SFI: “Now it’s Starting to Make Sense”

February 20, 2015 in Corrections, Justice, Pilot Project, Stories From Inside by Robin Stramp

Hello, ADHD Community!

As promised, we’d like to share a  new “Stories from Inside” entry with you this week to kick off our blog’s return to activity. The author of this entry just completed our ADHD coaching curriculum in January of 2015. We found his revelations insightful and inspiring, and hope you do, as well.

Entry 18 Pt 1

Entry 18 Pt 2

Before I got involved with the ADHD Corrections Project, I didn’t even know what ADHD was…All I knew was what I’d heard, that it was bad and an excuse to give medication to out of control teens. After working with the coaches and the other inmates who signed up for the class I realized it’s really not what everybody stereotypes it to be…It’s a chemical imbalance and it’s perfectly normal. Some of the world’s biggest celebrities and athletes have been diagnosed with ADHD.

Before I was even screened and tested to see if I had ADHD, I never saw myself as a possible candidate for diagnosis. Now it’s starting to make sense…Not that it’s an excuse for my actions that lead me to incarceration, it’s more of an explanation. I can look back and see where I messed up, and now I know why. All I have to do is learn from those past mistakes and prevent myself from repeating them over and over.

The best part about the project was the coaches…having a class full of inmates ages 18-46, who have all screened positive for ADHD can get a little crazy. They never complained, never turned one of us away or made us feel less than human because we were incarcerated. They gave us tools to cope with ADHD, and community resources we can use once we are released. They never gave up on us, and that means a lot.

I am grateful I got to participate in the ADHD Project and would recommend it for anybody struggling with the disorder.

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ADHD Justice Preconference!

July 7, 2014 in Conference, Corrections, Justice, Q&A by Kyle Dopfel

Please consider joining us for the ADHD & the Justice System Preconference on July 24th, 2014 in Orlando, FL! 

Over the past several months, we’ve been working hard to organize a preconference session on ADHD and the Justice System. We have put together an engaging program and an impressive line-up of speakers. This event is going to be a great opportunity to learn more about the relationship between mental health and justice issues, as well as to network with some remarkable professionals. And yes, we will also be offering CE credits. We really hope you will consider attending this event, and of course  encourage you to share the information with anyone else you think may be interested. We look forward to seeing you in Orlando!

We hope you will take a minute to read the flyer below and check out the  program outline.
You can find even more information by clicking HERE.

ADDAJusticePreconference_Flyer

Stories from Inside: Part 17

May 12, 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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“Since I’ve been a participant in the ADHD class, and learning all about how deeply this disorder can affect those who are caught up in the justice system, as well of those who are living criminal lifestyles. From listening to what the life coach and the lady from the Department of justice have told me, I am quite interested in its finding out if I also suffer from ADHD as well. From what I’ve been informed of what the symptoms are of having the disorder, and after passing the ADHD screening for “A person very likely to have ADHD.” I am pretty certain that I have “attention deficit hyperactivity disorder” ADHD too. With that being said, it leaves me wondering now if this could be the reason why I’ve been caught up in a life of crime for the past 12 years. I often act out of impulse and many of my crimes were wither committed out of impulsivity, or thru pleasure seeking. So now I’m curious to know if I were diagnosed with ADHD and treated for it earlier in my life, would things be different today? Could my poor decision’s and negative behaviors have been prevented? I wonder now if I were to had a life coach and be prescribed the proper medication’(s) would I be sitting in jail right now? Would my life be different today? Could simple treatment for a disorder have made a difference in the outcome of my life? Since I can’t change my past, what I can do is focus on my future. I have learned that people who have ADHD are more likely to return to jail, then people who don’t have ADHD. I also know that there is treatment out there that will help to reduce the effects caused by having ADHD. So what I intend on doing upon release “since the Department of Correction’s doesn’t” is go seek medical attention and find out if I also have ADHD, and get put onto the proper medication’s. If treating a disorder is what will help to keep me from acting impulsive and doing things that get me into trouble and placed in jail, then that is what I’ma do.”

Stories from Inside: Part 16

May 5, 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.

16“ADHD, Me and the Justice System”

I would like to say after many unknown reasons of why I found myself in particular situations I never knew ADHD played a part in those problems. Fex examples of why my impulsive decisions of not thinking it through has been damaging to my life that I can never get back. Especially out of my child life I can never get back. Also I can say that I have experienced my share of sensational seeking and turned to substance abuse, because nothing else brought me the attention as a drug high.

I never took the time to look at what I was putting at risk once again the consequences out-weighed the pleasure, eventually falling into the hands of the justice system. With short term pleasure with long term consequences. There is a tool that I’ve learned in ADHD class that works well for me. Think five time and act once which work wells for me. The ADHD Corrections Project has life saving information.

Stories from Inside: Part 15

April 21, 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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“This class has helped me to understand and no longer be unaware of people with ADHD and people without it. I think that I have learned the effects on ADHD, on people who find themselves in the justice system like myself. The impact that I got from experience is that I’m aware of something that I was ignorant of for years. And now I think that I understand ADHD and can point out ways to deal with kids and adults who has it. ADHD and the biggest impact it has had on me is that it now makes me want to learn more about it and be able to teach it the way that I learned it from my two teachers…”

Stories from Inside: Part 14

April 14, 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 impacted my whole adolescence growing up. Mischief played a big part in it as well. Growing up I wasn’t aware of everything like what would happen if I did this, where would I go if I take this car, steal this money, sell drugs, live? My thoughts honestly were of me making sure I had everything I needed to survive in this world. Quick to react to certain situations, not really paying close attention even when I’m trying my hardest. In and out of jail isn’t one, or few of my proudest moments but its something I can look back on and say to myself you’re really trying to take the next best step of making it back to your family.”

Stories from Inside: Part 13

April 7, 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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“I think living with ADHD help me in a lot of ways but it also caused me to back track a few times in my life. Living with ADHD isn’t always easy because I believe it changed your thought pattern in many different ways. There may be a friend of yours that has not been diagnosed with ADHD and may be more likely to stay out of trouble because he can control hisself while you can’t seem to stay seated and pay attention for two second because your mind is wondering off. I believed it help me a lot also because having ADHD young helped me cope with it better now as an adult. Now I learned that you have to control it by finding a hobby or at least exercising once a day.”

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!