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Jailed 4 J6 Journal: Episode One - "Forever Altering the Path"

I'd like to start off, for those that don't know me briefly explaining who I am and what it is I'll be writing about. First of all, my name is Zach Rehl, I'm from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and I'm a husband to a wonderful wife and father to two amazing daughters. I had a challenging childhood growing up where my parents divorced, my father died, both at a young age and I was otherwise what society considers "poor," which means I didn't have a lot. Ultimately, through hard work and dedication, I persevered and accomplished many things I had no business accomplishing. I joined the Marine Corps in my 20s and was honorably separated in 2012. After that I received two degrees at Temple University, a Bachelor's in marketing and a Masters in engineering management and entrepreneurship. I then acquired numerous professional financial licenses from respectable financial institutions, which I was ready to use in the operation of my own investment advisor business, a business I had registered at the end of the year 2020. 

Unfortunately, this is where my run of success takes a pause as I was, as President of the Philadelphia Proud Boys, not only caught up with the events of Jan 6th, 2021, but convicted along with three others of "seditious conspiracy" (a charge I vehemently deny, and am appealing.)  Nonetheless, on March 17th, 2021, I was arrested and ultimately denied bail, uprooting me from my life and forever altering the path I had sought out for my family and me.
Over the past two and a half years, I have been bounced around from jail to jail, jail to prison, prison to jail, and more to come.  I was in general population, solitary confinement, and now finally the infamous "patriot pod" with the other Jan 6 inmates.  Over time, I was treated decently and I was treated like scum.  I also met some really bad people, along with many good people.  I've seen some people do some terrible things, as well as some incredible acts of human kindness.  I've seen some jails that should be condemned and burned to the ground and I seen some jails that do make an effort to establish the best possible living quarters for inmates based on the circumstances.  So, long story short, I've had an interesting last couple plus years and I'd like to share some of that with you.  Although I won't be able to share all my experiences, save for a book one day, I will try to share some of the things I've seen and experienced during my turbulent ride since my arrest.

Recently many people have asked about what it is like at the jail I'm at now, but talking about just this jail and my experience here wouldn't do the time that I spent at the other jails justice.  Reason being, my experiences may open the eyes of someone in a position of power who could do something to change some things for the better in one of the previous places I was at.  So, what I will do is briefly discuss my journey to my current jail, while mentioning current events as they arise, and continuously updating until I am ultimately moved to my final destination after my sentencing on August 31st.  For now, we'll rewind to March 17th, 2021, which started after a seemingly innocent night of drinking with friends and continued with the never ending nightmare that I am currently living through now. 
Midnight hit, which officially rung in the most famous drinking holiday in the US, St. Patrick's Day.  A fellow at the Irish bar we were hanging out at bought everyone (including my friends and I) a round of Jameson to celebrate the occasion. It was just another day but it was at least a happy one, one I was spending with friends who were visiting me as I didn't want to venture too far from my house because I didn't want to be too far from my wife, now six months pregnant with our daughter.  Not too much past midnight we wrapped it up and walked back to my house, where we quietly shared a couple more drinks to wind down the night and eventually sent everyone on their way.  After a little while, I smoked my last cigarette outside (a dirty habit I no longer enjoy) and went to bed. 

Not long after going to bed, I was suddenly woken by what sounded like my wife's voice calling my name in distress. I'll never forget how fast I jumped out of that bed.  I don't even remember flinging the blanket off, I just remember landing on both feet and freezing for a brief moment to listen for any additional sound  to figure out where she might be and to decide what move to make next.  It was at this moment when I heard a man call my name from downstairs, which then caused me to bolt out of my room and head towards the stairs.  As I'm moving, I dismiss in my mind the possibility of any friend still being there, as I'd personally seen them all out the door hours prior.  Halfway to the steps, in a more intense voice, I hear "FBI! downstairs now!"  I'm even more confused now, yet still determined to see what is going on. I get to the top of the steps, sliding slightly due the speed I was moving, when I hear someone scream, "FREEZE!" 

