#229 Counterpunching the probation officer

June 12, 2010 at 4:49 am Leave a comment

Counterpunching the Probation Officer

Well, I had not planned on blogging tonight, as it is past 11:30pm, but I was playing a video game on the xbox 360 and it froze on me…

No different than when you are on the computer, and it freezes and you can’t save…same way and just as frustrating…

So I turned off the xbox and decided that I might as well blog tonight. And the idea to blog on is based on a question a person asked me tonight.

To the point, what do you do if you have a loved one preparing for prison, and have a lot of supportive letters written by the community, but the probation officer has a very countering argument against your loved one?

This is for a lot of you, but for one who wrote me on this, I wanted to talk about that tonight…before I fall asleep. Not that this is boring, because this is an interesting subject to blog on.

Now before we begin, lets all agree that Nolaw97 (me) is NOT a lawyer, nor pretends to be one. I am just sharing what I can based on what little I have experienced, to help encourage others. Got it? Ok.

So a mom has a son that is a little down because all the letters from the community supporting him seems to have no effect to the probation officer, who says he is a menace to society and should be locked up. If you are a mother (or even a wife, girlfriend, grandmother) in this situation, what do you do?

The idea is that you have to find a way to encourage that loved one so that he does not break down. And it can be easy to do that if you believe the probation officer is out to get you…as often seems the case.

Now, I had a few probation officers after I got out in 2001, and I will say that none of them were “bad” people out to get me. I say that in all honesty, even though at the end of my probation my third parole officer had to turn papers in on me because I could not afford to pay the THOUSANDS of dollars in restitution. Not that I refused, but that I just could not pay it…and I think 99% of the time to have that kind of amount put on a 3 year probation was unlikely to do anyway…it was like the court system was expecting a failure…and almost got one.

But as God as my witness, I cannot blame my PO (probation officer) because legally he was in the right. I just could not pay the amount, and it was a part of my probation. He even apologized for me and spoke well of me in court, because he knew my situation. But what if it seems that the PO is against you, as in this case?

There has to be a way to counterpunch his move, and we need to talk about that tonight.

I guess counterpunch is a good term, since I was watching “Friday Night Fights” on ESPN an hour or two ago. In boxing, this is basically when a boxer returns a punch to his opponent, in an attempt to stun, or knock down his opponent. The idea is to not just “take” a punch, but to return in kind…to counter, if you will.

Can it be any different in legal issues? In a case where you are worried about your loved one and how he feels after getting the bad news that the PO really seems out to put you away, what do you do?

In the email to me, the mom asks how to keep him encouraged, because her son feels that the PO has the upper hand. To be sure, he can suggest that the guy get time, and more of it, depending on the situation. But one of the first things we have to understand is that a PO’s word is NOT law.

We have to remember that there is a judge on the stand, and he is charged to weigh all the options, not just what the PO says. True, he can take into strong consideration what the PO says, but he (or she) has to also be fair enough to consider the accused as well.

For that reason, it is important to encourage the son that just because the PO says what they said does NOT mean it is over. This is critical because you have to still give hope even in negative situations. This is where most people fail, because we don’t believe in “giving false hope” or “building up someone’s hope”. But in doing that same thing, we are actually establishing the worst case scenario, which doesn’t really help anybody.

If you have 40 letters from churches, friends, family, teachers and the like, what this clearly proves that there is a supportive community for this person. Even if he still has to do some time for whatever violation he is guilty of, this can be a powerful counter that tells the judge that he is still an asset to the community. This counters almost directly the PO’s position that he is a menace to society, if you have dozens of letters in support.

Now, does this mean he won’t get any time? Maybe not, because the court of law says that if you violate probation, you are at their mercy to go back to prison, and how much more time to do. But in my case, I was guilty of not being able to pay the money inside of 3 years, so I was indeed at the mercy of the court. Now, if you never read my blog about what happened, you may need to look for that…it is a very inspiring story about faith and miracles in the face of apparent defeat.

