Bozelko Column: When a Absconder Didn't Escape – Pittsburg Morning Solar.
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No one should go to jail for a typo, but Renel Domond did.
Domond was paroled in 2017 after serving nearly nine years in prison. On November 13, 2020, the Connecticut Department of Corrections – as the Hartford Courant called it in 2012 – “Elite, Highly Skilled Fugitive Unit” task force chased Domond outside a vitamin shop in Stamford and took him away to the nearby Bridgeport Correctional Center alleged "escape" – intentionally escaping from the community where he was supposed to be custody after imprisonment.
What Domond did was intentional, but he hadn't slipped away. When small businesses struggled, Domond & # 39; s, a smoothie bar called Juice Kings, thrived. He took college classes, helped run a community basketball league, and sat on panels on judicial reforms, practically because of the pandemic. Airmen announcing his arrival flitted through email inboxes announcing the date and time that viewers could log in to hear Domond speak. It was easier to find Domond than to lose him.
Dr. Erin S. Corbett, founder of Second Chance Education Alliance Inc., a Connecticut nonprofit that brings college courses to prisons, and Domond's professor, said in an email, “Renel has successfully completed the requirements of a first-time full brought. Time student. As a business owner, father, partner, attorney, and student, he was exactly what the carefree system requires of released people who are getting used to the community again. "
In short, Domond was the last person the task force should have withdrawn from custody. Not only was he fine, the inability to find him wasn't Domond's fault. His former probation officer, Steven Faiella, misspelled Domond's name on his cell phone and when he didn't see his name, he found his ward was on the run.
Not only was this an injustice, but a threat at a time when the rate of COVID-19 spreading in Connecticut prisons was increasing. Just days after Domond landed at the Bridgeport facility, the first inmate death occurred there in about six months. The risk that Domond posed as a member of the community threatened the inmates, and they in turn put him at risk.
This is not limited to Domond. Around 25% of nationwide prison admissions – around 280,000 people – were due to technical violations in 2019, according to the Judicial Center of the Council of State Governments. These inmates do the time but cannot commit the crime. By their very nature, technical violations are not criminal offenses. Typically these are omissions such as not updating an address or missing an appointment.
Of course, these errors can indicate other problems, but the Connecticut DOC acknowledges that they generally don't. Interestingly, the department issued a press release earlier this summer congratulating itself on an “advanced ideology” that reduced the number of technical violations between 2012 and 2019.
In 2020, when pre-trial detention for DOC became a potential death sentence due to COVID-19, the department did not stop technical violations. By July, 102 people had been injured and taken into custody, the same press release said. It is not clear whether or not they had new fees.
This year, at least since March, that number should be zero in both Connecticut and beyond. Unless the matter is downright dangerous – in which case the probation officer would likely face new charges that may detain him – no one should be remanded for a technical violation during the current coronavirus pandemic.
Some states changed their prudential policies during the public health crisis, according to the Prison Policy Initiative. Interestingly, most states that restricted their practice of pre-trial detention for technical violations made escape the exception; If you flee, you will still be incarcerated in states that keep other technical offenders out of prison.
Most of the changes to the procedure have an impact on reporting requirements, but do not limit the detention of individuals. For example, in Connecticut, the state does not allow probation officers to meet with their custodians. All meetings are conducted by telephone.
Obviously, when a personal connection between two people is not well advised, there is no point in adding a new person to a group of 620 inmates (the number of people in the Bridgeport Correctional Center with Domond) who cannot socialize.
Domond's situation is so unfair that people seek justification and wonder why Domond failed to reach his officer. The answer to this is simple: through corrective rules, inmates and supervisors do as they are told. The good guys don't improvise. Domond's last direct order – to work, to obey the law, to be a good citizen – is exactly what he did.
Therefore, it is not uncommon for suspected segregators to tacitly obey the law. For example, Richard Hall, a Florida probation officer, sent a letter to the judge in charge of his case informing the court of his relocation to another state – where he lived, crime-free, in sight – but it followed still a Absconder warrant him in 2019.
If Domond had been asked to report, he would have done so. Probation officers had his email address and knew where he lived.
Somehow I don't think Domond is the only one who has this happened to. The chaos of the pandemic infected almost every government process. Normal cracks widened and likely attracted more victims.
On December 16, the Connecticut Board of Pardons and Paroles released Domond from custody after an eight-minute hearing after his former probation officer, Faiella, admitted on the file (to his credit) that he had made a mistake.
But a month had passed – according to the Pretrial Justice Institute, it usually only takes three days to disrupt someone's life. And Domond left an unknown number of inmates who may have been incarcerated because of a similar SNAFU or minor mistake.
These prisoners should be released immediately. And then law enforcement should decide how progressive it is for them not to confirm that a person did indeed escape and then get someone off the streets, let alone returning citizens who confuse expectations and actually thrive.
Chandra Bozelko writes the award-winning Prison Diaries blog. You can follow her on Twitter at @ChandraBozelko and email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.