To A Concerned Citizen, 

I liked your letter. It makes sense and was well thought. You appear to have some critical thinking skills that are frequently missing from public discourse. I’m disappointed however that you didn’t sign your message. If you run for office I’d consider voting for you based on that I think you care and want to do the right thing for society and those attempting to conform behavior to non-criminal societal norms. So, have some courage to take the next step. Get involved if it means that much to you. Run for office. 

     As someone that has been in both misdemeanor probation and felony parole, I speak from experience and not based on what someone else told me. My felony parole officer was strict and had a reputation for violating parolees and sending them back to prison. I will never forget my first parole meeting. There were so many conditions and I was required to find a job and pay parole fees. My parole officer also gave me hope that if I followed the rules that I would see less and less of them and be allowed to get on with my life. So I followed the rules, wasn’t violated, and got on with my life. 

     My experience with misdemeanor probation was different. Not one time did I feel like the misdemeanor probation officer assigned to me wanted to help me be successful in life. I was reminded repeatedly that their job was to protect society from me. Most prosecutors and judges told me the same thing. After a while, after having been arrested over 500 times for the same thing, you’d expect somebody to use their critical thinking abilities to figure out what society is doing to try and fix me isn’t working. 

     I’ve been schizophrenic my entire life and it has been difficult to treat, but in learning to treat my illness, I’ve also figured out how to end my criminality, at least for thanks to misdemeanor probation. A big part of that has to do with having hope and folks that have believed in me. 

     I’d like to share some things I believe. “Tough Love” isn’t love at all it’s just expressing how selfish and lazy you are. When folks have terrible mental illnesses sometimes the only thing keeping us alive is hope. Please don’t take that away.


Ken Swearingen

Rupert, Idaho

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