Part 2, part 3, part 4.
I have not told this part of my story about one component of the Department of Corrections, the Probation Department because when I had issues in the past the higher ups did something about them. I got the impression Director Donna White and the Chief Probation Officer for my region, Rebecca Brunger, really wanted to do their jobs in a professional way and they were working to stop the abuses. They seemed to be different than the prison system. They listened to me several times when I called with incidents with probation officers that left me traumatized and stopped some of the abuses. Perhaps they are doing their best to implement changes, but the abusive attitudes are so ingrained in the probation officers because of the system they have been working in for decades that abuses and violation of rights will never be curtailed. I got the feeling for a time which I now know is wrong that changes were being implemented.
I realize they are not responsible for the injustices from the court system or the abuse from the prison systems and their hands are tied about many things. I just never expected so much abuse over such a long period of time. Several times I had hope that things were going to change for those on probation and parole. That hope is now completely gone. I decided to tell this story about my experiences with the probation department after a recent incident. I have even said some nice things about them in the past and really do not want to do this, but I have no choice. I may also be retaliated against.
I have now been through so many traumatic incidents with them in the 2 years and five months I have been on probation that I would not feel good about myself if I did not speak up. It is my hope to bring to light how people are treated by the probation department so others know they too can have a voice about the abuse and violation of their rights. In Alaska people don’t seem to know what really goes on with the DOC/DOP which makes those who complain about the problems seem like they are lying. The more we tell the stories, the more people will realize they are true. It is also very important for the public to know what really happens to those on probation and parole, so they can understand how the DOC/DOP contribute to recidivism and exacerbate mental health problems. I was hoping to wait the seven more months of my probation before telling this whole story for fear of retaliation, but it just can’t wait. They have shown me they are not going to change.
My first Contact with the Probation Department was really no contact. A report was written about me as if the probation officer knew me. In Nome my practicing alcoholic public defender told me how thrilled she was that a particular probation officer would be writing my pre-sentencing report. I found that odd, there is only one probation officer in Nome as far as I know. I told this P.D. that under no circumstances did I want that woman writing my report as she is friends with some of the players at the hospital. I knew she would be manipulated by them and perhaps even slant the report on purpose as that was what was generally happening with anything connected to my case. I also knew how awful people were treated by the court system in Nome. The P.D. told me not to worry as this woman was pregnant and she would not be available during the period of time the report would be written. I then told her this probation officer would “bust her ass” to write the report for her friends. I called Quinlan Steiner and the deputy director of the criminal division to tell them I did not want this woman to write the report. She wrote it and the P.D.’s attitude when I complained was a shoulder shrug and an, “Oh, well.” Knowing her she may have asked her to be sure to write it. That P.O. put a lot of misinformation in the report and rated me with only a moderate chance of rehabilitation. If she had known me she would know there was nothing to rehabilitate, but she was caught up in the rumor mill and lies in Nome. She wrote the report without having one conversation with me, knowing anything about my background, and with much influence from the serial bullies at the hospital, I don‘t know how much she was influenced by the prosecutor. That report was presented in court to the judge to review before sentencing me, under great protest from me. My protesting about that and other violations of due process were ignored by all involved. The report was pretty much bullshit, but the truth does not matter in the justice system in Alaska, just the goals of those in power.
My second contact was right after I was released from Wildwood Correctional Facility when I thought I was going to stay there for 45 days and got released after two days. I had paid bills and only had $70. Release from prison in Alaska just means they push you out the door without a concern if you have food, a place to stay or health care if you need it. They don’t care about health care as they deny it in the prisons. I had no idea which way to even walk to town. Someone heard me say that as I walked out of the prison and a guy in truck came and told me. Gee, thanks.
I ended up in a really awful women’s shelter for a while in Kenai. The building itself is nice, but the staff are very dysfunctional, add addicts, alcoholics and personality disorders to the mix…and it is a nightmare. There were several reports of narcotics and sedatives being stolen from the drug lock up cupboard there which made me even more uncomfortable. It was a prime chance for someone to blame me again for something I did not do. The probation officer said I could not have had access due to no access to the keys to the two locks. Even so it made me very anxious because I know how the DOL and law enforcement twist the truth with false information if they want to. The next place was a room in a run down hotel in Soldotna with a bar, prostitutes, people passed out in the halls, lots of noise, etc. The first probation officer was clearly not against me and mainly wanted to check to see if I had food when he visited me. When I left there I stayed at another hotel a month or two which was not a dump and was peaceful. There is way more to all of my housing stories which I should write about soon as well.
