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Getting Personal: “My Life as a Prison Wife”

Today’s guest essay is written by Nicki Stapleton (honeybeenicki), who is a contributing writer in the new music magazine The Blacktooth and has a music blog called For The Love of Rock and Metal.

My husband and I wrote our own vows for our wedding. In mine, I didn’t say: “I take you for better or for worse,” but instead said: “We will confront challenges head on and we will overcome them as a team — big challenges, little challenges, difficult or easy,” and I meant it. I stood up in front of our friends and family and pledged myself to my husband for life and never allowed myself to believe that divorce was ever an option. When I wrote those vows, I didn’t realize how quickly those big challenges would come or how hard it would really be to face them.

We got married on April 4th and just over a month later, on May 13th, my husband was arrested for armed robbery of two pharmacies. He didn’t take any money — just pills (and he didn’t actually have a weapon). I knew that he had a prescription drug problem but had been clean for over three years (he got clean about six months before we started dating) and I thought he was still clean. I was livid that he broke the law. I was livid that he didn’t come to me for help, but he said he was worried I would leave him because three things I don’t tolerate are abuse, cheating, and drugs.

I was a criminal justice professional (I lost my job because of my husband’s arrest and conviction) and have a Master’s degree in criminal behavior. In four years of working with offenders, I have seen relationships survive prison but I have seen many more fall apart. If I had known that he was going to be arrested a month after our wedding (or at any point), I wouldn’t have married him. I love him, but love isn’t always enough. Less than nine months after he was arrested, and eleven months after we were married, my husband was sentenced to prison.

The nine months between my husband’s arrest and his incarceration created many struggles for us personally and for our relationship. Right away we had to deal with a custody battle with his ex-wife, which was stressful but by far the easiest part. We started counseling individually and together and started an intensive outpatient treatment program. We prepared ourselves and his children for what might happen when he went back to court. When the Judge handed down the sentence, it became reality that our lives had changed forever. My husband was sentenced to five years in prison and 15 years of probation.

It has been more than two years since my husband began his sentence. Many people ask me what it’s like to be married to someone in prison. The most common things people ask me are about visits, phone calls and faithfulness. As far as visits go, it changes from facility to facility. He was originally a six-hour round trip drive away. In his current facility, he is only 45 minutes away and can have four visits weekly for three hours at a time. I go a minimum of once a week to see him. The visiting rooms don’t have glass booths, but instead resemble school cafeterias. There is a hug and kiss allowed at the beginning and end of the visits and we are allowed to hold hands, but that is the extent of our physical contact. To answer a common question: No, we don’t get conjugal visits. And that means what you think it means as far as our (and my) sex life goes.

We can speak as often as we’d like on the phone. He can call as many times a day as he wants for 15 minute calls, but we have settled on a phone call every two days because the calls are very expensive. I put money on an account in order for him to be able to call me. It is approximately $4 for a 15 minute phone call and that adds up very quickly. I can’t call him and he isn’t allowed to have a cell phone or use the internet. Our entire relationship revolves around these short calls and weekly visits as well as the occasional letters and cards. But, to be honest, it’s been something of a blessing for honing our communication skills. When you only have a few hours a week to maintain a relationship, you make the most of it.

The main question I get all of the time is “How do you remain faithful?” I used to take offense to this question, but I realize people are just curious. The answer is simple for me: I meant my vows. Being unfaithful is not an option in our marriage. It’s not easy to be alone when you aren’t really single. I get angry and sad and frustrated and not just because of the lack of sex. It happens when I have to do all of the work around the house, take care of our pets, can’t see my stepkids, and when I’m just having a bad day. It even happens during great times that I think to myself “he should be here to see this,” like when I graduated from graduate school.

Whenever someone mentions that her boyfriend is going to prison, I just want to shake her and tell her it’s so much harder than it seems and it can easily tear people apart. I know my husband and I are the exception to the rule. When we were in counseling we explored why I stayed with him after his arrest. Yes, it’s because I love him and knew I wanted to be with him, but it was mainly influenced by the fact that I had made that lifelong commitment to him. If he had been arrested a month before instead of a month after our wedding, I can’t honestly say if I still would have married him.

