Mega-Million Jackpot

(Note: this post was sent to me in the form of a letter and I wasn’t sure Russ wanted me to post it. I waited until I confirmed he wanted it posted before writing it up, so it’s a few weeks old.)

I was woken up today after only two hours of sleep. A guard was standing directly outside my cell.

“A Miss called for you,” he said.

That’s not some prison-term. I think he was trying to tell me that a woman called for me, but the fact that he was making me decipher this message and its lack of real information annoyed me. I was exhausted from working the night before, but I knew that I wasn’t on the pass roster and I didn’t have any scheduled appointments. I pushed the button on the intercom in my cell so I could speak to the sergeant in the booth. He said someone had called, but the line had cut out before he got any details. I told him I was tired, I was going to bed, but if they called back to wake me up. About 15 minutes later, another knock on my door.

“The CJA office wants to speak to you.”

The CJA office is where you go for attorney phone calls and powers of attorney and I hadn’t made an appointment with them. So I was confused, but figured maybe my attorney was calling.

I came out of my cell and started for the CJA office. Halfway down the hall I stopped to chat with another inmate and he told me he’d heard the parole analyst requesting me. That made much more sense. So off I went, now at least semi-confident that this wasn’t going to be a wild goose chase, also very nervous that I was going to be told that my appeal to the parole board had been denied. It was too soon for that, though – they shouldn’t be getting back to me until mid-January.

In the analyst’s office, I groggily took a seat in front of the desk.

“I’m sorry to call you in so early, but I’m about to be out of the office for a few days. I wanted to give you the results of your appeal to the denial of your parole before I left,” she said.

I wasn’t prepared for this. I’d had hours to prepare myself emotionally for the results of my initial parole board and it still hit me like three tons of bricks. This was out of the blue … a full month early. Nothing happens before schedule in here. Nothing. I wasn’t sleep-blurry anymore. I took the sheet of paper she handed me across her desk and scanned it feverishly.

Reversed. It said ‘reversed.’

Suddenly I was tingling all over … I was nearing a cliff, but I couldn’t let myself jump just yet. I might not have a parachute. Did that mean what I thought it meant?

“You were granted parole on your appeal. Your release is about seven months from now in July,” said the parole analyst.lottery jump

Typically, they give you 90 days notice, not seven months notice, but I’m not complaining. I signed the notification and walked back to my housing unit on a cloud. I didn’t realize how thoroughly I’d abandoned hope of parole, but you can’t imagine the change in perspective I felt. It felt like winning the lottery.

Immediately I wanted to call everyone and tell them the good news. Unfortunately, I only had $3 on my phone account and calls are 32 cents/minute. Ahhhh!!!

Advertisements

Two and a Half Strikes

I decided to retain a civilian appellate attorney, in spite of the repeated advice of many inmates here. The thing is, I haven’t had great experience with military lawyers and I’ve been in the appeals process for four months now but have yet to hear one word from my appointed military appellate attorney. His/her silence doesn’t inspire confidence.

The civilian attorney called to talk to me before he even received my court transcripts. Dare I allow myself to plant a seed of hope?

Parole is a separate process from my appeal and it’s about time to begin preparing my parole packet for the parole board. Given that my clemency board occurred six months after it was supposed to, I have little hope of a timely parole hearing. Even if it is timely, my chances of parole are slim. Parole boards hinge primarily on a few factors: the prisoner’s salient factor score (see p. 36 in linked .pdf), admission of guilt and expression of remorse, and a fulfilled treatment program. My salient factor is higher than my actual sentence, so that’s a strike against my parole. I’m not going to admit guilt, though I’ve expressed remorse over the pain I caused (half a strike). And I’ve had zero treatment while incarcerated (2 ½ strikes) – not for lack of trying.

According to my treatment plan, I was supposed to start anger management classes last May and then being Reasoning and Rehabilitation in September. I’ve not started either. No one’s even told me how long my training is postponed. I’ve now been here nearly two years and haven’t been able to attend a single treatment regimen. So yes, my chances of parole aren’t great. Nevertheless, I have to try. I have to get out of here and begin rebuilding my life and I’d make a million parole packets to do that.