The Hoosegow Abyss -Part 13
Eddie G. prepares for his Parole Board interview, and possibly toward a public hearing.
Joe agreed to coordinate my public hearing presentation, with the following stipulations:
1. He would have full coordinating authority. This requirement is no doubt due to his knowing my usual modus operandi is to contact as many people as possible to do something for me in the hopes someone will come through. Throw enough shit against the wall, and see what sticks. The problem was that sometimes the people involved would work at cross purposes and Joe wanted no part of that.
2. I will authorize LCF to send Joe a full, unredacted copy of my pre-sentence investigation (PSI) report. I must also agree to stipulate to everything in the report, whether or not I agree with it. Under no circumstances will I try to minimize or excuse my crime, and must in no way place any blame on victims. I must not use my young age and my use of drugs as an excuse for my criminal behavior. As far as the Parole Board is concerned, the PSI is the Bible; if something is not in the PSI, it didn’t happen. Likewise, if a victim makes a claim not supported by the PSI, that claim will be discounted. He also said it would be helpful if I sent him transcripts from other public hearings. “With so many lifers at LCF, it ought to be easy to get ahold of a few,” he wrote.
3. I will send an autobiographical sketch of my life before my arrest and convictions to all my supporters.
4. I will make no reference to any victims attending my hearing; must not in any way impugn anything they say; and, must not even address them either verbally or with gestures.
5. I will not get angry or defensive or argue with anything the Asst. Attorney General and parole board members say. I will answer all questions truthfully.
I emailed Joe agreeing with his demands, with one caveat: Though I will stipulate to everything in the PSI, I will not admit to anything that did not happen and is not in the PSI.
The Parole Interview
The room was directly inside the LCF main gates and I was the first to be brought in. The square walls were painted baby shit yellow-green, with one wall ornamented by a side table. Two chairs faced a large-screen TV monitor that blinked alive just as Joe was escorted in. The parole board member, a middle-age woman with a soft oval face, introduced herself as Emma Grandville, and invited us to sit. Joe introduced himself as my former warden, and indicated he was here to support my parole. She nodded, flipped several papers, then looked up.
Ms. Grandville to me: “Do you have a copy of your PSI, and have you read it?”
“Yes mam. I stipulate to everything in my PSI.”
“Mr. G, I have read your rather extensive file. And frankly I think you’ve made good use of the opportunities afforded you during your incarceration.”
“Yes, Mam. Thank you. I would like to point out that I’ve remained misconduct free for the past twenty-five years.”
“Yes, I noticed that.”
“Mr. G, do you know how a public hearing is conducted?”
And with that she spent the rest of the twenty-minute interview explaining the structure of a public hearing, including the order of business, who attends and the nature of their roles, and that the results of the hearing would be sent to the full board which would render a decision.
She thanked Joe for attending, wished me luck, said I would find out within the month if a public hearing would be scheduled. The screen went blank.
We sat momentarily staring at an empty monitor.
Joe turned to me and said, “I don’t know about you, but I think she was preparing you for a public hearing. We got a lotta work to do.”
Two weeks later I received notification of the time, date and location of my hearing. We had sixty days to prepare.
I sent Joe a list of supporters and their contact information and Joe contacted each by phone to verify they would speak in my behalf and would be present. Following the calls, he had me review and approve the following information regarding the training/information session he wanted them to attend, which would be held at an agency in Muskegon, Michigan that would help me transition out of prison:
Date of Public Hearing:
Location of Public Hearing:
1. Welcome/Why are We here?
In this section, Joe will go around the room asking each attendee how they have come to know me and why they want to appear on my behalf. If they are designated to speak, Joe will ask them what they intend to say. His intent is to acknowledge each person’s reason for coming, and to emphasize that they are here to support me in securing a parole; that they are NOT here to justify or minimize my crime, nor to pass judgement on my sentence or the amount of time I have done. Nor are there here to advocate for a cause or program. Joe may get into what each person will do regarding your post-release support, but if they don’t, I will cover that in #4 below.
2. Review the PSI:
Prior to this meeting Joe will have mailed to each attendee an invitation letter and a copy of my PSI, explaining that I want them to read the PSI and bring their comments and questions to this meeting. His intent is that attendees know what is in your PSI, and that there be no surprises in this regard at the Public Hearing. He will explain to them when and where PSI’s are written, and to ask them to evaluate what they now know about me in contrast to the PSI. Joe expect a general discussion about the progress you have made.
3. Review the Public Hearing Transcripts:
The information packet they get prior to the meeting will include the sample hearing transcripts I sent to Joe, who will then describe what happens in such a hearing, and what they can expect from the Asst. AG who will be speaking and from victims or their representatives. Joe will impress on your supporters that the role of the Asst. AG is to make me look as bad as possible, and to try to get me to deny aspects of my crime with which I may disagree. Joe will cover the things they should NOT say, as well as suggestions on what they may want to include.
4. Post-release Support:
Joe will ask attendees what they can do to support me post-release, and try to make sure: (1) Everyone is not offering the same thing; and (2) That everything (funds, shelter, transportation, employment, household goods, emotional support) is covered so that a comprehensive support package emerges. He will request written support statements be sent to me by a specified date so that I can review and compile them for submission to the Parole Board.
In closing Joe will ask if there are any questions and try to answer them. Finally, he read them a note from me in which I express your gratitude and thanks for their efforts. This letter must be short (a couple of paragraphs, at most) and to the point. Above all it must be heart-felt. It may be the most important letter I ever write.