YOU GOT QUESTIONS – I GOT ANSWERS
From time to time, someone who’s going through a tough situation asks me for advice. It comes by way of comments, but I get emailed questions as well. Oftentimes when I’m out and about, I’ll overhear a conversation from an individual in a precarious situation. And oftentimes I try my very best to not be nosy (but fail miserably), as I just can’t resist interjecting my opinion in the name of being a good upstanding felon.
That in mind, I do get a little turned off reading on certain sites how some of the so called “experts” and would be brilliant legal minds come off as condescending and insulting to some poor bastards question. Hey, I’m sympathetic to the cause, as I’ve been there, scared and clueless like many that have come before me. So, with all that, I shall do my best to not mock you, nor make you feel like a jack ass. Let’s get to it.
Please note that this is not legal advice and should not be construed as such. If you feel this is legal advice, you’re sadly mistaken. I am not an attorney, I am a Felon. This article is merely a state of comedic opinion for educational purposes only. Always consult an attorney regarding your specific legal situation.
The first question is from droe34778 who asks…
Hi, I’m writing you to know if it’s possible that I can switch out my probation officer? I feel like they’re being unfair to me. Sometimes I really feel like they have it out for me. Anything I can do to get them to back off if I can’t switch? Thanks.
Thank you for writing me. Okay, let’s take this in parts.
First, what exactly are they doing? Are they telling you that you need to be on time. That you need to communicate with them your whereabouts or take a piss test. I’m not trying to be cute with you. What I’m saying is there’s a standard amount of usual garbage they ask for, that you need to provide in allowing them to do their job.
Look, probation officers can be a mixed bag. All of them. And I’m not denying that they can have they’re little quirks and nuances in how they like things to be done. But it really doesn’t do you a tremendous amount of good bringing beef to someone who’s been assigned the task of supervising and chaperoning you.
It actually works in your best interest to comply and play nice at all times. Not to say that it’s impossible, but unless some type of discrimination is occurring, it’d be very hard to switch. Likewise, if there’s some type of inappropriate behavior going on, seeing as how it’s a very hard thing to prove.
Take solace in knowing there is a limited amount of time you will have to deal with this person and understand there is a date definite where they’ll be out of your life. Focus and apply your energies towards getting to meet that day. Then savor and enjoy it.
Remember a golden rule of thumb. Probation officers are not your friend. Doesn’t matter if it even seems that way. For that matter, they’re not your enemy either, even if it seems that way also.
Next question is from someone named Cynthia who emailed me with an issue.
My boyfriend is on supervision for aggravated assault and as part of his conditions they come by our home and do a welfare check. They go through his things and his belongings and some of thos things are mine. I find this to be a huge invasion of privacy. Is this normal? Why do they continue to do this? Can’t they respect the fact that I haven’t done anything. They make me feel like I’ve done something wrong. Sorry for such a long question but I’m just trying to see what we can do cause it super stressful.
Hi Cynthia, and I’m sorry to hear that. It kind of wasn’t a long question, so I won’t kind of give you a long answer. I can tell you from firsthand experience this is a real buzzkill for any couple. It also takes a tremendous toll on the partner, as my wife has been privy to these scenarios.
Along those lines, and as a condition of his supervision, the court has granted the right to search the dwelling he resides at by way of a probation officer. They are to see that everything is complied with, and there’s nothing questionable he is up to, nor in possession of.
As far as what is to be searched, that falls within what he has access to. They are not to search or gain access to private areas that you, and only you would be akin to. That said, if it is a “common ground” area such as kitchen, living, etc. that he would use, then they have the right to look.
This isn’t a relationship advice column but I’m gonna give you some anyways… You’re a strong woman. Make sure he appreciates that fact. Also make sure you hang it over his head for the rest of your lives together and that he understands the sacrifice you’ve made being there for him through this ordeal.
Yes, it’s an invasion any way you cut it. And yes, it’s extremely stressful, but you can get through it with him.
This next question is from someone I actually know who’d asked me for some advice when I ran into him at Walmart. Without outing him, we’ll just make up a name for him… How bout John Doe. Hey, I kind of like that one. It’s original so nobody will be offended with that and wanna sue me (I can see it now, some asshole named John Doe surfaces and sends me an email that he’s offended I used his name on this vulgar site. Waaaa!). Okay, next question is from John Doe and I phrased it out the way he asked me.
