Community Support Group Project

Parole—The First 24-hrs—a story

. . . the incentive for the Community Support Group Project.

With a supposedly* clean slate, a parolee, sincerely believing they are intent on going straight, is often picked up at the gate of the correctional facility by a spouse, family member, or friend. Quite possibly they are asked, "Wanna drive?" They are elated. They accept the offer and cautiously pull out onto the freeway. The experience of freedom is exhilarating. Soon they find themselves being passed by those going faster than the posted limit. They dutifully obey the law resisting the urge to keep up with the flow. But their mildly irritated passenger says, masked as humor, "Hey, you've been inside too long. You're holding up traffic." The parolee, now trained to follow instructions without hesitation, unwittingly succumbs to the peer pressure. And so, within minutes of parole they have been lovingly supported by a true "friend" in breaking a law, risking a sanction by their parole officer if they get a speeding ticket. The friend mindlessly forgot to ask if the parolee's driver's license is still valid.

The parolee asks their friend if they can stop off at a book store because they promised their parole officer they would buy a study guide for the upcoming Carpenter Journeyman's Test. The friend says, "Great, I'll treat you to some good coffee at Borders." He buys his book while his friend buys two coffees and sets them on a table. His friend then leads him to the magazine rack urging him to pick out a few magazines to read. Not wanting to be a stick-in-the-mud he does as expected, knowing full well that reading without paying is wrong, and that he's ripping off not only the merchant but the distributors and authors.  He feels uncomfortable doing it and keeps looking up, expecting, if not a Corrections Officer, possibly a clerk to ask, "May I see your receipt please?" The friend notices his furtive looks and further encourages him, "Relax. Look around. Everyone does it." It doesn't occur to him that Borders is capitalizing on the unethicalness of customers—the implied but non-published policy ostensibly generates more sales. A "Please Browse" sign would support everyone's integrity.

The "friend" is unaware that twice now they have supported the parolee in resorting to the same behaviors that contributed to his incarceration. Later the friend will say to others, "Yah, it's too bad. I could tell he was heading back to prison."

The parolee then arrives at home and an old friend stops by and asks if he wants to see some of the guys. He eagerly accepts the invitation. The guys are drinking beer, a few are smoking pot; he refuses both. Everyone laughs but they understand and seemingly accept his decision. However, they keep kidding him, offering tokes, trying to assure themselves he's still one of the guys. Later, when a few whom he respects have left the party, he finally has one beer and just two tokes.

Later, on the way home, the slightly tipsy driver almost rear-ends another car and casually mentions that he doesn't have car insurance. This is a given for perhaps a third of his old friends so it's "No big thing." It's always been that way. The parolee remains silent, unaware of the friend's unethical dump, the unconscious test, to see just how straight the parolee is going to go. Silence assures the uninsured perpetrator that the parolee is still the same old accepting (enabling) friend.

At home, sitting around the kitchen table, his mother mentions how helpful his brother has been while he's been away, "He let me claim he lives here so I could get more food stamps and welfare money."  Again, silence is complicity. It is unthinkable to say anything about the fraud. It's always been that way with one thing or another. Nothing really serious, nevertheless, both illegal and unethical.

Each perpetration throughout the day eroded the experience of wholesome integrity that was there earlier in the morning. Each complicity having its own consequence. Each perpetration begs to be acknowledged to prevent compounding consequences. Not having anyone to clear with, to acknowledge the day's perpetrations, the parolee falls asleep, but it's not the healthy sleep of a person committed to integrity. He is neither whole nor complete, "But what the heck," he mutters to himself dozing off, "nobody else is either."

All this occurs within less than 24 hours. For our parolee tomorrow will not be a new day, merely more of the same. —by Kerrith H. (Kerry) King

* "supposedly" The majority of parolees have not been acknowledged for all of their childhood/teen perpetrations. Virtually none have experienced a clearing such as The Clearing Process in which life's perpetrations have been acknowledged. As such, they unconsciously set up life to get caught again (recidivism) so as to restore/recreate their integrity.