Red Tape, Schmed Tape

Talked to Russ on the phone yesterday after a long hiatus. He used up all of his phone time and money trying to keep in touch with his family during his mother’s last days. So he’s been trying to keep phone calls, which cost him a pricey $0.32/minute, to a minimum since then.

He said he’s been working on his appeal to the parole board (a separate and lesser process than his appeal of his conviction) and he finally got a copy of the parole packet the USDB sent off to Washington. He had been eagerly awaiting this packet.

If you haven’t been able to keep up with this whole post-conviction judicial process (and let’s face it – I can barely follow it even when I hear it from the horse’s mouth, so to speak), here’s a quick synopsis:

Russ went through a local parole board at the USDB before the federal board met in D.C. to discuss his parole. Along with various letters and documents that Russ gathered for his parole board, the USDB sent a packet that included their own paperwork and recommendation. When he stood before the local board they told him he wouldn’t know their recommendation immediately, but following his federal parole board he’d get a copy of it. Well, he did. Except the entire thing was blacked out and redacted, so he has no idea what the local board actually recommended. So that’s helpful.

ImageEven less helpful: the USDB didn’t include copies of Russ’ most recent documentation. A big part of the parole process is accepting responsibility for one’s crime (we discussed his parole process here, here, and here). But the federal board saw paperwork that said Russ hadn’t accepted responsibility for his crime and had as a consequence, “refused” treatment. In fact, Russ has accepted responsibility for his crime and has completed all treatment available to him. He’s put his name on the waiting list for treatments not yet available. (That’s another story – the system is so back-logged that he’ll have served his full sentence before a slot opens up for his “mandatory” treatment. But if he’s paroled, he’ll be able to enroll in the same treatment in the civilian world almost immediately.)

The good news, if you can call it that, is that the red tape bamboozle may increase his chances at successfully appealing his parole.

Happy Halloween!

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9 thoughts on “Red Tape, Schmed Tape

  1. How long is his sentence? I took parole a few months before I would have gotten out the USDB with good time. I felt like I needed out of there. This was a huge mistake. I was on parole for 2 years instead of being out in like 3 months free and clear. Talk about red tape! To top it off, I was now considered a federally convicted felon because I entered the federal parole system. Knowing what I know now, I would have finished inside the walls.

    • Dilemma – Thanks so much for this comment. I passed this little nugget on to Russ. He said the system has changed (surprisingly) for the better re: parole. He said he couldn’t believe some stranger on the internet would try to look out for him like that – he said to tell you he appreciates it more than you can know. So thanks again for the comment and your continued readership. Hope all is well!

      • One more piece of information. I do not know what “crime” Russ was convicted of but some states do not recognize the UCMJ as a court of law and so finishing a sentence there would be like it never happened. If you accept parole and enter into the Federal Parole System, you immediately become a convicted felon even if the “crime” doesn’t exist in the civilian world. i.e. AWOL or desertion. I would have stayed in had I known this because Nebraska does not recognize a UCMJ conviction. I did have convictions that had civilian equivalents but, had I finished my time in the USDB I could have checked no on the “Have you ever committed a felony” box on job interviews etc. I was on parole for 2.5 years, and had trouble getting my cosmetology license as well as the explanations after checking “yes” on all those boxes. I know Russ will take parole but I just wasn’t sure if this information was provided to him. Thanks for relaying the message to him! I wish someone had told me. I am blogging about my experience leading up to my arrest as well as my conviction and confinement. I hope to have a book out by the end of the year.
        Tell Russ that the light at the end of the tunnel is not an oncoming train!

  2. I expect that Russ feels lost in that hole.

    I cannot imagine dealing with such nonsense for years at a time.

    I hope he can hang in there and survive the process with some humanity left after release.

    Look forward to hearing more about him.

    Charles.

  3. I can completely understand his frustration. My husband has been there nearly a year and we still haven’t gotten his Record of Trial back yet to even begin the clemency process, let alone appeals. We’re currently fighting right now to get them to allow us to bring our son to visitation. My son has never met his father as I was 8 months pregnant when he was convicted. I guess in all this I just want Russ to know he isn’t alone. I sincerely wish and hope the best for him.

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