I speak of my son’s situation quite regularly in this blog. He is my reason for even beginning this. While his situation is not unique or even the worst across this country, it has led us to places the average rural American family never expects or wants to go. It is an uncomfortable situation. One with lingering grief, blame and pain as are many of the stories of people in our country, states and communities. This story is in my home. Maybe you have a story like this in your home.
If anyone has ever been involved in a federal case you know how important the PSI is. The infamous presentence investigation report. This is where they send a questionnaire that is about 40 pages long and ask about your family, work and school history, mental health history, look at your financial information. They want to know about every traffic ticket you’ve ever had, every damn detention you got in school and how many times you took a shit in the last 20 years. At least it seems that invasive.
No matter what that looks like, the government will object to your answers and tell you the fact that your sister was murdered when you were seventeen and a psychologist says you have recurring flashbacks and nightmares is irrelevant to your case. Having a severe stimulant use disorder on top of those PTSD symptoms and persecutory ideations didn’t have any impact on your actions.
PSI, aside and looking at someone with this diagnosis, this was simply one of the objections we had to the prosecutions insights on this report. When first arrested, my son was sent home with a GPS bracelet on his ankle. While this is invasive enough, they gave him a faulty mechanism. Exactly one week later on a Friday afternoon he is called at 12:30 p.m by his probation office from her Bangor, Maine office telling him that he needs to be in that office (3 hours away) before they close at 4. Considering he doesn’t own a vehicle that would make that trip at the time, I leave work and drive the 10 miles to his house to get him and head to Bangor, making it there barely in time, and he is outfitted with a new bracelet. Considering his curfew is 8 p.m. and none of us have eaten since morning, he is given permission to have dinner and arrive at home late.
This may have been inconvenient, but that wasn’t a problem as we are trying to do the best we can to keep him out of trouble. Having come out of the restaurant at 5:30 in the evening and preparing to make the return trip there are six missed calls from this woman in probation. The new bracelet isn’t working either. She will meet us at the local Irving gas station to look at it. While this is not ideal, we agree. I didn’t realize at that moment what a travesty this would be.
We are parked outside the local Irving and the probation officer pulls up in her huge black SUV with U.S. government plates and gets out with a gun attached to her hip. While Bangor is a town much larger than our rural community, people are still staring like some huge “bust” is going down. We sit like this for two hours while my son hangs his leg out the car door and she works on his bracelet. This is “uncomfortable” enough, but then she decides she needs to plug his leg into an electrical socket to see if it will work. He is taken inside the convenience store, not once, but twice to plug into the wall while customers mill about and she “packs her sidearm” like a sheriff in the old west.
Now imagine have PTSD and persecutory (people are out to get you) ideations. Imagine how “uncomfortable” this will be. Yet, here we have a supposed “professional” employee of the United States government subjecting my son to this. Having sat in this situation for nearly two hours before finally being directed to the local police station to go inside and get this bracelet working only to arrive home at 11 p.m that evening, I can tell you that this goes beyond uncomfortable. So much so that we insist it be put into the PSI.
The government’s response to this is that sometimes being on probation and a monitoring device can be uncomfortable. Yes, a monitoring device is uncomfortable. What it should not be is the subject of public humiliation. Imagine the impact to someone suffering mental illness such as this. It makes me curious about how much more incompetency are we subjected to?
My inclination is to take this information to a lawyer and try to make sure no other person is publicly humiliated at your local convenience store, but what would that really do? And then we wonder why someone with a severe stimulant disorder and a bevy of other mental health issues would want to get high after an instance such as this. Hell, I even wanted to get high and I’ve never done that in my life. Just adds to the ridiculousness of a federal drug response gone awry.
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