Stories from Inside: Part 12

March 31, 2014 in Corrections, Justice, Pilot Project, Stories From Inside by Kyle Dopfel

We asked participants of the ADHD Corrections Project to share their stories of how ADHD has impacted their lives, and how this might relate to their experience with the criminal justice system. The resulting journal entries, written towards the close of their eight-week group coaching session, were remarkably thoughtful, hopeful, and compelling. While each inmate’s story is unique, we can also recognize in them some of the unfortunate experiences that are all too common among those with ADHD. With the permission of our anonymous authors, we’d now like to share with you these powerful first-person perspectives on the relationship between ADHD and the criminal justice system.

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“ADHD, Me and the Justice System

Having ADHD and being in the justice system is not easy. But at the same time it’s good for me because it helps to create more structure and helps to put a routine into perspective. Sometimes in situations like this program I’ll have a responsibility and get sidetracked by something that can create a domino affect and interfere with something important that I was supposed to be doing. Or if someone was supposed to be after me on the phone and someone else starts talking to me and distracts me I’ll leave the phone unattended and someone else will jump on and that’ll cause some havoc.

3 Actions that ensure successful reentry:
1) Take medications as prescribed don’t abuse it
2) Spend spare time wisely with only my son family etc. and stay outta trouble
3) Get a job as soon as I get to the halfway house and focus on developing a career

3 Challenges I’ll face upon reentry:
1) Finding a job with a criminal history and one that is flexible enough to work w me while I’m in the halfway house. I’ll prob have to get some low paying job and work early hours until I’m out of the halfway house. But then I’ll have to wait till then and I’ll get a sales job doing what I was doing, hopefully my contacts from the past are still there
2) Prison has retarded my social skills some and has almost immatured them some. I’ll have to readjust to a strict business setting and try to be more social.
3) Getting readjusted to being a father and getting my son readjusted to me being his father. I’ll just have to spend alot of time with him and assert a little authority at a time”

Stories from Inside: Part 11

March 24, 2014 in Corrections, Justice, Pilot Project, Stories From Inside by Kyle Dopfel

We asked participants of the ADHD Corrections Project to share their stories of how ADHD has impacted their lives, and how this might relate to their experience with the criminal justice system. The resulting journal entries, written towards the close of their eight-week group coaching session, were remarkably thoughtful, hopeful, and compelling. While each inmate’s story is unique, we can also recognize in them some of the unfortunate experiences that are all too common among those with ADHD. With the permission of our anonymous authors, we’d now like to share with you these powerful first-person perspectives on the relationship between ADHD and the criminal justice system.

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“How does having ADHD effect me while being in the justice system

Being in prison is harder for people with (A.D.H.D.) then for people with out because of the daily things that goes on in a prison life. Like for instance you are going to have people test you not only other inmates but also CO’s. And its hard to keep your kool if you have (ADHD.) You have to worrie about trying to get on the phone with out fighting and then once you finaly get on the phone the COcalls count or shake down shows up and you have to lock in your cell. I was incarcerated on Aug 7, 2012. I was locked in a POD ment to house 40 inmates, with 60 inmates on the POD. I was locked in a one man cell to share with two other inmates. There were only 2 beds so I had no choice but to sleep on the floor 2 feed from the comode.

The conditions were terrible there was mold bugs, several mice and out brakes of Mersia. We had 3 phones for 60 inmates to use with only 2 hours of free time out of our cells a day, It took over 100 days to be indicted, 8 ½ months untill I was sentenced and an additional 2 months befor I was moved from the presentenced side of the prison that’s a total of 14 months in these conditions.

So if you come to jail and you have a mental illness like Bypolar or ADHD making it threw these types of conditions is almost impossible. And on top of all this you are worried about your family and all the other things on the outside like bills, truck, boat, house, and the reality of losing so much is hard to deal with.”

