Archive for the ‘Cyanide and Happiness clip’ Category

Frog Gravy is a nonfiction incarceration account in Kentucky.

I would like to share my letter to the parole board that I wrote in Ricky’s World requesting parole after ten months of incarceration. Parole was granted.

As many of you know, I was convicted of a no-drugs, no-alcohol, no-bad-driving DUI (Kentucky rejects exculpatory scientific toxicology testing and favors all-over-the-place speculation from a lying deputy), possession of 0.144 grams of “gonna be crack,” and tampering.

I was sentenced to eight years from the bench. However, as you also are aware, Judge Craig Clymer sentenced me to four years in writing. After I went home on parole with a parole plan in place, Judge Clymer issued an arrest warrant, claiming “typographical error” in the written order and doubling the sentence to eight years. I believe now, and I have always believed that the fake parole and rearrest was a purposeful act on the part of the judge; it is impossible that the judge was innocently unaware of star witness Deputy Eddie McGuire’s penchant for lying and changing his testimony numerous times under oath. That I refused to ‘go along with the flow,’ and that I had the utter temerity to take a firm position infuriated this judge. Fake parole, that is, allowing someone to experience a brief taste of freedom before burying the person again, is a very effective way to tell a person that you do not care for her.

When I wrote my first parole request letter, I was in a bit of a quandary, because while I was well aware that the parole board probably wanted to see me discuss what I had learned from my crime, I maintained the position that I did not commit a crime.

Rather than admit to and discuss the ramifications of a crime, I did accept full responsibility for drug and/or alcohol involvement in my life, and I acknowledged the consequences that I could bring upon myself, related to such involvement. I reiterated what I had learned and accomplished during incarceration, and crafted a parole plan.

I am placing this letter online, because some folks visit this site through such search terms as “how to make parole on the first try.” Since I did make parole on the first try, I will share the information.

Note: A letter from an inmate is only one aspect of a parole board’s decision to grant or deny parole. For example, they have before them an inmate record card reflecting any disciplinary write-ups or issues suggesting poor institutional adjustment. I had no write-ups, and so I knew that the parole board had a ‘clean’ card in front of them. I provided hard copies of certificates of completion from Bible studies, as well as letters of recommendation from various sources. I provided a hand-written letter from a fellow inmate that I tutored.

I am not sure what role inmate family letters play. I have seen some pretty awful family member letters (I saw such a letter one time that said something like: My son is a thieving, conniving sociopath. If you let him out he’s gonna kill somebody), where the inmate was granted parole in spite of family wishes to the contrary and so, I am inclined to believe that the parole board considers the fact that family members may present not the most objective points of view.

I would also like to add that the parole-granting process is largely shrouded in secrecy. No one can tell you for sure just what they do consider.

Also: McCracken County Jail denied work, work training, education, 12-step meetings, treatment, and even church attendance in one instance, so most of my accomplishments were in Ricky’s World.

To: DOC
Offender Records Section- Parole
State office Building
5th Floor
Frankfort, KY 40601

From: Rachel Leatherman #218896
Fulton County Detention Center
2010 S. 7th Street
Hickman KY 42050

Re: Respectful request for parole

To Whom It May Concern:

I am a 48-year-old nonviolent offender and a registered nurse. I am responsible for my own actions, I fully accept my addiction, and I realize that contributing to it in any way is a serious crime.

I have put forth my very best effort to learn from this incarceration- the severe consequence of drug involvement, as well as a plan for living in recovery.

I have accomplished the following:

-steady work in the kitchen, 7 days a week, never quitting, never being fired.

-AA meeting attendance.

-I tutored a fellow inmate in math.

-Bible studies (certificates enclosed) through: Rock of Ages, Know Your Bible, International Prison Ministry, Croosroads, Emmaus, Pacific Islands Bible Institute, Purpose-Driven Life.

-weekly one-on-one sessions with a priest.

-self-reflection through artwork and writing.

I have made the following concrete steps toward a parole plan:

-continued psychiatric therapy (inquiry sent)

-ongoing 12-step involvement, and plans to be around supportive, sober people.

-employment (arranged)

-return to school for training (if possible)

I am ready to be a positive part of my community on release, by being responsible, self-supporting and helpful to others.

I realize that sobriety is my first priority. I will choose to be around people who are supportive of my sobriety (as is my husband). I will not associate with people who drink and use.

I believe that I can use my incarceration experience to benefit others, by sharing my own experience.

Please consider me for parole.

Sincerely,

Rachel Leatherman 218896

For anyone who is in a position of seeking parole, I think that it is important to maintain a clean institutional record. Joking around about rule breaking is one thing, but acting out and collecting write-ups may lead to parole deferment.

My disclaimer here is that I honestly do not know how the board makes these decisions. I do know that Class D nonviolent offenders do not meet face-to-face with the board, so many people write their letters and include supporting documents. Class Cs do meet with the board (I hear it’s kinda brutal).

Note that the letter is short.

As you know, Wikipedia was black today, in protest to proposed internet censorship.

When I visited the site, and typed in the term “heart,” it gave me the page for a brief moment. Then, it took the page away, and showed instead this message, saying essentially, How did that feel?

Imagine a World

Without Free Knowledge

For over a decade, we have spent millions of hours building the largest encyclopedia in human history. Right now, the U.S. Congress is considering legislation that could fatally damage the free and open Internet. For 24 hours, to raise awareness, we are blacking out Wikipedia. Learn more.I believe that Wikipedia is one of the most useful tools on the internet.

I use Wikipedia on a daily basis.

Internet censorship would be crippling for the passing public, I believe. The greater harm would far outweigh the greater good.

