang featured in the movie Bullitt. In a nod to the past, a 1968 shifter has been used. With an estimated value of $80,000 to $120,000 USD each. | Photo: Ford | Mustang, Car, Ford, Steve Mcqueen, Hot Rod, Fast, Automobile,

I also hope to gain some perspective on my drive, perspective on my plight, perspective on this great, vast country we live in. The reality is that for most of the trip I will be sitting bored behind the wheel, but I look forward to meeting people at rest stops and diners and maybe even seeing a few sites. For whatever reason, I have always wanted to see the Hoover Dam, so I hope that I have time to stop. I have decided that, if anyone asks, I will tell them the truth: that I am a convicted felon driving to his sentencing hearing.

If I am able, I plan to post along the way so that you can track my progress. I apologize in advance - it will most likely be interminable recounts of eating McChickens at waysides - but I'll try to make it as interesting as possible.

So goodbye Wisconsin, hello California. I hope to soon be on your sunny shores... and to see your beautiful courtrooms.

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Updated Aug 12, 2017 12:04 PM EDT | More details

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