I learned a lot about our families and friends during this experience, but I have one friend who has been there for me through everything. She is a true blessing and appointed herself as my stand-in spouse when my husband was sent to prison. We go on “dates,” celebrate birthdays and anniversaries, talk every day and have become extremely close. I don’t think I would have survived without her. She has also acted as a sort of liaison for my husband when he needs to get me a gift or send me flowers. Between her and my wonderful mom, I have managed to maintain a semblance of normalcy in my life.

My husband will be entering an earned release program in the next two or three months, which will last for 6 months. Following the program, he will be released within 30 days. That means he will be home this year. It is weird and exciting and wonderful to think that there is an end in sight. If all goes as planned, I will have my husband back before Thanksgiving.

We think a lot about what will happen when he comes home and where we will go from there. While he’s been gone, I have still continued my life, including vacations, working, and even buying a duplex with my mom. I have included him in the steps of buying the duplex by sending him pictures and describing the ones we looked at. By the time he gets home, we will have closed and moved into it. One of our dreams was to be able to own a home and that is coming true.

Another plan we had for our future was to adopt a child. Because he now has a felony conviction and will be on supervision, it will be nearly impossible to adopt. I am likely unable to have children biologically, or at least will have a very difficult time conceiving naturally, due to a medical condition and my husband had a vasectomy in his first marriage. We have discussed the possibility of using artificial insemination with a donor to get pregnant.

Many of the dreams I had for our future are now impossible. My husband won’t be able to leave the state, much less the country, without permission for the next 18 years. We were supposed to go to Ireland for our one-year anniversary and now we don’t know if that will ever happen. The money earmarked for that trip went to pay for a lawyer after his arrest. But I know we can make do with what we have and the most important thing is for him to come home so we can continue to build our relationship and bring my stepkids back into our lives.

I often wonder what will happen if he relapses or if he is ever sent back to prison. I know — and he knows — what my reaction to any situation like that will be because I’ve been open about it. I won’t stay with him again. It’s not fair to me, it’s not fair to him, and it’s not good for our marriage. But for now I focus on the positives. He will be back with his family, we will have a new home, his kids will resume their regular visitation and rebuild their relationship with their dad, and we can start our life as a family again.

An update to this essay can be read here.

* Nicki Stapleton (honeybeenicki) is a state civil servant and contributing writer in the new music magazine The Blacktooth and has a music blog called For The Love of Rock and Metal. She lives in Wisconsin with her two dogs, two cats and various other small animals and enjoys live music, reading, writing, and true crime.

 

 

 

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Comments on this entry are closed.

avatar Taylor February 29, 2012, 1:20 pm

Honeybeenicki,
Thanks for sharing such a personal essay. Your loyalty and fidelity are inspiring, and I hope for very good things for you and your family this year.

avatar kerrycontrary February 29, 2012, 1:30 pm

This is so brave and honest I love it. I love how you explained that if this had happened before you got married you may have not married him. It’s clear how seriously you take the institution of marriage and I wish more people were like that. I wish you and your husband well on his recovery process.

avatar rachel February 29, 2012, 1:39 pm

Wow. Just, wow. I’m so amazed at your strength. I couldn’t do it, give up so much now and in the future. He is a lucky guy and I’m excited for you that your family will be back together pretty soon.

becboo84 BecBoo84 February 29, 2012, 1:39 pm

Love this essay, and I really appreciate your openness. You have alluded to your situation before in comments, and it was awesome for you to finally share the whole story, so thank you!

avatar Visharoo February 29, 2012, 1:58 pm

Thank you for this essay. I love your openness and appreciate your honesty. I hope for the best for you two!

Heather Heather February 29, 2012, 2:16 pm

Seriously, thank you so much for sharing your story and opening up, being truly honest about the struggles you have faced. It was a very excellent read and your dedication is nothing short of inspiring.

avatar bethany February 29, 2012, 2:16 pm

Great essay, Nicki! You’re clearly a very loyal and brave person!
A very close friend of mine is dating someone who has a very similar history to your husband, however he’s been out for over a year. He seems to have really grown and learned from the experience. He’s an amazing guy, and I’ve never seen her happier, or treated better than he treats her, but a part of me is very scared for her, because I know that it could happen again.
Do you have any advice for me as to how to support her as a friend and as someone who wants the best for her?

honeybeenicki honeybeenicki February 29, 2012, 2:34 pm

The best I can really tell you is to support her in her decisions and be a shoulder to lean on if anything happens. I can’t count the number of people who basically told me straight out to just leave and when I didn’t take their (unsolicited) advice, a lot of them abandoned me. And if he were to be incarcerated again, just make sure she knows you’re there. The one things that’s gotten me through (as I mentioned) is a really good friend of mine who is my “stand-in-husband” and she is there if I need someone to go to the movies with me or if I’m having a bad day and need to vent. She even goes to the prison for visits with me sometimes and is now friends with my husband. So, I’d say be that person for your friend.

avatar Ktfran February 29, 2012, 3:20 pm

I’m sorry some people suck, but I’m glad you do have what sounds like a great, supportive friend and your mom.

