Wednesday, August 22, 2007

..[ day seven ]..DOC in their zeal to protect the community are putting the community at risk by abusing the generosity of homeless shelters...

Last night became my seventh night staying at the UGM homeless shelter, but only after extreme panic and much anxiety where I thought I had exhausted all my shelter options. After attending 5:30 mass at St. James, I rushed to the library to make some phone calls to the crises center to see if I could make reservations at the “Operation Nightwatch Emergency Shelter” (Operation Nightwatch Emergency Shelter) program since earlier I had learned that the UGM was full. Being a level III sex offender, as a sex offender I am required to check into a homeless shelter each night, or be out of compliance, thus incarcerated.

Calling the Crises line, the operator was both friendly and helpful, he both listened to my plight, that if I did not find a solution I would be incarcerated, and he immediately gave me the DESC number so that I could secure a ONES referral. (A required document in order to be accepted by the ONE shelter.)

I next called DESC, who's attitude was quite disconcerting. Or possibly just desensitized? I ye again explaining the situation, “I am a level III sex offender who has a requirement that I have to say at a shelter or I will be violated for noncompliance. Usually, I stay at the UGM, but forgot to call in time this morning and the shelter is now full. I was told I need to call you guys and get a voucher so that I can go tot he ONE shelter. I think I believe at 9 tonight? How do I go about doing this?”

“Well your too late, all the vouchers are gone. In order to get one you have to be here in the early morning. We only have a limited supply, and they run out fast.”

“Oh okay.” I reply, “But, I understand, but am a little confused, because the DOC officer I talked today told me that I should call you, or go by the ONE shelter by 9pm to register, if I have no place to go? I am stuck, if I do not find a place to stay, I will be violated and then incarcerated for non-compliance, and basically it isn't that I am not trying, I was at a meeting this morning seeking housing and the meeting lasted longer than I thought and I didn't call in time, is there anything I can do?”

“No.”, after what felt like a dead phone, I said “Thanks.”, to a nonassuring “Good luck.”
Basically desperate with an eminent violation and jail, I being now frustrated walked towards the escalator at the library. While gliding down my brightly yellow surroundings, I get lost in my thoughts, “WOW isn't this great, not only has DOC continually refused to approve my addresses, but now they have just accomplished their goal; finding a way to incarcerate me.”
Walking rejectingly out of the library I begin walking aimlessly towards first avenue reviewing exhaustively reviewing the many efforts I have made juggling the DOC and thier constant attempts to incarcerate, instead of what I feel is more important, helping to stabilizing my life. (They don't have to do it, but they surely shouldn't be hindering it.)

Emotionally feeling a revolving door of incarceration, I can not separate the fact that my belief that DOC is abusing the power the courts have given them by refusing to be very cooperative in approving an address then as the only alternative forcing me into a shelter. Now yet again being faced with another violation due to a logistical err that is more in DOC control than my own. (I was violated previously when I became homeless in 2006 when I provided them with a UGM slip that the person behind the counter didn't sign one of the lines. The DOC hearing board, although seeing it was the same hand writing, state to me that I was begin violated due to the fact she was not a hand writing expert and there was no signature.)

Without realizing it, lost in my defeat walking aimlessly, I find myself within a block of the UGM. Desperate and maybe not so defeated, I walk through the UGM front door walking to the counter and pleaing with the attendant to accept me.

Recognizing me he asks for my name and I can tell from his body language, that he has dealt with my type of desperation before. He looks through his list then tells me, “Well I don't know what you are stressing about, we have you here on the list and your mat has already been reserved, see is that your name?” pointing the clipboard to me I can see that in fact my name is on the list with many people behind me.

Walking into the chapel and then to the attended inside he hands me the very important get out of jail card, I for the first time was glad to have. My name has never looked so beautiful in print before.

Sitting during what felt like an eternal sermon, I looked around and saw a sea of men, some I recognized from jail others from prison. I started thinking; I wondered how many other of these guys are in my very same situation? How many here are really homeless? How many are here because they are made to be here, as some form of DOC punishment? How may are sex offenders just like me? How many have the same sign-in sheet I do? How many are paranoid that if they do not get it their piece of paper signed, they too will be violated?

So fast can this little white slip of paper be turned into a little red card that says, “Go straight to jail, do not pass go, do not collect $200!”