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-Zach Rehl

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Episode 1

Jailed 4 J6 Journal: Episode Two- "The Most Intense Call I Ever Had"

Now, I'm going to dive right in where we left off following my arrest.  It all happened so quick, but while I was going through booking, people kept talking to me like I was going to be there a while, it was really odd.  Officers though, were quick to fingerprint me, document my appearance, and since I expressed I wanted a lawyer the moment I got there, they wasted no time trying to interview me.  So at this point, I still dont know my charges, although I was just taken over to the BOP after everything over at the FBI next door was completed.  The moment I get there, they start giving a medical screening and of course a "covid" test, along with various questions about my medical history, to which I get told, a medical doctor will follow up with me in a couple weeks.  A couple weeks?  What?  This is what I'm thinking.  


If this seems confusing, its meant to be, that is exactly how I felt.  I was getting shuffled all over really fast, meeting different officers and personnel and not getting told squat.  Finally, out of confusion and frustration, I snap and ask someone, "What the hell am I even charged with? When will I see a judge?" One of them says, "conspiracy" and "not till Friday."  I said, "Conspiracy of what?" He just shrugs and says, "I dunno, conspiracy." Great, thanks I guess. So I ask this guy about a phone call since he is at least talking to me, and he helps me dial my wife's number and tells me to be quick.  At this point, I'm realizing something strange is going on, so I'm bugging out and  my anxiety is starting to go through the roof. As my wife picks up, by the sound of her voice, it sounds like she is having the same experience.  She proceeds to give me a rundown of the raid, where the FBI searched vents, boxes, drawers, literally anything they could get their hands on and took a tee shirt, a jacket, some sneakers, some Proud Boy coins and a PB hat, which all seemed so odd.  Then she quickly filled me in on the lawyer situation and I asked her when she secures the lawyer to have him contact me ASAP.  I told her that I would call her again as soon as I was able to.  But what I was about to walk into next would rock my world and shatter any respect I had for how the justice system worked in this country and start to open my eyes to some of the most serious, unchecked misconduct in the criminal justice system, things that would outrage any constitutional-loving American to their core. 

So after they were done booking and such, I was given some lunches and taken to the "covid" block. The first thing to pop in my head was, this is absurd and way over the top.  Half of the block block was covered under some sort of bubble, or tent with hazard signs and warnings all over and it reminded me of a video game like Resident Evil or something.  As you could imagine, this is where they put sick inmates - not inmates dying of some flesh eating disease or anything, but inmates that caught "covid."  Everyone else went to the other regular half with regular cells, which wasn't under the hazard tents, but it was essentially the same thing as far as what the living conditions were. These living conditions were draconian and something I would have expected out of Soviet Russia.  They included a 14 day lockdown (although mine lasted 20 days despite no positive "covid" test.) This meant no recreation time, which normally lasted from 6 am to 9:30pm, except for one hour every two to three days. That one hour was your time to shower, make any phone calls and get anything else of importance you need done, if you even could. I also had to discover all this on the fly, because some guards (known as COs) weren't very nice and would ignore you if you tried asking questions while locked in your cell. This was also frustrating because you wouldn't see someone at times for hours, and when you did see someone, they just ignored you. Imagine trying to figure out when you could call your loved ones again or get let out of this cell, and no one will even stop at your cell long enough to tell you what is going on. If you are going to strip people of all their rights and treat them like a caged animal over a sickness that the person didn't even have, at least have some decency to tell them what your current rules are so people don't go crazy. Which people did go crazy, you heard people screaming and banging on doors all day and night, but no one would answer them. They could have been dying of heart attacks or something, and I'll bet at times people did, but no one would come to see. 

