WOOHOO! I am back online. I have been unable to email because the USB cable on the kiosk was broken so we couldn’t sync and send emails. It is finally fixed so here goes.
First, let me cover the hearing before the NE Supreme Court of my case over NDCS’s miscalculation of 191 good time. On Sept. 3rd I we had oral arguments but, because I hadn’t been at Community Corrections (CC) for more than a month, the admin. wouldn’t allow me to get a pass to appear in person. I had to give my arguments via video while the state got to appear in person, which I think is fundamentally unfair, but at least I was able to wear a suit (well I did wear jeans because they never saw below my waist *chuckle*).
How did the arguments go? Well, I each side had 10 minutes and as the appellant I was able to reserve 2 minutes of that for a rebuttal after the state’s arguments, which I did. So I had 8 minutes to present an intro to my case but the point of oral arguments is for the justices to ask questions so I practiced my overview to get it down to 6.5 min. to allow for 1.5 min of Q&A. I also created a nice 3 part organization, 1. Jurisdiction, 2. Textual Interpretation, and 3. Inverted Sentences, and I was 1.5-2 min into it and almost done with all of my jurisdictional arguments when the connections failed. *sigh* After a couple of minutes the connection cleared up and I asked what they had last heard. Chief Justice Havican was kind enough to say that as I hadn’t gotten to far they would just restart my clock and I could start all over. So I got to present my Jurisdictional arguments twice. *grin*
I gave my jurisdictional arguments again then went through textual interpretation and inverted sentences (when someone becomes parole eligible after they have already been mandatorily discharged). When I checked the clock I was at 8 min…and there had been NO questions from ANY of the justices. That made me nervous because I didn’t know if it was a good or a bad thing that they hadn’t asked me a single questions. Then the state got up for their 10 mins of arguments. They decided to follow my outline and started with Jurisdiction but they didn’t get more than 30 seconds into their presentation when the justices started grilling him with aggressive questions. It took over 6 min of his time to finish answering all their questions just on Jurisdiction but when he finally finished the last one he said he would move on to Textual Interpretation, my second point, but a justice interrupted and told him that the state needed to answer Inverted Sentences before he ran out of time. Ha! He spent the remaining 4 min trying to answer how inverted sentences made sense and even went 2-3 min over his limit. After that, I was pretty certain that it was a good thing I hadn’t been asked any questions. My brief must have been clear and persuasive enough to not leave anything for them to ask. *smile*
Then I gave my 2 min rebuttal with no questions. I did, however, answer the one “friendly” question asked by one of the justices (I think Havican) of the state. The justice asked if, in 1995, the state had not intentionally moved the parole calculations to a different section from good time and discharge calculations, and didn’t that mean they intended to separate parole calculations from any good time calculations? Being a friendly questions, the state had, of course, agreed that it was the Legislature’s intent. I spent the last part of my rebuttal answering this question in more detail. Yes, in ’95, the Legislature had separated parole and good time calculations into different sections but, at the same time, they had put two subsections into the parole calculations that made parole variable based on good behavior, if you got drug/intox write ups or if you refused programming. Then in the early 2000s the Legislature removed those 2 subsections and put in the language that parole was 1/2 the min. sentence “as provided in” and then linked it back to the section with good time calculations. So, if you look at all of the changes, the Legislature had always intended for parole calculations to be variable based on good behavior, not the flat 1/2 of the min. sentence that NDCS uses.
Bottom line, I am pretty certain that I will get at least a majority of the justices to agree that they should apply good time to parole eligibility. I’m not so confident on wining my Administrative Proceedures Act jurisdictional argument, but luckily, I still have jurisdiction under the Uniform Declaratory Judgment Act. I just really wanted to force transparency on NDCS’s policies through the APA. As the case is setting precedent, I expect they will take their time writing the opinion, so I don’t expect a decision before Nov. or Dec. Once I win, I will immediately write the Parole Board and ask that they move my hearing up to my new parole eligibility date (PED). Technically, they don’t have to move my hearing if they don’t want to but they do have to have a review within the 60 days prior to my PED. I hope they aren’t petty and refuse to move my hearing up just because I screwed with their easy scheduling of hearing going forward. We’ll have to see. *shrug*
Living in CCCL has lots of pros and some cons from living in a “full” prison. Since I last wrote, I have been moved to the “privilege” unit, THU (Temporary Housing Unit though they are trying to rebrand it as Transitional instead of Temporary because it isn’t going away as the overcrowding isn’t going away). The ability to ask to be moved to THU is one of the perks of my job as a property porter because I work with the CCCL administration. I still had to ask for approval from the THU Case Manager who turned out to be Medeley, a staff member I knew from OCC and got along very well with. I asked on a Friday and was moved on Monday, all before I had even been here a month yet. I think I got moved to THU faster than anyone had before.
