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  #1  
Old 09-08-2016, 07:36 AM
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Unhappy New psych med, they will not tell him what it is. I fear he will suicide.

Hello everyone. A dear friend of mine is being held at the Strafford County House of Corrections. His trial will not happen until January. Sadly he does have some mental health issues and there was a small squabble he did not hit anyone but was put in the shoe for 10 days. Now they are saying they do not have a spot for him as I believe he needs to go back into protective custody so they're telling him that he has to stay there another 30 days. I have grave concerns because they have given him a new psych medicine and will not tell him what it is and with that I really fear he could commit suicide because mentally he cannot handle this. His mom is not feeling well and they are all family to me so I thought I might reach out and hopes that someone could recommend who we make call may be at the jail or the Attorney General's office just someone to get in there and take a really good look at him as soon as possible.

I thank you all so much. I've not been at this for me for a very long time and so much has happened since my daughter was released and incarcerated actually several times thereafter. My health has failed me so it's been a very difficult Journey.

Again thank you..... EllaBlue
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Old 09-08-2016, 08:37 AM
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start with his attorney. His attorney has a vested interest in him, and making sure he is and stays competent to stand trial. So does the judge in the case.
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Old 09-08-2016, 09:02 AM
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Thank you so very much!! He thinks he wants to fire his public defender, and the representation has truly been less than desirable...but gosh, I am not even sure if that is possible. It is so very difficult to advise....(via myself, I mean)... Again.....thank you SO much, I will pass this on to the family.
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Old 09-08-2016, 09:50 AM
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Good Luck, EllaBlue! I hope your friend is ok Keep us updated, so we don't worry so much.
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Old 09-08-2016, 12:35 PM
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He can fire the PD, but he'll get court appointed counsel and this may not be the best thing, or he may get absolutely incredible representation. "Less than desirable" can mean a lot of things, many of which would not rise to a level where the Court will relieve counsel of appointment and allow for the appointment of new counsel. If there's a question of competence, this is even more the case.
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Old 09-08-2016, 12:36 PM
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Just don't let him try to represent himself.
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Old 09-09-2016, 07:34 AM
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Oh I know you are absolutely correct and I am so upset because the mom just called me and because the the inmate in this case, our dear loved one has asked to go before the judge to get new public defenders. In all fairness the attorneys have not looked after him in this case, so these public defenders decided that they would ask for a competency hearing and naturally the judge will decide this. I am just between myself because he's not indicted well he is indicted, but not convicted ......and certainly does not belong in a mental institution. I'm trying to take a breath because without a lot of money the family cannot hire a private attorney which really is what they need. Thank you so much by the way for your time I really appreciate it more than you know!!
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Old 09-09-2016, 08:41 AM
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There are multiple levels of competency out there. For instance, I'm competent to practice law in several states and federally, but completely incompetent to fly an airplane. I can cure the airplane competence thing by gaining the necessary skills, knowledge, and experience to get a license to fly airplanes. I can be in a hospital suicidal yet still competent to execute a will as long as I understand what a while is, what it does, when it goes into effect, and the natural objects of my bounty. You are competent to do a lot of things, probably most adult things. But, if you're a convicted felon, you are not competent to vote. I am competent to represent you in courts where I am licensed, but I am not competent to remove your appendix.

Somebody could be totally crazy as we understand it and still be competent to stand trial. Competent to stand trial is the only competence that the court is interested in at this juncture. The jail will make sure he doesn't hurt himself or others and he won't be sent to a state forensic mental institution just because he's suicidal in jail.

Competent to stand trial means he

1. understands the charges against him
this means he has a basic name for the charge and a very basic idea of what that charge means. So, murder - killed somebody, burglary - took something from somebody

2. can aid in his defense
he does not HAVE to aid in his defense, just that he is capable of rendering some aid in his defense through the aforementioned ability to communicate with his attorney (I did mention this before, didn't I? I usually do when "I don't like my attorney/don't think s/he's doing enough" things come up)

He can be seeing things, talking to Napoleon, thinking that the zombie apocalypse is upon us, but if he understands the charges against him AND can aid in his defense, he's competent to stand trial no matter what his mental illness may be doing.

Most attorneys know when their client MUST go to the state forensic unit to become competent. It's usually pretty obvious. Most times mental health stuff is only relevant at sentencing as a mitigating factor, and even then there are some crimes where you want to avoid bringing up mental health issues (sex offenses, especially child sex offenses, for example). Failure to ask for a competency hearing up front is usually not relevant to a zealous defense.

