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Old 12-04-2016, 05:12 PM
LeeO LeeO is offline
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Question Dealing with a (Mostly) Innocent Man in Prison

I'm wondering if anyone else has a similar situation. And I wonder if there are some things I don't understand about handling my husband being in prison, or if there's just nothing else to be done.

He was arrested 4 years ago in January for a horrifying crime that his best friend and another guy committed. He was peripherally involved in that he had a conversation with those guys about it. So he's not technically 100% innocent in prison. But he is entirely innocent of attempted armed robbery and murder. He wasn't there, and not even the DA disputes that. He only found out about it the next day.

But that's neither here nor there.

The problem is his internal rage about the situation. I'm a paralegal, and I've tried to tell him that while he is technically innocent of those crimes, the state has the right to charge him because of the way their laws are interpreted and how they can be applied. I don't agree with that right. I think it's heinous. But I can't change their laws.

And I'm being vague about the state and names on purpose. This is a high-profile case with TV shows about it and all sorts of unfathomable media coverage. Imagine sitting down on the couch one night, turning on the TV and seeing a show about your husband and his idiot friends and what those idiot friends did one night.

Because he knows he didn't commit those crimes, he has not stopped fighting for one second. He took a plea because his lawyer told him he could get the death penalty if he didn't. Naturally, we later learned that was not true.

I can understand him fighting to find something to get him our of there, all day every day. But he insists that I fight every second of every day, too. We had a nice income before he was arrested. And I was thrown into handling all of it on my own, on a fraction of what he earns. I work two jobs and still barely scrape by. And he is both furious and hurt when I don't have a document completed and mailed back to him in the span of a couple of days.

The guilt over this is killing me. I don't know if maybe my priorities really are screwed up like he says. He says when I go outside and plant roses, I should be doing research. When I do anything that isn't work at my jobs, then I should be doing research. And if I don't, then I don't care about whether he gets out or not.

We have 6 more years of this ahead of us unless he's successful with post-conviction relief. It could certainly have been much worse. But he had no criminal history of any kind. And because he wasn't there, they couldn't add any aggravating circumstances. So his sentence is the lowest possible for those crimes. But they desperately needed to make an example out of him for the community's sake and for the sake of the family of the man who was murdered. And so they did.

My family (mom, brother, sister, and my adult kids) all tell me that I work too much, that I need to take care of myself some, and that I need to have a life. He and his family disagree. His mother emailed me today to tell me "This is all about him." She said I shouldn't even tell him if I get sick because we don't understand the stress he is under and "it's all about him."

I guess I'm hoping to get some clarity. How do other people handle this? Naturally, I wish he was home right now. But then sometimes I think I wish he could just settle down.

Any thoughts? I would greatly appreciate them.
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Old 12-04-2016, 05:34 PM
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Well I agree with your family you have to keep yourself healthy and do need a break sometimes. And you have the right to do things like planting flowers etc. And there is a time for work and for fighting for your husband. Do what you can when you can your only human.
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Old 12-04-2016, 05:35 PM
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Originally Posted by LeeO View Post
My family (mom, brother, sister, and my adult kids) all tell me that I work too much, that I need to take care of myself some, and that I need to have a life. He and his family disagree. His mother emailed me today to tell me "This is all about him." She said I shouldn't even tell him if I get sick because we don't understand the stress he is under and "it's all about him."
Noooo. Nope.

This isn't all about him. Setting aside all of the 'technically not guilty' stuff, this is very much about you and the ways it has impacted your life. You are absolutely entitled to plant roses and take a day off of work and away from prison stuff. It's not sustainable to run yourself into the ground. If his family thinks this is all about him, let them track down information and send it to him.

I am sorry that the circumstances were such that he got caught up in something that sounds like a legal mess, but ZERO of that is your fault. You didn't invite this into your life and you don't need to sacrifice yourself for it. You can love and support him while doing what you need to do to be healthy.

I'm glad you're here.
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Old 12-04-2016, 05:50 PM
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Thank you! And you have no idea how caught up I became. This all happened years before I even met him. And he never told me because he didn't think what his friends did could come back on him.

One day a few years ago there was a knock on the front door. I opened it, and the FBI plus investigators from two different state-level bureaus of investigation, plus local police, plus state police, plus police and special investigators from the state where it happened were all over my porch and my front yard. It looked like a penal code convention out there with shiny shoes, shiny badges and those scary vehicles that you see that are all black with limo-dark windows. I nearly had a heart attack. He came bounding down the stairs and went outside to talk with them. Then he went to the police station to talk with them more. More investigators came back here to our home later just to talk with me.

