By A. Hosack, K. Hecht & P. Berman
What? It is happening too fast. I am not ready. Has Claire even had time to get my letter?
Martin rushes up to Larry during lunch and tells him their attorney has arrived. They are now rushing down the hall to put on some suits the lawyer brought with him. They are going to get a few minutes of advice from the lawyer and then will each have fifteen minutes with the parole board to make a case for their early release.
Larry’s head feels like it’s on fire. As much as he wants to get out of prison, he has only just begun to try and figure out how to get away from the gang once he gets out. Suddenly, they have stopped rushing down the hall and are now in a room where they will meet with the lawyer. There are two expensive suits lying across a table; he has never worn clothes like this before. Martin tells him to hurry up, they can’t keep this guy waiting.
“Larry, don’t mess with this guy when he comes in. Don’t talk unless he asks you a question. If he gives you advice- you follow it word for word.” “How is this all happening so fast? How did he know what clothes size I wore?” Larry said, staring down at himself in the first suit he has ever worn. “Don’t get crazy on me Larry. The gang has this whole thing under control. There will be clothes, a place to live, everything ready for us when we get out. Just do what you are told.” Martin was called in first to talk to the attorney and left by another door to talk with the parole board.
Now, it was Larry’s turn to talk to the attorney. This was not going to be like his last meeting with an attorney. This wasn’t a public defender who had no idea what was going on until the day before court. This was some attorney the gang had an arrangement with; this was someone who could make the parole board hear his case within one week of coming on the job. Larry walked into the room where the lawyer was, sat down, and put out his hand saying, “Thanks for doing so much work for me. I’m Larry.”
The attorney looked speculatively at him for a minute and then took his hand and shook it. He introduced himself as Carl Spargus. “I am a criminal lawyer from Philadelphia and have had a lot of experience with cases like yours Larry. Your parole hearing should go smoothly because you have no prior adult record and I have had already your juvenile record expunged.” “Sir, what does expunge mean?” Larry asked. “We don’t have time for that, we need to get to what you will say to the parole board.”
“The parole board will be ready for you in ten minutes. It is important you show them how you have reformed your way of thinking during this time in prison and have shown a commitment to taking the path of a law -abiding citizen who regrets his past violent behavior. Larry, you have been selected, by my law firm to become part of our pro bono program to help felons reintegrate into the community after being released from prison. You pattern of spending your free time reading in the library and going to church are all part of what made us select you for employment after your release from prison. You will be a runner; this means you will take legal documents from the law firm and deliver them either to other law offices or to be filed at courthouses in Philadelphia and the surrounding area.”
Could this be real? This would be so great. A real job…No, I am so stupid; I will be delivering drugs hidden in legal documents.
Larry just kept nodding at everything the attorney said but, just for a moment, imagined he had a real job, working for a law firm. Claire and Davy could be proud of a guy who did that. But no way, this attorney was working with the gang. Whether Larry would be delivering real documents or not, he didn’t know, but he was sure that he would also be delivering drugs.
“The parole board is going to ask you about that assault you were convicted for. You are going to say you deeply regret the whole thing. I know you have been attending Catholic services at the prison. You are going to say the priest has helped you see what kind of life you were meant to live. You are going to be continuing to attend church and keep in contact with the priest who has become like a father to you. Got that?”
“Yes, sir. Is there anything else I should say?” Larry said trying to look the guy in the eye. “No, keep as quiet as possible. There won’t be any other questions,” the attorney stood up and began to walk out of the room. “Thank you for your help,” Larry said as the attorney disappeared around the corner. The attorney didn’t reply.
Is it safe for the community to release Martin and Larry early from prison?
A national study in 2005 found that within three years, 67.8% of the 404,638 state prisoners released from 30 states were arrested again.
Is this surprising considering what Larry and Martin are experiencing in prison? Prisons were flooded with inmates by policies aimed to get “tough” on crime, however, while making prisons into holding tanks full of offenders, this procedure was not found to reduce crime rates according to Grant Duwe (November, 2017), Rethinking Prisons: A Strategy for Evidence-based Reform. Report of the American Enterprise Institute. This article can be found at: http://www.aei.org/publication/rethinking-prison-a-strategy-for-evidence-based-reform/
Do you think sending people to prison is giving us a safer society?