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This Man Sold Meth to Pay for His Son’s Lifesaving Transplant. Obama Gave Him Clemency—But His Ordeal Continues at a Halfway House

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This Man Sold Meth to Pay for His Son’s Lifesaving Transplant. Obama Gave Him Clemency—But His Ordeal Continues at a Halfway House

joejackson

Editor’s note: President Obama has extended clemency to an unparalleled number of people convicted of nonviolent drug-law violations—a program unlikely to be prioritized by either a President Clinton or a President Trump. AlterNet andThe Influence have partnered on a series profiling people impacted by the program, as time runs out for inmates hoping to get their sentences commuted. 


 

It didn’t take long after Dicky Joe Jackson’s son, Cole, got sick, for the health insurance company to find a way to avoid covering his treatments.

“As soon as the bills for the cancer tests started rolling in, the insurance company began looking for ways to get out of paying them,” Jackson has written. His family, which was certainly not made of money in the first place—Jackson had driven a truck for a living—soon faced the kind of health insurance nightmare that might break far bigger bank accounts.

In 1989, when Cole was two, doctors told the Jackson family that the only way to save his life was through a bone marrow transplant. The health insurance company was as understanding about this as you’d expect.

They “upped our monthly premium without notifying us,” Jackson explains. “The automatic draft didn’t clear the bank because we were budgeted tight, so they dropped us.”

Through some ingenious fundraising, the family got part of the money together and Cole got the transplant from his 11-year-old sister April—but it didn’t fully heal him, and they continued racking up medical expenses. By then, they family owed $200,000 in medical bills, Jackson says.

Then Jackson’s father, who’d also worked as a trucker, died. This left Jackson solely responsible for supporting his mother and the rest of his family—and for paying for his son’s life-saving treatments.

Given that he was not a particularly desirable candidate for a bank loan, the only way Jackson could figure out to do all that was to help transport meth on his truck route. A meth dealer he knew—Jackson had occasionally used meth to stay awake on long drives—asked him to carry the drug in his truck.

Then Jackson sold meth to an undercover cop. He was arrested in 1995. In part because the supplier testified against him, claiming that he was the ringleader, the supplier got 10 years. Dicky Joe Jackson got life without parole.

***

“I had given up,” his daughter, April, tells me over the phone.

When she first heard about President Obama’s clemency initiative, her hopes surged. Then they quickly fell, after she realized the sheer number of nonviolent drug prisoners also hoping to have their sentences commuted: “So many thousands of people that deserve this just as much as we do—it’s like winning the lottery. Any time more were announced, I lost just a little bit of hope. I thought, ‘Here we are, nearing the end of Obama’s term. I have no faith that it’ll continue.’”

“We were losing hope,” April says. “And when I got that call, words just can’t describe … I was in disbelief at first. It was very surreal. Like a dream. I felt a gratitude that can’t be expressed with words.”

“I WANT TO DO ALL I CAN FOR THOSE STILL IN SO IM GONNA GET WITH YOU WHEN I GET HOME. THEYVE APPROVED ME FOR HOME CONFINEMENT SO ILL BE HOME IN A WK OR SO,” Jackson typed in an email to an advocacy group on August 3, the day he received clemency.

Jackson walked out of prison on September 1. But, as with most stories involving America’s justice system, his and his family’s trials are far from over. Jackson is technically under the purview of the Bureau of Prisons until December 1, when his sentence officially ends, after which he’ll be on probation for five years.

Even though the family had been told that he was “approved for home confinement,” April says, he was instead diverted to a halfway house run by Volunteers of America. Founded in 1896, the organization defines its mission as, “a church without walls that answers God’s call to transform our communities through a ministry of service that demonstrates to all people that they are beloved.”

That has not been Jackson’s experience so far. “These people here… you know, we were under the understanding that they’re trying to help you reintegrate into society. But they act like the Gestapo, my gosh,” he says. “They’re constantly on your neck, won’t give you a minute’s freedom.”

