A physical and metaphorical weight has been lifted off of Jacob Mario Szekely. But what will he do with his newfound freedom? Video: Blake Michel
How To Stack Clips Between Jail Stints
Jacob Szekely is out of the ankle monitor and into some fine-looking surf.
Last time we chatted with La Jolla’s Jacob Szekely, he was awaiting a court date to determine his potential prison sentence for a drunken assault in July of 2017.
This was one of several charges that the (then) 22-year-old had earned over the years, including previous fights and petty thefts that resulted in a variety of punishments from the state. While Jacob had previously spent time at a county jail, this was the first time he was facing a prison sentence, which had a maximum potential duration of 10 years.
In the lead-up to his hearing, Jacob started to reside at a sober-living community in Encinitas, CA, along with going back to school and competing for the Mira Costa Community College Surf Team. Jacob cleaned up his act during this time, getting completely sober, earning straight-As in school, and even winning the NSSA collegiate nationals… all while wearing his court-ordered ankle monitor.
For over a year, Jacob had to wear this uncomfortable reminder of his prior misdeeds
“Yeah, that was super embarrassing,” Jacob admitted. “The water was warm so I was wearing a spring suit, and people could see that I had something wrapped on my leg. So many parents came up to me and asked what it was, and I just had to tell them the truth.”
That was in June of 2018. Skip ahead to present-day, March 2019, and Jacob is releasing a new video part from his past nine months of surfing.
Beyond the waveriding, this film includes mini-interviews from Jacob’s friends, family, and surfing heroes about the real Jacob Mario Szekely. There’s plenty of truth, comedy, and some pretty impressive surfing within, so we recommend you take the time to watch that [see: top of page] before reading any further.
Below, we interviewed Jacob to hear what punishment (if any) he received in the case, and what he’s been doing to continually improve his life and behavior.
Can people change?
Hey Jacob, last time we talked you were awaiting a court date to determine your sentence. What’s been going on since then?
I ended up going to court and getting everything finalized in September.
And what was decided?
I got a four-year suspended prison sentence. Any violations or any new cases would result in me having to do the four years in prison.
How long does that last?
That lasts for the rest of this case. I also got sentenced to five years of high power probation and then certain weekends, holidays, and summer in custody. So I would have to do some actual jail time. But, at the end of the five years of probation, I would go back into the courts and plead my case to the record sealed and signed away. And then that's when the four-year suspended prison sentence would go away.
How did you feel about the sentence? Did you think that was fair?
Yeah, I definitely thought it was fair. I mean, I guess I was just grateful for not having to go to prison. The sentence ultimately took into consideration all the good work I've done and the fact that I'm in school and trying to turn over a new leaf. They allowed me to continue in school and get my ankle bracelet off, surf, and ultimately live my life with just a few restrictions. Plus those 100 days I have to spend in jail.
Have you served the jail time already?
Some of it, yeah. I did some time in September and then I did some time over Thanksgiving break, and I then I did a few weeks over Christmas and New Years.
And this is at a jail, right? Not a prison?
Yeah, this was at San Diego County Jail, downtown.
How was that experience been so far?
To be honest, it sucks. I experienced some things that ... I don't know, it's just pretty scary in there. A lot of the inmates in the jail are awaiting trial, meaning they’re gonna get sent upstate to do large amounts of prison time.
So there's a lot of scary individuals that are fearless and just don't care. They're waiting to do like 40 years in prison. They're not nice people, they're not good people.
In his free time, Jacob has taken to doing tow-ats in North County, SD.
Have you had any confrontations with other inmates?
Yeah, there was this one incident where I was working out in the day room – that's kind of where everyone hangs out – and I had my shirt on the floor and I was doing sit-ups and burpees, just going through the rotation.
So some guy came up to me, and I guess he knew my charges, so he was like, "Oh, tough guy. Getting a workout in..." Just mocking me, saying, "Oh, GBI charges. Yeah, you're badass," because great bodily injuries were my charges. Long story short, he just kept rubbing shit into my face and I just kept doing my workout, not responding or anything.
I don't know what was pissing him off – maybe that I wasn't saying anything to him – but he just kept coming back up to me, saying shit to me, and then finally he started raising his voice and he kicked me, like kicked me in the rib, and so I stood up and I was just, "Bro, what's your problem? I'm trying to get a workout in. Can you let me be?
And he just started screaming, he's like, "Oh! Now you're trying to fucking workout?" And he raised his voice. He just started screaming, and our rep – the guy who has the keys to the yard, he’s basically the leader of your race – woke up. He was trying to sleep, so he walked up and just KO'd the guy. Just one punch, knocked him out right in front of me.
