Friday, January 11, 2008

Advice to a Would-Be Parole Officer, Part Deaux

Well, it's two days late, but it's here.

This post will be about what I LIKED about being a Parole Officer.

When I first started working for Parole my [then] husband was with the Sheriff's Office. That gave us some common ground. Also, when I had to go make a jail visit, I could drop by his office at the S.O. and visit for a few minutes if he wasn't busy. [Do NOT give me any feminist rhetoric! I'll wager I've been a man-loving feminist since before most of you little bitches were BORN. Growin' up with four brothers, and a succession of Step-fathers will do that to you. So just take a GIANT step back off my ass.]

I met my [now] husband when he came to serve me with a subpoena so that I could testify against one of my miscreants after he committed a new offense. It's not that the Board has anything against P.O.s testifying against parolees who reoffend, they just want the subpoena, so that they can maintain the fiction that the P.O./parolee relationship is NOT adversarial. [In actuality, if you're lucky about 1/3 of your caseload will truly be non-adversarial, another 1/3 will be semi-non-adversarial, and the other 1/3 will be flat out I am gonna slam your ass back in Jail the very first chance I get and we BOTH know that's where you belong, don't we, Dickbreath? I mean NO offense to cocksuckers, some of the nicest people I know engage in that activity.] ANYWAY... I might never have met The Dearly Beloved had I not been a P.O. and had he not worked as a D.A. Investigator. But he came with that little piece of paper in his hand, and waited in my office, looking at my collection of Warren Zevon music while I got rid of an ATF agent I was talkin' to on the phone. [Those feebs could NEVER find my parolees who lived in the boonies. I had to let them follow me out there and pull into the driveway, because those MORONS could not even understand what SOUTHWEST corner meant. HOW the Dallas office ever made any busts is beyond me. I swan, every ATF guy, and they were always guys, never laughed at my, "Nice to meet you, I use all your products" line. Even if they WERE tired of hearing it, they could have chuckled out of professional g'damn courtesy!] He [Dearly Beloved] asked me out to lunch based on a common liking for Zevon, and the rest is history.

I liked feeling that I was "protecting" my community when I was able to get a revocation on a parolee who had violated his parole by drinking when his conviction was for what used to be called Involuntary Manslaughter [now it's called what it is, Intoxication Manslaughter] or DWI.

Convincing the Board to impose a NEW special condition after the parolee had been in Society for a while and wasn't adjusting well, that was something else I liked. It meant that I had spotted a problem, and was trying to do something about it. One case that stands out is a fellow that went down for drug possession but was now having... "anger management" problems. He hadn't hit his wife, yet. I was able to get him into sliding scale counseling BEFORE it could progress to a domestic violence situation.

I live in a College Town. At the time I was a P.O. I had a Jeep CJ-7. I was driving with some friends in an area where a lot of young people hang out. It was Friday or Saturday night, we were going to get pizza. As I turned the corner I spotted one of my Involuntary Manslaughter parolees sittin' on the curb with some of his buds having a beer. Fortuitously, a car pulled away just as I turned the corner. I slid to the curb, it was so perfect, I stopped even with said parolee, my door was off b/c it was a warm Spring night. I waited for him to look up and notice who was driving the Jeep that had just slid to the curb right in front of him. "Oh SHIT!!!" I grinned, "That's riiiight. Be in my office at 9 am Monday!" Do I have to tell y'all I had a blue warrant by 8:30? For the civilians: a "Blue" warrant is called that because they are printed on blue paper. It is a warrant issued by the Board for the arrest of a Parolee when they have violated one of the conditions of their parole and are subject to revocation. A Parolee cannot make bail on a blue warrant. They have to wait for the Board to withdraw it, or for a revocation hearing. It can take up to 90 days to schedule a Revocation Hearing!
I will admit, I was positively Gleeful over this incident and did a happy dance. I did a happy dance as the Deputies marched him down the hall when they arrested him and I did a HUGE, office wide happy dance when I got the notice that he had been revoked for drinking. You see, he had gone to prison for killing a BICYCLE rider who was on the OPPOSITE side of the FM road upon which he was driving.