Halfway houses—meant to serve as re-entry points for prisoners—are chosen by the Bureau of Prisons, according to the advocacy group Families Against Mandatory Minimums. “When deciding whether to send someone to a halfway house and for how long, the BOP will look at the prisoner’s disciplinary record and whether the prisoner has refused to participate in prison programs and reentry preparation programs,” they write. The BOP did not respond to a request for comment by publication time.

“The original intent of the halfway house was to help prisoners transition from prison life into society,” says Amy Povah, founder of CAN-DO: Justice Through Clemency. “But over the years some staff have adopted a ‘gotcha’ bully mentality that creates unnecessary burdens and oppression.”

On their website, Volunteers of America write, “We excel at meeting immediate needs, but are able to transform lives through our belief in, and reliance on, grace.” They didn’t reply to a request for comment—but their cheery recorded message says they “Help the vulnerable reach their full potential.”

#beatnikhiway.com#ana_christy#meth#transplant#son#clemency#obama#health_insurance#halfway_house

EXCLUSIVE The father I feared, loathed – and loved: Hunter S Thompson’s son reveals a childhood with drink, drugs, guns, picnics and parties with Hells Angels and how he adored his ‘alcoholic, idealistic’ dad

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HUNTER

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3376299/EXCLUSIVE-father-feared-loathed-loved-Hunter-S-Thompson-s-son-reveals-childhood-drink-drugs-guns-

HUNTER2

#hunter_s_thompson#song#ana_christy#beatnikhiway.com

Hunter S. Thompson’s son shocker:

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Hunter S. Thompson’s son shocker: “Hunter was surprised and pleased that I actually grew up apparently sane”

Salon exclusive: Juan F. Thompson discusses Hunter’s wild times, suicide — and why he didn’t want his dad’s life

TOPICS: HUNTER S. THOMPSON, BOOKS, EDITOR’S PICKS, ,

Hunter S. Thompson's son shocker: "Hunter was surprised and pleased that I actually grew up apparently sane"(Credit: AP/Kathy Willens/Reuters/Rick Wilking/Photo montage by Salon)

When Conan O’Brien tried to get Hunter S. Thompson to appear on his talk show, the writer would only agree to a segment if they went to upstate New York to shoot guns and drink hard liquor. Featuring his most famous proclivities, firearms and whisky, it’s a classic Thompson moment, a television appearance dictated, like his life and like his death, entirely on his own terms. It’s an episode that adds to the Thompson myth, another treatment of him not as a person but as a persona—as a cultural icon whose behavior and success are so inextricably tied together that it’s impossible to understand one without the other. The way he lived was the way he wrote.

But, of course, Hunter wasn’t just a symbol of Gonzo journalism, and he wasn’t just a caricature of the ‘60s. He was a man—a flawed individual known for his bouts of extreme rage, for his unprovoked verbal eruptions, for his short days and long nights. Nobody experienced the unpredictable fits of anger more so than his only child. Arriving nearly a decade after Hunter’s suicide in February 2006, Juan F. Thompson’s new memoir, “Stories I Tell Myself,” details the long path of reconciliation between a father and a son. It’s a journey of love and forgiveness, how one learns to accept a person when there’s no hope for change. It’s a portrait of Hunter as a human being, funny and fearful pages filled with drunk, smoky evenings, famous friends and admirers, extensive travels and financial uncertainty.

Relying on his memory, on what he considers sometimes “treacherous” and “unfaithful” and “perfidious,” Juan shares the 41 enthralling and scary years he had with Hunter: living in Woody Creek, Colorado, in a house stockpiled with guns, where ammo was stored in the kitchen cabinets; riding, as a young boy, on the back of speeding motorcycles; leaving his family and home state behind for a lonely and isolating East Coast school (twice). He starts with his own birth and ends with Hunter’s exorbitant funeral, when his dad’s ashes were shot out of a cannon.

This interview took place over the phone. It has been lightly edited for concision and clarity.

Why write the book now? It’s been almost a decade since Hunter’s death.

I just wrote an essay for Powell’s Books, for the store’s newsletter, and the essay is about why it took me nine years to write this book. I started in 2006, and, well, it took nine years. Why now? Because it took me nine years to write the damn book (laughs).