Q&A: Brother with Suspected ADHD & Upcoming Court Date

March 20, 2014 in Blog, Justice, Q&A by Kyle Dopfel

QAHello, 

I have a twin brother who we (family) always considered him having a Developmental Disability. He always played video games as a child and would play for many many hours, it was the only thing he would stay focused on. In school he did not perform well, and dropped out of High School. He also sought out smoking Marijuana, and found himself getting into trouble. Recently, he was arrested and I believe he was inconsistent during questioning as he always had difficulty explaining details and mismatched a lot! He can not remember more than one thing at a time. I always noticed he was different aside from being almost like every other teen. He was being screened by Special Education Teacher from High School and by Academic teacher and they believed he was showing signs of ADD/ADHD, my parents never had it checked out and never wanted him medicated, and Pediatrician advised against seeking medications for this. I guess I am asking if he does have ! this and how can we go about it for upcoming court date? I look forward to your response and hope you can help, if you need additional; details let me know!

ST


Hi ST,

Thank you for reaching out to us. It does sound like your brother may have ADHD, although he would need to be diagnosed by a licensed mental health professional to confirm this. I’ve included a useful self-report screening that you may want to share with your brother. It won’t give you an official diagnosis, but it is a very good indicator of whether or not his symptoms may be consistent with adult ADHD, and can help you decide if this is something you’d like to pursue further with a clinician. Please feel free to ask me if you have any questions on how to complete and score the screening.

It is not uncommon for there to be some apprehension about going on a medication. It’s important to know that while meds can be very useful, they are not the only way to treat ADHD. There are also a variety of different types of medication that can be used to treat ADHD, e.g. some that work well are stimulants, but there are other non-stimulant options as well. Many people find that behavioral therapy and/or coaching can really help them better understand their ADHD and work on tools and strategies to help them manage their symptoms. Usually, the most effective way to treat ADHD is through a combination of medication and behavioral therapy/coaching- but everyone is different. If your brother decides to look into treatment options, that same professional that diagnoses him should be able to work with him to find a treatment plan that he is comfortable with and that works for him. I’d be happy to share some more information with you about coaching and medications, if you’re interested in learning more about this.

With regards to your upcoming court date, and how ADHD may play a role in the proceedings, here are a few general ideas to start with:

  • It would help to find your brother a local advocate to at least write a letter to the judge, discussing his limitations. For example: if you know that your brother sometimes has trouble with his short-term memory, keeping stories straight, and communicating clearly- it may be helpful for the judge to understand that this behavior is a symptom of his ADHD- not necessarily a sign that he is dishonest or insincere. This advocate could possibly be the professional who diagnoses his ADHD, a mentor from his previous school or job, or someone from your local CHADD chapter.
  • You may also consider putting together some information on ADHD in the criminal justice system to share with the judge. We can help by sending you some of our materials electronically or mail you hard copies, if you prefer. You can also find a good deal of information online at our ADHD Justice Support Center.

Both of these ideas will probably hold more weight if you can demonstrate that your brother has an official diagnosis for his ADHD, as opposed to only a suspected case. I am not sure of the timeline on his situation, but you may want to look into this prior to the court date- even if you don’t get all the way through the process, just setting up an appointment could help indicate that he is working on addressing this issue.

Another important thing to mention is that ADHD is not an excuse for wrongdoing. I’m not implying that your brother would do this, but it’s worth highlighting that we don’t want to be perceived as trying to use ADHD to avoid taking responsibility for our actions. What we can try to do is try to communicate to the judge any limitations we may have, so that he can hopefully take these into consideration when deciding a sentence that is not only fair, but that we are also capable of serving successfully. For example- if someone is sentenced to completing a class or community service, but their ADHD makes time management difficult for them, perhaps that may influence the scheduling requirements.

For more specific advice, it would be helpful to have a bit more information. For example: if you would be willing to share the nature of the charge, or any legal issues prior to this upcoming court date, it could help us get a better idea of your brother’s situation. If you have any more specific questions or concerns, (such as legal representation, etc,) please feel free to ask! I can refer those specific questions to experts on our panel, and connect you with people who can give you the best information and guidance on those issues.

