Dear Stan:
Thank you for your considered and timely feedback vis a vis the ongoing Pippin vs. Goliath saga. I am grateful for your insight into the sometimes insidious, often nonsensical, but always power-based machinations of state government and their entities. As I’ve said, I am a newbie to this world, and bow to your veteran status. If I were a Big Dig whistle blower, it might be different; our adversary would be an easy target, because the public and the media is primed for the scandal of waste and gluttony by public officials. But I am a paroled offender, (with an offense that nobody can quite define, or recall), and my voice is muted by the implication of diminished citizenship.   That said–they started it, I didn’t. When I was granted parole, that privilege carried certain conditions. I didn’t agree with most of them, but agreed to abide by them, with my own conditional response: Until I had proven myself in the outside world sufficiently enough to warrant a downgrading of my ‘security’ status. In other words, stay sober, find employment, and live harmoniously and non-violatively in a parole-approved environment. Numerous people in the DOC assured me that once I’d reached a favorable, behaviorally-based milestone, then parole would relax it’s grip over my life. I did, I am doing all of those things. For seventeen weeks, I have lived and worked, stayed sober, commuted great distances, respected curfew, passed pee tests, met with a counselor, was accountable to each and every request made by authorities. In short, a pretty good citizen. Not perfect. Nobody is. But good and meritorious enough to truthfully ask myself, ‘What exactly have I done to deserve this?   The answer is: Nothing—but speak up softly, without the ‘argumentative’ style my officer described me as having, about a few things: A collective letter on overnight bans on behalf of a group of women in which I used the words ‘discriminatory’ and cited a MGL; Then, my simple curiousity over how a parole officer could be on the board of directors got her thrown off. That’s all it took. My personal progress at achieving successful reentry is not being noticed, or rewarded, it’s being ignored and punished. I’ve experienced a month of exhausting harrassment. I’ve been thrown into a Catch 22 of both a structured residence and the bracelet, with almost daily threatening phone calls. On Monday, I am to begin wearing the ELMO, a GPS-monitoring bracelet described by Mark Conrad as counterproductive and medieval. This means I cannot visit my son at college, or spend a night with my husband, or attend an evening’s event in Boston for fear of missing a train until January. For what reason? A forged court document? Had I truly broken any parole rules and been suffering the consequence, I would completely accept this treatment. I’m used to it. But I can’t accept how often this ‘stuff’ occurs and no one speaks up.   I don’t want trouble. I don’t want heads to roll. I want only to have what I, and several other people, have observed and been hurt by—to be heard, and listened to with respect. I can’t imagine being further punished with so many people watching and aware. Will I be visciously scrutinized? Yes. I can handle it. I want only for Mark Conrad to know that all he is espousing (S.M.A.R.T.) did not just hapen to me. I’d like to share the facts and the sources. You know my hope—to skip the bracelet and another program, but I’ll accept that speaking up may demolish that option…or, maybe not. It’s not a very big request.     You’ve described an ominous truth in your reply. A simple axiom. The more you push, the harder they push back, The more you uncover, the more they bury. I respect this law of the jungle. Unfortunately, I was born, it’s been pointed out to me, with a damaged fight-or-flight instinct. I’ve learned to listen to my elders and my guides to compensate, but sometimes the urge to fight, when conventional wisdom says flight, is simply too compelling, and important, to deny. Lawyers and DOC employees despise parole for this very reason: They are untouchable. I vote we touch them. All I’ve got is the truth with a lot of support. Again: they started it, I didn’t.   Coach me from here. Thank you.



Sent: Wednesday, June 24, 2009 6:05:52 PM

Subject: Fw: The final round: Higher and Harder.

Dear Pippin:

I am sorry about email problems. Not sure what is happening but happily you got my last one and I got yours.

I am prepared to push for a meeting for you with the Governor’s staff . That said, I am concerned, as I said in the last conversation, that the system holds all of the cards. There is great risk in the situation that could end very favorably if you can convince someone who actually has authority in this situation that you are right and the system is wrong. That rarely happens. The down side is that those with authority exercise their prerogatives that lead in the opposite direction-less flexibility and more structure. They made clear to me repeatedly that they do not see the situation in the same way you do and they have the final say. They kept saying that you needed to follow their rules or there would be consequences. The further away you get in the chain from those in the system with authority the harder it is to find someone who gets it and will push the system to see it your way. That’s is the gamble—keep pushing to see if someone in the executive will take your side or risk that those who have the authority will remove all flexibility and deliver an outcome that you and your friends do not want.

