Though this blog is was originally intended as a resource for offenders in Massachusetts, much of what I write about is applicable to sex offenders in every other state and many countries around the world, especially in Western Europe. Even other non-sex offenders trying to navigate prison, probation and parole, or employment and education opportunities can glean relevant information from this blog and apply it to help overcome their own struggles.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Starting Probation

Chances are if you are reading this you are on some type of supervised release, more likely probation than parole.  Most if not all sentences given to sex offenders these days incorporate probation since most prosecutors and judges believe supervision after adjudication or release from incarceration is necessary to monitor behavior.  The time from when you start probation up to, say, 3 years is when most probationers violate.  You are much more likely to violate one of the terms of your probation than commit a new crime or sex offense.  The judge can add more time to your probation, order you to attend more programs, send you back to jail/prison, or anything she deems appropriate.  So it's best to avoid this pain altogether.  Winding up in front of a judge for a probation violation hearing can happen very easily.  You can be doing everything you are supposed to and that might not be enough (I'll save that story for a later post).  Here are some basics every newbie should consider:

Show up for your first appointment:  If you've just been released from prison you don't have much time (or maybe even the means) to meet your new PO at the courthouse.  Take it very seriously since this is their first impression of you.  And when I say "their" I am also talking about the the administrative staff, other PO's, assistant chiefs, and chief .  You may not know exactly who they are but they know who you are by what side of the counter you are standing and chances are you'll be switched to another PO or dealing with the chief at some point.  Be business-like, be courteous, and keep your mood and attitude in check.

Show up for every single appointment afterwards:  Whether it's a home or courthouse visit, don't keep your PO waiting though there will be many times when you will be waiting for them.  You'll stick out in their minds as someone who isn't taking probation seriously, is wasting their time, or needs to be dragged to a violation hearing if you can't keep your appointment.  If something comes up then call your PO or the office.

Copy everything: The probation department lives on documents. Everything is on some piece of paper.   If you are going to organize anything in your life, make sure you set aside a folder to hold documents pertaining to your probation.  Be sure to make copies of your probation contract and receipts of any payments you make to probation or the courts in general. Treatment providers typically fax your monthly progress reports but make sure your PO receives them. Income must also be documented so copy checks and pay stubs too.

If you are having a problem let them know: This sounds a little counterintuitive but in my experience the more your PO knows about you the better.  He has a running narrative of you in his head (and on paper of course) and information and context matters when he is making a decision about you.  Be succinct and keep it real because they've heard all of the bullshit stories before.  If you're truthful they're more apt to cut you some slack and maybe even help you out.