He was like, "I told you for the 10th time, shut the fuck up before noon!" And he just walked right back into his cell and went to sleep. I was baffled. The guy was just on the ground, holding his head, bleeding. I just kept doing my workout in a different area of the day room.
When he's not doing time, Jacob Szekely is doing this.
Wow. Heavy. And just to touch back on something you said, you called the “rep” the “leader of your race.” Is he a guard or an inmate? And is “race” a code word for something?
No, he’s the leader of the white guys. The leader of the skinheads. So he's just another inmate.
Oh, shit. Okay.
There's a pecking order between the inmates, and there's gangs and just different... pretty much every race kind of runs with their own race.
So it's very much like the movies.
It is, for sure.
Fuck, that's wild. And did you ever get approached to join any of them?
Yeah, but it's not like you even have a choice. The guards put me with the white guys. Everybody sleeps with their own race. So right when I walked in, the guards just sent me to the white guy's corner. And you kind of just fit in with your race, because otherwise, there's just no order.
Wow. I can’t believe it’s that… segregated.
Yeah, and it’s weird, because the guards are like, "All this race shit is bullshit. You guys are nothing but fucking inmates and you're all fucking below us."
But I mean, at the end of the day, it's like the whole race-gang thing just kind of makes it easier on the guards, because then there's order among the inmates.
And you’re not even there on a permanent basis. Is it hard going in and out of a situation like that? It just seems like two different worlds, from what you’re doing in civil society versus what's going on in there.
Oh, for sure. It's completely two different worlds. I have to put on a facade when I go in there, like I'm some badass tough guy. And that's not necessarily who I am. It’s definitely not who I want to be.
The great irony is that you’re trying to reform from that being that kind of guy, but the place they’ve sent you to achieve that reform is having the opposite effect.
Yeah. I mean, it’s tricky. I think the biggest thing I’ve taken away from this experience is that I don’t want to spend any more time in jail.It's just that much more apparent to me – I don't want to be living like that, and I want to learn from the mistakes I made and live my life the right way.
I have to put on a facade when I go in there, like I'm some badass tough guy. And that's not necessarily who I am. It’s definitely not who I want to be.
So how much time do you have left on your jail sentence?
I believe I have only 60 days left.
And you'll serve most of that this summer?
Yeah. I'll finish it this summer.
But in the meantime, you’ve been going to school, surfing, and working on a few other things. Tell me about that.
I think it was a year and two months that I was on house arrest, having to wear an ankle monitor. So it was pretty amazing to get the ankle bracelet off and start traveling again. I think the first trip I did was down to mainland Mexico and scored some insane waves.
I mean, that's just what I want to be doing. I love chasing swells, filming surf parts, and taking adventures in cool new places.
That's why I'm turning my life around, so I can live healthier and travel the world with my friends. I enjoy scoring waves, and I enjoy excelling in school and other professional avenues. Some of my friends are killing it in their daily careers, and then get to travel on holidays and whatnot. It's rad to see.
I know that you were in a rehab facility as well. Are you still doing that? Are you still sober?
Yeah, I'm still 100-percent clean and sober. And I'm still living in the sober living facility, Casa Pacifica Sober Living. They're rad. They let me travel a ton and pretty much just hold me accountable for my schoolwork and other responsibilities. They also make sure I'm putting my recovery before anything else, because that’s the reason I have the amazing life I do today – I owe all my recent success to my change in lifestyle.
I'm not court ordered to keep living there, I just enjoy the accountability and I enjoy all the rad guys that live there. So it's cool. It's a sick group of guys that surf, skate, snowboard, and just do fun shit in sobriety.
Sober as he may be, Jacob still needs his thrills.
And you help Brock Crouch [professional snowboarder] stay sober over there, correct?
Yeah, I love Brock. He’s like a brother to me. It’s rad to see him killing it at the highest level of snowboarding right now – both in competing and in filming exceptional movie parts. He rips at surfing and skating too. It’s been awesome to share this journey with him.
In your new video [see: top of page], you got some noteworthy surfers to talk about the “real” Jacob Szekely. What was that like for you?
I think all of it just helps me grow. And it's the truth, we wanted an honest depiction of who I am, and I'm still learning, I'm still growing every day. So I really appreciate everyone who took the time to help us out with that, especially some of my surfing heroes like Taylor Knox and Josh Kerr.
Well, I’m kind of freaking out right now, because I just found out that I got a slot in the WSL Airborne event this week at Snapper,but I have a big financial accounting exam that I can’t afford to miss. As much it kills me, I think I’m gonna have to turn it down and focus on my studies. I’ve got some big plans that require me to get a degree, so that’s my number one focus right now.