After all that was over, he and I went out to lunch and he told me everything. One of the FBI guys told me in the hallway of the police station that there was nothing for me to be so upset about, that he was just giving them the information they needed to arrest the murderer and his accomplice. A few months later, he was indicted and everything changed.
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Old 12-05-2016, 06:17 AM
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It sounds like his obsession with the "injustice" has taken over his life (now and forever?), but it doesn't have to include yours too. Do what is best for you, which could include placing firm limits on how much "research" you do for him from now on.

His attempts to shame you into doing more for his unrealistic chances of an early release are way out of line too. That's what his lawyer is being paid to do. He was lied to by the prosecutors and the FBI, so what else is new? Since he decided to give them statements, without immunity from prosecution, he probably sealed his fate himself. Admissions against his best interests are very difficult to overcome later.

He needs to respect the fact that you have your own life outside of his troubles. Maybe letting him know that the more he complains about your level of assistance, the less time you will spend on his case will help with his unrealistic expectations.
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Old 12-05-2016, 06:46 AM
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I've thought some of those things. But I've been sort of afraid to admit them.
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Old 12-05-2016, 06:57 AM
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Ug. What a mess.

In my opinion you do not HAVE to do anything YOU dont want to do.
Do what you can, when you can.
If his family wants it to be all about him, then let them do the work.
They are being unreasonable.

He will drive himself crazy at this pace.
Eventually you have to accept that this Is what it is, and nothing is going to change it. (most likely) And there is no need for you do be running around like a chicken with its head cut off.

He screwed himself when he talked to the police without an attny.
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Old 12-05-2016, 07:24 AM
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I think he hasn't told his mother everything. There are times when I want to mail her all 4 of the disks from his first questioning, which they called an "interview." It lasted 4 hours. His lawyer, whom we paid up front in cash, didn't really do much. I even listened to all 4 of those disks for her because she kept putting it off. Sixteen months in, she still hadn't listened to them. And I reported back to her what I had found.

And I also think that because she was cavalier about the whole thing, they've decided that every lawyer is out to get him. There's a lot of family dialogue about him that revolves around him being a victim and helpless because he's in prison. Holy cow, that is -so- not the man I know. He's ordinarily the most straight-up, stalwart, fearless, hardest to intimidate but most easygoing guy I've ever known. I think being behind bars is messing with his head. And his mom isn't helping with her incessant calls about "my poor innocent baby." She feeds him a steady diet of it. And I also think that because he has such a charismatic personality, the people he spends time with in prison all believe what he says.

I guess I know that I don't have to do anything. Rather, I wonder about what other prison wives and husbands do. Am I a slacker. I spent 6 months writing his post-conviction relief documents (and compiling a ton of relevant case law) and they are so good, so says his new lawyer, that she would have thought an attorney wrote them. They were so good that the judge didn't deny the motion, he appointed her. But now my husband thinks it's taking too long. And that if I was actually working, and if she was actually working, he'd be out.

Oy. I don't know. I guess I'm just venting now.
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Old 12-05-2016, 08:22 AM
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I think I would stop taking her calls (mil) and maybe quit reading her emails.
And you hub needs to know that everything surrounding prison/law/courts does not go on his time frame.
My hub and I used to joke there is real time, and then there is prison time.
You might remind him of some of the recent news about folks who are in prison, proved innocent thru newer dna testing and they are still not out yet.

No need for you to feel guilty. Not at all.
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Old 12-05-2016, 08:58 AM
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Originally Posted by LeeO View Post
I'm wondering if anyone else has a similar situation. And I wonder if there are some things I don't understand about handling my husband being in prison, or if there's just nothing else to be done.

He was arrested 4 years ago in January for a horrifying crime that his best friend and another guy committed. He was peripherally involved in that he had a conversation with those guys about it. So he's not technically 100% innocent in prison. But he is entirely innocent of attempted armed robbery and murder. He wasn't there, and not even the DA disputes that. He only found out about it the next day.

But that's neither here nor there.

The problem is his internal rage about the situation. I'm a paralegal, and I've tried to tell him that while he is technically innocent of those crimes, the state has the right to charge him because of the way their laws are interpreted and how they can be applied. I don't agree with that right. I think it's heinous. But I can't change their laws.

And I'm being vague about the state and names on purpose. This is a high-profile case with TV shows about it and all sorts of unfathomable media coverage. Imagine sitting down on the couch one night, turning on the TV and seeing a show about your husband and his idiot friends and what those idiot friends did one night.

Because he knows he didn't commit those crimes, he has not stopped fighting for one second. He took a plea because his lawyer told him he could get the death penalty if he didn't. Naturally, we later learned that was not true.

