Probation officers should teach respect by giving it

On Dec. 31, 2008, I received my first DWI. I have done my best to go through all the necessary legal steps, but from the beginning of this process, I was misrepresented by my court-appointed lawyer and mistreated by officials at the probation offices. The lawyer showed a lack of concern in my case and in defending his client, and did not properly explain to me state and local laws.

As a result, I was charged with a high level of punishment and was given 12 months of supervised probation after receiving a first-time DWI charge with no property or human damage. Just 30 days prior to the completion of my community service, the officers made the community service mandatory in their area while the documents were being transferred. The transference was slowed down two weeks due the inefficient work of the officials.

After the case was transferred to Henderson County, [someone] was appointed as my probation officer. Besides being no motivational help and a discouraging supervisor, the officer exhibited unprofessional and, at times, rude behavior toward me. Instead of answering certain questions or concerns regarding the enforced fees and documents lost in their office, I was specifically told it was not "my time and place" to ask questions.

I have always attempted to pay my court fees on time. Due to my probation officer's negligence, I was then charged extra fines for a failure to pay extra fees on time. I was humiliated by my probation officer when I asked her why nobody sent me the appropriate documents on time. The officer exhibited unethical conduct towards me when I tried to resolve the dilemma and resume communication by reminding me of my inferior position as a DWI holder. She failed to explain politely why she or another responsible person did not manage to process the documents within a given period of time.

Instead, I was told to "pay the fines, no questions asked" if I did not want to remain on the supervised probation for the rest of the year. I was treated disrespectfully and driven to tears. I am not appealing to anyone to reconsider the terms of my punishment — I am asking for an equally respectful relation from the supervising officer. I am hoping that this note will bring more attention to community needs and prevent certain community members from feeling segregated and abandoned, and will, consequently, prevent them from getting second- and third-time DWIs.

— Oxana Mak Folls

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4 thoughts on “Probation officers should teach respect by giving it

  1. LOKEL

    Unfortunately, what you experienced is the prevailing attitude within the local “justice” system … guilty until proven innocent is the mantra down at the the Courthouse … and remember, with budgets in a crunch the “no questions asked” mentality results in plenty of erroneous mistakes that often are hard to clear up within the various systems that the convicted find themselves thrust into.

    My advice is to keep complaining until someone listens … call your representative (state level) ask for answers from supervisors and get the rules in writing so you do not have to depend on some “civil servant” to tell you what they want you to do.

  2. cwaster

    “Unfortunately, what you experienced is the prevailing attitude within the local “justice” system … guilty until proven innocent is the mantra down at the the Courthouse”…

    So true. I have myself been treated as trash before when unjustly accused of threatening someone. It all came out in the wash later of course, but I personally got to see first-hand what our “justice” and jail system is like. You could be accused of something, be perfectly innocent, and get treated like a subhuman or worse yet get sick, hurt, or die in jail around here. I’ve not experienced the probation system thank God but I have heard stories of how it goes. And they were all bad.

    HKUSP, try finding yourself at the mercy of the “justice” system one time and you’ll be singing a different tune I promise.

  3. Jim

    People who have broken the law are still entitled to predictability to their punishment and respect from the system. Unfortunately, many probation-officer types know they are dealing with a powerless population, and they can be just as rude and unprofessional as they please without any fear of being held responsible, because all they have to do is wave their you’re-going-to-jail card around under the nose of the poor person who is trying to pay their debt and move on with their life. It is up to those of us who aren’t under the thumbs of these pint-size tyrants to stand up and demand more professional behavior from these servants of the public and the actions they are taking in our name.

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