I’m having trouble paying down my costs associated with probation. They’re threatening me that I have to pay or else. I have no money. Just lost my job cause of Covid 19. I don’t want to be locked up cause I can’t pay. Am I screwed?
Dear John, you’re not screwed. Not to quote corny sayings, but there’s always a way, as long as there’s a will. And here’s what I mean by that.
Debtors Prison no longer exists. Just because you cannot pay, they’re not within the right to throw you in jail. HOWEVER, there’s a difference between not paying because you can’t, versus not paying but you can, just because you just don’t want to. Confused yet?
Okay, put another way: There’s a term called willful, which translates to just that. You have a choice. Not paying the obligation when you can puts the burden on you, and as a result, you can see everyone start to get excited and results in these type of veiled threats made and pressure applied for you to pay.
Know this: Many people like you (and myself) have gone through this ordeal. And it happens all the time, and will continue to. But there’s hope.
If you’re undergoing a true hardship affecting your finances (illness, job loss, pandemic, etc.) let it be known. Talk to your officer. Do a financial worksheet. Write a good letter describing the hardship you’re currently experiencing. You may have to go to court for assistance, but the point is you’re exhausting all options and are trying. In the meantime, make a small payment.
What can you afford? (Don’t say nothing) Even a few dollars count, as it’s the principle. What you want to do is show that you’re making an effort. Willfully.
Next question is from 12_genther.
What advice would you give me on finding a job. I have a felony charge having to do with theft. This is so stressful and nobody wants to hire me. What can I do. Where do I go. I’m desperate.
Oh boy. This is the mother of all mothers…I know firsthand from my background that theft can be somewhat less forgiving than many other charges that loom out there, and here’s why: it all comes down to trust.
And when that’s broken it’s a hard thing to overcome. And that’s exactly the first thing they think when it’s seen on a background check. But you can work around it. There are many resources and places to go for help and assistance whether it be jobs, skills training, or placement.
Go to the probation office, because sometimes they have an employment specialist on hand. Also staffing agencies can be a great resource for someone who’s incurred legal setbacks.
The point is these places recognize the many ways to work with an individual, rather than away from him/her because they specialize in just that. (Not to mention the added bonus of skipping the awkward formality of having to explain your situation over and over again to someone who has no say in your hiring decision. You did what? Ugh.)
You’re not going to want to hear this, but you may need to start from the bottom and work your way up, even if you may be overqualified. I did. Yes it sucks. But the opportunity to do something more meaningful exists out there for someone with a felony.
Start looking at the possibility of starting your own business one day. Don’t laugh. That crappy job your working now, just may pave the road for you to get the resources (knowledge, experience, training) necessary for you to make that happen one day. Stay focused.
Lastly, a question from avery67.
My cousin is about to be released from prison after doing 5 years on drug related charges. What advice do you have for him to make a smooth transition back to normal life.
Well, his life will be hardly “normal”. Quite the contrary, it’s gonna be normally hard. Very hard.
He needs to prepare his mind and attitude towards the monumental challenges that lay ahead, and subsequent rejections that will now be a major part of his life, serving as a constant reminder of the choices he made. But he can endure and overcome.
We’ve all made some bad choices in life, but no one is in a position to judge. With that, he’s gonna need support, understanding, and love. Then he has a good shot.
The rest will be up to him. Temptation will be in many places. Seducing him back to a quick fix. There are no quick fixes (no pun intended). He’ll question things at times. Is this how life is to be. Why does everything have to be so difficult. Why can’t it be easier.
This is true punishment in every sense of the word, but you have to change your outlook though. You see, it’s very easy to lose yourself, and rather hard to live and enjoy all the opportunities that actually do exist for him. But it does exist.
And once you get past that point and stop focusing on the frustration and anger that you have, you can start coming up with viable solutions.
Instead of sitting and complaining (and believe me I’m really good at that) why things are so difficult and why everybody’s so rotten, you start focusing on how you can go about getting results. Mind you legally. But it can be done. And he should apply his life towards that. Did I mention it’ll be hard though.
Educate yourself on your situation, because nobody will do it for you. Stay well and out of trouble.
–The Educated Felon