I’m also quite amazed by your dedication to your husband. It’s awesome. I wish you both lots and lots of happiness now and when your husband is released. You deserve it!

avatar milli March 1, 2012, 6:12 am

I don’t know if you can honestly say “some people suck”. I do not know if I would keep my mouth shut if that happened to a friend of mine. Honestly, her husband has major problems and the fact that such a thing happened, it does mean that he was hiding a lot of things from her.

avatar Addie Pray February 29, 2012, 2:17 pm

People can learn a thing or two about loyalty from you, Nicki!

avatar ReginaRey February 29, 2012, 2:41 pm

Wow Nicki, I’m simply blown away! It’s heartening to know someone so strong, brave and loyal. Honestly, I don’t know if I could have done what you’ve done. Your respect for the institution is really admirable; I may have given up on it in your position.

avatar lets_be_honest February 29, 2012, 2:47 pm

Seems like everyone has had the same reaction to this as I did. Simply incredible.
I had commented a while back on how I thought it was sad marriage is not “for better or worse, til death…” anymore. I admire your loyalty and respect for your marriage so much. I can’t even imagine what I’d do in your position. I just hope that your husband will forever treat you with the amount of love and loyalty you have given him. Best wishes to you both!

avatar Jluvly613 February 29, 2012, 3:30 pm

wow. what an incredible story. i commend you for your bravery and honesty. i wish you and your husband lots of love, happiness, and many blessings for the future :)

PS: good things come to those who wait so don’t completely give up on that trip to ireland!

AKchic_ AKchic_ February 29, 2012, 3:35 pm

Thank you for writing this. I see the other side of this all the time. From the side of the treatment providers. Good luck.

Amybelle Amybelle February 29, 2012, 3:45 pm

I’ll probably get a lot of thumbs down but I don’t think it would have been disloyal if she had gotten divorced,IMO her husband was not upholding their vows when he committed a crime that affected both of their lives. However, its not my choice to make, and my opinion doesnt matter. maybe I am extra sensitive because one of the reasons I didn’t leave my abusive husband sooner was because I had made vows. Divorce is a very personal decision and I think it’s judgemental to praise someone’s loyalty for staying when someone else might see the situation differently. I am not saying this to put the author down, it’s just some of the comments about taking marriage vows seriously and loyalty rubbed me the wrong way. If drugs are a deal breaker for you, I don’t think it is disloyal to break the deal if your partner does that. If the author had chosen to get divorced, I don’t think people would be criticizing her for being disloyal; so why praise her loyalty for not divorcing? She is obviously a strong person who is admirable in a lot of ways and has had to make some tough choices, and I’m not trying to put any of that down. it’s the implication in the comments that someone who would have chosen differently doesn’t take their vows seriously that bothers me.

honeybeenicki honeybeenicki February 29, 2012, 3:57 pm

I actually agree with you. If I had chosen to get divorced, I don’t think I would have seen myself as disloyal. I didn’t choose to do so because I believed we could get through it. It wasn’t the piece of paper that says we’re married that did that – it was the fact that I was willing to take those vows (until I met my husband, I didn’t ever want to get married) and I decided that someone I was that devoted to was worth me trying to maintain the relationship. If someone had asked me before this happened how I would have reacted, I probably would have said that I would have been right out the door, but thats not how it played out when it did happen. However, had he been abusive… well, that would have been the end of that. And if it happens again, I won’t stick around. And he knows that. We have very clear ground rules set now.

Amybelle Amybelle February 29, 2012, 4:24 pm

Thank you, I really didn’t want to come off like I was criticizing you in any way, its just any marriage is so complicated, and nobody really knows for sure what choices they’re going to make until they have to make them. I just meant that whichever decision you made was right for you, and one wasn’t “better” than the other. You have a great voice as a writer btw, I really liked the essay!

avatar bethany February 29, 2012, 4:44 pm

I think a lot of people could stand to read this sentace again:
“and nobody really knows for sure what choices they’re going to make until they have to make them.”

