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!”

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.”

National Conferences: October 2013

November 1, 2013 in Conference, Corrections, Justice, Pilot Project by Kyle Dopfel

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National Association on Case Management (NACM) National Conference

It’s been a very busy month for the ADDA Justice team! From October 1-3, we attended the NACM National Conference in Atlantic City, NJ. This event gave us the opportunity to reach out to a new group of people associated with the justice system, to share with them our knowledge of the link between ADHD and their work, and to learn from them new approaches to helping our population. There representing ADDA were Kyle Dopfel (ADDA Justice Projects Director), Dr. Carol Kuprevich (Director of Community Planning, Program Development, and Training for the Delaware Division of Substance Abuse and Mental Health), and Ashley Biden (Associate Execute Director of the Delaware Center for Justice, partner organization on the pilot ADHD Corrections Project). Our workshop was entitled Criminal Justice & ADHD: There Are Solutions, for which the full Powerpoint can be viewed by clicking here.


National Commission on Correctional Healthcare (NCCHC) National Conference

On October 26th, we traveled to Nashville, TN, for the NCCHC 2013 National Conference. The NCCHC is one of the two major accreditation agencies for correctional facilities in the United States, and at their October meeting passed a new criteria for ADHD screening in juvenile facilities to be included in their standards. This is a very positive step forward for our cause, and bodes well for progress in adult correctional standards regarding ADHD in the near future! The ADDA Justice team was extremely active at this conference, which brings together correctional professionals from every corner of the nation to discuss improving the quality of health care in jails, prisons, and juvenile confinement facilities. We not only led a workshop entitled Adults with ADHD: Why it Matters! (Judy Cox, Dr. Carol Kuprevich, and Dr. Janet Kramer), but also presented a poster on ADHD in Adult Corrections (Kyle Dopfel and Kristan VanDomelen) and led a morning round table discussion. The full Powerpoint for our workshop can be viewed by clicking here.