Over 4,000 returning citizens who were hand picked to be released during the pandemic, now face being returned to prison when the pandemic ends. These individuals were released to home confinement on the Cares Act, mainly due to being low level non-violent offenders with good behavior while incarcerated, as well as having medical issues. They have reunited with family–many of them with small children. Many have signed leases for homes, bought furniture, financed vehicles, obtained employment, and started planning for their futures.
Most importantly, they have already proven they are productive members of society. They are true success stories–examples of how this country would benefit from more community programming–as opposed to the mass incarceration we now experience. D.A. is one of the Cares Act success stories–read what he has to say below. #KeepThemHome
I was released, placed on home confinement with an ankle monitor, early from prison per the “CARES Act” and COVID-19 emergency program on July 21, 2020. I met all the requirements of the CARES Act (non-violent, minimum recidivism risk, no gang related activity, etc.). I am 57 years of age, a non-violent, first-time-offender, and have served over 80% (9 years) of my 12 and half year sentence (151 months).
I have behaved as model prisoner with NO incident reports the entire 9 years. For seven of those years, I was in a special program called “Those Outspoken,” an outreach program from Taft Correctional Institution that went into the community to speak to, and mentor, troubled teens, sharing my story, and that, through my and the other’s stories, help them make better choices in life and not end up in our predicament. While serving in that program, until COVID-19 and Taft’s subsequent closure shuttered the program, I spoke at more than 26 high schools and after care programs in central and southern California, as well as several junior high schools, colleges, and universities.
I have underlying health issues that developed while serving my time in Taft CI, where I contracted “Valley Fever,” an illness which affects my lungs, scarring them severely, and must be treated for the rest of my life. Having Valley Fever puts my life at high risk with COVID-19 and other infections. However, being home and on home confinement has been monumental to me and my family.
Upon my arrival home, my daughter who is a single parent, and currently a drug addict, abandoned her daughter, my grand baby. My grand baby was 2 years of age at the time, now 3, and whom I been caring for and raising the little over a year that I have been home. I feel responsible for my daughter’s addiction because of my absence while serving time in prison. I blame no one, only myself.
I have been caring for my grand baby literally 24 hours a day. My wife works during the day and in the evening, after completing her work shift, she is exhausted, so my caring and tending to my grand baby doesn’t end when she gets home. We don’t yet have legal custody of her, so it’s impossible to get state assistance. However, we are in the process to get legal custody. Trying to get legal assistance necessary to obtain custody is also challenging, because my wife is the only person working and our budget for an attorney is limited.
It has been nearly impossible for me to get a job because my wife cannot care for our grand baby during the evenings and I am unable to work nights, due to my home confinement restrictions not allowing. I am required to be home from 9:30pm to 5:00am, no exceptions. I have worked odd jobs on my wife’s off days, Wednesday and Thursday, to at least try to help lift the strain of the financial burdens.
If I am to go back to prison, and I say this vehemently, it would be utterly devastating to my family, who is able to endure an already tough situation only because of me be being home. My grand baby would probably be placed in state custody for care and put up for adoption, or my wife would have to quit her job, leaving her and the baby without income or insurance. An impossible situation, and how do you make that choice?
I now have been home for over a year. I’ve done everything in my power to be a productive citizen, while caring for my grand baby and working whenever possible. As I have throughout my incarceration, I have maintained a record of clear conduct while under the supervision of my probation officer. This is my story, and it is my hope and prayer that the President, the Attorney General, Congress, and the American public would consider not sending myself, and the many others like me, back to prison. It serves no good purpose, and would only bring harm to others. Thank you. DA