I can understand him fighting to find something to get him our of there, all day every day. But he insists that I fight every second of every day, too. We had a nice income before he was arrested. And I was thrown into handling all of it on my own, on a fraction of what he earns. I work two jobs and still barely scrape by. And he is both furious and hurt when I don't have a document completed and mailed back to him in the span of a couple of days.

The guilt over this is killing me. I don't know if maybe my priorities really are screwed up like he says. He says when I go outside and plant roses, I should be doing research. When I do anything that isn't work at my jobs, then I should be doing research. And if I don't, then I don't care about whether he gets out or not.

We have 6 more years of this ahead of us unless he's successful with post-conviction relief. It could certainly have been much worse. But he had no criminal history of any kind. And because he wasn't there, they couldn't add any aggravating circumstances. So his sentence is the lowest possible for those crimes. But they desperately needed to make an example out of him for the community's sake and for the sake of the family of the man who was murdered. And so they did.

My family (mom, brother, sister, and my adult kids) all tell me that I work too much, that I need to take care of myself some, and that I need to have a life. He and his family disagree. His mother emailed me today to tell me "This is all about him." She said I shouldn't even tell him if I get sick because we don't understand the stress he is under and "it's all about him."

I guess I'm hoping to get some clarity. How do other people handle this? Naturally, I wish he was home right now. But then sometimes I think I wish he could just settle down.

Any thoughts? I would greatly appreciate them.
It is time to quit the guilt game and take care of yourself. No, we do not know what they go through, because we are not incarcerated. That does not give them the right to downplay the bullshit we go through day in and day out. Sometimes when they are incarcerated they think that we should be at their beck and call ALL the time...NEWSFLASH, we have responsibilities and shit to take care of out here. Taking care of yourself is what you should be doing, even if it it planting roses.

Time to have a frank talk with him and let him know that being pushy and demanding that you do research, is not going to make you want to do it. He needs to know that your downtime is crucial to your health, mentally, spiritually and emotionally.

I hope he pulls his head out and realizes you are doing what you can, when you can, along with taking care of yourself. Keep your chin up and get a massage or pedicure.
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Old 12-05-2016, 09:00 AM
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Every prison has a law library- he's got nothing but time to learn how to research and do it on his own. After he has done all the research - maybe if you have time you can look it over. You are not responsible for his crime nor getting him free. Doing a ton of research, only if you feel like it and do everything you want to do in a day first. He's very selfish, so you have to decide if that's the kind of person you want to be with as when his buddies first brought it up, he should have said no way and left them alone- he had that power. It's HIS fault he is there and his bad decision making- no one else's, so he can research from prison all day every day- you have a life to live- you've only got one- so put yourself first.
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Old 12-05-2016, 09:40 AM
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Another angle is that you can do your best work starting from a healthy and balanced life. Your days of being a 19-year-old succeeding at school with all-nighters are over. The proof I'm right is that when you were planting roses you produced work so good a lawyer could have written it. As far as coming to terms with it all, my wife tells a parable of an emergency room nurse. She's constantly dealing with demands from people who are dying in agony while she tries and fails to save them. She should clear her mind of guilt. She did not put that patient in the emergency room. Everything she did from the moment she walked over made the situation better. You're like her.
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Old 12-05-2016, 10:35 AM
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Thank you all so much. I'm overwhelmed. He is the one who suggested that I find a forum where I could talk with other wives and husbands of inmates. He implied that I'd be shown the error of my ways.

This all expands into how I even run my own business. I'm a freelance writer (I don't use my paralegal degree except for working for him). So I'm self-employed. He has a master plan for everything he says I'm doing wrong, from the way I make my federal tax payments to how I manage my time. The time thing is important because with his time plan, I could be, you guessed it, doing more work for him.

I could have walked away from all of this without even walking away from him. The mortgage is in his name, not ours. Even though my name is on the deed. I sold his truck instead of losing it when I couldn't afford the $800/month payment. I'm paying off all of his credit cards that I never used. I could have gone to my mom's house. She has a huge house, and she's the only one living there. She would love for me to be there. I could even have my own "suite" of sorts with the whole upstairs to myself. But I wanted him to have as much of his old life here intact when he comes home. So I stay and keep working.
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Old 12-05-2016, 11:55 AM
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But I wanted him to have as much of his old life here intact when he comes home. So I stay and keep working.
I don't think anyone would ever criticize you for wanting the best of a bad situation for him. On some level, even the most staunch "you made your bed" of us do things to help ease the sting of incarceration. Because we love them. We can absolutely hate the crime, the situation, but loving them isn't necessarily tied up in that.

That said, others who have mentioned his perception of personal injustice and obsession are right. He's going to make himself crazy in the years he has left at this pace. You can set boundaries about how much of that you are willing to engage in. He will work to understand or he won't.
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