I wrote this to my wife, in deep despair in February, 2010, a time when promises of my imminent release had been bandied about for over two months. Yes, it worked out, that in no way diminishes the truths noted.
It’s early Saturday morning, I’m sitting on my little round metal table listening to the radio while most everyone else are either asleep or on their bunks watching cartoons. The last time I was outside was November 22nd when I ran 7.5 miles in endless circles around a tiny yard that would now seem cavernous.
While this week saw no word, whatever, from anyone or any entity concerning my release it did bring the following tidbit: they did parole hearings here Wednesday morning – a ton of them. All were apparently given parole, there’s an inmate in my dorm, at least a two time loser, here on Arson 1st out of Waterbury; his mother works for the state, two weeks ago CO’s here started congratulating him for getting parole, “it was all fixed” ( I heard it, too) and, of course, he got it , going home on April 1st.
As if I needed anything else to cap off my anger, but that did it, put me so far over the top I could either have let it rip me to pieces or just decide to stop being jerked around day by day, hour by hour, by people who should be in here, and plan for the long term.
I accepted Hankins explanations of how pleading guilty in state court under the Alford doctrine would result in my leaving you and the kids for 3.5 years; dedicated myself to actually accomplishing something in that time, hard as it was to accept (but; at least some of it, needed to break the hideous, pathological cycle I had let myself be sucked into waiting to get paid . (-see below)
Not only did I accomplish much in unbelievably bad circumstances, I was able to line things up to be one of the few to walk out of prison one day and….be something. The book, referrals to agents, publishing houses, other writer, production companies; job referrals, etc… On Thursday the 25th, it will be one year that CT took from me and probably eviscerated most, if not all, of my options. Which probably says as much as anything about the Department of Corrections. In my year here I have – finally- come around to something I would never have believed or envisioned a few years ago: The DOC exists solely to protect the jobs of people dependent on the system for employment, the staff, co’s, parole, probation. That’s it – they run a level 2 facility like a level 4 to justify extra staff; they give 5 time losers with 2-3 probation/parole violations parole on the earliest possible date because they know they are getting them back right away – back to cram the court dockets, the county jail, public defender’s caseload, judge’s caseload, finally back to jam the prisons and justify the DOC’s staggering manpower and overtime. If the Federal system ran this way there would be more judges, prosecutors and prison staff than inmates. THIS is a welfare system for state employees, disguised by the all-obscuring phrase “public safety” which covers politicians when it comes to writing the checks. A rip-off of awe-inspiring proportions that does not begin to address the incredible ineffectiveness and, yes, corruption, internal and external. Again I never would have believed any of this, not even when I was being, illegally, held in MacDougall.
I’m in the middle of this even though I warned the Public Defender’s office for two and a half years this would happen if it was not addressed while I was in federal custody…my first letter was in June 2007; I filed the lawsuit in July ’08 along with the first habeas actions – each and every piece of paper I filed predicted, exactly, everything that has since occurred. Everything, on the nose, right down to my “parole” board not having any of my federal information (more accurately, not caring about any of it).
And, still here I sit – quite literally because there is nothing for anyone here, I can’t even communicate with my family effectively (and they have the unmitigated gall to run family reunification programs?) when visiting is 1 hour at a time every other day and the phone system is a joke (but surely lining someone’s pockets), but I am invited to have someone deposit a few hundred dollars into my “trust account” so I can spend my time watching TV and playing Nintendo DS 24/7. (Aside charging $200 for a $70 TV – – and I’m being kind on the $70 – it is currently taking guys around 4 weeks to have any money credited to their accounts, I’ve no doubt the “state” is using the float).
I sit while state employees assure me everything is being taken care of and I need only stop pursuing remedy through the courts. Based on those assurances – always given before a court date, always accompanied by references to you and the kids, particularly Liam (always mentions the fact that he is only 10 and needs his Dad) – I let a default judgment in Federal Court go (Federal defaults are serious, not easily curable like they are in state court) despite the almost unbelievable arrogance of Blumenthal’s office in waiting six weeks past the court ordered reply date to file the ridiculous motion they tried to slide past the Court. I ‘thought of my family’ and let it go because I was going to be released for Christmas; then did it again, giving up a ‘free shot’ on Jan 25th because release was imminent.