In case you're wondering what happens if your LO asks for a competency hearing, here's the basic schtick:
1. the judge questions him briefly. This won't happen if your LO himself asks for a competency hearing as asking for something like that usually implies some level of competence, usually enough to stand trial. Remember, the competency level to stand trial is very low. Enough understanding of the system to say, "I think I need a competency hearing because I don't think I'm competent" - no.

2. assuming the Judge believes that there may be a question as to the person's competence, he will order an evaluation. This evaluation is done by a psychologist or psychiatrist at the jail. That expert will write a report based upon his interview with the Defendant. The State, Defense, and Judge will get a copy of that report.

3. If the State and Defense agree with the report, a joint recommendation will be given to the Judge who will generally act accordingly. If there's a disagreement, then a competency hearing will be scheduled. The Defendant will usually motion for a separate, independent evaluation in the interim. Usually that's granted, and a second expert is appointed to evaluate the Defendant and prepare yet another report.

3.a. there's a hearing in which the two critical questions - does the Defendant understand the charges, and can the Defendant aid in his defense - are the questions that the judge must answer. Usually, the court finds a person competent to stand trial. People with IQ's in the 50's have been found competent to stand trial. People in comas are not competent to stand trial. People who don't speak English in Iowa don't get a translator except at arraignment and sentencing and are still considered competent to stand trial despite the language barrier (most judges order up a translator for an actual trial, but not plea negotiations - this is really fun when you don't speak the language of your client, let me tell you. Thank God for Google Translate and friends from college - Hungarian anybody?)

4. Once there is a finding by the court that the defendant is not competent to stand trial, the judge makes a decision as to when the defendant will be competent, and what's necessary to become competent. Sometimes, it's just an order to be properly medicated in jail for the next 30 days. Sometimes it's a trip to the State Forensic Hospital until he's competent.

5. State Forensic Hospital - he's placed in a ward, usually an open ward with locked doors with others who are incompetent to stand trial. there, he's medicated, and the treatment modalities are behavioral. An orderly/psych tech will help him to understand the charges against him and what it means to aid in his own defense. Nobody will care about the purple people he sees in the corner. Nor will they do much in terms of talk therapy. The goal is just to answer those two questions, and usually get him sedate enough to not act up in court. Most of the guys I've had there have stayed 30-60 days. There can be a ton of violence, and it is very much like a prison (the orderlies/psych techs are trained corrections officers who have taken additional training to deal with psych patients). It is not a fun environment, 4 point restraints are liberally used, as are quiet rooms. Court ordered forced medication and ECT are more commonly used in a State Forensic Hospital than in any private facility I've ever seen, even when clients have wanted ECT, they are not as likely to do it as a first line treatment in a private hospital than a state forensic unit.

5. Once he has the minimum level of competency, he comes back to jail, and awaits trial.

Oh, and here's a big distinction - competency to stand trial is COMPLETELY different from insane at the time of the crime. Don't mix them up.

The other thing that drives Defendants nuts and makes them think that their attorney (PD or private) is not doing anything - justice runs slow. Mostly I don't want more than a few brief contacts with my client before I get discovery from the state. Discovery from the State helps frame the case and tells me what's going on, where the weaknesses of the State's case are, and how to advise my client as to chances at trial v. good plea offers. Most Defendants, otoh, want to tell me their story right up front - the adrenalin of the situation makes especially first time offenders very talkative. They get frustrated when I'm not interested in hearing their story right then and there, and I don't want to hear it then and there because I don't have the evidence, frequently clients lie then and there and want me to see their lie as plausible ("these are not my pants" cases, among others), and I want them to calm down, help me look at and understand the evidence the State actually has. It is very common for a few months to go by before we have a conversation that the Client considers "real" (though as a private attorney who takes court appointments and keeps my active client list down, I'm a soft touch and do tend to talk outside of the basic court documents with clients. I'm especially sensitive to making sure family relationships are maintained as best they can while a parent or child is in jail - comes from having a brother constantly in and out of prison and what that did to my parents).

