28 August 2014

JUST THE FAQ’S

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Faq Showing Frequently Asked Questions

Will be updated as more inquiries arrive.

 

How often do you write?

I wrote often in prison, everyday, but not as often now that I have been released.  I will post a new entry every Monday here on Prison Diaries and post unique content on Twitter, Tumblr, Flickr, Instagram and Pinterest on Mondays as well. You can follow us on Facebook, too.

All of the entries were written while I was incarcerated.

 

Are you Piper Kerman?

No. There was more than one upper-middle class, educated, white chick in prison for the past few years.

 

Did you serve time with Piper Kerman?

No.

 

What exactly was your sentence?

On December 7, 2007, I received a sentence of ten years incarceration, execution suspended after five, followed by four years probation.  On May 24, 2010, I received another, consecutive, sentence of 27 months, making my total sentence 87 months or 7 years and three months. I was released on March 18, 2014.

 

How is that possible?

I earned a total of 340 days of time credited against my 87 month sentence, making the amount of time I served approximately 76 month. I earned the time off my sentence by working within the prison, completing an Offender Accountability Plan (a list of structured self-improvement/behavioral modification classes) and maintaining a good disciplinary record.

 

For what crimes do you have felony convictions?

I have a total of 13 felony convictions and 4 misdemeanor convictions.

The felony convictions are for the following crimes:

Attempted Larceny First Degree

Identity Theft First Degree

Illegal Use of a Credit Card (4 counts)

Attempted Juror Tampering (3 counts)

Identity Theft Third Degree (3 counts)

Larceny Third Degree

The misdemeanors convictions are as follows:

Forgery Third Degree (2 counts)

Attempted Larceny Fifth Degree

Larceny Fifth Degree

Are all of your appeals done?

 My direct appeals in the State of Connecticut are done.  I had two habeas corpus trials alleging ineffective assistance of counsel; I lost both and they are being appealed.  I will pursue habeas corpus relief in the federal district court when those appeals are exhausted.        I have two petitions for writs of certiorari pending before the Supreme Court of the United States.

 

Did you commit a crime with your father?

No. Read on and you will see.

 

Didn’t you plead guilty to some crimes even though you said you didn’t commit them?

I pled guilty under the Alford Doctrine (or nolo contendere)  to three counts of Attempting to Tamper with a Juror in March 2010 for several reasons and was sentenced for them in May 2010. First, my attorney, Dean Popkin, did no investigation whatsoever. When it came time to try the case, he had no witnesses, no reports. Going forward would have been like battling a sword with a Nerf bat.

Second, pleading guilty under the Alford Doctrine allowed my father to parole early. He needed open heart surgery and keeping him in Department of Correction custody would have killed him.

Lastly, even though I did not make the calls to the jurors in question, I learned while I was incarcerated how the whole thing was put in motion by my bad choices. They weren’t criminal choices. They were worse.

Since I was released I have conducted a few investigations on my own, namely of the computer that the Milford Police Department seized from me. The hard drive has been deleted entirely so no one else can examine it. More will come.

 

You complain quite a bit about your attorneys.  Why didn’t you just represent yourself?

I tried to represent myself at one trial and my request was denied.

I asked to represent myself during my appeals; my request was denied because the right to self-representation after trial diminishes because “the presumption of innocence is gone.”  I had public defenders forced upon me, ones who failed to do their jobs.

The petition for a writ of certiorari before the U.S. Supreme Court claims that I was denied my right to self-representation at the trial level.  I wrote and filed it myself.

 

Isn’t there a lot of evidence against you?

Most people who ask me that have read newspaper accounts of the trial. The video the prosecutor showed did NOT show me signing for any package in a sting. I never had access to either credit card to use it illegally. For instance, the store where I worked does not accept a Neiman Marcus credit cards. The other victim used her American Express card where I worked after I worked there. The woman described as receiving the packages is 5’8”. I am barely five feet tall. Other major evidentiary discrepancies exist as you will see from the Prison Diaries entries.

 

How can stories like yours happen in the court system?

I don’t know the answer to that question, but maybe the attorneys who represented me: Vito Castignoli, Angelica Papastavros, Tina Sypek-D’Amato and Dean Popkin have some insight. Ask them.

 

You rail against the psychiatric establishment, too.  Why not just not go to a psychologist/ therapist?

I do hate psychiatrists because I feel like they exacerbated the effects of my family’s dysfunction during this time of legal mayhem.

Originally, my parents asked me to speak with a therapist when I was first arrested.  They paid my legal bills so I obliged.  Agreeing to see one of these quacks was a mistake because it gives you a record.  Not a criminal record but a psychiatric one and it’s a blot much worse and much more indelible than any criminal conviction.

From there, as more charges piled up, my parents forced me to see a total of 17 doctors whose diagnoses of me escalated ad infinitum.  My interface with psychiatry made my legal problems worsen and expand.

 

How could your parents force you to do anything if you were an adult?

Early on, my father, then a licensed attorney in Connecticut, petitioned the New Haven Probate Court for conservatorship of my estate and my person which means that he had control of everything I owned/could own and control of where I could live, what doctors I could see, what I could do.  A certain probate judge granted this conservatorship without a hearing and without a medical report from a physician.

 

Isn’t that illegal?

Yes, but when you become a criminal defendant, you retain rights only in theory.  The practical reality is that anyone can pretty much do anything to you and get away with it.

 

Supposedly, you have a diagnosis of every single mental illness.  Is this true?  How is that possible?

It’s not possible that any one person has so many mental illnesses, so no, it is not true.