This applies in SO many situations, and to so many of the LW’s here. It’s a good reminder for us to think before we judge.

honeybeenicki honeybeenicki February 29, 2012, 4:44 pm

Thank you :) I know some people thought I was crazy for staying, but I put a lot of thought into that decision. And I remind my husband often how lucky he is to have me. ;) I get a lot of questions about what its like to be the wife of an inmate and since I’ve seen it from the side of a CJ professional, it was an adjustment for me and that’s why I decided to write this. I wanted to be able to voice what it was like and answer any questions people had.

Lili Lili February 29, 2012, 4:47 pm

If its not too personal, may I ask more about your job loss connected to his conviction? LIke, how does that work/happen?

honeybeenicki honeybeenicki February 29, 2012, 5:14 pm

I worked in a halfway house for sex offenders and had worked there for over 4 years. After he was convicted, I filed a fraternization exemption request (one of our policies was no one was allowed to be in a relationship with/live with/be involved with anyone who was under the supervision of the Department of Corrections) and they basically told me that they refuse to make any exception to the rule and told me either I had to not live with or speak to my husband or I had to leave. Thankfully I was already working elsewhere full time and was only working there on weekends. I did pursue a complaint, but am not allowed to disclose the outcome of that.

Lili Lili February 29, 2012, 5:20 pm

Got it. Thanks for sharing! It really seems messy being involved with someone with a record :( You have my respect!

Lili Lili February 29, 2012, 4:19 pm

Amybelle I really appreciated your insight about loyalty and how you stayed with your abuser longer because of it. First of all, I’m really sorry that you were in that situation. I hate how abusers manipulate a person’s dedication to loyalty with all their tactics. All these stories of abuse and its ties to ‘loyalty’ make it harder for people to really define a clear cut view of when its being loyal and when its just plain harmful to ones self to stay.

Personally, just based on what was said here I don’t think I would have stayed as honeybee did, but I can respect and appreciate her decision to do so. Her essay was so frank and open, It conveyed exactly how she has managed to make it bearable for her. What I think I also really admired was her ability to re-write her dealbreakers once the marriage aspect came into play.

avatar savannah February 29, 2012, 5:18 pm

This is my take on vows too, it is for better or for worse but there are many things that constitute breaking ones vows and for me, of course not for others, this would be one of those examples. I really applaud honeybee for sharing her story and being so honest and open, but my first reaction to this was anger, not at her for staying but towards her husband for doing this to her. I would have a really hard time with the acceptance part of this situation, feeling like my life was so affected and limited by the choices of another, even if that other person was my husband. I’m not sure I could continue to love a person who I felt had harmed me in so many ways. I do very much appreciate the ways in which honeybee shows the ways in which peoples relationships and boundaries must become flexible if they are to survive.

Leroy Leroy February 29, 2012, 4:06 pm

If you don’t mind my asking, how did he end up with an armed robbery charge is he didn’t have a weapon?

honeybeenicki honeybeenicki February 29, 2012, 4:16 pm

There were 2 separate events. In the first, he had his hands in his pockets, which made the pharmacist think he had a weapon and in this state that is enough to warrant armed robbery. In the second, he had a note (apparently he learne to be a criminal from watching movies) and indicated that he had a weapon, which is also enough to warrant an armed robbery charge even though he didn’t actually have one.

avatar Guy Friday February 29, 2012, 5:08 pm

Leroy: Specifically, the case law in Wisconsin stands for the proposition that it’s based on the victim’s “reasonable belief.” So it would be on the defense to argue at trial that there’s no way it would have been reasonable to believe the defendant had a weapon, which would never have come up if Nicki’s husband pled out instead of going to trial. Also, the maximum penalty for Armed Robbery — a class C felony in Wisconsin — is 20 years of Initial Confinement and 20 years of Extended Supervision (i.e., parole), so two counts means a max of 40 years in and 40 years out. In light of that, you could see how someone might want to accept a DA recommendation of 5 in and 15 out and not push the issue.

