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.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Busted

No, your life isn't over though some of you might feel like doing something drastic.  Don't.  Maybe you did it; maybe you didn't; maybe you've done more.  Whatever it is you've been accused of doing, this is a scary, confusing, emotional time to say the least.  Depending on many factors-what you have been accused of doing, family situation, where you live, your work, your friends, you involvement in the community- all of this factors into how things may go for you after you've been arrested or brought in front of a judge.

If you are fortunate, you'll be released on bail (possibly with a GPS monitor) or be under house arrest (A word about house arrest: it's much better than being in jail, but it's very stressful, especially if you live with loved ones.  I thought it would be more enjoyable than it was, but I couldn't eat very much and was somewhat miserable stuck mostly in my room.  Every time I looked at my family I felt like crap; my situation coloring almost every waking moment with the knowledge no matter what I was going to go to prison.).  Jail is, of course, the worst.  I was 20 when I spent 7 days in jail before being granted house arrest.  Oddly, I never felt more hungry before and being 5'11'' and 145 from the suburbs I didn't exactly feel safe.  And this is how naive I was: someone said there was a swimming pool on the roof of the jail we were able to use at night and I believed him!  Yikes...  I learned quickly after that.  Anyway, basic things such as communicating with your attorney and family from jail is cumbersome, but at least you are able to receive your jail time as time served off your sentence if you are given more.

Speaking of attorneys: do your best to find an attorney experienced with defending sex offenders and prepare to plunk down some good money for him.  You don't need to get the most expensive one, but don't go cheap when it comes to this attorney-it makes a big difference.  I had a court appointed attorney who didn't do as thorough a job as he should have.

Lastly, and briefly since I will write about this more in the future, you should start planning for your time in prison or on probation while you are (hopefully) still out and regardless of what you believe the outcome of your case to be.  The closest representation I've seen of how prison can be is the TV program "LockUp" on MSNBC.  It is TV and people have a camera on them so keep that in mind.  However, the show can give you a good idea of the milieu and stresses of prison, how it operates, and the tough choices you may have to make on a daily basis.

Additionally, you should understand how you will be classified and what facilities have sex offender treatment in your state and run it by your attorney.  It may make a difference if/when you go in front of the classification board asking for a certain facilities and backing up your request with rationale toward rehabilitation which probably includes treatment, education, work, and family considerations.  But have a plan on what you should accomplish before you are up for parole or released.  Your progress, or lack thereof, informs probation and the sex offender registry board on how "dangerous" you may be and if you are taking your offense and treatment seriously.

With probation, you need to understand all of the terms and conditions and stick to them and, as I mentioned before in the blog, do your job.  Be sure to understand what you are required to achieve treatment-wise and evaluate the program you enter to make sure you are able to satisfy probation's requirements by "completing" treatment at some level so you can successfully get off probation and show the sex offender registry board your progress if you choose to try and get reclassified to a lower risk level.