Long post, but let's review:

1. competence to stand trial is the only thing that anybody is interested in at this point
2. the vast majority of Defendants with mental health issues, even with florid symptoms, are competent
3. there are legal reasons why mental health issues may not be a good thing to present to the court
4. It usually takes a minimum of 60 days from a judge ordering a competence hearing for a disputed competence hearing to actually occur (and that depends largely on the availability of psychologists and psychiatrists, not just the calendars of lawyers and judges)
5. if adjudicated incompetent, the Defendant goes to the State Forensic Hospital to become competent. The treatment there centers on those two questions - understanding the charges, and being able to aid
6. the actual mental wellbeing of the Defendant is irrelevant to the Courts
7. Incompetent to stand trial is very different than insane at the time of the crime
8. Somebody who is incompetent does not avoid trial or criminal process - it's just delayed, the time taken to make the person competent charged to the Defendant, stalling the count on any Speedy trial demand
9. it takes time for the criminal justice system to work, and that's frustrating to most defendants, competent or not.
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Old 09-09-2016, 11:37 AM
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Does he have someone he can release his medical information to (by signing a HIPAA form?) I know some prisons tend to be very uncommunicative with their inmates about medical/psych decisions, but with clearance from my LO and perseverance, we have always been able to annoy the staff enough to at least tell us a half truth about what's going on.

Unless he's court-ordered, he has a right to know what medications he's taking, what they're for, possible side effects, etc and has to consent to them.

Yourself did a pretty thorough job explaining competency, but I just wanted to throw in my two cents.

First of all, if your concerns about suicide are truly that high, maybe some time at a facility would help him.

Secondly, yes, competency restoration units are full of very ill people, but not everyone there is "I'm Micheal Jackson reincarnated" crazy. Because of the criteria that yourself listed, we get all kinds of people. Some are just paranoid enough not to be able to help in their defense, whether it be due to drug use or a mood or thought problem or a personality disorder. You might not be able to tell in every day life. Some are so depressed, they end up having some very quiet psychotic features that keep them from being able to function in their defense. Some just have memory issues...from mental health disorders, or IDD, or drug use, or dementia. There are all kinds of people there with all kinds of struggles - being found incompetent to stand trial doesn't mean they're necessarily all mentally incompetent across the board.

And though, yes, it is more like a jail than a hospital, anyone looking at prison time is happy to be there because it's WAY better than prison. At least in the hospital we have to respect their rights as a patient, which are more broad than their rights as an inmate. People really only start resenting their time there when they have misdemeanor cases and the whole process has dragged out so long they know they're getting time served as soon as they get back to county. Knowing the max time you could get is 90 days but being locked up for 180 would be frustrating for anyone.

Anyway, I hope your friend finds some peace and you're able to get the information you need
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Old 09-24-2016, 05:34 AM
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Thank you everyone. A hearing held. The judge dismissed the public defenders and a new attorney has been appointed. This attorney says he will be with him at the competency hearing, and so far has been communicating often with inmate and family. So far, this has turned out very well. :-)
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Old 09-24-2016, 05:45 AM
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EllaBlue, that is good news - very happy for you! Thanks for keeping us posted and good luck also going forward!
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Old 09-24-2016, 11:49 AM
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Thank you everyone. A hearing held. The judge dismissed the public defenders and a new attorney has been appointed. This attorney says he will be with him at the competency hearing, and so far has been communicating often with inmate and family. So far, this has turned out very well. :-)
keep us posted about this. I'm very curious about the psych med issue as well as the other issues he's been having. The ultimate outcome is also interesting. Best to you and yours during this trying time.
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Old 10-03-2016, 10:17 PM
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He can fire the PD, but he'll get court appointed counsel and this may not be the best thing, or he may get absolutely incredible representation. "Less than desirable" can mean a lot of things, many of which would not rise to a level where the Court will relieve counsel of appointment and allow for the appointment of new counsel. If there's a question of competence, this is even more the case.
Well once again yourself, let us straighten this out. "Strafford County House of Corrections" is the only Federal holding facility in New Hampshire.

Question of Competence??? ("If there's a question of competence, this is even more the case.")

Let us get this one thought straight, You are NOT a physiologist; Mental Health is not an easy issue, it is a God given right to live.

Having said that yourself, let us both know that this is not some research-monkey experiment, but rather a human truth.

Strafford County Jail lacks the physiologist and rehab (programs) needed.

No Non-Violent Inmate deserves to be in Prison...None!

Ellablue has been a friend of mine for many years.

She is Very intelligent and is here to reach out.

