It's been one month since I've posted and for that I'm sorry. Not for you, but for me! I have all sorts of things waiting to be spewed out and haven't had anywhere to spew it! :)
Unfortunately this post will be a bit of a rant! So, let me back it up to about 30 days ago.
- Monday, 3/23, drove Cliff to his parole appointment. He goes in and I wait in the car.
- Notice a text on my phone that says "having a baby!" followed by "Lillia is here!"
- Cliff comes out to have a smoke and says he'll be a bit longer as a new parolee is being inducted. I ask him to please let them know I've got a baby to meet if they could make it quick! Ha!
- Make phone call after phone call, sharing the good news!! Make notes, read book.
- Soon several hours have passed by with many coming and going and I decide to inquire.
- No Cliff.
- Officer comes out and asks if I'm Laura. My stomach gets an old familiar feeling. She says let's go outside. Never a good thing.
- I said, what's up? He's done everything to the letter on his parole.
- She said there was a warrant. I seethingly said, "For what?? He took care of everything before he was released, and the prison liaison also cleared him"
- Just came up last week. A "show cause" hearing in Macomb County.
- He's in my custody and will be transferred to Macomb County. Sorry for leaving you out here but there's nothing I can do.
I drove away and was in mixed emotions that I don't understand. My heart was soaring with joy one minute and in an instant that old, creepy feeling tried to come over me. I wasn't having any of it. This moment of difficulty was not going to put a damper on my Bambina, II's new day! So, I got to spend some time with Lillia Grace and for a lingering moment, all was perfectly right in my world.
Evening comes along and I'm still confused. Cliff calls and he's sort of confused too. Evidently, he asked his parole agent to see what was going on with his record as he's been trying to look into entry into the National Guard and they've indicated that he has some things in question. Agent types into the machine and continues to type and have conversation with Cliff when suddenly the door opens and five, count 'em five, agents come in telling him to remain calm and put his nose up against the wall and his hands behind his back. He has NO IDEA why this is. As he's waiting in the hall, his former agent told him that Agent didn't have to handle it like this. He could have been advised to take care of business (2 separate violations) in Macomb County before he reported again to parole. If not handled they would pick him up at that time. I guess they consider him a flight risk. But, still.
The next day, Cliff was taken to see a judicial aide regarding money owed. Before he was released from prison, he did a plea by mail to the charge and they accepted it. That paperwork was done in July but he wasn't released until late November last year. He's only recently found employment. The court had been mailing notices but "oops, sorry" she said, it went to the wrong address. In fact, the address it went to was a relative who chose to not notify Cliff of these mailings. Cliff's been in the system a long time. During the last 3 years he was on probation at this (my) address, tethered at this address and released on parole to this address. Hmmmmmmm. One hand never met the other hand, I guess. The financial agreement was made for payments and he's done with this group.
Second day in the holding cell, Cliff was taken again to the judicial aide because "oops, sorry we forgot to take your disposition the day before." Two days now, spent on an issue of unpaid fines.
Third day in the holding cell, Cliff is taken to the second court and the judge posts a $2500.00 bond on him. No 10% because he violated his original bond, which he understood. This charge dates from 2005. Cliff was a full blown junkie in 2005 so it's not a surprise that he didn't take care of business. Since his parole release Cliff has been part of a Men's Fellowship and they have supported him because they've seen a new man and felt that his jail time served has been long enough. They pulled together his bond money and gave it to me on Saturday to bond him out so he can come to church on Sunday and be presentable before the judge on Monday.
I drove 63 miles one way to pick him up. I went to the bond window and they said there was a hold on him from parole. I said that was a temporary hold and that it was to be removed by his agent when he was in the custody of the jail transfer officer that very Monday. "We don't have it"...ooops, sorry.
I fumbled for the card Agent gave me, and tried the after hours number. I was patched through to her personal cell but of course could only leave a message. I urged her to please fax over the form or call or something as I drove all this way and ... blah, blah, blah. This went on a few times and then after waiting an hour, I drove home.