Were you sorting through his archives and his letters? Nine years is a long time.

A combination of things. First of all, I’d never written a full-length book, and I had no idea what I was getting myself into.

None of us do.

(laughs) Yeah, my God, my God. Part of it was simply time, too. I got a rough draft done in about a year, but then I realized that was the easy part, getting words down on paper—the basic skeleton. The hard part was pulling all these scraps together into a single, unified and compelling story with an actual arc.

And it was also just really difficult writing about my dad and my past. Much harder than I thought it would be. I figured it would be fairly straightforward and easy to remember, but it was an emotional and taxing process—and not one that I ever looked forward to doing. So I would take long breaks. There were times when I probably didn’t look at the manuscript for six months, and then I’d finally come back to it, and you know, see new things. What I was just writing about in this Powell’s essay was how it turned out that I really did need all of that time. If I had finished this book in a year, it wouldn’t have been a very good book. It would have been pretty one-dimensional. I was grieving. It would have been focused on how much I missed my dad and all the things I had heard about him. And it took years for me to reflect upon his life to realize that I needed to tell more of the story—and be fair. And ultimately, at the end of the day, I loved him, and I respected him. That’s where I ended up. But that doesn’t mean—he did do a lot of rotten things.

“Stories I Tell Myself” opens with a confession that you constructed the memoir based on memories, which are oftentimes unreliable. Even the title is a reference to this idea. Specifically, as a child, you were in situations that most kids never experience. I’m thinking about when Hunter brought you and your mother, Sandy, to hang out with Ken Kesey and the Hell’s Angels. Or even Jimmy Buffett’s wedding, a celebration you would later learn was filled with all sorts of drugs. Since you were young when both of these events occurred, you have had to rely on other people’s testimonials, and I’d imagine your own perception of your own childhood changed when, as an adult, you would hear all of these stories. In that way, you, like so many others, had to mythologize Hunter. Was it challenging understanding your father as a man and not just a persona, or a symbol?

I think part of it was reconciling with my father as a writer, as this caricature, and as the guy I grew up with, as my father. There’s truth in all of them. But I really needed that distance from his death. And I don’t know if I used these exact words in the book, but for those people close to Hunter, there was a very strong sense of loyalty. You have to protect Hunter. You have to be loyal to him. That was an imperative, and that was my first instinct in writing the book. Of course, I’ll protect him.

Were people loyal to him because they respected him, or was there also an element of fear? You describe, growing up, you were always afraid of him, too?

I think it was more that you didn’t question it. Not so much fear, if he did something wrong you would get in trouble. It was that he needs protecting, and our job is to protect him. And that took a while to realize that doesn’t really—now that he’s dead, I don’t really need to follow that obligation. It’s really up to me, and what I believe is important to tell rather than what he would have wanted me to say if he were alive. And that’s a huge factor. It would have been extremely difficult for me to write this book, much less publish it, if he were alive.

What do you think his response would have been if he were alive?

He would have been—I think, it’s so hard to tell what Hunter actually thought—horrified and angry and embarrassed. Because he would have had to deal with the consequences of that knowledge. But I really think—he always expected me to be honest. Once he was dead, and he didn’t have to deal with it, I thought: yeah, tell the truth, don’t cover it up. And I’d be doing him a disservice. I’d be failing in my task, if I were to continue to try to protect him, as we had always done. It wouldn’t be real.

In your memoir, you refer to both your father and your mother as Hunter and Sandy, respectively. Did you call your father “Hunter” throughout his whole life, and not “Dad”? Did you call your mother “Sandy,” and not “Mom”?

Yes, and I have no idea why. As long as I can remember, I always called them that. And I can only imagine it was because that’s how they referred to themselves. It must have been. I don’t think as a 2-year-old I decided that I’d call him Hunter, instead of Dad. Why they made that decision, I have no clue.

You ended up, despite all the craziness, pretty tame. You have a pretty normal life. You live in Colorado, you work in IT. Was being normal, for lack of a better word, a way to rebel?

