A Visit to the Correctional Facility
January 1, 2008
The end of December should be a time for reflection in the bodybuilding community. We await the final competitor list of the Arnold Classic, and start thinking about the Ironman Pro show in February. So when the Arnold Classic competitor list came out on December 26th, it was exciting to check out who is going to compete. 16 male pro bodybuilders were on that list, including Hidetada Yamagishi, the Japanese bodybuilder which shocked the bodybuilding community in 2007 at the Ironman Pro. For Hidetada, he was planning to compete again in the Ironman and Arnold, as show the world once again how he was improved his physique. Well, sadly to say, this isn't going to happen.
Not a day later did we get a post from Peter McGough at Flexonline.com saying that Hidetada was arrested, and more details will come later. Not a few hours later, his name was removed from the Arnold Classic competitor list. And speculation began. What happened? What did he do? Why is his bail $180,000. Has he really been in jail since December 8th? And why is the INS involved.
Well, I am not here to answer these questions. As this is a serious case of someone getting arrested, and we are dealing with his life, a lot of these questions might be answered on January 8th, 2008, when Hidetada makes his appearance in court in Los Angeles, at 11701 South La Cienega Blvd. In talking with Hidetada today, and seeing how serious all of this is, until his lawyer makes his statements in court in a week, we shall refrain from speculation and more. But don't judge someone just because he has been arrested. And don't assume everything.
One wonders why I went to the jail. Seriously, I am not sure. I am not the best of friends of Hidetada. He is a bodybuilder, who has always been very nice, cordial and has a great fan base both here in the United States and in Japan. But, still in the last 6 days, I have been bombarded with calls, e-mails, and questions, so of course, and as someone following the bodybuilding industry, this is of great interest to many.
From Woodland Hills to the Santa Clarita jail took about 40 miles, but without traffic, it took less than 35 minutes. Santa Clarita is about 30 miles north of Los Angeles airport, where Hidetada was arrested. Once I got there, based on the Los Angeles County's Sheriff Department's Inmate Information Center, you think you were looking for the North County Correctional Facility. Well, technically you are, but the main compound is called the Pitchess Detention Center (PDC). You enter via the visitor's buildings right next to the parking lot, which is huge.
PDC consists of three separate jails. PDC North facility is a maximum security complex which houses 1,500 inmates. PDC East facility is designed as a disciplinary until and is the oldest operating jail in Los Angeles County. And where I was going, North County Correctional Facility (NCCF), specializes in inmates or people awaiting court or trial, and has more vocational training programs.
Visiting Hidetada isn't an easy trip. It took more than 1 ½ hours to get through everything until I met him. The first part was the main visitor entrance, which you go through a metal detector, show id, and they make sure you have no cell phones, cameras or other metal parts. That took 20 minutes. The second part was getting a Visitor Pass, which you write down the inmate's name, booking number, and visitors. That line, at the building right inside after the visitor's entrance, took 20 minutes. Once that was done, you then waited to board a bus (there are different buses for each facility), which took another 20 minutes. And finally, when you got to the facility, it took another 20 minutes or more to meet with Hidetada.
You can only talk for a half hour in these visits, and unlike when I visited Craig Titus, in this facility, you have a glass window and a phone to talk via. Hidetada was surprised to see me, I don't think he expected that many people knew about him being in jail, and I pretty much told him what the Getbig world, and the bodybuilding industry knows on what is going on. We wound up talking quite a bit on various subjects, on who visited him in jail, on who is helping him, and much more. But Hidetada asked that we don't speculate on things until his court date on January 8th, so I will honor that. Also, Hidetada does not speak English very well at all, and it was hard for him to understand a lot of the questions I was asking. And because of the limited amount of people that can visit him, please he also asked that no one come visit him, as it takes away from someone else.
Basically, from what we know, Hidetada was coming back from Tokyo to Los Angeles, and got arrested. From the $180K bail, we may speculate on what it was, but until his next court date, we won't know for sure. When I asked him why he has been in jail for so long without a court appearance, he said that he did have one, but he wasn't ready. After all, getting arrested was a very big surprise, and it took time to get a lawyer, finances in order, and more.
In the rumors that Hidetada was going to be in New York over New Years, that was true. He had planned, once he was in Los Angeles for a week or so, to move to New York to be with his girlfriend. Obviously, that didn't happen, and he was most pained on not being there with her at the moment.
Regarding Milos, none of this looks like it involves Milos, and he was planning to move to New York, train at Bev Francis' Powerhouse Gym, and then come back a few weeks before the Ironman to train with Milos.
In terms of prison life, he said that it is horrible, considering if you have never been to a jail cell, but the guard are nice to him, and he is in a dorm style room with about 40-50 people at a time, and they can watch television, read books, etc. What he was is a lot of time, and since there are not a lot of Japanese books there, tv it is. And no, they do not get to choose the channel. Some of the guards do know him, and they did ask him for some advice on training.
In terms of food, Ramen noodles, and tuna he can get as a treat, but prison food it is, or whatever they decide to give them that day. In terms of training, there is no gym equipment there, so Hidetada does a lot of pushups, and other various exercises that he can to stay in shape.
In seeing Hidetada, he seemed to be in good spirits, wearing his glasses, in a blue L.A. County jumpsuit, and still in excellent shape. We talked about the future, and when he gets out, on whether he can compete in time for the August IFBB shows, or whether the INS might not let him stay here.
See, Hidetada is not an American citizen, thus, the INS hold on him. But hopefully, in a week or so, he will be released on bail, as he is not a flight risk. As I told Hidetada that everyone was talking about him, he seemed surprised also, but truly was concerned on his future, has he should be.
Once the half hour was up, I left, waiting another 20 minutes for the bus ride down the hill, but I did feel that all the rumors, speculation and downright hatred on the boards and gossip are definitely uncalled for. Someone is having a tough time in his life, and why should people heave praise on someone's misery. It just isn't cool.
The court day is only a week or so away.