To Be Clear
“Man, I love being cancelled.”
This part 3 of the ‘Why I’m Choosing to Go to Prison’ blog series is it’s final installment, and I want to take a step back to first clarify my intent as to why I authored and published these 3 blog posts. Please understand that this is not an attack or assault on any system or individual within it. I am not a victim, and there are no victors here. There is no enemy. There is just US, and there is what injustice WE just do to each other in reality. I am just providing our reality regarding these events as seen through my particular perspective, and I can assure you my experience including my feelings about it are certainly real. I have nothing to gain by it. I just want my voice and my story to have the opportunity to be heard.
Finally, I just want to be clear:
“There are no ‘bad guys’, and there are no ‘good guys’. There is just all of US.”Tweet
Out With The In
As a society, I believe, we trained me quite well. I felt like I could help a lot of people through Applied Behavior Analysis. I particularly desired to work with individuals on the Autism spectrum, and most particularly wanted to work with children. There is much to be gained through ABA as a technology and a science, and I thrived in the Behavior Analysis Department at UNT. I don’t think the statistics would have predicted I graduate UNT with a 2010 Honor’s Day Outstanding Undergraduate in Applied Behavior Analysis Award. My parents didn’t go to college, they are both alcoholics, and my mother has been to prison. I dropped out of high school myself, I became a father while in community college, and it took me 4 years to get my 2 year degree. I could not even tell you why I attended college before the Behavior Analysis program at UNT, except of course to take the philosophy courses. This definitely changed after I took a Behavior class as a psychology major, and I was a psychology major no longer after that first course in science of Behavior. Nothing before had been so clear for me to see and to understand. To this day I still see the world around me as a never-ending A-B-C (antecedent, behavior, consequence) chain that interlinks all of reality around me. Also, B.F. Skinner is the closest thing to a God that humanity has ever produced in my view. When I graduated in 2010 with a B.S in Applied Behavior Analysis we all certainly thought I was set up to be a value to society working with our disabled population as I was trained as the best by the best in our field.
I know I had worked my ass off. I know those that trained me, and those that preceded put in work too.
I did not at the time, however, realize the degree to which any and all of this knowledge, training, and benefit to greater society could be canceled. It could be canceled almost in it’s entirety, and I believe much to the detriment of greater society.
Training To Be Felonious
I was accepted to the University of North Texas while on probation for a misdemeanor DWI charge that I was guilty of just weeks after I graduated Grayson County Community College. I had to write an explanation to the admission board about this in order to be accepted into the University, and my first year at UNT was under sanctions. I could not work or live on campus. So I both worked and lived, literally, right across street from campus.
I got arrested on the campus while at work once. It was for an outstanding warrant. 10 years before I got a ticket for ‘soliciting without a permit’. I thought it was paid. It was not.
I began UNT, worked a full time night job during the week, took a full time course schedule during the week , was a single parent to a daughter living in a different county on the weekends, and I had to do it with a suspended license from the DWI. Actually I did it my first semester with a few more arrests for Driving While License Suspended in the 6 months penalty period after the DWI conviction.
I did drink with my classmates sometimes. I did smoke weed with them sometimes too. I never thought of this as ‘wrong’, and neither did they. We were not social deviants we were participants in an understanding and non-judgmental college culture. I believed this as true even as I write and then recite a disingenuous ‘goodbye letter’ to marijuana during a 12 week outpatient drug rehab resulting from a failed UA for THC during a probation visit. I am accountable for my own behavior 100%, but I still do not feel our behaviors caused others harm or were at all ‘wrong’. I understand they were not in alignment with the laws, but we were just living normal lives this way en masse.
Another controlled substance that this hyper-competitive academic culture I was now a part of had internalized as normal was amphetamine, specifically Adderall. It seemed like every student from the suburbs listed on their parents medical insurance plan had a prescription of it. In the sandwich shop I worked in most of my college career at you could have your 8pm-5am shift covered by a coworker for two 30mg Adderall pills quite easily. The one 20mg Adderall pill that I had in my possession and was charged with 2 months before my graduation was given to me by another student who I barely knew during a study group on the 3rd floor of the Willis Library at UNT. That one 20mg Adderall was also one State Jail felony in Texas.
To Not Be… Convicted of A Felony
Neither myself nor my hired attorney could convince the judge to reduce the charge from a felony to a misdemeanor. I requested such to try and avoid having my newly obtained degree and career from being cancelled all in one fell swoop. I didn’t personally feel like that was a ‘just’ punishment, but I never denied my own accountability for the possession either. The charge remained a felony, I was guilty, but we all agreed the issue should not follow me around indefinitely so the court granted me the ‘benefit’ of having the case placed under ‘deferred adjudication’ for a period of three years. If I completed this 3 year probation period the state would then dismiss the case, and I would then not be a convicted felon. In this idea I believed, and thus I agreed. I successfully completed the 3 years, the case was dismissed by the courts, and I was provided a document stating the case was dismissed and I had put in my time to be now good with society again, officially.
Our Felonious Reality
Despite the fact that I honored my end of the social contract, the social systems we have in place were not at liberty to grant me my liberty. The opportunities I have been given would have been there if I was a convicted felon, and in almost every circumstance I was categorized as a felon simply because of the felony arrest.
This didn’t change even after I had the document showing my felony charged was dismissed. I avoided prison, but I was still shackled in this regard.
