He called me in a

by francine Hardaway on February 7, 2006

He called me in a panic: if his parole officer found out he had been laid off, he�d be sent back to prison. If he fell behind on his rent, he�d be kicked out of the halfway house. If he was found homeless he could also be sent back to prison. He has to see his parole officer once a week, and take random drug tests whenever his �color� comes up at the testing center. He has to have money to get to the parole officer.

I calmed him down. I told him he�d be fine after the start of the New Year, and that I would pay the rent until then. I told him most contractors were slow around Christmas. I asked him to call one of my friends and line up another job.

He did. But that was the beginning, not the end, of the nightmare of his assimilation back into society.

He called my friend, who did offer to hire him, but whose company is in Fountain Hills. So Jerry needed a car. Through an elaborate three-way trade, I got him my daughter�s boyfriend�s car, which the boyfriend drove to Phoenix from California for me.

The car, a 1988 Suburban, just made it to Phoenix before its brakes gave out. Jerry called me from a gas station where he had to pull over when he discovered he had no brakes. He was on his way to register the car when it happened. The gas station wouldn�t take a credit card over the phone. I was in north Scottsdale; he was in west Phoenix. He didn�t have $90.

I called a friend of mine who is usually in west Phoenix on business. She was home in bed with the flu, but dispatched her husband to the gas station with the $90 to get Jerry on his way.

When he got to the DMV, he discovered the car needed to be emissions tested, even though it had just passed a test in California. Once again, I had to meet him and give him money for the emissions test, and then for the registration. It took three days and a brake job to get the car registered. In the mean time, Jerry couldn�t work, because he couldn�t legally show the car to his Parole Officer and get permission to drive it until it was registered and insured.

By this time, we are well into January, and Jerry hasn�t been able to work since early December, so I pay another month at the halfway house. I also arrange with Basha�s to have groceries delivered once a week. The last thing in the world I want now is for him to lose hope and go back to stealing or drugs.

We are finally ready to have him start work the following Monday.

But on Sunday, his roommate�s daughter has a car accident, and is taken to a hospital in Mesa where she dies. Jerry�s roommate, whose food Jerry eats when the groceries run out, asks him for a ride to Mesa, and Jerry takes him. On the way back on the freeway, the car suddenly refuses to go into gear. Jerry has to pull over again, and he calls me in tears from the side of the freeway because a policeman has come up to him and asked him for his license and registration and insurance. Although he has them all, he is scared because the Parole Officer has told him that if he has ANY contact with police, he will go right back to prison.

I reassure him that this cannot be what the Parole Officer means, although I�m not certain of that myself. I tell him to have the car towed to our mechanic, Cliff.

On Monday Jerry cannot go to work. He goes to see Cliff, who tells us that the car needs a transmission, which he can get from a junkyard, but which will still cost $1200 with labor and some other minor work the car needs. I trust Cliff, whom I have known for twenty years, so we proceed.

The car is ready on Wednesday, but now the man who has hired him is out of town and asks him to wait until the next Monday to show up for work.

Finally, last Monday he begins. At noon, he is paged by his Parole Officer, who wants to see him. He leaves the job for the day. The Parole Officer tells him that he must go to a counseling appointment the following day and get a prescription for meds, because he has chosen not to take some addiction classes that met during his work day. The Parole Officer tells him he will be randomly tested more often because he is not taking these classes.

The Parole Officer has made an appointment with the mental health service for 11 AM the following day. Once again, Jerry cannot go to work.

Nor can he go to work on Wednesday, which is his regular day to see the Parole Officer.

Do you get the picture by now? There is no way this man can become a respectable, working member of society without a huge amount of support. And even if he has the support, he cannot assimilate while he is on parole, because the Parole Officer does not care about Jerry�s job, his car, or anything. He cares only that Jerry meet the obligations of his parole.

No wonder there is recidivism. I�m a resourceful woman who can afford to support him for a bit, although there is no reason on earth for me to do so � except that if I didn�t, he�d be on the streets again and then in prison again, costing us $35,000 a year as a society. And this time, he hasn�t even done anything wrong.

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Tim December 2, 2009 at 8:53 am

Holy cow thats frustrating! Even for people who are not on parole it's amazing how close to financial disaster we are. Just a few things go wrong, then you have no car, no job, no place to live. Makes me really thankful for what I have :)

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