Looks like my penpal has been caught with a phone....

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ShadeyBiz89's picture
Looks like my penpal has been caught with a phone....

So, my longest penpal is in Arizona. We've been writing for 4 years now, almost 4 and a half. Arizona is a state where you as the free world person can see disciplinary records as a part of their DOC profile. I logged on to his DOC profile a few days ago for the purpose of seeing if he had been transferred, as he mentioned a move in February/March could be imminent, before I sent more mail..... and I saw this.

Turns out, since November, he has had 3 counts of possession of a communication device (I'm taking it to mean cellphone). This is after a fairly clean record previously (in the time we have been writing). In Arizona, from what I understand, cellphone possession is an automatic Class 5 Felony, regardless of the intent... what worries me is there's, not 1, not 2, but 3 counts there. As of now, his release date is still the same.

I am fairly disheartened and disappointed to see this, because we've been having discussions around him and his release in a few years and specifically around cellphones as well, I've told him not to hold anything for anyone or to possess one himself, because he can get himself and alot of other people in trouble, I told him about this article in the news some years ago where an inmate got caught with one and got 60 years... and he can get time added on to his sentence as well, which is what we're trying to avoid. We've had lengthy discussions on what he needs to do to stay on the right path, he has come a long way with that since we first started writing in a good way, and... it now seems like for all the steps he's taken forwards, he could have taken a huge step backward with that.

So, with the most recent letter I sent him, I mentioned what I saw when I went to see if he had been moved yet with the possession of device stuff and simply asked what's up, so I'm waiting to see what he says before we discuss any of it further... What are everyone's else's thoughts on this situation???

IL_PPP's picture

For prison offenses, they go in front of the "prison board" and not a traditional court of law, right? Hopefully, if it's anything like going to court in the free world, he'll have a chance to plead his case before any conviction/sentence imposition.

Regardless, I'm sorry to hear this.

FrankieBones's picture

Meh... This board just ate my response so anyway.... long story short... Getting done for carrying a phone is not an innocuous offense. Considering many of these people are hardened criminals one can only assume that the purpose of a phone shafted some place unpleasant or otherwise stowed away is not just for calling their grandmother. Although some people may do...

The prison/paroles/pardons board is also a bit of a kangaroo court. I wouldn't expect it to operate the same way as a civil justice court in the free world. It has its own level of policy and procedures. Whether or not it gets dealt with there or in a different court depends on a lot of things including the level of offense and whether they can be dealt with in regard to time added on or whether its a matter for resentencing or for an additional charge/offense.

Without knowing the full story none of us here can give you sound legal advice, I'd suggest seeking counsel from someone who can give you that advice so you know exactly what you’re up against.


davey1800's picture

"3 counts of possession of a communication device" - could just be kites?

ShadeyBiz89's picture

He did mention that in November he got into it with an officer and he said people were trying to set him up for something he did not do.... but my thing is, why has it happened twice since then? It also happened over the holidays in December and January as well, most recently about 3 weeks ago... 3 counts as it's entered 3 separate times on his disciplinary record. He's not close to release, he's still a few years away, so I don't get it???

I was just curious to hear what anyone had to say about this. I'll give him a chance to explain before I go further, I didn't even express my concern about it yet because I don't want him to feel like I'm judging him before he has a chance to say anything, especially if these charges are exaggerated or fabricated, so I'll hear him out before expressing anything else. We are very close friends and we've been writing for a long time, so we'll work through this somehow, but I'm mainly disappointed because he knows better than this, and he is better than this... but for it to show up 3 times, something is not right... but in the meantime, thanks guys! 

I last heard from him a few weeks ago, he sent for the holidays a letter, a card and a drawing, into the new year he also sent another card telling me what an awesome friend I am, I think it's been about a month but I have a hunch I'll have mail from him any moment, we'll just have to wait and see! We write 4-5 times a month typically, so this explains the delay too!


GalapagosDiver's picture

I think you're doing the right thing Shadey.  Just wait until he has a chance to explain things further - then take it from there.  You can still be non-judgemental of him and the phone use, while also making it clear it doesn't fit within your set of morals or acceptable behaviours.  It would be a shame to throw away a good friendship, built over numerous years because of a couple of unexplained instances. 

On a side note: "Arizona is a state where you as the free world person can see disciplinary records as a part of their DOC profile."

Do you know of any other states where this is possible? Or any federal equivalent? Crazy that you can see such an indepth report card of your penpal etc.

ShadeyBiz89's picture

Galapagos Diver: That's exactly why I'm going to hold off on everything, he's a close friend and is a big part of my life, so I'm not going to stop writing or anything like that. My concern is for him, that this could have negative consequences for him sentence wise, but we will work through this. I know how it feels to be judged without being given a chance to explain anything, and it sucks, so I try not to do that to other people. I'm sure he's already in some kind of hot water with 3 counts of the same thing, and so I don't want to come down too hard on him without at least trying to understand his side of things first. I'm trying to shut that part of my head off that is wanting to judge and jump to conclusions, until I hear from him about it. It's gonna be a few weeks before I know anyway, Arizona doesn't have JPay emailing capability and he's likely in seg, I just asked him on a letter I sent out last week so I've got some time to wait, extra since he's probably in the hole.

As far as I know... I've written to about 10-15 states in my time... and I can't recall being able to see disciplinary records on DOC sites for any of them. It simply lists the infraction date, the violation in general terms, the sentencing date and the verdict. So beside these charges, all it says is ''Guilty, major violation''. 

I think IL PPP is on to something, he probably does go before a prison disciplinary board, but still. I'm crossing my damn fingers this does not result in additional time being added on to his sentence.

It also concerns me because he's put in all this effort to change and I have seen that in him over the time we've written, and to see him get caught with the same thing multiple times, especially after he knows that consequences can be severe for this... it's like he's giving the positive changing parts of him back... so frustrating, but we'll find a way to overcome this! Thanks for your input, you and everyone else!

GalapagosDiver's picture

I'm sure things will find a way to work themselves out, Shadey.  The fact you give him a safe place to confide, where he isn't judged - that will help massively, regardless of whatever is going on.  Like IL PPP is saying, he's probably up before prison disciplinary boards etc and being judged by them.  So you being non-judgemental is a really good thing.

Fascinating that it seems other states don't have that ability to see discplinary records. 

Whether it be addiction or other problem behaviours, relapses can be common.  But that's all this phone thing might be - a form of relapse.  People often bounce back from those stronger than ever before.  I hope he's able to get his head back in a good place and on the right track again - without added time on his sentence! :)

ShadeyBiz89's picture

Just to update you all, the mail has slowed down since I noticed his disciplinary stuff, around the holidays and just after he got dinged for possession of a communication device 3 separate times. He was transferred to Bachman CDU (complex detention unit), which from what I understand is a protective custody unit. This explains the lack of mail for awhile from him. I should hear from him shortly, this isn't the greatest news but I will have to see what he has to say. Nothing new showed up on his records, just that he's been moved. I've asked about it but haven't heard back yet. His release date hasn't been changed so I guess that's the silver lining right now.

Xo50's picture

I read in the news there’s a lot of work on jamming cell phones in prisons so hopefully it wouldn’t be much of an issue anymore.  From what I’ve seen on the news the guards bring them in quite a bit to sell, so they’re trying to crack down on all that too. And sounds like if no extra time and any other court charges were brought against your PP also hopefully there wasn’t anything terrible going on.  He’ll get in the right place, I imagine it’s very tough at times to go straight if at times the ones in authority are tempting the inmates with corruption.