Tuesday, January 28, 2020

Alone in a Hotel Room

This is when things get dangerous.   This is day two -- and I am getting pretty caught up on my stuff for work and I've started bugging my teams at work with all my ideas.   Think I should blog and give them a break.

We are deeply entrenched in implementing Care Portal and our Vision 30 which you're probably tired of hearing about.  We have a lot going on and we are excited about where this is all heading.

Meanwhile, back on the home front, we still have two unemployed adults.  This has varied in the past 6 months anywhere from 2 of 5 being employed to everyone employed.  Right now we are 3 of 5 working and 2 looking (with help from others who are looking).

But I want to vent -- and this is where blogging always came in handy.   My topic:  The criminal "justice" system.

We have a felon who lives with us.  Most of you know the story.  It's tragic in so many ways.  But here's the deal.

As a felon it's really hard to get a job and it's really hard to find a place to live.  The housing part is supplied by us but that means that we can't do foster care, be a Safe Family host family, or adopt again (not that that was on our radar ... We Be Tired!)   There are other implications as well in this situation that I won't explain for the sake of his privacy.

Getting a job has been nearly impossible... even though he has a very dedicated advocate at CareerWorks helping him.  He has had two jobs, but the first one there was some confusion when he was hired (the agency that helped him find the job forgot to tell them he was a felon) and then the second was seasonal.  Now he is unemployed.

But here's the catch.  He has one group therapy he has to attend on Monday afternoons and another one on Tuesdays at noon.  Every few days he has to go down to the probation office (20 minute drive from our home) and do a UA (or, as we say, pee in the cup).    Each of the group therapies has a fee $20 a week for one, and $30 a week for the other.

So, tell me how someone who, for example, did not have a loving supportive family, would ever be able to stay out of jail?

You have to have at least $50 a week to pay for the classes.

You have to have transportation 3-4 times a week to the Probation office.  You can take the bus, but without a job how would you pay for a bus pass?

You have to find a job that will hire a felon and allow you to leave work early at least one night a week and then take off for a Monday afternoon and a Tuesday at noon meeting.

You have to find housing -- a place that will rent to felons -- and yet with no job you can't pay the rent.

If you have a history of trauma or issues with pre-natal exposure it is really tough to remember all this stuff and get there on time, particularly if you don't have transportation.

So here's where I'm heading with us.  It is kicking Bart and my collective butts to keep this son from returning to jail.  He is one of our easiest kids but he's spacey and distractible.  So I ask the question of what happens to those kids who age out of foster care without a family?

I'm afraid the answer is that if they get arrested once, they may never figure out a way to stay out of jail for more than a few weeks.  Ever.

Our son John, after 11 years of being in and out of jail, is currently in prison and has been for about 2 years.    If I told you his offenses you would be shocked that this could equal the time he has spent there.  He is applying for a transfer of Parole to come to Virginia, but if that isn't granted, he will more than likely be back behind bars within a few weeks.

It's not just.  It's not rehabilitative at all.   It doesn't go well.  It's infuriating.  I'm pissed every time I think about it.  If I had another lifetime to live I would dedicate it to reforming the criminal "justice" system.  But I have to deal with this life's passion now.

So the primary answer?  We work together to keep kids from ever entering foster care.

If they end up there, we do everything we can to see the put in a healthy permanent alternative family.

We don't let them age out -- either by not letting them enter, or by adopting them before they reach 18.

Maybe you see why I live, think and breathe Vision 30 from when I awaken until I go to bed, and sometimes even in my sleep.


Marci said...

We are in a similar situation with an adult daughter. She just started her sentence two months ago. Everything costs so much and most of the costs are paid to private contractors. She had an ingrown toenail. To see the nurse cost her (us)$20.00 and they did nothing to fix it. It's so bad now a doctor will have to deal with it, at what cost we can only imagine. She needed clothes, towels, soap, toothpaste, etc. What do these people do if they don't have a family to pay the bills? Phone calls are expensive also. It goes on and on and that isn't even looking at the future bills once she gets out. We put money in her account and told her if someone needs soap, toothpaste, etc just buy it for them. It's all a travesty. Yes, she made some stupid decisions and she has a debt to pay. She'll do fine when she gets out but so many will never recover after being incarcerated. So sad!

Claudia said...

Isn't it crazy, Marci! Troubles me every day the way this works.