Chapter 3: I'm A Statistic
"Here I am in a new state trying to adjust to this new culture. It took me a couple of years and I am doing good on parole. I have a parole office named Tammy, and she was fair. She was not restrictive but she did her job. She ended up going to another county and I was assigned someone new. This new person appeared to have one aim, and that is for me to fail. I had no problems for the longest and now everything I do is wrong. Every move I make must be deceptive. All I was trying to do is do what is asked of me so I can get off of parole and move on with my life, but I learned they don't want that to happen."
We hear so often about the statistics that those incarcerated have between 70% to 80% chance of returning to prison. Speaking from experience and from a scholarly viewpoint I can say this is a fact, but these numbers are deceptive. When these numbers are created they are created into 3 main categories, those who are arrested and have no conviction, those arrested and sent back but no new conviction, and those who were received a new conviction. In the first category, which is the highest, then each category becomes less. In fact, a person who is arrested for a new conviction and found guilty is actually around less than 1% to as high as 15% depending on the crime, but they generally do not commit the same crime.
There is a thing called "technical violation" and this is where we are arrested not for a new crime but for some technical reason that is a violation of our "probation, parole, or supervised release". These things can be something like refusing to take a polygraph, being late for curfew, not being able to find a job in what they consider a timely fashion, not reporting all of our income, not reporting that we sold or bought a vehicle, and so many others. We are re-arrested and sent back to prison for up to another 2 years on the federal level, and possibly more on the state level, not because we committed a crime, but because the government feels that is where we belong. There are people who say that prisoners should not receive any relief and that we belong here". Yes, when we violate the law we should pay for our crimes, but when is it excessive? Why is it different only when it touches home? We as people have so many hypocritical ways and double standards.
It is my last day and as I mentioned earlier in Part II, I was arrested. I was extradited back to Michigan through a third-party service the government uses. There was 8 of us in the back of a van, there are two bench seats. Each seat was up against the side of the van facing inwards. The space was so restricted with each man of varying sizes had no choice to to put their legs between the man's legs across from him. Each man being in five star restraints. This means that we were shackled, a chain around our waist, handcuffed, and our handcuffs was bound by the chain around our waist. So we had very little movement.
We only had to travel approximately 9 hours, but this extradition took almost 23 hours to make. We had to eat in these five start constraints, we had to use the bathroom in these five star restraints. My body began to lock up, it was difficult to sleep as you can't let your head fall to the side as to touch the man next to you. I think its different with women, but with men that is definitely not a good idea. That can create a whole new set of problems for someone. Sometimes they will release one wrist if you have to sit on the toilet, but that depends on who the transport officer is. I have had some who wont do that either. That makes wiping almost impossible. Each and every one of these acts is a form of oppression and torture that causes mental trauma. Sometimes people over look it if you don't actually experience it. Now just imagine these states where we allow our children as young as 6 years old to be handcuffed and arrested, Florida for example. If this causes us men and women trauma, what do you think it does to our children?
Eventually I made it back to Tennessee and it took me a few days of rest just to recuperate from that experience. Now I am sitting in a state prison without a hearing on my parole violation. I am now just a statistic. I am one of those 70% to 80% people who were arrested and did not commit a new crime. By law I have a right to a hearing, but I was not given or allowed one. They kept me in the state prison for about two weeks in Jackson, Michigan. Then they transferred me to a county jail to attend there "program".
This program consisted of me sitting in a county jail for 30 days and then being released. Now I am back in another van, but this time its a little more comfortable. I am not in handcuffs and restraints, but I am being transported to Bellaire Michigan to where the halfway house is. Some people know its as a 3/4 house. This place was nice, much better then the one I was in when I was first released in Flint, Michigan. I have noticed that everything is nicer in the suburbs compared to the hoods. This house we had our own rooms, but in Flint we had "room mates", but like I said before I don't really see this as any different than cell mate".
I asked to go back to Tennessee, the parole officer told me I could go, but I had to pay my own way. I said no, the state is going to pay for it. he said now we are not. So I politely explained to him that under Michigan law I am entitled to 6 months in a halfway house that the State pays for, which costs approximately $600 per month, so that is $3,600. I explained about the food vouchers, clothes vouchers, bus vouchers, and things that the State will also have to pay for. So I explained the state can either pay for my less than $200 bus ticket I will stay here for the entire six months and the state will pay the close to $4,000. It makes me no difference. He then said that he would get back with me. That he did, a couple of days later he asked me when I wanted to leave. So then I took the grey hound back to Tennessee.
The crazy part is how I even got caught up in the first place of being a statistic. In more ways than one. Let me tell you. I started as a statistic when I was born, because we are all born into a dysfunctional family and lives unfortunately. The everything about us is a statistic I have learned. By the time I was 14 years old I repeatedly began attempting suicide. I started off my self-mutilation, this was my silent cries for help. I would show off my scars, but no one seemed to notice or care, so I continued but they increased in severity. This time I didn't talk about it or show anyone. Perhaps the build up came from a life growing up in verbal, emotion, some physical, and sexual abuse. All of which others turned a blind eye to. So I learned from an early age that no one was interested in what I had to say. I then began to keep everything to myself. I began to isolate myself, which only compounded my problems, but I did not see it or understand it. It did not take long for me to get caught up in the judicial system.
I thought maybe this would give me some attention that I craved. At this point I was willing to accept negative attention just to have some attention. I later learned this was not a good idea either as it has scared me for life. The stigma of incarceration never leaves you, and once you have been caught up in the system it is almost impossible to leave its grasps. I am forever a statistic. I am statistic because I am a product of a dysfunctional family, my parents divorced when i was about 2 years old. I am a statistic because I practiced self-mutilation after abuse. I am a statistic because I have suffered emotional, verbal, physical, and sexual abuse. I am a statistic because I am a product of incarceration. I am a statistic because society treats me as a moral leper. Not much different then 99% of the rest of the world. Do you know why I am a statistic? That Ninja called Institutionalization has touched me, and it touched me thousands of years before I was even thought about or came into existence.