Monday in court, Cliff asks for a new hearing date as he didn't have time from Thursday in lock up, to Monday in court, to retain an attorney. He could have been given a court-appointed attorney but has not had one good hearing under that system. Cliff's next court date is set for the following Monday. I paid the bond at the court and then had to drive to the jail to pick him up because the hold was still on him. I began the phoning process again to Parole. You can't get a live person and when you do, if it's not the proper agent, they don't care to listen to your story and promptly dump you into the agent's voice mail. This happened several times. Talk about phone rage! I continued to call in and finally got someone's supervisor and quickly explained that I was waiting at the jail to pick up Cliff and she brought his case up in the machine and said "We don't have a hold on him. I can't do anything" and dumped me into his agent's voice mail again. One more time I dialed her extension and urgently asked her to PLEASE refax or call someone at the jail to get this sorted out. Time ticked by and I went back into the bond office again and told the clerk that Parole said there was no hold. She said "Yes, there is a hold!" and pulled the paper out of the file. I said "couldn't you please call? I've been here twice now, 63 miles from home and I can't get through to an agent." She mumbled that they don't have much luck either but picked up the phone and said she would try. Within 3 minutes clerk came out of the office to find me and let me know that "he's all set, he'll be out in about 30 minutes." Hmmmmm. I silently wonder if this would have anything to do with the fact that when Cliff was picked up in 2007 the county jail misspelled his name on the form he was to sign. When he tried to have it corrected they said "oops sorry" you'll have to get it corrected yourself.
During the course of the week Cliff was locked up, a call came for him to do some work for a home remodeler. Hallelujah and right on time! He began work the next day and was able through that week to earn enough to pay an attorney (who is a friend through his Men's fellowship and gave him a reduced rate). Cliff also spent the week garnering letters from the men who he's been accountable to as well as his mentor. Finally the day of court arrives again. Cliff meets his attorney ahead of time, who then meets with the probation clerk (only one in this little township) and they agree that this matter can be settled with fines paid on a pay down plan. She's satisfied with the progress Cliff has made since last seen by them.
The man in the robes calls Cliff to the front. The lawyer begins his spiel and asks the judge to allow Cliff to make payments and close this case as he and probation clerk have agreed. Judge looks at Cliff and looks at the dates of the problems and the monies owed. He says to probation clerk, "add these up for me"....and the next thing he says is "this case is old, and you have $2500 on your bond that's been paid. Pay today or go to jail for 79 days." The lawyer pleads with the judge that the money on record doesn't belong to Cliff and he is prepared to pay an amount today and make payments but can't pay it all in full. "Pay today or go to jail."
Not one question was asked to Cliff about his current life. The judge never inquired to whether or not he's kept his parole expectations or whether or not he's dropped dirty or clean since being released from prison. He didn't ask to see any letters from anyone nor did he inquire as to whether or not Cliff would lose a job by being locked up. Now, I don't know about you, but here in Michigan where current unemployment rates are 12% and higher, it seems a bit ludicrous for a judge to throw someone in jail because they haven't been able to pay due to unemployment who now has a job! Judge does not allow time for you to go with your lawyer into another cubicle to even discuss what you will do. Talk about a rigmarole. One more time, I see Cliff put in handcuffs and taken out of the courtroom.
Cliff's mentor phoned the others responsible for paying Cliff's bond and they all agree to let it ride and Cliff can pay them back. Nice. Amazingly kind. I sign off on the bond, the agent goes to let them know that Cliff isn't going back to jail. He came out of holding with a confused and happy look on his face.
Sooooo....besides all this, I've been busy getting acquainted with Bambina, II and getting my own personal fix from Mini-chick too. I've also been working on a project for this weekend that has been occupying a large part of my free time in coordinating the volunteers at two work sites. It's sort of like Habitat for Humanity only it's for people already in their homes who need help with work to be done. It's called Rebuilding Together and it's a nationwide project that happens the same weekend all over the country. Pretty cool...sort of an Extreme Makeover on a much smaller scale. It's all good.
I hope your weekend is full of peace!