I hope that you will find this information useful. Again, if you have any further questions or would like to learn more about anything I’ve mentioned, feel free to contact us. Good luck with everything, and please keep in touch and let us know everything goes!


Do you have a question for us? If you need guidance on navigating the challenges of ADHD in the criminal justice system, reach out to us at ADHDJustice@add.org. We will do our best to provide you with the support you need and connect you to the experts that can help!

Stories from Inside 10: “Love Magnified”

March 17, 2014 in Corrections, Justice, Pilot Project, Stories From Inside by Kyle Dopfel

We asked participants of the ADHD Corrections Project to share their stories of how ADHD has impacted their lives, and how this might relate to their experience with the criminal justice system. The resulting journal entries, written towards the close of their eight-week group coaching session, were remarkably thoughtful, hopeful, and compelling. While each inmate’s story is unique, we can also recognize in them some of the unfortunate experiences that are all too common among those with ADHD. With the permission of our anonymous authors, we’d now like to share with you these powerful first-person perspectives on the relationship between ADHD and the criminal justice system.

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“Love Magnified

This is for my people, so close an understanding
Victims of this world & all of its demanding
Our voices are small to them becuz of a small mind
I promise that a normal one
among them is a rare to find
Everyone is not conscious like us
but seeing is believing
Beware of the phonies who always relish in deceiving
Remember that time? Yeah! When everyone was staring?
Actin very concerned but never really caring?
Those are the ones! Just bounce them from your mental
The fakes are spitting lies & its coming from their dental
Still the focus is on us becuz we’re too much to handle
Too real! With the ability to put diplomas on the mantle
I know its easier to hurt then to deal with the new
But things can be different I swear, I promise you!
OK! Things happend & things aren’t like they used to be
Let’s put our hearts our feelings out there so they can see
We use this for strength to build & make us strong
Then we step out like royalty after we’ve forgiven the wrong
at night when alone we ask ourselves, is it really worth it?
To hold on to some B.S. when we couldn’t even help it?
The anger, sadness, dark clouds & the pouring rain
No! Our tears means something it’s the hurt & pain!
So what they know now, they won’t be able to judge us
It’s not our fault! There’s no need to fuss!
We got this, can you call off the so called “sanctified”
Becuz we are living proof- that everything is magnified!”

Join us this July!

March 14, 2014 in Uncategorized by Kyle Dopfel

ADDA_Webbanner_RegistrationOpen


What:
ADDA’s 25th Anniversary International Adult ADHD Conference:
“Celebrating the Progress of the Past and the Promise of the Future”

When:
Thursday, July 24, 2014 7:00 AM – Sunday, July 27, 2014 4:00 PM (Eastern Time Zone)

Where:
Rosen Shingle Creek
9939 Universal Blvd.
Orlando, Florida 32819

Why:
ADDA is rightly famous for its conferences that combine the power of science and human experience for adults with ADHD and ADHD professionals. Nothing comes close to the experience of joining hundreds of adults with AD/HD to:
     ~ Connect with numerous AD/HD specialists and experts;
     ~ Learn about up-to-date procedures and treatments;
     ~ Discover the strategies that work for other AD/HD adults just like you;
     ~ Be yourself, without being judged;
     ~ And make friendships that’ll last a lifetime!


For the conference website with all of the information you need,  click here!


Q&A: Guidance for young adult daughter with minor offenses, but failure to complete community service

March 13, 2014 in Justice, Q&A by Kyle Dopfel

QADear ADHD Justice Support Center,

I am contacting you in regards to my 19 year old daughter was caught shoplifting.  It was her first time ever in any kind of trouble.  We did not know what we were doing.  I could not afford a lawyer and neither could she.  She was charged $1000 bail, which my oldest son borrowed from five of his friends and my daughter is still paying back.