Great topic & legal advice yourself.

Thank You Ellablue~

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Old 10-04-2016, 02:57 AM
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competence in a legal setting is a legal concept. I am competent to practice law in a number of venues, and can pro has in everywhere else in the US. I am not competent to fly an airplane. If I were to find myself court ordered to a mental health facility of the locked persuasion, I may still be competent to execute my taxes and write a will if I know the basics of what taxes are and can compute the required information, or in the case of a will, answer the 4 basic questions that make a valid will. A person can be competent one moment, and then having a heart attack and incompetent the next.

It all boils down to those two questions. Yes, those two questions are sometimes a judgement call, but it does boil down to those two questions. Nothing more, nothing less.

When it comes to mental health, it is a tricky area as people have rights, including the right to not be treated. They have a right to say that the drugs they are placed on are too much to bear and that they will not undergo electro shock. They have the right to make the decisions dealing with their own care so long as they can still answer those two questions in the affirmative. Once those questions are answered in the negative, the facility to which the person has been judicially placed has to get a forced med or a forced shock order in order to proceed with either form of treatment.

While mental health treatment is a right, there is not a global consensus of what constitutes mental health. They have a right to determine what sort of trade off they are willing to make with treatment - will a person stick with treatment if the meds they are placed on cause their hands to shake? Dies Vincent Van Gogh want to paint sunflowers or walls? Would his artistic abilities have changed in a way he didn't like if he'd started therapy? The questions are posed to the person with mental health challenges and can only be answered by them. I, as the attorney for the client, will not tell a person with a mental health issue what they actually need to do, only what the options are so long as I'm pretty sure the client understands the options.

And sorry, but I'm going to have to disagree with you on the "no non-violent person deserves to be in prison" bit. If you steal hundreds of millions of dollars from the the retirement accounts of your workers, you deserve to be in prison. If you absolutely refuse to pay taxes that you actually owe, and even under court order you continue to refuse, you deserve to be in prison. Oh, man, I could come up with a very long list of instances where a defendant actually hurts people through non-violent conduct and deserves jail that it's ridiculous.

We do need to stop criminalizing mental health issues, and this means addiction as well as the pissed off police offenses that get a ton of mental health problems swept up in the criminal justice system. But even there, there are limits. If you've got 10,000 child porn images on your computer, you really need more than mental health help as the images are the problem, not the thoughts and feeling that drove you to collect those images the same way that DUIs are about the conduct of driving while under the influence, not about the alcoholism or addiction that may be the underlying problem. And since we're talking about DUI - how many DUIs are you willing to tolerate before you actually lock somebody up? My older brother will collect his 5th then next time he's arrested. He only did 70 days that last time - do you really think it made a difference? My hope is nobody gets hurt as a result of number 5, but how many days in jail or prison do you think society deserves without him on the street, making it a far less safe place once he's caught again?
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Old 10-04-2016, 07:17 AM
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"No Non-Violent Inmate deserves to be in Prison...None! "

I totally agree with Yourself on this one. I did time with many women that had no remorse and were already plotting ways to correct the flaws that led to their arrest. I think of it as psychologically violent & I am certain the pain & heartache the victims endured was very real.



I really don't think such a broad statement is realistic.
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Old 10-05-2016, 12:52 AM
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Safran, the "No Non-Violent Inmate" comment from me stands to be corrected. I agree w/you. And thank you yourself for your post # 14. I had to read it several times tonight before and after the V.P. Debate between Pence and Kaine. There is a lot of common sense written here by you.

"And sorry, but I'm going to have to disagree with you on the "no non-violent person deserves to be in prison" bit. If you steal hundreds of millions of dollars from the retirement accounts of your workers, you deserve to be in prison.".

Your disagreement is well taken. Your above metaphor is an act of violence. I equate that to a Home Invasion. The best example I can come up w/is the Ponzi scheme by a top Wall Street broker, his name is Bernie Madoff (Bernard L. Madoff), as I'm sure you (we) all remember. "Bernie Madoff was an American fraudster & former stockbroker...Madoff founded the Wall Street firm Bernard L. Madoff Investment Securities LLC in 1960 and was its chairman until his arrest on December 11, 2008."... https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bernard_Madoff "Bernie" ripped-off millions of dollars from retirement accounts across the board, he deserves prison! JMOpinion~

"We do need to stop criminalizing mental health issues, and this means addiction as well..." Again - agreed.