Ellen and I cannot make the decision as we will not face the consequences if it goes badly. We want you to be treated fairly. We understand what you are saying but we have not been able to convince the authorities to look at it in the way you do even using  the information you have provided. I know it is a hard decision especially when you look at it as a matter of principles. The counterbalance is that there are 6 months left and it would be a tragedy if it imploded and the six months were spent with even less than you now have.

Stan

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Hi Stan,

For some reason your email address(es) don’t seem to work with my dispatches. I received your email. I responded–twice! The first response was to let you know that I thought sharing my letter/issue/list of sources of those willing to go on record, was a great idea. I expressed my gratitude in the obvious faith and support you have. The next email was a slightly cleaner version of the original letter. At Ellen’s recommendation, before hearing from you, I sent a copy of the letter to Lora Pellegrini in the governor’s office.

That was yesterday. About 10 minutes ago I got a call from Ellen saying two things: I’m running the risk of ‘pissing people off’ and that you are ‘worried about me’. Now I’m confused. Please know I truly rely on my team of advisors. You and Ellen, I thought, are urging me to keep going. Am I wrong?

I intend only to go ahead with this to accomplish peace and productivity. The peace is my own—these people are acting no more reasonable than school yard bullies. “Programs” as they’re called, are turning me down because I’ve been ‘sober too long”; meanwhile, while living in a residence with 3x urine tests per week, I go on the bracelet on Monday. After 18 successful weeks of being off the bracelet! The productivity part is to bring transparency to a state agency that is long over due for scrutiny and functional redesign. Consider me a poster child.

Ellen mentioned it might not be wise to mention names. I thought it excellent to have confirmation of what I’m talking about/experiencing. Remember Stan, just because I’m in this world of parole and state government doesn’t imply I know a thing about what I’m supposed to do. What I’d like to do is to hold off on telling this story in exchange for being allowed to live where I am with pee tests and no bracelet until my parole is over—-no more moving, no more being withheld from occasional overnights with my family.

Tell me what to do boss.

Thank you.

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Did you get the email I sent to you yesterday.?

Stan

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Stan, I’ve had a tough go with your email. If nothing else, thank you so much for your help thus far. I’m terribly concerned that you received none of my apropos email pre Hefernan/Conrad conversations and therefore lacked all the one-two punch data. I’d let this go if it wasn’t 1. Messing profoundly with my re-entry; 2. Hurting so many other parolees.

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My Dear Lawmakers:

As Senator Rosenberg will attest, he reported to me on 6/18 that Under Secretary Hefernan and Chairman Conrad continue to condone, in the apparent form of official disinterest and denial, their field officer’s unwarranted and unethical treatment towards it’s paroled clients. The message was clear, and unencumbered by the facts, or interest in the truth. To them, I am exclusively at fault in the recent series of parole-related events and, more important, I remain a danger to society. With the Senator’s report, my immediate response was acquiescence. I decided to give up, shut up, and wait until my parole term is complete before commenting on what is happening to myself and many others released by the Parole Board because we are deemed road-worthy of reentry into society. However, upon reconsideration, and the counsel of those I trust most, I have decided to ‘take it to the next level’, with your able guidance and support. The following is my counter-allegation, backed by credible witnesses and authorities, that Parole staff, (Officer Bonnie MacDonald; supervisor James Roache of Essex county) and a parole-sanctioned LTRP{ (Sally’s Place in Amesbury, owner/operator Fred Millet) are in active violation of numerous parole rules and sober house (MGL) regulations.

On Friday (6/19), I received a call from my Essex County Probation officer: Miriam Gallardo, 978 682 5257. We have discussed both parole and Sally’s Place’s chronic dysfunctions. When asked her opinion by judges, she routinely requests that Sally’s Place be avoided. She also urges parolees to request an officer change if assigned to Officer MacDonald. Learning what has transpired with me, she has offered to go on record to detail what she refers to as ‘dangerous’ dysfunction of Sally’s Place. She will confirm the destructive and dishonest style of parole officer Bonnie MacDonald, whose malicious zealousness for ‘lugging’ parolees she doesn’t like on benign and questionable infractions have earned her the sobriquet: ‘Bring-em-back-Bonnie’. My own experiences with Sally’s Place and Bonnie MacDonald offer me a unique vantage toward the problems exhibited by both.