She faced the judge without a lawyer.  She did not make a connection with that judge, he was harsh on her. He sentenced her to 12 Shoplifting Classes ($400 came out of the bail + an additional $240 to my daughter).  Additionally, she was sentenced to eight hours of road crew and 60 hours of community service.   Neither she nor I understood that some of the bond could have  been used to pay for a lawyer.  Stupidly, I did not think a first time offense would be so severe and expensive.  The judge applied all of the bail to various costs and fines.

She completed the classes and her road crew.  However, she did not complete the community service in time.  [My daughter] is not good with time management, meeting deadlines, being on time; she has ADD and it very negatively impacts her life.  She put it off toward the end and still thought she had a week left when they told her it was going back before the judge.

We are afraid to face this judge without a lawyer.   [My daughter] does not have the ability to advocate for her or the confidence to say anything to the judge that may be of help.  She understands that she was wrong to shoplift and in her failure to complete the community service on time.  I do not want her to go to jail because she failed to manage her time properly or because she shoplifted one time in her life.  We are living paycheck to paycheck now; more fines will be a burden for us.

I also struggle with the ADD so I have dropped the ball on helping her make deadlines.  Morgan’s ADD is really causing her problems now that she is out of school.  She misses doctor appointments even with reminders.  Prior to the shoplifting she had a couple speeding tickets.  I thought she had until the end of August to complete the driver’s class online.  She got in an accident on August 22 and almost on the same day; her license was suspended for not completing the class on time.  We didn’t respond in time to the ticket, which increased the fines.  The shoplifting occurred prior to the accident so I was afraid for her to plead guilty without a lawyer.  The judge said she didn’t qualify for one.  Then on the rescheduled court date, she forgot about it and overslept at a friend’s house.  It was a nightmare.  Then she was charged with contempt.

She is a good kid.  She does not do drugs.  In high school, when she a junior her big brother was diagnosed with Leukemia and the same time I was laid off.  His first transplant failed; it was a very difficult journey for us all.  Morgan helped out a lot with her little brother during that time.  She helped keep us afloat with money from her part-time job, which she still does.  She tried community college in the fall this year, but was immediately overwhelmed.  Of course, she didn’t quit in time or follow through with the financial aid properly so we are on the hook for the first semester’s tuition.

Any assistance you can offer is so appreciated.  [My daughter] is not a kid who belongs in the criminal justice system.  I am so worried for her.  We need help.

Sincerely,

RK


Dear RK,

Thank you for reaching out to us. I’m sorry to hear about your daughter’s difficulties. Unfortunately, what she is currently going through is not entirely uncommon for those with ADHD. Here are a few ideas to start with:

  • It would help to find your daughter a local advocate to at least write a letter to the judge, discussing her limitations/need for accommodations on completing her assignment. This advocate could possibly be the professional who diagnosed her ADHD, a mentor from her previous high school, or someone from your local CHADD chapter.
  • Additionally, a letter of support from the community service program could go a long way. For example, something expressing that she completed parts of her community service, was a hard worker, had a good attitude…
  • Information in regard to a public advocate she may obtain from the public defender’s office is usually listed in the local phone book or the disability law program, which should be available in each state.
  • We also recommend that you may want to put together some information on ADHD in the criminal justice system to share with the judge. We can help by sending you some of our materials electronically or mail you hard copies, if you prefer. You can also find a good deal of information online at our ADHD Justice Support Center, which we are working to build into a comprehensive resource on this issue.