Lili Lili February 29, 2012, 5:15 pm

And he seems to be getting out in about 2.5+ so ya…not sure how I feel about the justice system right now (not connected to Nicki’s husband, but other criminals…)

avatar honeybeenicki February 29, 2012, 6:07 pm

If that worries you, you should see some of the sex offender cases I saw (actually most of them) working in the field. One that comes to mind is a person with 1 prior sex offense, 2 other criminal offenses (one felony, one misdemeanor), and he was arrested for repeatedly assaulting his 3 year old daughter. He got a total sentence of 4 years (2 in, 2 out). As someone who has been part of the system and is now experiencing it from a whole different angle, I can say that the system isn’t great. When I started school, I decided I was going to single-handedly fix the system but haven’t succeeded yet.

honeybeenicki honeybeenicki February 29, 2012, 5:16 pm

Yes, that exactly. Although, one of the crimes was attempted, which lessens the total maximum to 60 not 80. But at that point, its all pretty much the same.

Leroy Leroy February 29, 2012, 8:04 pm

I’ve read about similar approaches by other states (e.g. toy guns being treated like real guns), which is why I asked. You’d think that the state would see an incentive to maintaining the distinction – that feigning the possession of a weapon is still a lesser charge than actually having a weapon. Otherwise what’s the incentive for a criminal not to use a weapon?

avatar Heather December 2, 2013, 1:47 pm

Hi Honeybeenicki~
I just want to say that I too am in the same circumstance as you have been. I have had several friends tell me to get out of my marriage. I strongly disagree, I love my husband and what he has done does not make him the man he is. I know him much different than this. He will serve possibly 3 years, maybe less, (God willing). Doing these things alone has not been easy, or fun on many occassions, but I know I have plenty to take care of while he is in, so this time shall pass as needed. I jsut want to say great job for making a stand and standing like a rock in your commitment to your marriage. May you be blessed for a job well done in the eyes of the Lord! Your husband is a fortunate man to have a women of great faith and honor such as yourself.

avatar Something More February 29, 2012, 4:15 pm

Great story. Thank you for sharing. If I had been in your shoes, I don’t think I could’ve stayed; that’s a huge commitment. Good for you guys.

On a side note, it might be just me since no one has mentioned it, but… 2.5-ish years served for convicted armed robbery seems a little light to me. I mean, for the sake of his kids and marriage I’m glad he’s getting out soon, but… I don’t know. Obviously, I am not privy to the details of the evidence and trial, so I don’t know what other factors, if any, contributed towards such a sentence, but is this the normal going rate for convicted armed robbery? If so, yikes.

honeybeenicki honeybeenicki February 29, 2012, 4:18 pm

Actually, the average total sentence for similar crimes (even people who have prior convictions, which my husband does not) in this area at least is under 6 months in jail and approximately 6 years probation, so his sentence (5 years incarceration, 15 years probation, 20 years total) was actually much longer than it usually would have been. The judge told us straight out that he was making an example of my husband because pharmacy robberies are becoming more common. He didn’t actually go to trial because he ultimately pled guilty.

avatar Guy Friday February 29, 2012, 5:12 pm

I’m not going to ask you what county you’re in (though you’re certainly welcome to tell me if you want), but I’m a little surprised that they’re only handing out averages of 6 months in and 6 years out. Did his lawyer tell you that, or are you saying that based on statistics you saw? I ask only because I practice down around one of the more major metropolitan areas in the state, and even the nicest judges here wouldn’t give only 6 months in on those counts unless we were talking about a minor or someone who just turned 18 or so. At best, they’d give a LONG sentence imposed and stayed for probation.

honeybeenicki honeybeenicki February 29, 2012, 5:17 pm

I spoke with a lawyer friend of mine and a few probation agents here in Dane Co about it and they pulled a bunch of info on “similar crimes” (one armed robbery, one attempted, no priors) and thats the average we came up with. His crimes were actually in Rock Co though.

avatar honeybeenicki February 29, 2012, 5:56 pm

I should also qualify this with the fact that the sample size was pretty small since most people don’t jump straight into armed robbery with no priors.

