Posts Tagged ‘parole officer’

A convict faces several critical times, arrest, first time in jail, sentencing, first time in a penitentiary, parole hearings and release. I think this last is the worst. When I worked at Surrey PreTrial, I had the men and women write out what they were going to do on their first day out of jail. I asked them to be as specific as possible, i.e. who was going to pick them up from jail, which bus were they going to take to where, and what were they going to eat on their first meal out and with whom.

I think release back into the community is the hardest time of all. The man has no money and several good ways of getting some money occur to him. I worked with two very creative men in prison. When he got out, Mike decided he was finished with the crime game. However, several enticing, money-raising opportunities came to him. He turned them down and faced poverty. The other man, call him Roger, was used to the good life before his sentence. When he got out, he couldn’t see himself living below the poverty line. He went back into the drug game, not using drugs, but selling them.

One sad night in Vancouver, a rival gang discovered that he was throwing a big party to honor his engagement. Somebody reported the location to the rival gang and they showed up at the party, guns blazing. Roger died that night. What if someone had put him on the right path? I tried, but failed. What if the prison system sent him out the door, with a promise of money if he fulfilled certain conditions?

The parole system makes a convict visit their parole officer at least once a week. My experience of trying to work with parole officers was pretty negative. One felt that only he could help the inmate, so he shared no information with me. The other threatened Mike that he would be sent back to prison the first time he did anything wrong. This parole officer assumed everything Mike did was about selling drugs.

The John Howard Society (http://www.johnhoward.ca/about/) tries to help men at this critical point.

get out of jailIn my opinion, the most critical time for a man or a woman are the months right after they get out of prison. Many have little money and, of course, they know many easy ways to get money.

These people, who are used to a very regimented life, wake up one morning and no one is telling them what to do. Many spend their first months in a halfway house, which in some cases is good and in some cases is a disaster. As one inmate told me, if you want drugs, go to such and such a halfway house.

How about the parole officer who follows an inmate on the outside? Many of them have way too many cases. In theory, a parole officer on parole officerthe outside is a good idea – someone to care about an inmate, to advise, to be a mentor. What it comes down to, however, is the inmate going to an office, chatting with (or lying to) the parole officer for a few minutes and then leaving.

I had the opportunity to sit in with an inmate and his parole officer on their first interview after the man got out of prison. It was horrible. The man had a lot of things going for him, great self-confidence and an intelligent mind. For an hour the parole officer told him what a scumbag he was, how she was going to send him back to prison, how she knew he was going to screw up, how she knew he was going to go back into crime, on and on for an hour.

I stayed with the case for many months and twice she tried to send the inmate back, but her supervisor overruled her. I suspected she had some kind of personal problem, which she was taking out on the inmate. Sadly, that happens a lot in our prison system.

mentor

Mentor

These months are important. Can’t something be done? Take some staff who have little to do in the prison, retrain them, and retrain them again with some psychology and again with how to help people change.

When someone is on parole, they are already standing behind us in the supermarket. We in the community have to help those who have just been released. I’ve helped many citizens go into prison and help the men in there, but I have failed to get people involved with those who have been released.

Many men and women are afraid of the world that confronts them. They understand prison and know how to live there. Their friends are there. We have to help them live on the outside.

Images courtesy of:

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  • articles.businessinsider.com
  • samdick.org