To move to THU I had to give up my TV which sucks. It is also one big 100-man dorm and as most every one here is on work-release and they have to commute on the bus their alarms start going off around 2:30 or 3 AM. Additionally, the bunks are solid steel slats rather than the springs at OCC or in the main building here so they are pretty uncomfortable. So how is this a “privilege” you ask. Well, to start with, the building was built right beside the parking lot, outside of any fences, so we aren’t fended in. Our yard area is open to the trees that line the road and we can go out anytime we want so I get up at 4:30 and do a 1/2 hr workout in the dark yard. Then I go to breakfast and at 6 I do my yoga under the trees while watching the sunrise. *smile* Also, guys who work are allowed to bring food back and the unit is allowed to order outside food about once a week. Even though it is a big 100-man dorm room, there is more space here than in the way overcrowded 8-man rooms in the building.
Another benefit is that we are likely to be put on quarantine. Currently, 2 of the 4 units in the main building are quarantined because of positive tests from just one person in each unit. If there were a positive in THU, they would move them into the building to an already quarantined unit rather than lock down THU because virtually everyone here works and they would most likely lose their jobs.
I am enjoying the increased freedom of movement even though I haven’t gone out on a personal pass yet. To do that I have to arrange for a sponsor to take me out and McK has been trying for a month to schedule the sponsor class but the admin won’t respond to his contacts. And even once he submits the paperwork, I hear it can take a couple of months to get approved. *sigh* I could ask one of the “at large” sponsors to take me somewhere, but it would be just to go out shopping rather than being social with someone I know and I don’t really need to go shopping for anything.
I have been enjoying doing sunrise yoga under the trees. I start before dawn, under the stars. We are right north of Pioneers park and there’s lots of wildlife, including a coyote that goes through our yard some mornings. Apparently, one morning, while I was relaxing into a reclining twist post for 4 minutes, some guys by the building saw the coyote come through the yard. She noticed me and didn’t know what to make of the strange lump lying still on the ground so she inched closer and closer to check me out. The guys later told me that she got within 10 feet of me before she decided I was alive and probably more trouble than it would be worth to try and eat. *chuckle* The whole time I was just deep breathing and relaxing into my pose. I did see her myself a week or 2 later when I noticed a dark shadow slinking across the yard. She was either unaware of me or ignoring me so I made a noise to let her know I was there. She froze, looked at me for a while, and then went on her way. I also had a confrontation with a squire yesterday. I was relaxing in silence and he didn’t notice me when he scampered up the tree that was only 6 feet from me. The noise startled me and I made a noise which startled him. We had a bit of a staring contest and then he ran up the tree and went from a branch to another tree to get away from me. All kinds of animal spirit guides for me. *chuckle* I haven’t done much taiji since arriving here though but I should schedule daily evening practices.
The property porter position is also going well. I really didn’t want an institutional job that took up hours of my day but it has turned out to be nice to actually have responsibilities. I help the property officer process incoming and outgoing property, including running the Wed. and Thurs. in person drop off out in the parking lot. After 2 weeks of “training” with the previous property porter, he was released and then Candace (Ms. Hanes is the property officer) went on a 10 day vacation where I was left to process all the new arrivals’ property, the drop off, mail in, and the mail out property. The captain would even unlock the property room to let me do my work and “supervise” me from her office next door. It’s nice to have some responsibility and be trusted to actually to my job. Right now, my boss, Candace, is out for 2 weeks after a surgery so I am pretty much running all of property again though I now have to do it all before noon because I am going to a program in the afternoons.
I started the TRADE program (I can’t tell you what it is an acronym for) a week ago and it is going well. Their introductory 3 week course is about writing a resume and preparing to do job searches on Indeed.com. They also have a forklift driving and welding class but I don’t think those would benefit me so I came up with the idea of an independent study on MS Office 365. I asked the instructor if I could research MS Office certifications and because it was job related he okayed my looking it up. Then their employment specialist came through the room so I asked her if she knew if there were many jobs were the cert. of just Office skills might be useful. She said yes, and asked if I had the cert. I explained I didn’t have it yet but wanted to work on it. She suggested I write a proposal for an independent study program through TRADE. That’s what you call Incepting an idea (from the movie Inception). *grin*
When I write the proposal, I will point out that part of the benefit for them is that they could use the investment in software to run future MS Office classes for other people. Of course, they don’t have a qualified instructor to teach it, which is why they don’t offer it now, but in 6 months I’ll be eligible to do work-release and I’ll be recently certified in the newest version of Office. *chuckle* Nothing like literally making your own job opportunity, right? *grin*
Well, that’s all for now.