Monday, November 26, 2012

From Vacation to Probation...

...this is the last thing my daughter said to me this morning as she spoke to me just hours after getting out of jail where she has spent the last two weeks. I just want to give a shout-out here to my amazing husband and wonderful friends who have supported me through yet another difficult time of being a mother to my sweet, loving, troubled daughter. This is an incredibly personal blog which I have been given permission from my daughter, Lauryn, to share with you.

Lauryn is a survivor, she is my daughter 100% which is a good thing and a bad thing! She had a difficult time growing up, as did many of us, but she has yet to shed the weight of those experiences and let them work for her, instead of letting them drown her. She ended up in the Orange County, California jail after having a warrant issued for her arrest from a DUI experience earlier this spring. She was surprised to hear about the warrant because she had received the toxicology report back from the hospital (where she was taken after she passed out while driving) and it showed she had 0.000% alcohol in her system and the DMV had mailed her back her driver's license. But the DA was charging her with a DUI due to the fact that she had 2 prescription drugs in her system. She was in Long Beach for the big hair show (she is a hair stylist) and we (her dad and I) had given her the trip as a birthday present and I let her use my credit card to rent a car, ok, yes, big mistake I realize now. She has never been a good driver, very easily distracted and hasn't driven a car for several years now using her bike and public transportation to get around. After spending the day at the hair show having a fabulous time and not eating all day - she got into her car to go visit a friend before joining her hair show friends at a party - where she never showed. Luckily for her she didn't hurt anyone -this is definitely the best part of this story. Anyway, long story short, Bill and I were in southern California last month and I flew her down to go to court and deal with this. Having never experienced any dealings with the courts I was pretty ignorant about how things actually go down. The DA makes her a deal which she accepts and pleads guilty but the judge doesn't accept any of the deal, except for one part, and sentences her to 30 days in the Orange County jail (she had requested to serve in Contra Costa County where she lives). I am flabbergasted and cannot believe this is happening, I mean on all of those shows on tv they make a deal with the DA and that's it, right? Ha ha...folks this is not tv land!!

Things get worse when she doesn't sign up for the DUI class in time and chooses (with advice from the DUI school) to wait to sign up until after she serves her jail time so she won't have to pay the absent fees while in jail. Her dad buys her a ticket to get down to Orange County where another amazing person in her life picks her up and brings her back to his house to stay until she has to go to jail. She flies down a day early to go to court to request an extension of her DUI school. The judge laughs at her and tells her he is going to sentence her to an additional 30 days in jail because she has broken her probation by not enrolling in time and that she should "..have a good time because the jail is full of felons right now..." At this point she freaks out and asks for a public defender...obviously something we should have done from the get go. Let me backtrack her for a moment to comment that Lauryn has some super amazing friends and one of them works with a law firm (is not an attorney) and has some experience in this area. She advises Lauryn to go find the public defender who gives her some great advice and goes back into the court room with her to request a formal extension of time and the judge looks at her, and after being a total asshole to her earlier, winks at her and says "oh that's all she wants - sure."

Luckily for her the public defender also told her to remove any piercings she has because if she goes to jail with them they will put her in solitary confinement for the entire time. So off she goes to the local tattoo store to have it removed. She is doing all of this by bus in Orange County - she's pretty good about getting around but this is quite the day. Trying to get enough money together to put onto her account at the jail so she can get something other than a bar of soap to brush her teeth, bathe and clean her clothes with in addition to supplementing the meager meals they provide. Again she has been given advice from the many wonderful people in her life. She is great about providing me a website where you can get a lot of information about what happens in this jail which is well known as one of the worst jails in California with regards to the type of people who are here and the strictness of the courts.

Once she's in we all have to learn how to connect with her by mail and phone, another bit of education for me to add to my resume. Lauryn has connected me to a few of her friends which is great, one friend in particular has been very supportive, everyone who knows her wants to help and is going way out of their way to figure out how to let her make collect calls from the jail which cost about $1/minute. I am really quite taken aback by how many people love her and support her.

She ends up being put in a jail with a crazy girl because the "dorm area" is full, but I think this was probably the safest place for her. She isn't able to shower for 5 days and can't get any of her "commissary" money until after the first week she is there. She makes friends with many there and they all help each other out...but of course there are always haters out there and she learns to stay away from those inmates with the "yellow wrist band" showing that they are violent. Sleep is difficult on the metal beds, plus she deals with insomnia on a regular basis, she gets her period and has to deal with that, no cigarettes in the California jails - another thing that I am hoping will help her quit her addiction ..she journals every day about her experiences, relishes the mail she receives and hopes to help the friends she has made, while there, after she gets out. On her last day all of her journaling and papers with the inmates names and booking numbers is confiscated as "evidence" and she leaves as she came, with the clothes on her back.

One is released from jail in the middle of the night and there have been rapes and murders of inmates as they leave the jail in the dark of the night as they wait for a ride home. A father who's daughter was murdered after she was released started a program called Lights On with the St. Vincent De Paul Society and they man an RV at the jail exit and provide phone chargers, telephones, pastries and a safe place to wait for your ride. I am so thankful that they are there and she has a safe place to wait at 2:30 in the morning when her wonderful friend who lives nearby will pick her up.

This has been quite the experience for all of us involved and I am hoping, hoping, hoping that my little LoLo will use this as a place to grow from and realize how truly fortunate she is.

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