Worse, I agreed to drop everything, and all future claims, appeals, habeas actions, etc. arising from my ‘arrest and incarceration’: gladly done – thirteen weeks ago, and in ignorance of the fact the agency bringing me these ‘agreements,’ had, despite promises of help and support, intentionally sabotaged my state habeas trial schedule for now, had it put off untold months while they ‘double-deal’ me: i.e. we negotiated with CSA, AAG,: agree you drop everything, we all honor the pre -trial agreement and have no future dealings… all while they delay sending my files out and thus insuring the trial scheduled for February (to which they are the primary defendants) virtually disappears…certainly is put off far enough where it is not an immediate threat to them, and is removed as possible leverage for me to employ (god forbid I’m allowed even a glimmer of power in all this).
The last promise that the CSA’s office ‘requested” my release ‘earliest possible date’ is just the worst – because I bought it… again. With a ‘free chance’ to amend the federal complaint, bring the Public Defender’s office back into it, add Parole, in general create havoc and dial the pressure up I listened to (a) the letter the CSA’s office sent parole (b) repeated pleas to keep my eye on my goal of being home and ‘forget everything else’, (c) repeated entreaties to think of Liam (“because you’ll be helping him with basketball soon”).
The State of Connecticut either intentionally (doubtful as it implies some level of competence) or negligently screwed everything up and has now spent a full year sloughing the responsibility off on a variety of agencies, leaving the solution to, always, a different venue, a different person.
I actually do know how this will work out – for the simple reason it almost always works out the same way in this state: I have heard story after story of how the state, or at least the Attorney General’s office works; countless lawsuits for everything from malpractice, van accidents, work place injuries, negligence, etc; all dragged out then ‘settled’ by allowing the inmate to go home; bartering torts and Constitutional abuses for freedom.. this, defines the CT way. The AG’s office has created an environment by which they have no accountability in Court because they settle and in lieu of cash the consideration is freedom. (I’m sure Richard Blumenthal is considered a great man – well, the abuse of greatness is when it disjoins remorse from power: bartering with the powerless while keeping your court won-loss record gaudy is the definition of abuse. It’s also sick… so, they can – and, will – continue to throw technical motions at me, taking care not to actually answer the complaint in such manner as to require the Judge’s consent for me to withdraw, settle by myself; while moving the habeas until when they think I will lack the fortitude to follow through. Then they will most likely have me up one morning at 3:30 am to go to Rockville Court, I’ll be put in a van, crammed and chained in ice cream trucks…jammed hip to hip on cement benches in holding cells that reek of urine until 4:00 pm or so, when some kind of ‘offer’ will be floated – which I can accept or spend the next seven-eight hours contemplating it on the way back.
In the end it will be what it should have been on February 25, 2009, a year, thirteen, fourteen, eighteen months later….the net effect on the state – nothing. No repercussions whatsoever beside a minor irritation at having to parry someone who actually knows what he is doing…with no accountability…it’s not their money, its not their firm that takes the hit and there’s less to the partnership’s shares at year’s end; and, they don’t have to worry about making partner, or losing the client – one is forced to rely on fairness, daresay justice to motivate the other side and, well, even for me that is hopelessly naïve.
The State is wrong, several higher placed state employees have admitted it; they have stolen a year (maybe more); created havoc with my family’s emotional and financial stability; have – in theory, at least according to their paperwork – cost the state some $35,000 to ‘house me’, whatever damage, physical and emotional, done to me going back to failing to leave Devens on November 25th. They have lied, continuously, to me about rectifying the situation, doing so just before important court dates, getting me to forgo filings; ‘lost’ the habeas, the trial rescheduled to God knows when; kept me in the worst environment(– 10 prisons, 5 states, in 4.5 years) yet for these past 10 months – and there will be, if it holds true to form, no repercussions for their behavior, actions, omissions, clear cut torts, negligence and very intentional constitutional abuses.