So I know that even with violations, a guy does NOT have to do time…I am a perfect example of that situation. But in this situation of the mom and her son, it is important to stand firm on what the community has provided to the judge. Don’t get dismayed at what the PO says, you have to remember that the PO works on the side of the community in general, not specific. I know there are a lot of probation officers out there that really don’t care about their clients (as it might be said), but we have to remember that they are charged to supposedly defend the safety of the community. If they feel that an offender is not fit to be in the community and should do time, then it has to be weighed carefully by the judge.

But it does NOT mean a crushing defeat.

It is important to not be discouraged in such a situation. But being human we are often tempted to look at the worst case scenario when we get just a bit of bad news. There is a scripture that goes, “he shall not be afraid of evil tidings, his heart is fixed, trusting in the Lord”

It tells us that bad news WILL come, but not to be afraid of it. Nowhere in the Bible were we promised to never get bad news…it comes whether you are a pastor, an NBA all star, the President, a teacher, a Hollywood actress or an ex felon. But the scripture says NOT to be afraid.

That’s hard to do folks, been there billions of times!

When I was in county jail, before being sent to prison, I would spend days and weeks reading faith scriptures, praying and trying to stay in faith. I built my faith up, believing in a miracle, but then when I got a visit from my lawyers, it felt like the air was sucked out of me. I would return to the cell, feeling like I had 500 extra pounds put on my heart.

But at that moment, I had to build faith, I had to not give in to the bad news. Sure it looked bad, heck it looked TERRIBLE, but I was standing on faith for a better solution. And at that moment, I went back to those scriptures, and read them, and put them back in my heart. If you’re gonna believe in something, why not believe in something positive, instead of the worst case scenario?

You have to encourage your loved one to hang in there, that those letters of support still mean something, regardless of what the PO says. A community supports him, and that has to count for something.

This is not the time to give in, and fall on your face and embrace despair. Believe me folks, I have done that many times, but after awhile, something stirs inside me to get up and pick up my faith. That is what has to happen folks, you have to pick it back up.

The fact that your loved one is worried means he has dropped the faith…he has GOT to pick it back up…and you too. Remember folks, your loved ones will feed off your energy. If you are consistently positive, the will eventually feed off it. If you are consistently negative, they will feed off that. So you have a huge part to play in this as well. Now is not the time for you to panic and think that the PO has all power over your loved one’s future.

Remember there are many parts to this situation. There is your loved one, the ability of his lawyer to present his case, the PO who is in opposition, the judge that has to see both sides as fairly as possible…

And then there is God.

Don’t underestimate that last one folks, most times we do, then when things don’t work out we wonder why He didn’t help us.

And this isn’t to imply that the PO is of the devil, that isn’t fair to say. But we should not be godly afraid of a PO as if he or she controls your life…that isn’t true at all. But to counter the PO, you have to remember what sources you are working with.

I mean come on, the NBA Finals between Boston and Los Angeles has proven time and time again that just because one team is up, the game is not over. Even after 4 games, nobody really knows who is gonna win this, because the series is even at 2 games each.

So don’t get all bent out of shape because one person said something negative…hmmm, sounds like advice I need to take myself… but anyways…

It is important to establish a positive frame of mind, to keep your loved one calm and positive. Invest some faith in the situation, and encourage him to stay positive. Whether the idea is to minimize the time he has to do, or even no time at all, it will be strongly based on your level of faith.

“Well that’s not true, the courts decide that.”

Not necessarily folks. In a carnal sense, this is very true. Between the lawyer, the probation officer and the judge, they can indeed decide your loved one’s fate. But spiritually, there is an incredibly lot of things that can happen for your side. Just because you can’t see how things work does not mean they don’t work. Heck, I don’t know how this keyboard works, but I do know that when I tap these keys to spell what I want, it does what I want. I don’t know how exactly computers work, or how our tv works or how my xbox works…(or how it FROZE on me…) but it works.

Man is the same way. I don’t suggest or imply that I know how God works, but I do know that God is a Spirit, and works in ways we cannot possibly understand. Sure, man tries to explain it, but we’re not smart enough to know how God works. But having faith in God seems to get Him to move on your behalf, based on how much faith you have in Him actually working on your side.

