"It is like I have to micromanage the DOC so that they do not act capriciously against my best interest. In all my years of working with people in the private and public sector, I have never seen a situation where the courts have given authority to a group of people who are accountable only to themselves. It is a self-policing, self-regulating organization, that has a very lose set of rules governed by a few, apparently meaning well administrative types."
Today is August 14, 2007, and it is early morning of the last night of being a non-homeless American. Although, I have been capriciously elevated to a level III sex offender, for over a year now, I have had a very difficult time in stabilizing a career or a home. Tomorrow morning, I will wake up by 8am from the bed my 72 year mother has provided for me in the only Motel in all of down town Seattle, Washington that would accept me. My mother and I walked and talked to well over 50 hotels and motels in down town Seattle and the Aurora district, failing to find a place that would take me as a level III sex offender. We submitted well over 200 postings on Craigslist, only to receive maybe 5 responses, all "sorry we already rented the room.”
We used a kind of not-telling-the-whole-truth at first tactic when talking to the motels, and it was fascinating to see the OK migrate to a "UHM no". The transparency of the business owners was quite alarming. First, my mother who is small in stature, a 5'2 Hispanic Grey haired women who was beautiful in her day, nut since my brothers murder in 2002, has deteriorated fast. During certain glimpses of sunlight I can see the smile that gave her beauty during her youth. Now the once vibrant smile has turned to disappointing wrinkles.
When talking to these hoteliers I usually started off with that I needed an address, since I had a probation officer who would have to confirm the address. Then I would proceed to telling them about my conviction. Typically, if not always, the reply is always met with "its OK". But, when I finally tell them that I am a level III sex offender and then give them a brief overview of the challenges I have been faced with they always change their minds.
Exhaustively approaching over 50 hotel and motels; places, in the past I would never allow my mother to hang her hat, places I would never leave my suit cases alone in, places where murder convicts are never given a second nod when asked to "sign here", places where I find signs posted that open prostitution is not allowed, places where live-in managers claim how safe their motels are and where they allow their 11 and 12 year sons and daughters to live with them, and places where I found open wrappers of condoms hidden in corners of the dark stair case we walked to check-a-room-out. They even denied us.
I live the humility of what my life has become. And now I have to make the distinction that I am not homeless, but I have been made to be homeless.
This homeless journey began in January of 2004, when I was wrongfully accused of having a sexual relationship with a young man named B. He at the time was 14, and when I met him just after my 42nd birthday, he had just come-out, 4 months previously.
When dealing with the issue of being gay, and coming out, the whole experience takes around 2 years to over come all the social, familial, and personal struggles surrounding the crises. I have often talked to people just coming out emphasizing that being gay shouldn't be a crises, but if they accepted it is, they can understand how to adjust better. They can put into perspective the hugely magnified as unacceptable emotions that are typically found in heterosexuality and its coming-out to sexuality period.
Irregardless of the age someone decides to come-out. The indifference between the two, suffers no ageism, and is hugely cultural. With the onset of youth organizations such as the Gay-Straight-Alliance (GSA), which was founded in part by KP a great friend of mine in Salt lake City, Utah and her high school lover Mikel, the inroads to the coming-out experience have only changed slightly since I was a young man in my late teens. Seattle, in my opinion, although at first appearance appears to be a very progressive city, issues such as gay marriage have meet a strong resistance and city acceptance ordinances for same-sex health benefits only recently narrowly passed into law. Issues that where addressed light years ahead from more conservative cities where I grew up, and came out myself.
I remember, my first gay right rally in front of City Counsel in Arizona. The issue: adopting a city ordinance for same-sex health benefits. The year 1991. Me and 10,000 other faggots and supporters. I was afraid the world would come down on me. It did not.
12 years later I met B, he told me that he thought it would probably not be a very good idea to befriend him, "You probably don't want to be my friend, because, like two weeks ago, my parents checked me into a hospital ... because I had a really bad cutting episode, after they would not let me see Scott any more, and they said I was trying to kill myself."
Hearing this over a cup of coffee, at a popular side walk cafe on Broadway, not 90 minutes after sitting over a cup of coffee, I was stunned with the ease this young mans' willingness to voice a clear understanding of some of the prejudices people would have on his self-mutilation. Along with his candidness about how he felt hurt by the fact his parents would forbid him from seeing his first crush, Scott. Listening to this young man, I saw a person who was typical of many young coming-out men his age, but different. It took several months for me to see the things, that gave him life experiences beyond his years. His abuse as a young child, the emotions he portrayed in relating the public showing of acceptance surrounding him being gay and the private show of anger that I witnessed involving CPS.
Initially I assured him, that his personal life in regards to his cutting, was something I had no knowledge, but it clearly was not anything that would cause me to create any judgment against him as an adult. I proceeded to encourage him to investigate the ideas his therapist old him about the subject matter, I went online and gave him articles about other cutters to read, and I told him that its ok, I do not judge. Within time he confessed to me his early years of abuse, from aged 6-10, and I assured him that telling his parents and his therapist where important. And over the very short period of time, I worked at giving him the understanding how to talk about to them, more than me would be good, and that the life-experiences he now possessed could be beneficial to talk about. He said, "in time" I knew he needed time, and that it was important for me to not betray his ability to act when he was ready.