I did not write today (although I had a fascinating experience that I may share someday).

I hope that US Congress got enough of a feel for internet censorship that it is able to make a decision consistent with the interests of the greater good.

More tomorrow.

Here is Cyanide and Happiness Beer Run:

I will be publishing the full text Commonwealth brief online at this site, later today or tomorrow. In the meantime, Mason is putting the finishing touches on his nauseating article titled Forensic Fraud Part 2, and I hope you will enjoy lowering your day a bit, with some Cyanide and Happiness, The Man Who Could Sit Anywhere, with its usual dry, graphic and offensive approach. These guys are too funny to ignore.

Frog Gravy is a nonfiction incarceration account.

McCracken County Jail, May, 2008

My lawyer, who is about as useless as a steering wheel on a mule, calls me out to have a conversation. I have lost confidence in my lawyer, and I do not trust him. But, I am stuck with him and whatever surprises he brings.

As I walk down the hallway, I try to get a glimpse of Harry, who, as usual, is shouting and begging for someone to help him, from his isolation cell. I cannot see him. I wonder if Harry has a real name.

In the conference area, I seat myself at a small table, across from my lawyer. He says, “Did you hear anything about your sentence? How it is four years and not eight?

“Yeah,” I Say. “As a matter of fact, my family on the west coast told me, like two weeks ago. This judge will claim clerical error and give me eight. He did this on purpose, just to be mean, so I will make parole and he can take it away. This is not complicated. There may be a problem. Fred found a case that says he can’t take it back. Seems he missed a deadline.”

I watch the lawyer pick up a law book, that I have already looked through in the jail ‘law library,’ and thumb through it. He locates a statute that I have already read, and begins to read the statute to me. I let him read it, and I listen as though I have never heard it before.

I say, “I have told Fred to go ahead and file my notice of appeal. I will file it Pro Se.”

“The appeal has been filed.”

“No it hasn’t. Clymer wants some financial statement. For the umpteenth time. He’s trying to block my appeal.”

“Maybe so.”

“By now, you oughta know so. By the way, those comments he made about me in open court? The ones about me being naked on an elephant riding through the middle of town at noon? And the comments at sentencing, where he acted like an auctioneer and said to the jury, Thirty, thirty, do I hear Sixty? Those are comments for the judicial conduct commission. Those comments were unnecessary, offensive and inappropriate. Even other inmates were offended. Do you have any idea what it takes to offend another inmate in here?”

“They have very specific rules. They’ll ignore it.”

“How about filing documents with made up facts. Will they ignore that?”

“They have very specific rules.”

“He can’t make sexually degrading comments in open court. Come on.”

“It won’t go anywhere.”

“Not if I don’t file it.”

The conversation shifts. The lawyer says, “You can’t practice nursing anymore.”

“I have spoken to the Board of Nursing,” I say. “Many times. Drug charges do not prevent someone from entering a monitored diversion program and continuing to practice. Many health professionals, in fact, piece their profession back together this way.”

“That’s not what they all think.”

Ah, the ‘they, ‘ I think to myself. I say, “Okay. I’ll bite. If they want their phony confession I will consider it. But there is a problem. I have no idea what to confess to. They have so many versions of their story that I am not sure which version to pick. Maybe you can help me pick, Chris. Go ahead. Pick a story for me. There’s lots to choose from. Or, how about this? Make up a new one.”

“I don’t know.”

“Find out. If they could keep their stories straight, it would make my phony confession task a lot easier.”

“I know, I know.”

“No. You don’t. Do not ever again tell me that you know what it’s like. You agreed to taking away my defense, during a meeting in the hour before trial- a meeting you never told me about. You botched the trial. We are now trying to figure out a way to undo the damage you did. We are trying to figure out if you even preserved anything for the appeal.”

“Don’t worry about the appeal.”

“Wake up Chris. If I don’t somehow come up with the filing fee and file it on time, the whole thing goes away. Writs of Mandamus are a waste of time on something that is filed late. Am I speaking English?”

In my head, the team of sledgehammers is back. I can feel the blood vessels swell, as I sit here. Finally I say, “How about the appeal? What are my chances on appeal?”

The lawyer replies, “Depends if he has friends in the Court of Appeals.”

note: During my sentencing, in March, 2008, the judge in my case said, in front of the jury, as an auctioneer would say: “Thirty, thirty, do I hear sixty?”

The comment, “She could be naked, riding on an elephant through the middle of town at noon, singing a song about heroin” was made after the suppression hearing. Ironically, in an inappropriate yet darkly humorous way, the judge was pointing out that it is not illegal to mention the name of a controlled substance, or to even sing a song about a controlled substance, while riding an elephant down the street naked, at noon. He is correct, of course, because we have a First Amendment right to free speech, and mentioning something about [insert the name of a controlled substance here] is not illegal.

Why, then, after making this comment, did the judge deem such free speech an illegal act? We do not know the answer.

Also of interest: Herion was the subject of a front-page news story in the area, just prior to my arrest. Chris McNeill refused to show the article to the jury during my trial. Also, Chris McNeill failed to include the transcript of the preliminary hearing in the record on appeal. The preliminary hearing transcript contained McCracken County Deputy Eddie McGuire’s under-oath statements shortly after my arrest, and the statements differed dramatically and materially from his statements later on, also under oath. I had to file a motion with the Court of Appeals to include the preliminary hearing testimony, so that the Court of Appeals could see how Eddie McGuire changed his story. The motion delayed my appeal for a year, while the Preliminary Hearing transcript and testimony was included in the record. I was stunned when I learned that my own lawyer had made such an omission and created the one-year delay.