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July 7, 2006 7:39 AM   Subscribe

I have a friend who has served time for several DUI's, and is currently on parole. He is worried about failing a drug test, and being sent back to the slammer to complete his sentence. Are there any MeFis out there that have been on parole, failed a test for marijuana, and not been sent back to jail?

This is in Illinois. It's also important to note that he no longer drives at all or owns a car. He owns his own home, and has been gainfully employed.
posted by lester to Law & Government (11 answers total)
 
Deja vu...
posted by piratebowling at 8:50 AM on July 7, 2006


I have a family member who is a parole officer here in Canada, and that person would send the people s/he is supervising back to prison for failing a drug test. And this is here in Canada where we're 'softer' on marijuana.

YMMV, but the safest bet is to avoid marijuana until he is off of parole at least. Is getting high so important to your friend that he can't abstain for the length of his sentence?
posted by raedyn at 8:58 AM on July 7, 2006


I've never been on parole, but I spent a summer working in the Revocation Unit of the NJ Parole Board. The Revocation Unit is what deals with people who allegedly violate the conditions of their parole.

I can't speak for the system anywhere else, but in NJ, not everyone is sent back to jail. The process, for something like this, is as follows: the parolee is tested by his PO and tests positive. The PO then puts the parolee in the county jail (not a state prison), and before too long, a Hearing Officer from the Parole Board comes out to the jail to review the case. It's usually the PO and the parolee there, and they explain what happened.

The Hearing Officer then considers everything and records an opinion about what should be done. They can recommend putting the parolee back in prison for varying lengths of time (between 3 months and a year), putting them into a treatment program (inpatient or outpatient), or taking no action. This gets typed up and "reviewed" by a couple of board members; usually, they just rubber-stamp the Hearing Officer's recommendation.

Since my job was to transcribe the Hearing Officer's opinions, I got to hear the descriptions of the circumstances and mitigating factors that went in to the violation and the Hearing Officer's recommendation. Usually, someone who doesn't have any other marks on their record and can show they're gainfully employed, have a stable residence, etc., ends up either in NA or an outpatient program. People who habitually violate from drug use often are put into an inpatient program, and if they continue, put back in prison for a while.

Now, there isn't any sort of rule that governs any of this. If you get the Hearing Officer on a bad day, or you make a bad impression, they might just decide to lock you up again.

The best thing to do is to stay clean. It is legally required, and even if you don't end up back in prison, you're still looking at a couple of weeks in county lockup.
posted by Godbert at 9:12 AM on July 7, 2006


My experience is also from the Canadian standpoint (I've worked in the parole system here), but the premise should be the same in the USA.

If you're on parole, you're expected to be squeaky clean - no further criminal offenses, or you get sent back to prison. Parole doesn't mean your sentence is over - it just means that you get to serve part of your sentence outside of prison, which is a privilege and not a right. Aside from general "keeping the peace" provisions, often a condition of parole is that the individual "abstain from intoxicants", which obviously includes illegal drugs but also includes alcohol.

Failing a drug test might not result in the parole being permanently revoked, but it will almost certainly result in it being temporarily suspended. Your friend's best bet is to steer clear of pot (and crime, and booze, and all those other vices) until he has completed his sentence and is free-and-clear.
posted by gwenzel at 9:20 AM on July 7, 2006


in all my years of criminal defense work (about six, mostly in illinois), i have never once seen a court or hearing officer go easy on a parole violation, particularly not for so deliberate and easily avoided a violation as using illegal drugs.

in my experience, the parolee ends up at a revocation hearing and the judge says something to the effect of: "you dumbass, what are you thinking? you got off easy and lucky. you have a job and a house and things to lose and somone watching you like a hawk and you still can't be arsed to lay off the pot for a year? go directly to jail. next case."
posted by crush-onastick at 9:20 AM on July 7, 2006


Perhaps I should mention, though, that the offenders under the supervision of (this person I know) are much more serious offenders. Many of them are 'lifers' and have just gotten out of serving years-long sentences in prison for rape/murder/several assaults etc.
posted by raedyn at 9:21 AM on July 7, 2006


Take into account that he has previously 'served time for several DUI's'. It's unlikely (in my mind) that anybody would be lenient towards him if he does get caught. And if he can't quit smoking weed for a year, he could do with the rehab.
posted by slimepuppy at 9:39 AM on July 7, 2006


I'm not sure what kind of character your parole officer is, but something like this has been known to work: call him, and confess. Say, "I screwed up, I'm terribly sorry, and I need help so that I don't do it again." This will kick all the administrative mechanisms described into gear, but at each interview and hearing, the record will show this unsolicited confession, probably combined with a positive drug test, but not a random one. If you can't avoid intoxicants, despite the fact that you know the consequences will be swift and severe, you need treatment. Because you are a moral idiot. Or your 'friend' is.

The powers that be MAY recognize this, and based on your confession they MAY decide that you are a prime, willing candidate for treatment. But that depends on the attitudes of the various bureaucrats, the funding available for treatment outcomes, and the amount of bran your parole board got for breakfast. In other words, it's far from a sure thing.

I am not a lawyer. Indeed, I am a guy (or maybe not!) you've never met, giving random advice on the internet . So my words should bear no authority whatsoever, but should be evaluated for their intrinsic truthiness or nonsense. Good luck!
posted by anotherpanacea at 10:25 AM on July 7, 2006


You could try contacting the PO and, without revealing your friend's identity, describe the situation and ask for his advice regarding what a person in that position should do and expect. Can't hurt.
posted by Carbolic at 1:45 PM on July 7, 2006


carbolic: if i was the parole officer, i'd lie.
posted by lester at 1:51 PM on July 7, 2006


I have a family member who went to jail for possesion of marijuana. Got out and was put on probation for few years.

Three months before his probation expired, he got caught again with drug. Went back to prison for few days, posted bond and now waiting for his trial... More likely, he'll have to go back to jail for violate his probation. He was employed at the time.

I also know someone who got caught twice. The second time, with large amt of drugs. Sentenced for 10 years.
posted by teapot at 10:18 AM on July 10, 2006


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