I think so. At the time, it certainly wasn’t conscious or deliberate. I think it was a reaction against the uncertainty of the craziness. First of all, Hunter was a freelance writer, so there was no guaranteed income. My mom’s full-time job was taking care of Hunter and me until the divorce. So that was definitely a part of it, the financial uncertainty.

But secondly, as a kid and as a teenager, I knew I did not want to live like my father did. For the most part, I rejected the drugs and the drinking. And I think just by my nature, I’m not like him. He was just born that way. He was just born to be Hunter. I don’t think there’s anything in his upbringing—I don’t think, had things been different, he would have ended up an insurance agent like his father. That wouldn’t have happened.

He was just wired that way.

Yes. He was totally just wired that way.

You write a lot about how Hunter was a paradoxical individual. You mention that “one of the most difficult paradoxes in Hunter’s character was the presence of both a strong, genuine caring for others, and a profound self-centeredness.” And that, it was “so ironic that as a father Hunter passed on so few traditions, yet he possessed these traditional reflexes that would show themselves unexpectedly.” When you didn’t shake someone’s hand, for instance, he got upset, even though you had never been instructed on good manners. Is this what made him so unpredictable? That you didn’t know where he stood on certain issues?

Not so much that—he was just so volatile, and I think he became more so the older he got. As countless people will testify, he would erupt into a rage for the tiniest provocation. And that was really scary as a kid. And even as an adult, you don’t just get used to that. I learned to deal with it, I’d leave. But it was always uncomfortable, for sure.

Among swimming and watching movies, one ritual between you and Hunter was cleaning and shooting guns. He taught you how to respect the machines. They brought you together. What was it about firearms that produced such bonding moments?

I think it really could have been anything. But I enjoyed shooting guns, and obviously they were very important to Hunter. Cleaning guns needed to get done, in order to shoot them. It’s a manly kind of thing, and we shared the hobby. Without recognizing it, we probably seized on the opportunity: here’s something that we can do together, that can help connect us. So guns took on a greater importance because they provided a bonding ritual between us.

ana_christy#hunter_s_thompson#juan_thompson#son#beatnikhiway.com

 

That Michigan pastor who was outed on Grindr? He nearly shamed a gay teen into committing suicide

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That Michigan pastor who was outed on Grindr? He nearly shamed a gay teen into committing suicide

byJen HaydenFollow

Tyler Kish describes his depression and counseling from Pastor Makela

Tyler Kish recalls Pastor Matt Makela’s heartless counseling

Yesterday we covered Pastor Matt Makela, the anti-gay Michigan pastor who was outed on Grindr.Today a young man and his mother have stepped forward with their own story about Pastor Matt Makela. Tyler Kish was a teenage boy struggling to come to terms with his sexuality and sought counsel from Pastor Makela. His advice nearly caused Tyler to commit suicide:

“If he was going to go to hell for being gay then he might as well go to hell by committing suicide,” Jennifer Kish said, regarding what Makela told her son.

He didn’t stop there:

Jennifer Kish said the pastor also became vocal on social media about how he felt her son being gay was wrong and that as a parent she shouldn’t support him.

After listening to Tyler Kish, it seems Pastor Makela could’ve used some support and counseling of his own:

“Honestly feel very bad for him, because looking at it everything he was telling me, he was telling himself too, and I think that he was really kind of self destructing and hurting people around him,” Tyler Kish said.A hurt that could’ve changed this family’s lives forever, but Tyler Kish said love conquers all and he has found it in his heart to forgive the person he once blamed for his darkest days.

See a heartfelt interview with Tyler and his mother, Jennifer Kish at WNEM.com. And hats off to Jennifer Kish for taking a stand and removing her son from Pastor Makela’s hateful counseling.

MOTHER AND SON ARRESTED FOR STEALING GOPHER FEET

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Mother and son arrested for stealing over $4,000 in gopher feet and HOLY CRAP YOU CAN GET THAT MUCH FOR GOPHER FEET?

http://www.fark.com/goto/7804197/http://www.ramblingbeachcat.com/2013/06/weird-crime-you-dont-steal-another-mans.html

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