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, September 22, 2010

It's gonna be expensive

Serving time or being on probation is expensive.  I don't want to diminish the cost to the public for arresting, jailing, trying, incarcerating, and post-release supervision (i.e. incarcerating a prisoner costs tax payers annually on average $45,917.05 (DOR FY2010)), but in this post I'd rather focus on more of what I know: the financial responsibilities and burdens you have as a probationer.  Some costs are concrete and easily identifiable, others you'll never really know for sure since they are based on uncertainties and many "what ifs".

The costs you incur from the time you are arrested to the last day of probation are significant.  As I was 20 when committing my offense, I didn't really have a skill set and long term steady job with excellent benefits to lose like someone in, say, his 40's.  I didn't have much money at all to give to a lawyer (I received a court appointed attorney) or squirrel away for canteen in prison or to use when I got out (I am grateful to my parents assistance to say the least). I wanted to take a look back on how much money was consumed by my offense.

(Note: None of these calculations include interest)
Lets say instead of going to prison, I was working the same job I had right before I was incarcerated where I earned about $18,000.00 annually:  @4 years  = $72,000.00

Here are the total expenses I will have paid From 7/2001 - 7/2011 for just being on probation for 10 years:
  • Probation supervision fee: $65/month @10 years = $7,800.00
  • Sex offender counseling fee: $120/month  @ 10 years = $15,600.00
  • Annual sex offender registration fee: $75/year = $750.00
  • Mandatory DNA profiling fee = $115.00
  • Victim counseling in lieu of probation supervision fee fee = $2,000.00
  • Probation violation hearing legal/private investigator fees = $4,000.00
    • Total = $30,265.00
Some other costs vary from person to person and are less quantifiable but more costly in many ways.  Being a sex offender dramatically affects your employability and eats away at the money in your pocket:
  • Not being able to be gainfully employed
  • Missing work (at least a few hours) to see your probation officer (an aside: how many employers are happy to give you a morning off every two weeks to see your probation officer?)
  • Gas to see your probation officer
  • Therapy
  • Being sued for damages
  • Divorce
This doesn't cover the social and interpersonal costs to you and your loved ones, of course.  That's for another post.

Conservatively, my probation will have cost me $30,265.00. If I take into account my employment challenges (for 6 years after 4 years of college I've worked but not consistently) and other intangibles, I believe that amount could be at least another $150,000.00.  Add the four years of missed work and I'm looking at a total loss of approximately $252,265.00.  Again, not including interest.  

So that's a very unscientific look at the cost my situation the past years (a little depressing!).  Though the annual sex offender registration fee will haunt me every year after I'm done with probation, I, as should you, look forward to the challenge of building my financial life without the heavy constraints and tolls of probation.