Injustice upon injustice – it’s called Life on the Streets

Some things set me right over the edge, mostly it’s a different story with a similar theme: injustice (see Justice III, Feb 26/10).  Here is yet another:

Tom is a recovering alcoholic that will be celebrating seven years of sobriety in two weeks.  He works his 12 step program and is determined to stay clean.  He came to visit us, then volunteered, and then entered our work skills program.  He comes to the office four days a week to help: no job too big, no job too small, he does them all – with a cheerful heart.  He has a record but his probation ends in two short months – and he works hard at keeping clean.  He won’t even cross the street  without a walk signal.

Clean. Squeaky clean.  Pleasant, kind, hard-working, and a delight to be around. We have high hopes for Tom.

So one day, he doesn’t show up. A day, then two and more and then a week and we wonder where he is.  No way to contact him.  Finally we find him – in jail. 

He is in jail right now, been there just over two weeks for “parole violation”.   For “panhandling”.  Reported to his Parole Officer (P.O.) by an “anonymous” person who called it in.  Over fourteen days in jail (and counting) with no help.  No lawyer.  No hearing.  No explanation.  Just “there”.

I called the P.O. and left message after message with no response.

Tuesday of this week the P.O. goes to see Tom in jail to tell him he can’t get out until next Thursday.  Sorry, no.

How can this be?  What about his rights?  Good question.  Looks like Tom doesn’t have any.  An ‘anonymous’ call is enough to land him in jail.

Right now, I don’t have the complete story. But I know enough to know there’s something wrong here – very wrong.

So, today I called my lawyer.  Let’s look into this.  Lawyer will call the P.O. and make an inquiry.  Let’s find out what’s happening here.  Let’s get to the bottom of this.  I have an appointment tomorrow at the jail.  Somebody has to do something about this.

This is a sad story.  Sadder that it happens all the time.  Sadder still that most of my street friends’ rights violations (this appears to be one of them) go unnoticed, undetected and unresolved – particularly so because they don’t have anyone who will help.  They get lost in the “justice system” – or the justice is lost in the “system”.  Maybe it’s just “the system”.

ANYBODY INTERESTED IN DOING SOME ADVOCACY??  Get ready for rejection, apathy, unanswered messages, high levels of frustration getting around red tape, and white hot rage when you see injustice heaped upon injustice heaped upon injustice – oppressing people who are already broken and helpless.

Naw… it’s hoping for too much that somebody somewhere might respond to this plea for help and say, “Hey, I can do something.  Send me.” (Isaiah 6:8)

(Let me get back to you on this next week.  Friday morning, 1:01 am)

8 replies
  1. ken
    ken says:

    Meeting went well. Did some research: the Parole Officer has 30 days in which to present the case/complaint, and the National Parole Board has an additional 90 days to review and decide upon an action. So a detainee can conceiveably spend four months waiting in jail for a resolution/decision.
    On another note: I have been granted access to his file, and am waiting for a response from the Parole Office.
    Tom is depressed (no surprise), not eating or sleeping well, and has 23 hour a day lockdown. Been offered outside yard three times in two weeks – he declined.

  2. Kate Sanderson
    Kate Sanderson says:

    That’s ridiculous. It’s no wonder the recidivism rate is so high if parolees are treated like that routinely.

  3. ken
    ken says:

    We may have to do something. Let me get more information first. Meeting with the parole officer monday next. Thanks for your support. Tom knows that I am sharing this information, and it means a lot that people care.

  4. ken
    ken says:

    We may have to do something. Let me get more information first. Meeting with the parole officer monday next. Thanks for your support. Tom knows that I am sharing this information, and it means a lot that people care.

Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. […] The news is full of parolees who have committed crimes, who never should have been let out of jail. Here’s a story from the other side of the coin. (As I write there are three installments, be sure to read them all). Did you know that someone out […]

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