A man accused of violating a protective order for his ex-wife and kids (he admits he and his teen daughter exchanged Facebook messages) was extradited from California to Florida to face those charges—but David Hastings says his 15-day, 8,000-mile ride across 31 states was the "ride from hell." Hastings, 53, who has filed a civil lawsuit against Inmate Services Corp. for what he says was cruel and unusual punishment, tells the Orange County Register his ordeal started April 5, 2014. It ended April 20, with himself and other prisoners crammed past capacity into a van, barely eating or sleeping, not allowed to bathe, and kept from medical attention. (Hastings has a genetic heart condition, which he said eventually put him in a New York state hospital during the trip.) Hastings says his "will to survive" kept him going as he documented his experience on bits of paper he hid in a Bible.
Besides being deprived of the bare necessities, Hastings says inmates were subjected to "ear-crushing rap" music and the van careening off the road at one point into the snow. Other inmates back up Hastings' story to the Register, which notes Inmate Services has been sued nine times over the past seven years, under similar circumstances. Randy Cagle, the firm's president, refutes almost everything Hastings claims, from the dates of the trip to his hospital stay, noting initially he was "99% sure" Hastings was never hospitalized (he later walked that back). Cagle says Hastings will seem "like a damn fool" when all the details of the case emerge. "We treat people the way they're supposed to be treated," he tells the Register. Hastings disagrees. "I thought things like this didn't happen in this country," he says. His horrific-sounding story here. (An inmate didn't like his soy-based diet.)