No publicity either, I’ve already been spoken to concerning writing or speaking of this once it’s ‘resolved’ – changing the ‘deal’ from release to Federal Probation to CT Parole is , of course, a not so subtle way of insuring I remain meek until August 28, 2013 (again, something I would never have believed before these last months).
If it ends as virtually everything ends with Connecticut, quietly… save for the personal, family turmoil ‘they’ caused and continued while knowing ‘they’ were in the wrong (perhaps in pique at being told ‘they’ were wrong, i.e. having the temerity to file against ‘them’), it all has the same effect as the proverbial tree falling in the forest and no precedents are set, no one is admonished, no policies changed, the state already a monolithic bureaucracy that would make Joseph Heller shake his head in rueful recognition and reluctant admiration, is free to do it to the next guy…or ten…or fifty.
But, as ‘they’ well know, with a family it’s not up to me to do anything about…anything; with the hole they put me (us) in with the extra year (plus?) I will have neither the time nor the ambition to do anything beyond restarting my (our) lives. (And there is the matter of the at least informal ‘gag’ order.)
However, (this was, of course, leading to the however all along) I am writing this (finishing this) at 9:30 on a Sunday morning, 38 days after news of my ‘imminent’ release. With your help, I have filed three motions with Federal Court to at least get back to where I would have been had I not agreed to step back on November 19th – though I will never regain the default. This will exert some moderate pressure on ‘them’; a temporary, albeit somewhat irritating and embarrassing (assuming lawyers for the state have any professional pride whatsoever), but, answerable without triggering any irrevocable events.
It is really telling that I was asked to state I would forgo all future actions arising since my arrest – civil, appeals, habeas; in state and Federal Courts – as in ‘what the hell do they care?’ and ‘ how can the State of CT presume to bar me from Federal Court? And ‘what are they worried about?’
None of these questions were going to be explored with my return home and full immersion in family life. The book(s) and following up on all the options I had cultivated through 3.5 years of….hardship were to be my sole focus. But, thirteen weeks after agreeing, acting the adult and doing everything requested, I am nowhere, and now am going to drop the boom on this – I can not continue to sit here day after day working toward my future out of prison when I have no future …
…. So, this week I am doing everything I should have been doing since my first conversation with ‘state’ in September, back when my ‘overzealousness’ was first noted. It may accelerate things…it may see me kept here to 2013 and ultimately cost the state considerable money, but, I have no choice, experience has ruled out further inaction on my part.
Once again, then, I will put the writing aside, fall further behind and spend the next week drafting habeas and civil actions against DOC, parole, and the Public Defender’s office, and grievances as we have discussed…particularly the Assistant Attorney General who threatened me at the Habeas “pre- trial” in Rockville in August. It’s a lot, I have my legal options. The only thing on the State’s side is time – which is unfortunate and grossly unfair – they can drag this out, make me sit here then lose and lose big – and what does it matter to them? I’ll be the one with a check and nothing else. (As if there’s any amount of money that can atone for a single hour of false imprisonment.)
I will hammer them. It’s all I can do as, obviously, I can’t trust them. So needless.
That leaves us. The state is holding you and the children hostage as well – it’s reprehensible, but true. You’ve been wonderful throughout the disaster of my return to CT and every brush with CT ‘authorities”…but, this is not fair to you or the kids and I can only ask that you help as far as filing court motions, paperwork, sending documents in. You should not be burdened with me any longer.
I will support, of course, any decision you make…it will neither blunt my ardor as I go after these people. The books, (again, of course) are for you and the kids, if stuck here I will continue to work on the Civil War Trilogy and will find a way to reach out to all my referrals to make something happen, get something to you. That I will do to my dying day, regardless of any intervening circumstances. Any.
I will go on to try to force an end to this while swallowing my anger, frustration and sense of injustice and hope that somewhere along the line I run into a human being on the other side who will end this…but, I can’t hold my breath or hope any longer