Then I decided to go to Homer to get started on the civil lawsuits. I got another probation officer who sees people in Homer and had all of the meetings in the court house. I looked over and saw the name of the judge who did not believe me when I told her I was falsely accused and would not allow me to get my cat and property to safety when I told her what would happen. It triggered my PTSD and I pointed at the name and said something about her being the morbidly obese judge who would not listen to the truth. The probation officer could have cared less that my PTSD was triggered or that it was traumatizing for me to have meetings there at the courthouse where a huge injustice had occurred. He only cared that I said the judge was morbidly obese and for some reason was upset about it. Unless she has lost weight she is. I have Aspergers, ok, I call it like it is and when he had a reaction I told him I was overweight myself and it really was not a put down so much as a description based on reality. I often described myself at the time as being moderately obese. This is also how nurses describe people. I once had a woman storm into the ICU angry because a cardiothoracic surgeon had written in her history and physical she had pendulous breasts. My response was that I also had pendulous breasts and so did several of my coworkers and patients in that unit right then. She looked stunned, turned and walked out. That doctor said he never heard from her again.
In Homer I carefully selected a place to rent due to huge problems in the past with slumlords there. I picked a brand new place thinking meth labs and parties would not be allowed. I was wrong. Yea, it was bad. I contacted two disability agencies and did as they said to complain. The response was that I was ejected from the place. I tried to file a case based on the landlord tenant act, but the court house was in transition and the law library was dismantled over a long period of time. Then it was change to just a computer. This made working on my civil suits impossible as well. No access to the courts in rural Alaska. That is how low income people are treated in Homer and much of Alaska. I was then suicidal for the second time since coming to Alaska. I kept thinking if I could just get back to America and out of this third world country I would be OK.
I also need to do a summary post of the crazy mental health care I have had in Alaska. After a few days I ended up in Anchorage at Providence Hospital. I was being transferred to the probation office in Anchorage and I hoped being in the city they might be more progressive. I was wrong. They were just more brutal.
I had no place to live and told them at the hospital I needed to go on line to look for a place to live. For some reason they lied to me and told me they had no WiFI, so I called some places that were in the paper with no results. My probation officer in the Kenai office told me the probation office in Anchorage had transitional housing so I called the woman who was my new probation officer. She told me very nastily that there was no transitional housing like I was just making it up. She said they had a halfway house that was just like being in jail and I would not be able to leave for the first thirty days. She clearly wanted to scare me out of that idea. I told her I just needed a place to stay while I searched for a place to live. Later I spoke with two men who told me their probation officers helped them find transitional housing.
I had two conversations with this woman on the phone while I was hospitalized for suicidal ideations, she was very ugly both times. She did not even know me, she is just abusive naturally. Her attitude was that I had no right to even ask questions and that I was lying about what the other P.O. had told me about the transitional housing, I was not. I did not know yet that essentially there is almost no low income housing in Anchorage and that landlords don’t rent to those with criminal records, no matter what the truth is about their situation. I also did not know that anyone who has no job to return to or a place to live when discharged from incarceration in Alaska is just let out into the street and the DOC nor any other state officials give a shit. I had also not found out that Alaska Housing Finance Corporation staff were going to lie to me about being able to get a voucher several times. If I had been turned down I could have appealed and most likely would have won.
I had to press a social worker at the hospital about housing and she finally gave me a list, the same list of non-available or untenable housing every agency in Anchorage had. She told me she did not recommend any except maybe one. I had already contacted that one and got vague information from the newspaper.
I was discharged from the hospital having been there for a week due to being suicidal to the street and I knew nothing about Anchorage. The nasty P.O. insisted that I come and see her as soon as I was discharged. She refused to let me wait until the next day. I had to use the bus system which I did not know at all while dragging a suitcase and carrying a backpack. I am directionally impaired which is pretty common for Aspies. That adds a lot to the stress. We also don’t tolerate changes like the ones I was going through very well. I had to find Brother Francis Shelter that day, but the P.O. would not wait until the next day to see me. Why? Just to be a bullying ass. I had been suicidal because of all I had been through and the last straw was seeing the judges name, not being able to access a law library and then loosing housing again and now I was homeless again. Rather than be supportive or just treat me like a human being she did everything she could to harm me. She is the most dehumanizing P.O. I have come in contact with. Many of these people should not in any way have any contact with anyone with mental health issues of any kind, no way. They should just deal with their own mental health issues.
