Family and Victims Treated as Criminals

Okay, another rant today. This is again about all my son’s stuff that is happening, but from a different angle.

First, my son has done all the things they have said he has done (to the best of my knowledge) and it is his fault for getting in trouble. I am not blaming the courts and criminal system for his own actual actions. I do also understand that ultimately it is still on his shoulders that myself and my family and dealing with all of this.

But…

OMG! The legal system is so difficult to understand and learn for the loved ones of people who are in it. Again, in this case my son did do things he shouldn’t have, but what about people who are accused of crimes they actually did not commit who get put into the system? It is all just so screwy and hard to understand. I do have to say that almost every clerk, judge, and other public official or employee I have dealt with directly has been very polite and tried to help – but the system is so hard to navigate for people like me and my family who are new to all of this.

It feels like we are being punished by the system ourselves, not just my son.

Figuring out what you, as a family member, can and cannot do is exhausting. You can go to the websites but there is limited information, you try another website and there is maybe a little more info. There is nothing altogether to explain the process of things though and it is really frustrating.

Then there is contacting the criminal. Again, I’m talking about people charged with crimes, not those convicted even. If you have a loved one in the system you may be able to have them call you but it costs a small fortune for each minute you talk. Not that you have to have a lengthy chat session about life in general, but if you are trying to figure things out for the person in custody and need to talk it can be incredibly expensive and exhausting. Many jails now have email as well but you have to pay for that too. My son’s current fee is 50¢ per email. Not a ton, cheaper than the phone for sure, but still another added expense. Then there is the commissary where prisoners can purchase personal items, food, etc. Now again, this are those only charged with crimes, no convicted yet and many of them may actually be innocent. The prices are outrageous but that is the only way because you can’t take things to them if they have visitation even.

All of these things, and many more, are so frustrating for families of those in custody. I do understand they have to have rules and restrictions for those in custody for many reasons, but I don’t think family members of those not yet convicted should be made to feel more like victims or that they are guilty of something as well. The system is screwed up!

Now you can hire an attorney, if you can afford one. That might make the process easier, I’m really not sure since my son does not have the money to afford a private attorney. He has applied for a public defender, yes you have to apply. The thing is his next court date is scheduled even before he is ever going to even meet or speak with that public defender. I’m told this is normal at this point and they take felony cases first. So he just sits and waits. Again, in this case it is his own fault, but still if he were rich he could hire an attorney and things would be far different. If you are poor in this country you do not get the same treatment in the judicial system as someone who is rich. This is ridiculous to me. Every person should be treated equally regardless of what there bank account level is.

Hopefully, after all of this is said and done it will help my son to make better decisions so that we, his family, never have to deal with this again. However, it just should not be so victimizing or criminalizing for the victims (of which I am one) or family (I’m that too) of people awaiting court dates.

I haven’t even touched on so many other things happening right now with all of this. I know that part of my worry and stress is that I am a very protective mom. I want him to learn the lessons he needs to and take responsibility for his actions, but I also want him to be treated fairly and with respect, as anyone in this country should be when accused of a crime.

Oh and by the way, people who work in jails apparently have no confidentiality requirements when it comes to them talking to others about what is happening with an inmate. This means they gossip not only with other staff, but also to other inmates. Sigh.

End of rant.

On a slightly different note, I know many of you read my post on Mother’s Day about all that is happening. In that post I ranted a bit but also got a lot of my hurt and sadness out. You all were so amazing in your comments both publicly and privately and I cannot even begin to express how much that means to me. I wanted to let you know that, even with this rant today, I actually feel like I am in a much better place and am being able to ground myself again and keep moving forward. I will get thru this.

Robyn