By now any illusion I might have once held about our legal system being one that aims at being fair and just is long lost. The aim is even irrelevant since what I have experienced is that the consequences of the consequence is not in alignment with the documented agreements. So you can maybe understand how I was not impressed with, or deceived by, the State of Texas’ offer to me after I was arrested on the most recent occasion. I set fire to my own property on my families owned property, and thus became property of the State of Texas under arrest for the State Jail Felony of Arson. At some point the charge was changed in the system to a Second Degree Felony. The State offered to again defer my sentence so I would not be a ‘convicted felon’. Please spare me the delusion. I agreed to the probationary period of 10 years, but even though not a felon I was not spared being treated as such when being canceled even more so than I already have been by society at large.
One of the consequences of my crime is that I could not for the 10 years reside on the property owned by my family to be passed on to my daughter and I. Another consequence is that no one would allow me a place to live under a legitimate lease. I could also not be homeless for the 10 year period. After staying in a homeless shelter for 4 months after being released on probation I had to sign the one and only lease I was offered despite the several dozen rental applications I placed during those 4 months. It wasn’t legitimate, and it wasn’t like I had a choice anymore. As far as jobs that would fully support an individual on their own I was either ‘too qualified’, ‘too felonious’, or it was crickets.
“There really can be no peace without justice. There can be no justice without truth. And there can be no truth, unless someone rises up to tell you the truth.”Tweet
You Can’t Free A Slave Unless He Knows He’s In Bondage
I was now happy to transition into operating the sustainable business I started in grad school, and I decided to utilize all of my focus to do so. Green Miyagi Waterless was is going to be my full time commitment, and also my life’s gift to Generation Z.
My own Generation Z daughter (15 years old now) showed her support in a letter while I was still in jail awaiting ‘justice’.
“Justice that love gives is a surrender, justice that law gives is a punishment.”
Even though I have what could be called an extensive arrest record with several or a dozen arrests it was still not as extensive as many of the people I was raised by or raised around. Prior to this arrest I had met or completed and passed every single item, task, or test the rules of our systems required of me. I have been promised many ideals in which I would benefit, or at least not suffer persecution or cancellation pursuant to our agreements. None of these have I experienced, and none of the agreements provided the justice I was convinced existed for one such as myself.
My own Generation Z daughter has certainly suffered an equal injustice.
“The law has no compassion. And justice is administered without compassion.”
Having done my time and met my duty to society for all previous charges I’m now on release, not a felon, and required to meet additional court orders mandated by our latest agreement. This should be good. In the first 11 months into my ‘deferred ajudication’ probation period I had passed all of my drug tests, had started on my community service, made every appointment, had paid my fines in full, and was paying monthly fees to probation (Grayson County CSCD). I had completed an evaluation by the probation department, and had to go through the process of being processed by the local mental health entity until cleared by their psychiatrist. I went trough intake, was evaluated by numerous different individuals of the mental health entity over a period of months, and was finally cleared and discharged by their psychiatrist. The notes said I was mentally healthy, that I did not need any additional treatment, that I did not need any medication, and that I need not return unless I personally became concerned about my own mental health. It took a Herculean effort to have these records released to my probation officer for some reason, but she eventually received them during the month of September in 2021. Everyone agreed I was good to keep moving forward with my life having met what our society via its systems required of me.
In this battle of life my phone knows this Generation Z daughter as I’ve call her for so long now:
She is literally amazing.
“Justice, particularly for the oppressed and marginalized in our society, never comes without great effort and sacrifice.”
Free at Last
Despite the lifelong opposition to my liberty I was finally beginning to feel like maybe the system could work with me. My previous probation officer had even gifted me a bicycle upon learning of the hundred or more miles I had been walking each week though the Winter in order to meet everything that was required of me.
Then, on November 18, 2021 a cheap cup provided a false-positive for cocaine. This provided my probation officer with the ‘evidence’ she needed to add another round of probation assessments, increased frequency of appointments and drug tests, and to decide that I be ‘on call’ for drug tests. No matter what I was doing, or regardless of where I was, if she called I had to drop everything and run to her so I could pee on command in a cup in front of a dude whose job it was to identify whether or not I was using my actual penis to urinate. She said the following month of December (after 4 visits in between in which i was commanded to urinate in limited time or be marked as ‘refusing’ to) that she could tell something was now ‘wrong with me’. She asked me directly what was wrong with me, and also what had changed since the November visit. I answered truthfully and directly. My answer was that I was ‘tired of being subjected to these systematic traumas’ and that it ‘was depressing even being inside the probation office’ after everything I had experienced within the legal system beginning at the age of 5. This could not to her have possibly been the truth. I only assume so because of the way she rolled her eyes at me, dismissed my answer, and asked me:
‘Have you seen anyone at the local mental health entity?’
‘Yes they just discharged me.’
‘Well I think you need to be re-evaluated.’
Despite not being a mental health professional of any degree she personally decided the clearance I had just been granted by said entity was no longer sufficient. She then proceeded with a direct threat to my freedom, and to the pursuit of my daughter’s familial happiness. She threatened that If I did not ‘fix’ whatever ‘problem’ I was having that she would send my case back to the court to have my probation revoked resulting in me being sentenced to and serving a Texas prison sentence.
Fuck you, fuck me, and fuck we.
I decided to finally set myself free.
I must confess that I’ve culturally cancelled myself.
She can’t revoke a probation that I already quit. I won’t have my daughter’s father’s life threatened by someone in a role on a power-trip.
I had to explain all of this to my daughter.
She told me that she understood, that I should do what I felt I had to do, and told me ‘not to stress’.
That’s my Warrior. I love you girl!
To Be Myself: Free at Last!