This next had to do with Parole, because making Home Visits are a very big part of your job. You have to go out and see the house where they are living, or the trailer, or the apartment, or the motel, or in one memorable case, the school bus. You learn to have a higher tolerance than you thought possible for "unpleasant" odors. Although there was that one place...the Grandmother opened the door, and I staggered back two steps just trying not to retch from the stench that escaped in a miasma cloud when she'd opened the door. Thank GAWD that parolee wasn't home so I didn't have to go inside! Generally I liked doing home visits. I learned the county liked no body's business. I have a good sense of direction, it's just one of those natural talents I was blessed with. I also am good at following even the lousiest directions, when they give you landmarks, but not street names. Course out in the boonies, there aren't a lot of street names, sometimes. Keep in mind, this was back in the days before the 911 system required all streets, everywhere to be marked. I don't know what it's like NOW.
But that was a side benefit, I got to cruise around all over the country side, stereo blasting, and just hope out for a few minutes at each parolee's house, chat for a few minutes, try to verify this was where they actually lived and then on to the next one. See, that's the flaw with scheduled home visits. They KNOW when you're coming. So you never know if they really live there or if they just dropped in to meet with you.
Oh, one more thing, I learned this when I was an intern at Child Protective Services: NEVER, Never, sit on or next to upholstered furniture. If you can't sit on a wooden wooden chair that's at least 6 feet from an upholstered surface, stand. No reason to be rude about it, just politely refuse their offer of a seat. "No, thanks, I've been sitting in the office and sittin' in the car. It's nice to let my legs unfold for a bit." Something like that. See, lice live in upholstery. And they can jump up to 6 feet. Just thought I'd warn you the way I was warned.

And in case, no one thinks to tell you in the office... NEVER let the parolee sit between you and the door. Never. Just DON"T do it. It's a matter of safety. You always want an unobstructed path to the door. This rule applies to home visits, too. Even more so.

The conventions, schools, and other chances to get away from the office. No matter how inane the training, and some of it was, I loved gettin' together, especially out of town with other P.O.s. Especially after becoming a Sex Offender Officer. DAHM, but did we cut loos and have fun, or WHAT? Back in the day, there were just a few S.O. P.O.s and we went crazy when we got out of town, or just away from the office in a group. We drank too much, we smoked too much, we laughed, we danced on the tables, we swam in the pool in our underwear [because we were drunk], we needed to release all this tension that had built up since the last time we'd been together. None of the other officers understood what it was like to have to work with Toxic Waste wearing the disguise of a human being. Nobody, but another S.O.P.O., knew what it was like to have to listen to their bullshit excuses and rationalizations. "She seduced me" His victim was SEVEN years old! Or the guy who told me he didn't need counseling because he'd found Jesus in prison and his faith and love for Jesus would keep him from reoffending. He got REAL pissy when I told him that I'd hadn't had any messages from Christ lately, so he'd need to go to counseling and submit to a monthly penile plethysmograph. [the link will take you to a site that explains the term and how the measuring is used with sex offenders] I just HATE it when criminals not only try to con me, but use the name of the Almighty to do it. But what I liked was getting together with other S.O.P.O.s to brainstorm about ways to cope with this bull and just to decompress in a way we couldn't with other officers.

And, this is kind of a dirty little secret, I guess...BUT the Parole Officer badge looks a LOT like the DPS badge. And I had a badge case that had the flap that held my badge on one side and a pocket for my TDCJ ID on the other. THAT badge case was where I kept my Driver's license. Every time I got stopped for speeding the entire time I was a P.O., I'd whip that badge case out and the Officer or Deputy or Trooper who had stopped me would see that badge while I was pulling out my D.L. It gave them pause. They'd ask who I worked for and I'd tell them I was a P.O. in the _______ District Office. They'd ask if I knew so-and-so at such-and-such P.D. or S.O. or the D.A.'s office, or Trooper so and so or Ranger so and so. Almost always I did. You get to know these guys after you've gone to get their help on an investigation, or because your parolee lives in their area and you just want them to know he's there or back. And you get to talking about this and that and before you know it he's grinnin' at you and says, "Ah, slow down, Girl and get outta here!" And you drive off. Badge America, nothin' finer.

I went into Social Work because I wanted to help people. I went into Parole because I wanted to have a feeling of helping people in my community. I think I can say, with a straight face, and a clear conscience, I did that and I gave an honest day's work for an honest day's wage every day I was there. If you can stand the office and agency politics, it's not bad. I just couldn't. I burned out after being on a sex offender caseload too long and having a conflict with my immediate sup. So, I say...give it a try, but if you see it's grinding you down, sucking out your soul...Get Out! There are other ways to make a living.

