I am sorry to report that Tom is still in detention – the ‘proper’ name for jail, although there is nothing ‘proper’ about it at all. The first night he was arrested on March 12, he slept on the shower floor. Then, by association with a cell mate who was caught smoking weed, he did solitary for the next five days.
The story continues. For the ’bottom line’ people, you should know there’s no happy ending here. I have not been able to communicate with either the decision makers, or the information holders to obtain the whole story, so I have only one side of the story still – Tom’s. Tom has given me permission to share this with you.
He has not been served papers or given information about his accusers. It started out as panhandling, which was not a condition of his parole, but other reports have been set forth: I present them to you as Tom told me in prison.
One of the conditions of his parole is that he should not have association with people with criminal records. Tom was ‘seen talking to people’ – no names given, no place or date, no reference or identification of his accuser. He was ‘seen coming out of an alley (Bank and Cooper) with ’some people’. No accuser named, no identification of people he was supposedly with.
He talks to people on the street all the time. You can’t not do that if you live downtown: it’s a “Hey, how’s it goin’?” kind of thing. There is no alley at Bank and Cooper – we had our office there for ten years.
- He was accused of not following his correctional plan because he had not obtained employment.
For the past eight months he has been coming to the OIM office as a part of our work skills program. He walks to the office and on the way says, “Hey, how’s it goin’?” to people he knows on the way. He is punctual, a hard worker and willing to do whatever needs to be done. He is reliable, efficient, a model worker and just pleasant to have around. One of his workers has advised him that he should not consider taking employment until he is ready. He was counseled to continue with the work skills program with OIM, because it was a very positive influence in his life, and if he had to leave for some reason, it would not have the same ramifications as leaving a place of employment.
- Tom was incarcerated for reasons of “for public safety”.
No substantiation, no identified accusers and no recorded or known ‘incident’ that might suggest wrongful activity. Another of Tom’s workers has gone on record and noted the positive progress Tom has made. He has been working with him on a life plan following parole time.
- Tom was supposed to have had ‘association with known drug dealers’.
He was ready and waiting for drug testing when he was arrested, but it never happened. He has not been drinking alcohol and never has had any issues with drugs. No drug charges on his record at all, ever. None.
Tom tells me that he has been offered release if he agrees to three conditions:
- Cease to be a part of the work skills program at OIM
- Wear a collar that will give constant identification of his whereabouts at all times
- Respect a curfew
He has refused to comply with these. He mentioned the first condition as the deal breaker. In his association with us at OIM, he has found meaningful work volunteering (and then in work skills), moral support and a degree of friendship that has gone beyond acquaintance. He says it feels more like family.
Easter is just over and we’ve looked at the story of the passion of the Christ, his pain and suffering and then his resurrection and victory. For my friend behind bars, it’s Good Friday all the time, with no glimmer of Sunday morning. Not now at least.