avatar Guy Friday February 29, 2012, 5:31 pm

Let me just respond to your concern. I appreciate how it looks, but there’s been a big move in the Wisconsin criminal justice system — one I’m proud to say I’ve helped with — toward focusing less on deterrence and more on rehabilitation as the goals of sentencing when dealing with crimes related to addiction. Because, really, the goal of a sentence shouldn’t be “how hard can we slap a guy on the wrist”, but “how can we make sure he doesn’t ever do this again?” Believe me when I say that if there was actually a gun involved, you’d be looking at TONS more time regardless of his lack of record. Keep in mind, though, that Wisconsin parole has some of the most restrictive (and in some cases, ridiculous) rules ever thought up; despite this having absolutely nothing to do with the crime, they could, for example, deny their approval of his living with Nicki for some arbitrary reason, and then they’d either have to move or he’d have to live somewhere else, or he’d have to go back to prison. And if he violates ANY rule of supervision — even if it’s as simple as missing one monthly payment on his restitution or even getting a speeding ticket — the agent can put a Violation of Parole hold on him, call him in, arrest him, and have him sit pending the results of a revocation hearing. And if he doesn’t get an Alternative to Revocation agreement — which some agents openly refuse to do — they’d score him on what’s called a Plotkin analysis (named after a court case) and rank him Category I, II, or III, with one being the lowest and mandating a recommendation of 1/3 of his remaining time (so, in this case, a shade under 6 years). And if he goes to a revocation hearing, the Administrative Law Judge — read: not an actual judge, but a lawyer who handles this stuff part-time — could, in theory, give him less time than that, but most don’t deviate too much from the agent’s recommendation. So, frankly, if this guy can jump through 17 and a half years of hoops with not a single violation, I think he deserves not to sit for any longer, you know what I mean?

avatar honeybeenicki February 29, 2012, 5:57 pm

Yes, all that. One thing that’s been bugging me since he went in over two years ago is that he has not seen one bit of treatment for drug addiction. He sought treatment prior to being sentenced on his own, but what about people who didn’t have that option? (We had insurance that covered most of it)

avatar Karen March 2, 2012, 7:03 pm

This is a huge problem. When they get there, they say there are other priority people to get the AODA or whatever other programming. They get deferred longer and longer until all of a sudden- oops! now your time is too short for us to put you in a program and you hit the streets with no rehab. What do they expect to happen when people hit the streets? I’d guess the majority don’t have insurance. there are some treatment programs out there and a little county funding (at least in Dane) but they are hard to find. You might see if RECAP is an option for him. I don’t know what you think of that having been inside the DOC, but it looks pretty good from here.

avatar Pinky February 29, 2012, 4:26 pm

honeybeenicki,

I’ve found your posts to be thoughtful, compassionate and enlightened. Thank you for writing about this very personal topic with equal grace and honesty. I wish the best for both you and your husband.

Lili Lili February 29, 2012, 4:43 pm

Oh and I just wanted to add that I REALLY appreciated seeing this side of the story because one of my friends is a pharmacist and her pharmacy has been robbed. Seeing how shaken up she was after the incident, I know I mentally pictured the criminal as a ‘horrible person’ but after reading your essay I’m realizing that its a complex situation and there are REAL people on all sides. Thanks again for this honest essay Honeybee!

honeybeenicki honeybeenicki February 29, 2012, 4:46 pm

I don’t know about other people in the situation, but I know after the fact (and after he was clean again) my husband felt really bad about any trauma he caused the pharmacists. He actually offered to pay extra restitution (he only had to pay the cost of the pills he took in the first robbery and he didn’t get anything in the second attempt) but the judge wouldn’t let him.

avatar mcminnem February 29, 2012, 4:53 pm

Honeybee, I hope this isn’t too personal of a question (feel free to yell at me if it is) but it’s driving me crazy – how come you didn’t get conjugal visits? I was under the impression that anyone who was married (and not just bf/gf) was entitled to them. You learn something every day.

avatar Guy Friday February 29, 2012, 5:17 pm

My understanding is that the Wisconsin Department of Corrections doesn’t allow conjugal visits at ANY institution it runs for a number of reasons (primarily budgetary; they don’t have the staff to keep things safe). I can say that as an attorney they pretty heavily regulate the amount of time I’m allowed to visit with my clients at actual prisons around here, so I can only imagine how regulated it is for family members. Hell, at one of the places up north they actually almost refused to allow me in because I had a wireless USB mouse in my briefcase and that constituted an “electrical device.”

honeybeenicki honeybeenicki February 29, 2012, 5:18 pm

The State of WI does not have conjugal visits. Some states do, some don’t.

avatar mcminnem February 29, 2012, 5:44 pm

For some reason I’m sad about that :( I had to look it up to make sure I wasn’t confused, but the reason I thought that is because that’s the way it is in Canada…all inmates are entitled to one conjugal visit every two months with a spouse or common-law partner. It always throws me when I learn how different our laws are, because it feels like we’re such close neighbours. And you guys have so many states!

