A Day at the Board of Parole Hearings

By D. Razor Babb


Recently, a friends and colleague went to Board for the fifth time. It was an early call, the 8:30 a.m. slot, so we expected to hear a result by mid-to-late morning. This person does every rehabilitative group, facilitates several of them, goes to college, works full time, is disciplinary-free, and is a patient, conscientious co-worker. He is considered by many one of the most (if not THE most) likely to succeed. He has job offers and an enviable list of supporters, is humble and spiritually committed, and if anybody is going home, this guy should be at the head of the list.

We are a tight little group who work in a closed room every day. We go through the usual struggles of people who see one another day after day. There are ups and downs, highs and lows; we get on one another’s nerves from time to time. We are there for the good and the bad, and the first ones to pick the other one up when they need it (usually). It’s your basic jailhouse family … the one you manufacture from a hodgepodge of lost souls thrown together in desperate circumstances.

People come and go from the group. Before you know it, you look around and realize that more than a few years have passed. Time flies when you’re not watching the calendar, or the clock. This day, however, we were checking the time every too often.

Hopes are high when the most capable among you, the most shining example of rehabilitative rectitude, is facing inquisition. This is the person I turn to for the hard answers. The one I count on to help steady the ship when the storm clouds are gathering and the winds are rocking the boat. By 1:30 p.m., still no word. We wouldn’t hear any- thing until the next day about the three-year denial. It came with the solemn caveat (decree) added on: “If they offer to bring you back early, you should decline.”

A denial, and a slap in the face. Another traumatic episode to endure, another round of phone calls and letdowns to share. Then there’s the haunting realization for the rest of us: “If this guy can’t make it….” But the unexpected surprise of a denial, that’s become all too routine. Sometimes you find yourself throwing up your hands and saying, “What the … ?”

One of the more esteemed members of staff offered some insightful consideration when she said, “You have to remember, when you go in, even with all the great things you’ve accomplished, all the credits and certificates and degrees – what if it was you who were the victim? What if you were the mother or the father of the victim? What would you be thinking? What would you want?”

We do get wrapped up in our perceptions of right and wrong, light and dark, what’s just and unjust. I wonder how those perceptions might change if we were able to walk in the shoes of our victims for a day – maybe on the day of our parole hearing. We become so involved in our own day-to-day struggles; even when what we’re doing and trying to do is intended for the good, we sometimes wonder, is it ever good enough?

I know my friend will continue his positive programming. I count on him to be resilient and maintain his efforts at the highest level. And we’ll be here, next time, waiting patiently and hopefully for his next day at the BPH.

Razor Babb is Editor in Chief of the Mule Creek Post

About The Author

Disclaimer: the views expressed by guest writers are strictly those of the author and may not reflect the views of the Vanguard, its editor, or its editorial board.

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