We also shared your situation with one of our experts, a defense attorney who specializes in advocating for juveniles with ADHD. He has a great deal of knowledge and experience in this area, and can offer you some valuable guidance moving forward. His initial response is included below:

I would be happy to be a resource for this woman and her daughter. I am not familiar with the specific laws in her location, but $1,000 does seem high for a first time offender misdemeanor bail, as does the amount of community service, costs and fines that she has had to pay. While she may not have completed her community service timely, she is either complete now, or substantially completed. At all costs, she needs to be represented by someone. That is crucial. In my opinion, the best way to handle something like this is to have an advocate, attorney, or even her clinician, draft a letter describing that it is not a willful failure to comply, but both the crime (impulsivity) and the difficulty in timely completion of her service (executive functioning impairment) are consistent with her diagnosis. The letter should also describe what the symptoms of ADHD are and how they impact defendants in her case. It would also be helpful if she has timing accommodations in her school.

I would also stress that this explanation, in no way is to seek a waiver of the punishment, but a consideration to extend her time and to help the judge understand that it is not a voluntary disregard for the sentence.

There has to be some type of court appointed counsel program (legal aide society, or court appointed private attorneys for indigent defendants). That needs to be investigated.

I would also recommend that she go to the COPAA website and see what resources, advocates and/or attorneys are available in her jurisdiction. She could also contact the State Department of Education. Each school is required to give parents a “Procedural Safeguards Notice” telling them about low cost or free advocacy services in their area, if they are having difficulty with the school district. Many times there are state funded advocacy agencies that may be able to lend a hand.

UNDER NO CIRCUMSTANCES, should she let her daughter face the judge alone without counsel. I also think it is highly advisable to have someone head off the situation, by requesting an extension of time, in writing, in advance. The last thing she wants is for the judge to think she is trying to get away with something. Transparency here could make a huge difference.

I hope this is helpful. If she has further questions, please feel free to have her contact me.


Do you have a question for us? If you need guidance on navigating the challenges of ADHD in the criminal justice system, reach out to us at ADHDJustice@add.org. We will do our best to provide you with the support you need and connect you to the experts that can help!

Stories from Inside: Part 9

March 10, 2014 in Corrections, Justice, Pilot Project, Stories From Inside by Kyle Dopfel

We asked participants of the ADHD Corrections Project to share their stories of how ADHD has impacted their lives, and how this might relate to their experience with the criminal justice system. The resulting journal entries, written towards the close of their eight-week group coaching session, were remarkably thoughtful, hopeful, and compelling. While each inmate’s story is unique, we can also recognize in them some of the unfortunate experiences that are all too common among those with ADHD. With the permission of our anonymous authors, we’d now like to share with you these powerful first-person perspectives on the relationship between ADHD and the criminal justice system.

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“Through attending these (A.D.H.D. – groups), I’ve learned alot of different ways to cope with my A.D.H.D. For instance, just knowing that I am not alone & that I have resources available to help me if needed. I feel very fortunate to have had the opportunity to be given the information to help me upon my release from this hellacious place I put myself in.

Having a release of thoughts in my head with other people who have the same (A.D.H.D. symptoms) I have, really helps me. I also realized also that I will probably find A.D.H.D. groups when I get home to help me, as far as venting to other is concerned”

Stories from Inside: Part 8

March 3, 2014 in Corrections, Justice, Pilot Project, Stories From Inside by Kyle Dopfel

We asked participants of the ADHD Corrections Project to share their stories of how ADHD has impacted their lives, and how this might relate to their experience with the criminal justice system. The resulting journal entries, written towards the close of their eight-week group coaching session, were remarkably thoughtful, hopeful, and compelling. While each inmate’s story is unique, we can also recognize in them some of the unfortunate experiences that are all too common among those with ADHD. With the permission of our anonymous authors, we’d now like to share with you these powerful first-person perspectives on the relationship between ADHD and the criminal justice system.

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“Hi my name is [KM] and I have been diagnosed with ADHD while being incarcerated at the Howard R. Young Correctional facility. Since being diagnosed and participating in a 8 week class I have learned a lot. I have learned how to process my ADHD and also what certain symptoms to look for. The most important thing I have learned is that my ADHD has hindered my success a little by not making important notes, which led to my forgetting certain things.”