Jon Fontaine had just gotten out of prison, and he had a plan. He had goals. At 34, he wanted to go to college. His past was his past, and he would pave a new road to his future.
But his parole officer threw up a detour sign. He wouldn’t let him drive.
The parole officer said no. In fact, it took him a while to say no. Really, he didn’t even say it to Jon directly for weeks on end – he simply ignored Jon.
To get a construction technology degree, Jon would have to go to school full time. He applied to Monroe Community College and was approved to start a full roster of classes in January. The only way he could take classes was if his Rochester-based parole officer, Martin Buonanno, allowed him to drive to school.
What convicted felon could afford an $80 round trip Uber each day to school on a dishwasher’s wages? (For the slow, that’s $400 a week… on a $200 a week paycheck).
With college to start on January 21, Jon asked his PO several weeks in advance for permission to drive to school. He would have to register for classes by January 16.
On January 4, Buonanno told Jon he’d give him an answer on January 18 (two days after the registration deadline), at their bi-monthly sit-down meeting.
Not hearing word from his PO, Jon had no choice but to register for classes. He signed up for six classes totaling 17 credit hours; an ambitious schedule for someone working full time.
On January 18, he anxiously reported to parole with copies of his course registrations and schedule, and a single question upon being seated.
Would he be allowed to drive to school?
But Buonanno didn’t give him an answer. He said he hadn’t gotten around to asking his supervisor.
Five days after classes started, Jon got a knock on the door. It was Buonanno. He’d come to tell Jon that his supervisor, Thomas O’Connor, had told him – four days earlier – that Jon was not allowed to drive at all.
Jon stood. He stared. Maybe Buonanno could read the questions in his face, or the disappointment. He either didn’t let on, or didn’t care. Still, Jon had to thank him. He had to be gracious for the fact the PO came by to deliver this news at all. He is required to show respect, even when it is unreturned.
Buonanno turned to march back to his car.
“Thank you very much, sir,” Jon told him, as he quietly closed the door behind him.
In Part 7, Rochester parole Bureau Chief Kathleen McDonnell calls my cell phone to say she’s seen these online blogs and YouTube video and claims I’m “harassing” her staff.
[*Note: Information contained herein has been gleaned from public online postings and through discussions with mutual acquaintances, none of whom are, or have been, acting as third party communicators through Jon.]
Also published on Medium.