Something is stirring my heart, and I have not quit yet grasped how to explain it.

After the prayer meeting a person I met at Monroe's violators camp comes sits next to be and chats. After a few words I realize and see the same clues that I have been feeling. He is as well a level III sex offender, his address too has been denied and he must stay at the shelter till one gets approved. I ask him, “So where are you trying to stay?, “at my mothers”, he tells me.

To me it seem ludicrous that there should ever be much of a problem to return to your mothers? “So, how long are they saying it will take to get your address approved?” Well, “They told me, when I called them from her house today, that 'I couldn't stay there!', and that it would take anywhere from seven to ten days to get approved?”

I reply, “Yeah, I have been waiting for that very same illustrious approval, but every time I go to see my CCO at my regularly scheduled meeting, she is mysteriously, 'out in the field'?”

Sound familiar?

When dinner is over, I do a last minute inventory of my surroundings and my mind is abuzz. What is going on here? Over the last week I have seen quite a few of these log sheets in peoples hands and I begin to formulate a conclusion of my week, but it is not until a bed night conversation with someone laying next to me and his freind do I begin to feel some resolve towards my adventure.

“You know,” the guy laying next to me starts to proselytize, “I come here a few times each week, not because I have to, but because I have a job that requires me to work at 4:30 am, and I don't want to have to wake up at 3:30AM everyday to get here on time. So I rather be inconvenienced than pay for a hotel a few nights a week. You know there are jobs where people here can work, but instead it is like if they are institutionalized, and they can't leave the shelter, it is easier to stay on the streets, come here get a few hots and a mat to sleep on. It now has become a way of life. I have seen people here for years and their still here. It is like the system is fostering their need to be homeless.”

Laying there, I recognize that although he may be abusing the homeless shelter himself, his freinds response strikes my interest, “Yeah, it is like people are mentally incarcerating themselves.”

Laying there I instantly want to turn on my computer and begin this entry.

There is no question in my mind that the DOC in failing to approve my addresses on purpose. There is no question in my mind that this is being done as a form of punishment. There is no question in my mind that being made to go to a homeless shelter has had absolutely no affect in my resolve to expose the abuses DOC implements without court or administrative oversight.

But, it was only until overhearing this conversation did I understand how to put it inot words. I have come to the conclusion that the DOC is using homeless shelters, along with the refusal to approve addresses for sex offender in particular level III sex offenders, as a way to mentally incarcerate and hold dominion over its offenders. It is as well a tool that the DOC uses to punish sex offenders further, many of whom do have homes an/or places to live, in order to mentally incarcerate them. They do this by being totally and completely insensitive to the plight of homelessness themselves, and they do this with total disregard to the good works and Christian values these programs attempt to instill to the homeless in Seattle. DOC has no business in instilling GOD or the fear of GOD into its offenders, by forcing them into homless shelters where GOD is pressed as their only solution.

In short people who donate money and any tax dollars being used and given to there homeless shelters are contributing to the DOC abuse of power which where given to them by the courts when giving them the authority to approve addresses of sex offenders, in particular level III sex offenders. And in this zeal, the DOC is propagating community protection problems in the community by using homeless shelters, to not only mentally incarcerate offenders in the community, but as well push religous values down their throat. In fact many offenders who I see in their who are forced and this false pretense can not in any help keep their minds open to relying on God as a solution.

There is no question in my mind, hat homeless shelters, who have reached out to accept these offenders, are doing so because they have great compassion to help people, and I commend them for their Christian compassion, and I hold them great gratitude for efforts. But, I reserve my opinion that by doing so that they may be in fact be connecting-the-dots for liability to someones future reoffending and are allowing the DOC to abuse its power in not properly addressing the necessary responsibility they have in making someone homeless by capriciously disapproving addresses and giving them absolutely no alternative but to flood homless shelters with these sex offenders.

1 comment:

Pastor Rick said...

Ok, the reason we restrict access to Operation Nightwatch is that there are 2,000+ more homeless people in King County than places to send them. Nightwatch has access to 125 - 150 mats every night. We're turning people away already; for the safety of everyone we had to do something to stem the flow. Horrible life-boat ethics, I know.

Thanks for your blog, feel free to email me back.
Rick R