Tuesday, December 08, 2015

An Unwelcome Blast from the Past

Last Wednesday I received a letter from the U.S. Department of Justice United States Parole Commission. I knew immediately what it was about. It didn’t exactly send a cold chill down my spine but it did give me pause. And I was in a weird mood for the rest of the night.

The letter was about the guy who mugged me so many years ago. In 1997 to be exact. The letter informed me that the offender had a parole hearing. If I would like to participate by submitting a letter, or have any question to give them a call.

I called the number left for me. I talked to a very  nice woman. She said that there had been an initial hearing. She said I hadn’t been contacted before the hearing because they didn’t have my name at first. There had been a first set of names sent to their office. Then later a second list which my name was on. It also took a little while to find me.

It was after all over 18 years since this had all happened. I’d only moved twice during that time. I can only imagine the difficulty in finding the other people involved in the case. A few years back I did a post that went into the details of the attack.

I was told there was a couple of ways to proceed. They could have another hearing. I would go down to their office. There would be a video and audio link up at there office to the prison. I could see and hear my mugger but he could only hear me. I didn’t really like that idea. Mostly because I didn’t want to take time off of work to do something like that. It also was just a little too creepy for my taste. The other option was to write a letter. I liked that option much more.

And the following is what I wrote and sent off to the Parole Board. I’ve deleted the name of the person I talked to at the Board and the name of the guy who mugged me. (Sort of like Dragnet the names have been changed to protect the innocent well at least one person who's innocent.):

To whom it may concern:

First, I’d like to thank the parole office for tracking me down. For informing me of what was happening and giving me the chance to make a statement.

I admit I’m not exactly sure how to proceed with this but I want to give you a sense of the impact this assault by Mr. X had on me.

It was probably the worst experience I’ve had in my life. To be assaulted in such a manner, in broad daylight right across the street from where I lived was terrible. It was very violent. I was asked for money. I had no time to react to this because I was punched in the face. The backpack I was wearing was ripped off my back and I was thrown to the ground. I lay there stunned while my wallet was taken and my pockets gone through. Thankfully a neighbor happened to come out of his house at this time. It was good timing because right at that moment a knife was produced. In light of Mr X’s subsequent MO, I was about to be stabbed. Again thankfully the neighbor came out and scared people off.

I staggered to my apartment and called the police. I’d like to say I felt safe but I didn’t. I’d like to say I calmed down but I didn’t. I’d like to say I was relieved it was over but in reality it was only beginning.

Because it took place literally across the street from where I lived, I simply could not get over what happened to me. Every time I left the apartment building I was reminded of what had occurred. I moved out of my apartment in less than a month. It was a monumental upheaval of my life. I had to sleep with the lights on until I moved out. I lost sleep. I couldn’t concentrate. I was jumpy all the time. Whenever I saw a group of teenagers walking down the street toward me, I crossed to the other side. I felt guilty for doing that but I thought better safe then attacked again.

I’d found a wonderful new place to live in Foggy Bottom but it took me months to enjoy it. I finally realized that in the back of my mind the new place was a reminder of what happened to me.

Then there was the criminal process. While I was more than happy to help the police and the district attorney with this case, it was a constant reminder of what happened. Going to the line up, appearing before the grand jury brought everything back to the surface. It made it seem like it had just happened instead of happening months before. It was a relief when Mr. X was convicted. It brought some closure to what happened to me but I was still dealing with it for many more years.

That gives you a basic idea of what happened to me. But that was then.

This is now. And that counts a great deal more as far as I’m concerned.

I live in a really nice house in Brookland. I’ve been here for over 13 years. The neighborhood has blossomed in the time that I’ve been here. There are new stores and restaurants opening just about every month. I have quick and easy access to the Metro which can take me any where in the DC area. It is a great place to be.

Over the years I’ve thought what I would say when the time for Mr. X’s possible release neared. I happened upon the clippings I saved from the 1997 sentencing hearing a while back. That really got me thinking about what I would say.

Enough time has passed to give me perspective on what happened to me. I’ve come to terms with it.

As strange as this may sound, if I hadn’t been mugged, I would not be living where I am now. The mugging caused me to move to Foggy Bottom. After a time renting there, I decided it made more sense to buy a house then continue to pay rent. I ended up buying a house in Brookland. And my house is a very good thing. Like the neighborhood I’m living in is a very good thing.

At his sentencing hearing 18 years ago, Mr. X seemed sorry for what he had done. The Parole Commission said he has been a good prisoner.  With that in mind and after giving it a great deal of thought, I think that Mr. X should be paroled. I think Mr. X deserves a chance to have a life out of prison. I think he deserves a chance to find a very good thing like I have. I wish him luck in that pursuit.

I'm told in a few week there will be a decision. And that I will be informed of what it is. I hope he gets in part because I think he deserves a second chance. But also because I never want to have to deal with this again.


Sally said...

Hi Jason,
First of all, I would like to let you know that I am very sorry that you experienced such violence so many years ago. I can't imagine how frightened you were. But I must say that over the years as you have come out of the shock and as time as gone on you show a very generous spirit. That had you not had that experience of 18 years ago you would not be where you are today, nor the person you are now.
I remember you from high school as highly intelligent and with a very good sense of humor. Most mostly, a kind and gentle spirit with a loving soul.
In a strange way, your attacker is blessed by your generosity.

Kind regards,
Sally Geary

Anonymous said...

I am so sorry you were mugged and I am so glad you are in a good place.

That being said, 18 years for mugging someone seems like an awfully long time to spend in jail. Do you know if he was a repeat offender? If he is not paroled, this will turn into a life sentence for a mugging. That does not sound like justice to me.

Elisabeth said...

Wow. WOW. [hug]

Jason in DC said...

Sally thank you so much for those kind words. After all this time I found that my anger was gone and felt that he deserved a chance to live his life.

To anonymous the reason for the long sentence was that mine was just one of a series of 17 robberies and attacks. In 11 of the attacks he hit or slashed the victims. (This is from the newspaper coverage at the time.) He plead guilty to my attack and two other attacks as well. Most times he would get money from people he targeted. But instead of just walking away with the money, he would attack or stab the victim. If a neighbor hadn't come out of his house during the attack on me, I would have been stabbed too. The long sentence is for the violence he did against his victims after he had robbed them. No one to my knowledge ever resisted in the attacks.