You’re strong, Honeybee. :) And soon it’ll all be worth it and he’ll be home. Hugs!

avatar honeybeenicki February 29, 2012, 5:58 pm

I actually did one of my large theses in graduate school as a pro-conjugal visit point of view.

avatar Guy Friday February 29, 2012, 5:44 pm

So, I feel like you sent a DW letter in around the time this site first started up (or maybe it’s just the similar stock photo up top?), and as I was reading your post I kept thinking to myself, “Man! This sounds like Wisconsin!” It’s when I got to the ERP reference that I knew I was right :-)

I don’t know exactly what to write, beyond that from a professional standpoint I wish I had more wives/girlfriends/SOs of my clients willing to do what you’re doing. While I’m by no means quoting statistics, as a general rule of my practice I’ve found that the better my clients’ support systems are, the less likely they are to reoffend while out on parole. It seems like such a simple comment, I know, but even the probation agents I’ve worked with admit that they take it easier on people who they know have family members watching their parolees, since they know they don’t have to catch every violation to prevent it from becoming an avalanche toward serious reoffending. So on behalf of all of us Wisconsin criminal attorneys out here, thanks for making our jobs easier :-)

(Side note: I did manage to find the cases on CCAP, and I’m not 100% sure that the way they did his sentence is actually legit. If you have lawyer friends who do criminal appeals, you may want to see if one of them might be willing to research the concept of starting a consecutive probation term after a period of parole. I’m not fully sure there’s an appealable issue there, but I think I recall a colleague winning a case and forcing the DoC to run it concurrent. Hey, every little bit helps, right?)

avatar honeybeenicki February 29, 2012, 6:03 pm

I think you’re right – the more support someone has, the less likely they are to reoffend. I learned that throughout grad school (thus my pro-conjugal visit stance) and saw it first hand in my time working in the halfway house. I’m actually anxious to find out who his PO will be because I know many of them in the area and most of them like me professionally and personally.
I had actually wondered about the sentencing structure since I do have school/professional experience in it. I will definitely look into it. Our lawyer was ok, but not great. I knew who I wanted, but he refused to practice in Rock Co (apparently a lot of lawyers don’t like it there?). I don’t know if any of the lawyers I know deal with criminal appeals, but I will definitely look into it.
I do like to make jobs easier for lawyers, agents, etc :) My husband is quite clear in the fact that if I know he is violating his parole, then his agent will know too.
And I think it was a different person who sent that other letter, but same stock photo. I have written to DW, but it was about my sister’s marriage.

avatar Guy Friday March 1, 2012, 9:22 am

Rock County is rough. I myself don’t practice there for pragmatic reasons; I live down in Milwaukee County, and it’s too long of a drive to take the $40/hour SPD rates you get for cases there. But those I know who do practice around there don’t much care for it. Then again, I think it’s the same gripe as it is in every smallish county: too few judges, too much familiarity, and WAY too much ignorance of the way the law is supposed to be applied.

I don’t know if many of the agents you know will be able to handle your husband’s case; I was under the impression there was some kind of “conflict of interest” checking the Probation office does. I may be wrong. It would definitely be easier if it was someone you knew, because, as you well know, a lot of agents would much prefer being able to go to someone they trust and say, “Ok, so what’s the deal with this situation? What do you know about it?”

avatar Guy Friday March 1, 2012, 9:23 am

Oh, and also, I’d offer to help with the appeal, because that IS something I do, but I’m getting married in a month or two, so I’m trying to trim down my case load, not fatten it up. Besides, I’m kind of pricey for private clients ;-)

avatar Nadine February 29, 2012, 10:08 pm

Thanks so much for writing this. You have a wonderful voice and I love the way you describe your experiences – honestly, confidently and also compassionately. Your husband is a lucky man, and thank you for following up on the questions asked above.
I hope that you can use this experience in your professional life at some stage (if you want to, I am assuming because of your degree and past work that you mention) because with your attitude and knowledge you would surely be a huge help to many people.