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When the Relationship is Over... This forum is about discussing your thoughts, feelings and issues now that you and your incarcerated (or formerly incarcerated) loved one are no longer together. (This forum is NOT for bashing - please read the rules before posting.)

 
 
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Old 11-07-2018, 02:36 AM
lwopstudies lwopstudies is offline
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Hello everyone,

I am a physician, lawyer, prison/sentencing reform activist, and author. I am also the former sister of an LWOP prisoner whose sentence was commuted to life with parole. He was released at the end of 2017.

Over the last fifteen years of my brother's stay in prison, I was tremendously supportive of him emotionally and financially. I believed him to be a good, decent, and honorable man, one who did a great deal of work on his own rehabilitation. I was happy to do all I could for him to make his life in prison more comfortable, ensure he got necessary health care (he was seriously ill at one point and I was able to get my medical colleagues to intervene with the prison healthcare system on his behalf), and do what was necessary to get his sentenced commuted.

When he got the commutation, I could tell things changed between us. He was increasingly distant, and asked me to be patient with him because he was extremely stressed with the prospect of release. Shortly after he got out, I had major surgery with life threatening complications. I was in the hospital for nearly 6 weeks, some of that time in the ICU on life support. My brother came to see me only once, saying that the transitional house and his parole officer would not allow him to visit. That was the last time I saw him.

Shortly after I went home from the hospital (still very ill, unable to walk and requiring 24 hour care), his calls and texts decreased dramatically. Finally he sent me a 2-line text saying he "needed time and space to figure out how to make this life work." About a month later he sent a one paragraph e-mail saying he had to "extricate himself from our relationship," which he realized was "toxic." He never talked to me face to face about the issues of concern to him.

Before my surgery, I paid for driving lessons for him, loaned him money for a laptop, and wrote a prescription for a year's worth of heart medications. (The prison had released him with a one-month supply of his medications and had not signed him up for any health care programs.) He had a job and a car, and once I had provided those final things it seems he had no more use for me.

It has been crushing to learn that my brother, whom I considered an honorable and fully rehabilitated man, was actually so cruel and callous that he could turn his back on me when I was facing my own death.

I learned about PTO as a community in which I might find support for my situation. I was astonished to read so many heartbreaking stories similar to my own, of people who have supported loved ones in prison for years only to be discarded shortly after release. These cruel and selfish actions cause immense pain and suffering for so many people.

It also occurred to me that parolees are able to engage in this kind of callous conduct with impunity, because while it may be an act of moral turpitude, it is not a crime or a violation of the conditions of parole to abandon one's family and friends upon release. Such sociopathic conduct indicates the parolee has no empathy or compassion and is certainly not rehabilitated. I wonder if the parole board knew of the prisoner's intentions (to use people for their own benefit and then discard them), it would still find them suitable for release.

I think there needs to be some kind of official mechanism by which such behavior can be brought to the attention of the parole officer and/or the parole board. The meaning of such behavior needs to be taken seriously, rather than blaming the "too gullible" family member for failing to see the "red flags." Perhaps a hearing should he conducted to determine if the parolee actually does pose an unreasonable threat to the community if they are so completely devoid of empathy. At least, such a mechanism would discourage prisoners from using and manipulating family and friends to gain financial and other support all the while intending to end the relationship as soon as they are out.

Because of my brother, I have long advocated for the ending of LWOP sentencing. I believed that everyone deserves the chance to demonstrate they are safe to rejoin society. I still want to believe this, but my brother's actions have brought about a crisis of faith. He was in prison for 38 years, and during that time convinced many, many, many very smart and savvy people of his rehabilitation and remorse. Now I wonder how one can really tell if a prisoner is safe to be released.

I think my brother, a brilliant man with an uncanny ability to read people, was able to perpetuate this facade over decades far better than most prisoners. Most likely, his conduct does not reflect the behavior of the vast majority of released prisoners. Still, it is disturbing.

I have come to the conclusion that I still support ending LWOP and other forms of extreme sentencing, but there needs to be additional safeguards in the parole process to ensure the prisoner is no longer capable of the cruelty and callousness which led to the original crime.

I have been extremely moved by reading the stories of pain and suffering on this site, and believe they need to be told to a wider audience. If you are willing to share your story with me (names and details will be changed to protect your privacy) and give me permission to use it in a book or magazine/newspaper/blog article, please either pm me or write it here.

Thank you all so much for reading this.
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The Following 6 Users Say Thank You to lwopstudies For This Useful Post:
a.rare.love (11-12-2018), Critter07 (11-09-2018), fbopnomore (11-07-2018), gvalliant (11-14-2018), safran (11-17-2018), Taliba00 (11-16-2018)
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