67 comments:

Anonymous said...

First of all...thank your for your thanks. It is not often a PO hears someone actually appriciate the job we do. It isn't great, it isn't glorified, but it is a job that must be done....kind of like the guy that walks behind the elephant at the zoo I guess, anyway, thank you for realizing that we do work hard and its a job that must be done.

No, working for the state isn't great. But in a sick sorta way, I like my job. I tell all of my new arrivals that I have 2 great feelings in my job. The first is seeing these people take care of their business and get off of paper and never ever come back, except to say hi (which I have several that have discharged that will stop at the office just to visit and let me know what they have been up to...great feeling #1!!!). The other is seeing the guys that have to regards to the same rules/laws that we all follow walk out of my office in the approved state issued jewlery...click click....gotta love that sound!!!!Yeah...little wierd, but when you do this for a living, you get your kicks where you can.

The trick with the badge/ID/TDL...still a winner except with DPS. I swear those guys will give their grandma a ticket when she is speeding to dialysis!!LOL!! Also...the sitting at home visits thing....there are only a few houses I go into that I actually sit down...best excuse in the world "No, thats OK...I've been riding all day long and really need to stand up for a while." After this many years, I have about every excuse from my side of the desk as well as their side of the desk memorized. But I do get excited to hear a new one occassionally. The younger guys (face it people, the population in prison gets younger and younger every stinking day) can come up with a few good ones, but the older, true "cons" have the best stories!!LOL!!

All in all, the pay sucks, the hours are annoying, they keep messing with our benefits, but in a sick and wierd way, I like my job. Some people don't need supervision and do just fine. Others really need someone in their back pocket telling them "if you do that, your gonna be back in whites in a matter of days". Those are the guys that I get excited about when they can discharge their parole and do great in their future.

Thank you again...and big thanks to all of my co-workers...the good and the, well, others (ya'll know who you are!!).

The Annonymous Parole Officer

Mark said...

Hey, I found your blog by accident while researching the job of parole officer. Thanks so much for not only the depth of info, but the incredibly entertaining and funny writing.

Fantastic stuff.
M

John B said...

Warren Zevon! You and JPG have depths I never suspected!

Anonymous said...

Did this hit the nail on the head or WHAT??? I have been a State Parole Officer for so long that I have forgotten how to do anything else. The pay sucks out the waazoo, the hours can be trying and good Lord the Chiefs out number the Indians. We have seven sets of chiefs, The BIG CHIEF does not really know what the "little" chiefs are doing until something blows up in his face and the media is asking him questions. Then each little Chief has their own set of rules which they add on to the main set of rules until the original rules are fleeting memories. We Parole Officers can go from one office to another office or region and not know what the RULES/policies are. HOW CAN THAT BE? Let me tell you! It is called CHIEFS or the "big dick" syndrome as we "Old Folks" call it. You can have the biggest IDIOT Parole Officer but that is the one that is going to get promoted! Wanna know why they get promoted!! Why of couse y'all do...so here it is...THE GOOD/SMART ONES DON'T WANT THE JOB. LOL...so now we have one more STUPID CHIEF!!! So if it is so bad why do we stay? We stay because we really like what the job is supose to be and we have been doing it so long that we do not know anything else. So I ask who is the stupid one??? Why that is me of couse. Good luck and we "old folks" will pray for you.

Anonymous said...

I have been with Parole for a little over one year. I can see by your original post, and subsequent post that little has changed since you left the service. Politics doth abound throughout the entire Agency. If you are not careful, your co-workers, bosses or managers will hand you head on a silver platter.
The normal operating office is not conducive to being hospitible. Yes the pay frankly sucks.....It puts Hoover to shame!!!! Yes, supervisors and managers have issues with manhood sizes. Even the womon like to see whom has the larger set! Yet, in a strange perverted and twisted manner this job grows on you. Does this mean that I want my wife to done leather whips and chains.....by no means. It does begin to make me reassess my metal stability and sanity. I guess after several months in this position, my personailty has gone through a transformation which would make Dr. Frankenstein be proud. I guess I am really a sick puppy.

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