Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Oh Happy Day!

I usually blog about my kids but today is about my foster brother.  He also has FASD.  Today he was released on parole to my Mom's care.  I can't tell you what a relief this is.  His whole interaction with the justice system has been a text book case of how the justice system does not understand or deal with FASD appropriately.  Here's how it went

 John* was 18 hanging out with 14 to 16 year olds.  One night the group decided it would be funny to break into the garage of one of the group that did not happen to be present and mess with his bike.  The boy's parents did not find the plan amusing at all.  John was the only legal adult in the group and the only one charged with felony breaking and entering.  He did originally receive probation but at the urging of friends started skipping some of his meetings.  (Cause you don't, like, have to go to all of those, you know?)  His Probation Officer though he needed a "lesson" and revoked his probation.

John spent 2 years in a minimum security jail.  Two years.  He came out with a drug problem.

When he was first released we called, and called, and called, and wrote, and wrote, and wrote to his Parole Officer, his PO's superior, and even, the state parole board.  No one would reply.  We tried attending meetings with John but were turned away.   John was required to live in a half way house in crack central down town.  He had to take a bus 45 minutes and make three exchanges to get to his PO's office or to his drug tests.  After 3 months of successfully navigating that mine field - the PO started changing to random appointment times and moved him into unsupervised housing - still in crack central.  Within 6 weeks of the changes his parole officer revoked his parole for missing appointments and one dirty drug test.

His recommendation was that John serve the remaining 3 years of his original five at the state prison - to teach him a lesson.  Fortunately we were able to convince  his assigned defense attorney and the Judge that John's disability FASD was real and required real accommodations - which he had not received.  He was sent to a 90 Drug Rehab boot camp.   The American Bar Association Resolution on FASD was a big help in this as was the University of Washington Fetal Alcohol and Drug Unit.

I wrote endless letters and made endless calls to facilitate a better solution.  And to insure his Parole Supervision was set up for him to succeed upon release.

Today I got to speak to my brother for the first time in 3 months.  He is with my mom.  He is happy.

So am I.

*not his real name.

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