It is possible that God can, at His pleasure, turn the hearts of ANY man, or change a situation to a more favorable one simply because people had faith in Him to do so? You can’t look at that rationally because you can’t understand that. If you as a mom is looking at a son looking at anywhere from 3 to 5 more years, then you may well be hoping for a more favorable outcome, anywhere from the minimum time (if you are resolved that he has to do time) to possibly none at all (which is based on your faith, not a wish).

If in your heart you would be happy if he got as little time as possible, then put some faith on that. Of course, any mom would want their son to do NO time, but we don’t all have the faith for that outcome. As a scripture says, “according to YOUR faith be it unto you”.

So a lot of this is based on the spiritual, and how you can get your loved one to have faith, to not panic, and to not give place to fear. But understand me when I say this folks, it has to be REAL! I can lie to you about anything I want, and you may believe it, but if I want it to mean something, it has to be real to me. We often get this mixed up with wishing, which is not the same as faith, even if we so called “pray”.

For example, can you quote 3 scriptures based on deliverance if your loved one is worried about such a situation?

“I sought the Lord, and He heard me, and delivered me from all my fears”.

“Trust in the Lord with all thine heart, and lean not on thy own understanding. Acknowledge Him in all thy ways, and He will direct thy steps”

“The angel of the Lord encampeth round about those that fear Him, and delivers them”

I wrote those off the top of my head, do you have any that come to mind when you have problems? Those scriptures come from Psalms, although I am terrible at quoting exact numbers (somehow I don’t think God is counting that against me).

All this plays an important part to what you are believing. When you get bad news, such as a PO giving a bad report against you, do not believe that it is more important than your faith. That is not the time to fall flat and give up. There is just too much riding on this to do that.

As the mom, you have to hang in there. If you don’t have a scripture to stand on, find one. I found a LOT of Psalms that really helped me through some very tough times. Remember folks, some of those Psalms were written by David in some of the toughest times of his life.

So in essence, having written about 5 pages of this stuff…are we truly counterpunching the probation officer…or bad news in general?

Think carefully before you jump the gun on that…if you have been reading this blog tonight, you should already know the answer.

Now, some of you will read this and think I am full of crap…. I mean how DARE this ex felon sit here and talk about God and faith and all that stuff! If he believed in that so much, why is he an EX FELON?

If I fully explained that, you still would not believe…so why bother? However, if I ever finish writing all my “Grades of Honor” books, I think the answer would indeed be in there…but gosh, I am barely on book 4 now, and to write them all would be over 12 books…not sure if I will ever finish it.

But there seems to be a reason why I have been blogging so long, why I have written so much on a subject I would have NEVER volunteered to do. But here I am, blogging after midnight on a subject to help some of you in a situation that you may be losing sleep over. And for some reason, I just cannot turn my back when there are so many that have been looking for help.

You’re not reading the words of a saint (although I am a Saints fan!) but I am truly hoping that God looks at the heart of every person, and knows what they are capable of. I can’t lie to God, no matter how hard I try. He knows us all as perfectly as we know our alphabet. And for that reason, He knows ALL solutions. We only know a few, and when we get bad news on it, we lose hope on the little we thought we knew.

Folks, you’re not fighting the probation officer…you’re fighting fear. Sure, in this case the PO appears to be the container of fear, but you cannot give in to that. If you believed that 30 or 40 sincere letters from the community are valid enough to at least give your loved one a decent chance for a more favorable solution, then don’t let go of that.

But stack the odds more in your favor. Believe that, then encourage your loved one to not give up hope. If carnally you think it requires more, then find ways to get your loved one to work volunteer services in the community to prove his worth and regain the trust of the community. Have some of those people write directly to the PO and explain why they believe your son should be considered for a second chance. Talk to the lawyer about the validity of community support and how it should be strongly considered for a more favorable outcome.