I believe this situation warrants a full investigation, both by parole and a state legal entity. I would appreciate contact and/or a meeting with Governor’s Legal Counsel Ben Clements. At issue: A facility and a parole officer actively violating laws, and/or being unethical and dishonest. Based upon Senator Rosenberg’s conversation, Parole/Public Safety is either unaware, or attempting to obfuscate the facts. This isn’t just about me—this is about accountability and transparency in state government. However my unjust treatment while at Sally’s Place by both Officer Macdonald and Director Fred Millet was grossly capricious and discriminatory. I have much of this documented.

The specific violations:

1. Sally’s Place is cleared as an LTRP (long term residential treatment program, i.e. a halfway house.) By definition, and compared with similar facilities it is not. Note: LTRPs receive more state and federal funding than unapproved sober houses.

2. There is strong evidence to support Sally’s Place being on Parole’s approved list of LTRPs due to maneuvers by the Essex County parole office, and officer Bonnie MacDonald who until recently maintained a seat on the house’s board of directors. (Rep Story’s actions had Officer MacDonald immediately removed by her supervisor as an obvious quick cover-up of an unethical conflict of interest.)

3. I was irresponsibly evicted for no valid or documented reason. I suspect it was retaliation for Officer MacDonald’s loss of her Sally’s Place Board Membership, as well as my authorship of a group letter requesting a dialogue pertaining to a significant reduction in overnight and weekend privileges. Despite my lack of behavioral infractions, I was sanctioned for thirty days for being ‘argumentative’, as well as a minor misunderstanding regarding two missed urine tests. Shortly thereafter, I was stripped of all overnights privileges (allegedly) by the Parole Board, who, without requesting my version of the facts, defaulted to Officer MacDonald’s opinion in the matter.

4. I am currently now in a far more structured house. I am being ordered to go into an LTRP after 4 months of employment and 5 years sobriety. My employment will be seriously curtailed with a relocation. (I have already paid $2,300.00 for housing fees and rent.)

5. Parole’s order that I be put on the bracelet supersedes a judge’s original ruling: A 2 ½ sentence for drunk driving that was served and completed in 5/07. (The bracelet is an additional financial burden of $80 a week.)

I went to prison for being unethical, dishonest, and breaking laws; laws by and large unrelated to alcohol dependence. Although it did play a part in my decision-making process, substance abuse was not a legal component to the crime for which I’m on parole. Nevertheless, Parole continues to classify me as an alcohol offender, in it’s stubborn insistence that I reside within the punitive and restrictive confines of an LTRP and afterwards, an electronic monitoring system. The ‘ELMO’ bracelet does not prevent an addict or sex-offender from re-offending, or even detect when drugs or alcohol or criminal urges are present. Only a mandatory urine test offers this assurance, which I am already required to do three times a week. Released on parole and overseen by authorities who are unethical and dishonest makes me unafraid of the consequences of forcing the truth to prevail. Parole is long overdue for ‘transparency’. Allow me to offer the valid evidence needed to begin to initiate change. Parole has done nothing but interfere with my work, my income, and my emotional balance. The reckless and vindictive actions of ‘Bring em Back Bonnie’ have caused only fear and trepidation, not normal reactions for a person with a high degree of reentry successes. But her actions defy normalcy; yet she holds sway over a great many people’s lives. I want to help change parole’s deeply ingrained culture of unwarranted intimidation and self-fulfilling defeatism, the very tenets that the DOC avows to correct by incarceration. Yet parole routinely second guesses judges and jails, by countermanding and subverting their decisions, as they have done to me. This systemic lack of respect for the individual, by employing a ‘one-size-fits-all’ punishment for returning offender, is one reason why recidivism is so high.

My personal request is simple: to remain in my current residence, bracelet-free, following the same mandates applied equally to all of the residents.

Let me know of your thoughts/opinion/position as soon as possible.

Thank you.

(Please feel free to forward this memo to whomever you deem appropriate)

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