So, I arrived with my luggage to the Anchorage Probation Office and noticed a sign that said I could not bring my backpack, etc. in there. Nice sign since so many of the people who have to come in there are homeless. I filled out the form they make us fill out every time we go in there with the same damn information over and over, then waited and waited. They apparently aren’t real big on timed appointments there. I sat a long period of time while I was very worried as I knew nothing about Brother Francis and actually getting checked into the shelter that day. I was wondering how all the people who had jobs were supposed to keep their jobs when they had to wait there so long for an appointment.
Finally a woman called my name and I went up for the metal detector wanding and search they do every time I have gone into a probation office. I had all the luggage and she began going through it. I was not happy about that because I have no idea if her hands are clean and even if they are I don’t like it. I did not complain about it. At that time I was still having a lot of pain and had acetaminophen and ibuprofen in baggies that were easily accessible so I did not have to dig through everything to get to them if I had pain. She found the acetaminophen and began to ask me questions. “Is this prescription strength Tylenol”,…I told her it was just plain Tylenol. She then asked me that question several different ways. I kept telling her nothing was in the pill but acetaminophen and she could send it to a lab if she questioned it. I was thinking she must think they might be Vicodin because they were the shape of Vicodin, but then I realized that was not the case. Again she asked me if they were prescription strength Tylenol. Finally exasperated with being interrogated by a woman who had no idea what she was talking about with an attitude like I was some kind of an idiot in a very abusive way I said, “Look, there is no such thing as prescription strength Tylenol.” For a while I had been trying to figure out what she was getting at, then I realized she was not too bright. Who doesn’t know acetaminophen is an over the counter medication? I had made it clear to her it was just plain acetaminophen with no other medication. She then became very threatening and I was brought to the back. She told me they had to get some information from me. She asked me a few basic questions which I answered while crying. Then I asked her why they were asking me questions for basic information the DOP already had and got no answer. You see I was told to come down there just so they could be abusive to me, simple and plain.
Then I was told I could leave by this woman who was not my probation officer, she is a technician. I of course wanted to know why I had to come to the office if I was not even seeing the probation officer. Apparently this probation officer was listening and immediately appeared and became nasty just like on the phone. She threatened to send me back to jail right then because of my questions. I then told her that she could not send me to jail unless I violated a condition of my probation or committed a crime. Apparently at the DOP asking questions and making comments is considered a crime by many. A crime against their inflated egos. That would of course make me one of the biggest criminals in the history of Alaska in their minds due to my propensity for question asking and comment making. She then told me I had to come in for orientation the next day and then stay for a meeting with her. Oh, joy. When I told her I had already done orientation she told me their’s was different than in Kenai which is not true. It was done in a different way, but the content was the same, of course it is. They once again told me all the types of knives I could not have and I still have no idea what any of them even are.
At the meeting after the exciting orientation she was a snarky smartass. She mainly turned up the radio on her desk really loud and be-bopped to the music and typed into her computer while I sat there wondering why the hell I was there and that she either needed some medication or was taking too much. Something was not right, this woman was underweight and acting weird. She asked me about the Salvation Army’s housing not too far away. She drove me there and the guy behind the desk wanted to talk with her in private in the back. It was like some kind of strange spy movie. When she came out she told me they were full which I knew was a lie as I was diligently searching for housing and had spoken to him already. As we left I asked her what that was about and why being full was a secret and she became very angry. I told her I was not stupid. She then said, “I don’t play that”, this was not the first time she had used gangster talk on me. I am in my 50s. When I asked her why she talked to me that way she said, “You should see the people I have to deal with.” Did I look like them, I asked. Now I realized she had a very negative opinion of the people she worked with and no skills of communication. I refused a ride from her preferring to walk a long distance rather than suffer any more of her abuse and BS.
Ok…time to call higher ups. I called the director of the DOP who directed me to call the supervisor of the office. The supervisor wanted to have a meeting with me and the P.O., but I just wanted to get a new one, the situation was not going to get better with her. I called Kenai and talked to a former P.O. who told me that abusive woman was his friend and she was a good P.O. I clearly told him there was something wrong with her and she was very mean. I had just gotten out of the hospital for PTSD with suicidal ideation and now I was sicker than before admission from severe abuse.
So, more phone calls. I had already not been listened to about the alcoholic public defender and other issues, I did not want to negotiate about this. So I called Director White again. Then we had a meeting in which I was given a sex offender P.O. temporarily. Great now I have to carry the sex offender P.O. card around in my wallet. Then they decided to give me to another P.O. Before I even saw this person I got the call about housing in Soldotna and left Anchorage. I was then back at the Kenai Adult Probation Office. I was glad to get away from the crazy DOP office in Anchorage. I was not all that thrilled about Soldotna, but I knew the manager of the apartments was a good person. I wanted to stay in Anchorage for many reasons including the law library.
End of part one.