My main concern was trying to call my wife so I could see what my lawyer situation was.  After being in the cell for at least 24 hours.  I finally found out that I wouldn't be let out of my cell until Friday morning and when I was, I had to fill out a form and get my phone numbers put on some approved list by the 'block manager' so I suppose they could monitor my calls. Frustrated, as I have no other choice but to wait until Friday morning, I try to aimlessly kill time any way I can, which is hard because I'm locked in this tiny cell under these conditions.  To paint a picture of what those conditions were, I'll start off by pointing out there is no TV, no cable like all the movies say there is. You are given a small one inch foam pad to lay on a steel bedframe, which is also a bunk bed.  In this 8x12 foot area is a steel desk that is attached to the wall, a sink, the toilet and the beds, and if you are lucky, a tiny 3-inch wide window that was usually covered by a metal grate that made it hard to see.  Other times there was no window, like my cell in later months,as it would be completely covered. Meanwhile, the doctors stopped by to tell me that none of my medications are carried by the jail.  None of them.  I'm not going to go deep into my medical background, but there were three main things the VA prescribed me medication for, otherwise my anxiety would go through the roof, I wouldnt be able to sleep, and I would feel constant pain.  So, I was just told the medications I was prescribed the past 8 years by another government agency, the VA, would not be prescribed to me at all. Frustrated even further because I obviously didn't sleep my first night, but now I know I wouldn't be sleeping my second night either. Whatever, I think to myself, I'm going home tomorrow anyway, so I don't push the issue. Not that it would have mattered anyway, because these Docs had no cares in the world, I mean, they were government employees after all, and we all know how they can be sometimes. 

Fast forward to midday Thursday, and I'm starting to get antsy.  I haven't been visited by any lawyer yet, so at this point I'm starting to panic a little bit too.  I haven't been able to smoke a cig, so nicotine withdrawals are creeping up on me, and the lack of my medications are starting to cause my psyche to deteriorate a little bit.  Since I'm also locked in this cell by myself, I have no other choice but to sit and think about the worst case scenarios that could be playing out.  I was terrified at the thought of having a public defender because I always heard stories about corruption at the local level in Philly, and expected it to be no different at the federal level, especially with a political case like this one.  I was also, due to the same reasoning, worried about getting stuck with a lawyer who leaned left, as was the case with most people in the city of Philadelphia in general, and getting my bail screwed with as a result.  I eventually thought of the idea of trying to ask for a phone call with the idea of obtaining my lawyer's number so I could call him myself, but I was ignored at every turn. The most irritating thing these COs would do, they would open this little trap door to give you your food, and while you are trying to ask them a question, they would slam the trap door in your face and walk away, not to be seen again for hours.  After hours of thinking of all of this and having no idea what is going on, I'm now in full panic mode.  I didn't trust the government with how they have handled things up to this point and now I'm starting to think my wife wasn't able to secure this lawyer, or worse, had accepted a public defender that tricked her into accepting their services and is secretly working against my best interests.  The list goes on, being locked in a cell with nothing to do but look at the walls can make you think of a lot of things.  Throw a little anxiety into the mix and a terrifying situation with extraordinarily unjust circumstances, and its no wonder I heard people screaming all hours of the day.  In less than 72 hours, I was able to observe a jail where they were depriving people of medications and quite literally driving healthy people crazy by locking them up for really long periods of time for no reason other than taking an "overarching precaution", completely ignoring all of their rights, not only as Americans but as humans in general.

As the court hearing ticked closer and closer, I just paced around my cell and stared out my little window to kill time. I obviously couldn't sleep due to the stress and lack of my meds that help. So I was pretty exhausted when 10am rolled around Friday morning.  The CO unlocks my door for the first time since I was brought there at around 5-6pm Wednesday, almost 72 hours later.  I utilized this time to meet with this manager guy, who set my phone up so I can call my wife.  Finally, I could call her and she tells me she just met with the lawyer and gave me his number.  It felt like a boulder had just rolled off of my back and for the moment, I start to feel much better.  With my lawyer's number in hand, I could now request a "legal call" from this manager, at least thats what he told me at the time.  As I went back to his office, I tell him I'm trying to call my lawyer before my 12pm hearing for bail.  He says, "no problem, follow me," and he walked me over to a table with an old red telephone on it, the kind with a handheld receiver that you pick up off of a little box with a key pad on it.  There is a sign on the red phone that says, "legal phone."

(Continue reading the exciting conclusion of Episode 2 by subscribing below.)

-Zach Rehl

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Episode 2
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