Inmate’s Exit from Prison a Bumpy Ride

[by Susan Ashline]

Jon called me last night.

He’s less than two weeks from getting out of prison and has been told nothing concrete about anything from anyone.

He has no place to live and hasn’t been told where he might be placed.

He worries his parole officer will not allow him to have a vehicle, which would hamper him from finding employment.

He’s been given different dates for his release.

His counselor at New York’s Mid-State prison, Larry Zick, apparently told him he’s allowed to have someone pick up him on the day of his release; then told him he’ll have to take a bus to his parole officer’s office… wherever and whenever that may be. Picked up or take bus – Zick simply doesn’t know.

Jon’s attorney, the one he paid $12,000 to do his restitution hearing and a motion almost a year ago, has been largely absent. I’ve tried to stay out of it, but a good part of my book, A Jacket off the Gorge, deals with failures in the justice system, and I have a hard time ignoring that an attorney is neglecting any client, let alone one who paid him $12,000. The whole “voice for the voiceless” thing – I’ve felt obligated to intervene a number of times. My last contact was more than a month ago. I emailed Jon’s attorney on his behalf, because I’d learned the decision on his restitutaion hearing had come down three weeks earlier. Jon, of course, had been waiting to hear. The attorney then emailed the decision and said to tell Jon he was sending a big packet of information. There’s an affidavit Jon has been waiting to sign that his attorney promised to get to him months ago.

As of last night, Jon has heard nothing from this attorney – no calls, letters, visits; affidavit never came. Months go by with no communication.

I am resisting the urge to rip into this attorney. I don’t want to look like a jerk. But I’m realizing I am not the one who looks like a jerk here.

$12,000.

Speaking of jerks… After learning I wrote a book about Jon, which includes his lawsuit against Mid-State Correctional Facility, Mid-State staffers arbitrarily added my name to his parole release conditions, stating he would not be allowed to communicate with me. Isn’t that convenient?

I spent months contacting everyone involved (Superintendent Mathew Thoms, Ronald Meier, Ann Joselyn, Larry Zick, DOCCS attorney Kevin Kortright, DOCCS investigators Scott Apple and Keila Bowens, the NY Parole Board), stating I do not consent to my name being on that list. Jon sat with his counselor, Zick, who apparently told him he doesn’t remember adding my name in the first place, and that someone may’ve walked into his office while he was doing the form and distracted him, and that’s how it wound up there. Jon also wrote the parole board, as well as filed a prison grievance to get my name removed.

Let’s pull all the support beams from any inmate being released from prison and laugh while they crumble (*sarcasm).  More likely, whine about the fact they slipped up, committed crimes again, and wound up back in the system. Throw your hands up, shrug your shoulders and act in disbelief as to how this happened.

After being sent around in circles, no one doing their job, and no one getting anything done, an attorney out of Albany, through a prisoner’s advocacy organization, took up the case to get my name removed.

Ironically, the one attorney who has done more than anyone else is the attorney not getting paid a penny from Jon.

Thank you to this attorney for her hard work and tenacity. She has been in contact with the Parole Board legal counsel, demanding my name be removed and stating there is no cause for it to be there. Unbelievably, the Parole Board lawyer wrote her erroneously stating my name had been removed in April. In fact, it had not been removed. The very same condition was listed as an amendment, but restated – different words. And now the attorney is forced to go at them again.

And this is how the criminal justice system goes.

And we all want better citizens and less crime, but the state employees want to retain power, collect their fat paychecks (that you pay out), and put up roadblocks to get people to a better place.

Like it or not, most of these inmates are released at some point. Isn’t it better for us if we help them rather than isolate them from social circles and take away their ability to find viable employment?

Background:

Mid-State Prison Strikes Back after Learning of My Book

Mid-State Prison Retaliates Against Me (UPDATE)

Mid-State Prison Staff Stonewalls Me (UPDATE)

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The Bond of Laughter in Prison

[by Jon Fontaine, NY prison inmate]

In prison, people don’t generally segregate themselves by race. Associations are usually based on region. New York City guys usually stick together no matter the borough. Upstate guys will associate by city or region (Rochester with Rochester, Utica with Utica).

I usually associate with everyone, because I always seem to wind up with a prison job or reputation that brings everyone to me for something. Two guys I use to have a lot of fun joking around with were from Syracuse.

Wilfredo Roman, known as “Pieto” or “P,” was a Puerto Rican drug dealer. Jamie Kimbrough, known as “Bam,” was a bi-racial “booster,” or someone who goes into stores to steal valuable goods, like jewelry.

Bam stood out among the inmates, because one drunken night, he thought it would be a good idea to get a tattoo of a hair line to make up for his baldness.

I spent a lot of time with P and Bam, because we lived in the same unit. It also meant they were victims of my practical jokes.

One day, I was at my prison job in the gym until 11 a.m. I waited until Bam and P were together in P’s room, and I went in all hyped up.

“You guys are not gonna believe this!” I told them. “Yesterday, someone took some Jolly Ranchers off my locker. So this morning, I took a handful of Jolly Ranchers, opened them all, and shoved them halfway up my ass and re-wrapped them! I left them on my locker when I left this morning, and when I came back now, there were gone! Someone literally ate my shit!”

I saw Bam’s face turning red, and asked, “Did you see someone take my Jolly Ranchers this morning?”

Bam snapped back and pointed at P: “He gave me Jolly Ranchers this morning! He said he found them on your locker!”

Bam’s face was getting beet red, and P and I started laughing. Of course I wouldn’t stick candy up my butt. I had simply told P what I was planning to do, and asked him to play along.

It was all worth it to see Bam’s face turn red.

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Jail Deputies Print Planet of the Apes Photo to Mock Inmates

[by Jon Fontaine, a NYS prison inmate currently in Monroe County Jail, NY]

Deputies at the Monroe County Jail get to occupy their time with taxpayer funded internet.

Deputies must make rounds every 15 minutes and wave a key fob in front of a scanner at different locations to prove they made a round. The rest of their shift – easily 90% – is spent at their station on a desktop computer on the internet: taxpayer funded computers using taxpayer funded electricity to watch YouTube videos on taxpayer funded internet, all the while making $40 an hour.

What’s outrageous is the common practice for deputies to fire up a printer that belongs to taxpayers, print out racist pictures and post them on walls with taxpayer funded tape.

Pictures of what?

Pictures making fun of taxpayers’ loved ones. This is what I’ve seen firsthand in the Monroe County Jail: a picture from Planet of the Apes with an inmate’s cell phone number written on it…

(this is an example; not the actual printout)

A picture from Madea Goes to Jail with a cell number….

(this is an example; not the actual printout)

Pictures – most of them racist – making fun of the people whose loved ones pay for the internet that deputies are using while getting paid by taxpayers.

I figure taxpayers don’t realize what’s going on. They don’t know how public servant Patrick O’Flynn is allowing the public’s jail to be run. Do you think taxpayers want their money used to make fun of their sons, brothers, fathers, daughters or mothers?

Or, would taxpayers rather see Sheriff O’Flynn approve spending money on a supply of books so inmates have affordable access to reading material?

[Jon Fontaine is in the Monroe County Jail awaiting a hearing that Monroe County Court Judge Vincent Dinolfo wrongfully denied him four years ago]

 

 

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