So initially, I asked the obvious questions: How does it feel to cut? Does it take away a feeling? Does it create new feelings? Does it numb your mind? Are you upset about something? His answers where candidly straight forward and honest: “I like how it feels!” My responses where always quite theatrical and as we laughed through the "ouch's", "oh's-oh's-oh's", "damn I could never do that” and “Shit – I am a wimp!" I could see that B needed someone, an adult, to talk to – who like him was gay – and not afraid to hear his side.
That first day, we laughed, until I got the call from my employee who I was waiting for so I could take him to his birthday dinner. I told B that he should meet him, as he was turning 19, was going to start working at Abercrombie & Fitch, was gay and a great guy, who just recently came-out himself was looking to meet gay people for friendships only and that he was welcome to come to dinner with us if he wanted.
He joined us, and we all went to a dinner to celebrate my employees birthday, which was a long standing tradition, with me and my employees.
None of this of course answers directly how I became a sex offender or for that matter homeless, and how they relate, and of course they surely do.
I first want to answer the latter question as it is the catalyst that made me start this blog: The Department of Corrections has not been willing to approve an address for me to live. My community custody officer (CCO) has not been completely honest about what she has done in regards to my transfer to Arizona, and has been using a "the check is in the mail" technique, where it is apparent one thing is being said and communicated within the DOC and then another to myself.
For example, she said I will submit an emergency transfer, since we will not let you live in the University District or the Capital Hill area anymore then she allegedly "faxed the paper work". I do believe that something was faxed, quit possibly the paperwork but to where it went no one really knows. But, I can tell you we do know that for 10 days no paper work arrived in Arizona, where we had someone waiting to receive it. And what we as well know is that my mom paid $120 a night for a hotel anticipating the two day approval time given to us once the DOC received the documents. I believed in good faith, that the paperwork was submitted as promised. And I do know once Arizona received the paper work they responded within one day, well under the two days as required.
I find it fascinating that this CCO, stated to me she faxed it to the ICAOS folks in Arizona, then later states she faxed it to Olympia, all the while her stories are never straight, but semantically correct. But, it has always been my believe that if in fact the check was in the mail, if it hasn't been received 14 days after it was said to be sent, that in fact possibly it was never sent. It is clear that I received an email form AZ ICAOS that supports the theory it was never sent, until a day before they responded to the initial request..
I am homeless now, and the recipient of the effects of this CCO's actions. To compound it she has added a one mile radius from a school or park requirement, and has refused addresses I have given to them, all of which already have SO living in the area. $4000 of hotel rooms have been accumulated. Something, obviously that could have been prevented, if this CCO would have been forthright. 10 days into the in action, I approached the CCS (supervisor)and she said that I "should prepare for an alternative housing situation, and what have I been doing with my time?". This abrupt behavior gave me the indication that they were in fact stalling the whole transfer.
I quickly confronted her with the concept that it was obviously they where attempting to block my transfer, and that I wanted to understand why the transfer had not been initiated. She claimed it was and that she would email Interstate compact of Washington's to see where it was? The fact remains, that it was not until that phone call did I get a confirmation from Arizona, whom I was calling daily, telling me finally that they had received the necessary paper work.
It is like I have to micromanage the DOC so that they do not act capriciously against my best interest. In all my years of working with people in the private and public sector, I have never seen a situation where the courts have given authority to a group of people who are accountable only to themselves. It is a self-policing, self-regulating organization, that has a very lose set of rules governed by a few, apparently meaning well administrative types.
Unfortunately, what you really have is a set of people who are abusing their power given to them by the courts, who have compounded their behavior by a self serving policy of seeking a solution "at the lowest level."
In Corporate America, this type of philosophy would be classified in the waste paper basket as being nothing more that "circular logic" that contributed to the problem, rather than resolving it. At its very core the principle of seem a solution at the lowest level, is reliant on a principle of complete honesty. But, what if you have a system where semantic interpretations are problematic? Can that system support the necessary ingredient of honesty, needed for it to be successful? I propose, from what i have seen in practice by the special sex offender unit in Washington State, the answer is NO.
It is unfortunate, that in a very few cases, will the complaining supervisee ever see relief from the courts. For the courts have a system amongst itself where a gate-keeper (acting judge, or and administrative type given some quasi judicial power) always takes the side that on appellant bears the burden of proof is on the complaining part to prove a constitutional right has occurred. At first glance this though would be intuitively correct, but in practice there exists a real problem where a petitioner must first understand the legal wrangling necessary to show such a violation, then the next must have the where with all of documenting the abuses. The courts perhaps already know this, and perhaps so does the DOC, hence yet another example of abuse.
Wrapping it up in a nut shell - this is why I am homeless. I am not willing to sit here and play dead, and it appears DOC and the CCO's (6 so far) have all have had enough of my legal shenanigans, so much so that they are willing to push the legal envelope and make an effort to make me suffer. The real issue, is that it is obvious, that with suffrage comes a price.