Wednesday, October 13, 2004

Psych Eval

Every life prisoner has to have a psychiatric evaluation before he or she goes in front of the parole board. The psycho-social assessment is done by prison psychologists to determine the prisoner's violence potential and mental state. The Board of Prison Terms relies heavily on the findings to consider a life prisoner's suitability for parole. It's all right if a prisoner gets a positive evaluation. If the psychologist's assessment is negative, a prisoner will have not chance of getting parole. More often than not, the Board of Prison Terms uses the psych eval as ammunition to deny parole.

In my previous psych report, the psychologist concluded in the seven-page assessment that "[I have] matured into a well-adjusted and stable individual and represent an excellent candidate for parole." The parole board ignored the doctor's finding and continued to deny my parole based on the seriousness of my crime, which will never change. Last year the parole board requested that I get a new psych eval.

Today I had an appointment with a psychologist to do my psych eval at 11 o'clock. I brought along my support letters, photos of my family and friends, and other necessary documents to share with the doctor. I wanted to be on time so I left work ten minutes early to go to the doctor's office area. I was calm and ready to have a good interview. The doctor did not see me until 12:05pm. While I stood for an hour, no one said anything to me about the delay or checked on me. I just stood and waited.

The doctor sat down and started to ask me my name and prison number to verify my identiy. Two minutes into the interview, he remembered to introduce himself to me. It seemed like he was in a rush. He had a two-page questionaire with him and he started going down the list to question me. He asked about my age, height, weight, date of birth, religion, tatoos, sexual orientation, family history, education, psychosexual development, substance abuse history, employment history, psychiatric and medical history, and plans for the future. Most of the questions required short answers. We didn't discuss any single issue at length which I would have preferred. It took 40 minutes for him to finish interviewing me. He got up and started to leave. I was taken by surprise that he'd finish so soon. I didn't move from my chair. I asked the doctor to give me five more minutes because I would like to show him the pictures and letters that I had brought. He indulged me by sitting down. I ended up taking 15 minutes to share my pictures and support letters and a business plan proposal for a youth organization with him. He kept my business proposal to read later on. I thanked him and left.

The doctor said that he would finish the report in a week or two. I emphasized to him that I was fighting for my freedom and hoped that he understood that.

I didn't know what to think after the interview. I just have to wait for the report to see whether it's positive or negative. Whatever the result is, it will have an impact on my November parole hearing.


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