But spiritually, do this as well: Counter that fear with faith, believing more in what God can do, than what man might do. If you have any problems with the PO, who is only doing their job, find room to forgive them. That is hard because it appears that the PO is “out to get him” but I caution you, prayer means NOTHING without forgiveness. It is ok to feel discouraged about it, because the flesh will do that, but you have to believe that the PO is not above God, and no heart is stronger than God. But scriptures tell us that if we do not forgive, neither will God forgive us. And if there is no forgiveness, your prayers are no better than if I pray to almighty Spongebob Squarepants…

(yep…I watch that too folks…)

So there is much to consider when it comes to counterpunching the probation officer. When I remember what I went through, I remember fighting that fear every day. I knew for weeks, even MONTHS that there was no way I could pay that money on time, I was literally living on borrowed time. That was the time I was desperate in trying to sell my “Grades of Honor” books and cards, trying get support anyway I could, but being banned or removed from sites like Prison Talk, LostVault, WriteAPrisoner and almost any other prison support site with “prison” in the title.

All the news looked bad for me folks, but I did everything I could to stay in faith. Somehow, someway, it HAD to work out. I had no other solution. It wasn’t like Oprah or Bill Gates was gonna hear my plea and bless me with six figures (although I needed four figures).

There were days and nights where I was up at night, wondering if I was getting my hopes too high. I mean, God COULD…but would He? My days were sometimes a living hell, because I just did not know what to do. All I had was some faith, and not much of it I suppose. If it meant calling a ministry for prayer, I did that in private, so my family didn’t worry so much about my situation. If it meant writing a letter I did that. If it meant listening to faith Cds, I did it. It was all I could do, because I didn’t have any money, and wasn’t getting any from my blogs.

But the bad news came and I had violated my probation. Not because I was bad, or doing something wrong, but simply because I could not afford to pay the huge restitution fee. My probation officer really didn’t want to do it, but he had no choice. My probation included paying the restitution, which I think we all knew I could not pay. But I kept believing that somehow, someway, God had to come through…He just HAD to. Not because I was cool, or perfect or any of that stuff that we as society believe in, but simply because I was counting on Him…or in another way, having faith.

The story is long to explain, and even draw a few tears from me to share it, but near the end, I was in my bedroom, after mom was so disappointed in not being able to get a loan to help me. She felt so down, probably close to tears. I was actually on the computer when she said to me, “baby, I can’t get a loan”. I calmly said to her as I was on the computer, “don’t worry, its not over yet”.

WHY I said that I do not know…because NOTHING looked good for me. But something odd inside of me urged me to say that…to speak in faith. Don’t ask me to explain that folks, it would take another 10 pages.

But after I said that, I went to my room, closed the door and sat on the small chair in my room. This was the last day before I had to go to court, and we needed a miracle. If we didn’t get the money before going to court, I may well be going back to prison. I cannot remember what I thought about in that chair, but I was trying to run some scriptures in my head…anything that showed faith. I sat there quietly, clutching my pillow, wondering what tomorrow was gonna bring, or even if I HAD a tomorrow. About that time, and I kid you not, the phone rang, and my mom came in my room, and told me that they approved the loan. With that amount, and what my professor from college said he could send, we had enough to pay my restitution.

So ask me again if I believe in miracles.

In fact, that was a part of the miracle. The situation would continue in court, but I think I made my point. Folks, bad news comes to us all, and when you have a loved one in prison, any bad news seems like it is the breaking point. But it is at that time that you must not resign your faith. A more favorable outcome is possible to those that believe… but you HAVE to believe.

Oh well, there I go, blabbing again. I just know I lose a lot of readers because I talk too much, but if it helps one person, then it was worth the hour’s worth of typing. So I hope it helps some of you. Anyway, gotta get ready for bed, remember if you wanna support my blogs, let me know, and consider my “Grades of Honor” books and prison cards and the like. Until then…


Entry filed under: girlfriends with boyfriends in prison, God and prison, inmates, jail, LostVault, mothers with sons in prison, prison, prison abuse, prison blogs, prison books, prison cards, prison food, prison jobs, prison mail, prison pen pals, prison support sites, Prison Talk Online, Prisonbid, rehabilitation, son in prison.

#228 Prison Q&A Prison pen pals #230 Grades of Honor Prison Project

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