Somewhere in my medical records, a psychiatrist has diagnosed me with every personality disorder, bipolar disorder, schizoaffective disorder, schizophrenia.  No PET scans were ever performed on me to verify the existence of these diseases, yet “treatment” – administration of debilitating psychotropic medications – always followed.  Treatment of these faulty diagnoses cost me years of my life.

 

So what is your problem?  Do you have a diagnosis of mental disease?  Do you take medication?

Currently I live under the yoke of a diagnosis of clinical depression and I take 450 mg of extended release Wellbutrin, an anti-depressant.  This is a huge dose; anyone who really suffered from the organic brain diseases of bipolar disorder, schizoaffective disorder or schizophrenia would not be able to function after taking 450 mg (the maximum dose is 600 mg) of Wellbutrin for several years.

 

Are you crazy or not?

If all of this that I narrate here makes sense to you and you think the system is sane, you bet your ass I’m whacked.

 

Are you mad that you went to prison for so long?

The criminal justice system is loaded with major weaknesses and I think I found all of them. My sentence was excessive in my and many others’ opinions. Still, I needed to go. Keep reading to find out why.

 

What do you hope to accomplish by writing Prison Diaries?

At the most basic level, I want readers to appreciate and enjoy each entry as an independent story.  If that happens, I think it would be impossible to stop the development of a greater understanding of the incarcerated person.  And once the incarcerated person comes into better focus, readers will likely ponder the efficacy of mass incarceration policies, the righteousness of certain criminal prosecutions.  Ultimately, if I had my wish, Prison Diaries would foster an entirely different attitude towards crime, correction and how people treat each other.

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13 COMMENTS :

  1. By Jess on

    Hi there,

    I am a neurologist and would like to make a suggestion for one of the answers to your FAQ’s.

    First of all let me say that it sounds like you definitely had a rough time with your court-appointed attorneys and the medical/psychiatric system that really cost you, which must be very difficult. Thanks for writing this though as it’s creating something positive from a very negative, dehumanizing, and traumatic experience. So kudos to you for that!

    I definitely agree that you do not have most of what you were diagnosed with, it does seem very excessive that you were misdiagnosed so many times. I just wanted to point out that PET scans are not used for psychiatric (or even most neurologic) diseases. When a patient is thought to have a psych illness, it is purely a clinical diagnosis, meaning that only the patient’s history and a psychiatric exam is enough in most cases to make the diagnosis. If the case is unclear, it is a good practice to obtain a brain MRI or other blood work only to rule out neurological disease, but this is not routinely done. A PET scan is almost never used with anything – it can identify early stages of cancer or other rare disorders – but we don’t use it to diagnose symptoms of psychiatric or neurologic illness.

    Just wanted to point this out in case you want to use this to make the information here more accurate. Feel free not to, and obviously I’m speaking in a general sense and not specifically about your case (since I don’t know the details).

    Thanks for sharing your experiences!

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    1. By chandra (Post author) on

      Jess:

      Thanks for making that more clear. I was trying to say that brain cancer and other neurological disorders should have been ruled out before the escalation of psychiatric diagnoses. I am sure I don’t need to tell you that some medical illnesses manifest themselves with symptoms that appear to be psychiatric disease. No one checked for that. Thankfully, it was never an issue. I appreciate your expert input.

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  2. By identity theft movie 2014 on

    Please let me know if you’re looking for a writer for your site.
    You have some really good articles and I feel I would be
    a good asset. If you ever want to take some of the load off, I’d really like to write some articles for your
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    interested. Many thanks!

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  3. By home gym flooring over carpet on

    I was wondering if you ever thought of changing the structure of your blog? Its very well written; I love what youve got to say. But maybe you could a little more in the way of content so people could connect with it better. Youve got an awful lot of text for only having 1 or 2 pictures. Maybe you could space it out better?

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  4. By James ben Goy on

    The eastern states sentencing regimes have always been excessive, harsh & severe, in competetion with the South, I fear – dig the 7 year jolts the test cheaters got in Atlanta. Having said all of that, however, on whose advice did you decline the plea bargain? In retrospect, do you regret it? Education, you see, is no substitute for common sense, and, as daughter of an attorney, you must have known the jails contain many innocent victims of our so-called justice system.

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  5. By Lorene on

    The post you wrote about the lack of sanitary supplies (pads/tampons) in prison really pisses me off. Most of what you write really pisses me off. Is there anyway I could make effect a change here? What if I donated money for women who can’t afford pads monthly so that they could get some from commissary? Could that ever work? Not that it totally solves anything but if one woman got enough menstrual pads one month and gained a moment of dignity it would be worth it to me. It would be even better if there was some way women could email me from prison when they needed pads and I could just send them. Is that even possible? Id just pick the closest prison to me to work with…how would I do this?

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  6. By Carol on

    Very well written. I was in York for a month. Im surprised I lasted that long. I will be reading your diaries.

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  7. By gayle on

    I also take 450 mg of extended release Wellbutrin each day. I have taken this for several years. I am also bi-polar. It is possible to take a high dose and not have issues with it.

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    1. By chandra (Post author) on

      Thanks for the comment, Gayle. I’m not a big fan of psychiatry and I don’t know you or your situation, but I think it’s likely that you do not have bipolar disorder if you are taking such a large dose (like me) and not experiencing mania. Bipolar disorder is one of the most over-diagnosed illnesses out there, which means many people who think they have it or are told they have it actually don’t suffer from that disease. Even studies out of the National Institutes of Health have indicated that bupropion pushes people into mania. See here: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/1487473. Thanks for reading!

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  8. By Michael on

    Keep doing what you’re doing Chandra, you are an asset to this planet for a multitude of reasons.

    Thank you

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