What really concerns me is the administration of any so called "New psych meds" and placing this or any inmate into S.H.U.. While I was awaiting trial at Strafford County Jail, a young man hung himself while in the S.H.U.. The thought of inmates being used as "research monkeys" really angers me! It reminds me of a quote written by ‘Nathaniel Hawthorne’ which reads; “The Black Flower of civilized society, a prison”.

I really enjoyed the hopeful outcome written by EllaBlue below:

"Thank you everyone. A hearing held. The judge dismissed the public defenders and a new attorney has been appointed. This attorney says he will be with him at the competency hearing, and so far has been communicating often with inmate and family. So far, this has turned out very well. :-)".

Our thoughts are w/you and for a positive outcome...
JMOpinion~

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Old 10-05-2016, 02:20 AM
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Thank you everyone for the support. I keep getting kinda hammered by this person on "legal this and legal that" and with facing a family emergency I have not been able to properly respond. Again , thank you to all the kind and supportive people here. Although I have not been here as of much lately, I praise this site to many that need support. I greatly appreciate each and every one of you!!!
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Old 10-05-2016, 02:22 AM
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Safran, the "No Non-Violent Inmate" comment from me stands to be corrected. I agree w/you. And thank you yourself for your post # 14. I had to read it several times tonight before and after the V.P. Debate between Pence and Kaine. There is a lot of common sense written here by you.

"And sorry, but I'm going to have to disagree with you on the "no non-violent person deserves to be in prison" bit. If you steal hundreds of millions of dollars from the retirement accounts of your workers, you deserve to be in prison.".

Your disagreement is well taken. Your above metaphor is an act of violence. I equate that to a Home Invasion. The best example I can come up w/is the Ponzi scheme by a top Wall Street broker, his name is Bernie Madoff (Bernard L. Madoff), as I'm sure you (we) all remember. "Bernie Madoff was an American fraudster & former stockbroker...Madoff founded the Wall Street firm Bernard L. Madoff Investment Securities LLC in 1960 and was its chairman until his arrest on December 11, 2008."... https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bernard_Madoff "Bernie" ripped-off millions of dollars from retirement accounts across the board, he deserves prison! JMOpinion~

"We do need to stop criminalizing mental health issues, and this means addiction as well..." Again - agreed.

What really concerns me is the administration of any so called "New psych meds" and placing this or any inmate into S.H.U.. While I was awaiting trial at Strafford County Jail, a young man hung himself while in the S.H.U.. The thought of inmates being used as "research monkeys" really angers me! It reminds me of a quote written by ‘Nathaniel Hawthorne’ which reads; “The Black Flower of civilized society, a prison”.

I really enjoyed the hopeful outcome written by EllaBlue below:

"Thank you everyone. A hearing held. The judge dismissed the public defenders and a new attorney has been appointed. This attorney says he will be with him at the competency hearing, and so far has been communicating often with inmate and family. So far, this has turned out very well. :-)".

Our thoughts are w/you and for a positive outcome...
JMOpinion~
Thank you Cactus!!!!
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Old 10-05-2016, 09:13 PM
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You Are Welcome Ellablue!!!. I Am Honored to see your return!

Remember, you are an important part of this organization for family/friends, loved-ones and even strangers. Especially those who fall into the silent majorities including the mental health issues that have been brought forward over the many years. PTO (David) recognizes many of those issues and has created this important site filled w/virtue that PTO will always hold dear & by-the-way stand for.

Personally I take great comfort with your support for true Justice & the glowing light that you have shown pointing this out.
This is why I have supported you from the very beginning.

Ellablue? You must take care of you first. Eat well and stay quenched. Above all stay healthy and keep a strong shoulder(s).
There is no doubt in my mind that w/your experience & strength, you will continue to help others.

Meanwhile PTO will always be here for you and will always watch your back.

JMOpinion...
Cactus~
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pmitch10 (02-01-2017)
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Old 02-01-2017, 04:57 AM
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Cactus, you are a good supporter of these here prison talk forums...thank you for your input, we appreciate you!
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Cactus (02-02-2017)
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Old 02-02-2017, 07:59 PM
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Originally Posted by pmitch10 View Post
Cactus, you are a good supporter of these here prison talk forums...thank you for your input, we appreciate you!
Not here often, but great to see you again.
Hope all is well w/you and B.
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