Lip-smacking good: "Westword provides a great community service," my mom observes as I share with her the May 29 issue. I was in stitches as I slow-framed my way through Kenny Be's wizardry that so perfectly etched the sinister weasel-as-moth: "Mothkabobs" and that lip-smacking kitty!
Joseph B. Green
via the Internet
Done running: Thank you for Alan Prendergast's "The Long Road Home," in the May 22 issue. I am an ex-con and have a very checkered past. I have given up and run so many times, and it did me no good at all. Now it has been over three years since I left prison, and I have fought to try to stay ahead by doing what is right and not getting involved in activities that would land me back in prison. My parole officer here has tried for over two years to have me released from parole. The problem is that I owe restitution. I have paid $7,000 of the $10,000 owed, and I don't have a good job any longer and am working as a nanny. Now I am due to have a revocation hearing in Montana owing to the fact that I cannot afford to pay off my restitution before the middle part of July.
The only thing that I can tell you is that if they want to try to put me back in prison, it will benefit no one. Prior to getting out this time, I had only paid a few hundred dollars. Now I have paid thousands. I know I have to pay, and I have been. It is tough and I pay what I can, usually more than the $219 a month that they requested. Now they are saying it is not good enough.
Justice -- what justice? It makes me wonder and has me fearful of losing my freedom all over again. Kick you when you are down -- that seems to be their thought on the matter. I know that I am not the only one, but I have tried and have not run away from the problem as I used to -- no thanks to the system, just a stronger belief in ME!
Name withheld on request
Center of the storm: I want to thank you for Alan Prendergast's article about the John Inmann Work and Family Center. I initially became a client in 2001; at the time, I was fresh out of prison and housed in a Department of Corrections halfway-house facility. I was issued a case manager, and they set off on a mission to assist me with any and all problems that I was experiencing. They instilled in me a sense of hope and self-esteem, which had been completely destroyed during my three years of incarceration. With that hope and self-esteem, in addition to job leads, I landed a position with a construction company and, in a relatively short period of time, became a human-resources administrative assistant. In giving back to Work and Family Center, I then successfully placed some ex-offenders in other positions within the corporation.
Had it not been for Work and Family Center's encouragement and guidance, I would not be who I am today. I am a volunteer prison-ministry chaplain and am in the process of becoming a criminal-justice missionary with the North American Missions Board. I lead a Bible study in the halfway house that I had been a resident of, and refer ex-offenders to the John Inmann Work and Family Center, so they, too, may be recipients of individual reintegration assistance.
Once again, thank you for your awareness of the work being done at the center. It is amazing!
Pay as you go: They make them pay for drug classes? So they can't go if they have no money? That is just such an intelligent idea!
The plight stuff: Alan Prendergast's article on the plight of released parolees in Denver is excellent and incisive. But, as usual, taking the details from released felons contributes to journalistic errors. As a tenured Colorado state parole officer, I can guarantee you that the 1998 law concerning one year of "community parole supervision" does not set up a person to rotate from prison to parole to prison, ad infinitum. If a person fails parole and is revoked and sent back to the institutions, he will do one year only. If he fails that year, he goes back to do the balance of that time and then "kills his number."
The description that Atif Gamal gives of living at the 11th Ave. Hotel is accurate except for the part about parole officers never showing up. Most parole officers in the Denver area have caseloads approaching double that of a regular full-time employee, but visiting a warren like 11th Ave. is one of our evening stops on a weekly basis. As such, we are very familiar with the dead-end ideation of many of the residents there. It is a social setting of individuals who too often commit themselves to a downward and self-destructive lifestyle -- definitely the least ideal setting for a released parolee to arrive at with hopes of improving himself.