The victim’s criminal record, and the possibility of being sent incarcerated again after his parole, left him vulnerable to blackmail following his release: His chief tormentor “continued to threaten and intimidate [him] through 2013.”
The Ada County Prosecutor’s office, in collaboration with 4th District Judge Ronald Wilper
, arranged an agreement in which Gilligan was permitted to plead guilty to a charge of burglary — despite the fact that the only thing the offender may have taken by force was a captive woman’s self-respect.
The Sex Offender Classification Board helped out by relieving Gilligan of the prospect of being a registered sex offender, or even a violent sexual predator (VSP). This decision was supposedly made on account of the results of a “psycho-sexual evaluation” carried out by SANE Solutions, a quasi-private psychological counseling service that provides such evaluations and supervises treatment of convicted sex offenders.
A quick reminder: If Donny and his parents had agreed to an “out-patient” treatment program, it would have been conducted through SANE Solutions.
Gilligan, who worked as a “psychiatric technician” in the prison system subsequent to his admitted offenses, may have known how to game that system. Then again, it’s obvious that Gilligan’s erstwhile colleagues in the criminal “justice” system extended every conceivable professional courtesy in the effort to avoid ruining his life by forcing him to register as a sex offender.
As Donny and his parents can testify, in sexual misconduct cases not involving employees of the state criminal “justice” system, the Ada County prosecutor’s office is not inclined toward such generosity.
The stated reason for Donny’s final arrest was an alleged probation violation. Specifically, he had not subjected himself to a required polygraph examination. Donny’s parents insist that they had received approval for an alternative treatment program as a substitute for a polygraph examination.
Several years ago, Donny “failed” a polygraph question about being alone with his siblings in violation of the terms of his probation. His father David insists that this was not only untrue, but impossible.
“We were appalled by that result,” he declares. “Donny was never left alone. He was under 24/7 supervision.”
Donny requested a second polygraph examination, which meant another $150 fee had to be paid by the family. An appointment was made with an approved polygraph technician, and Donny, along with his father and his attorney, went to the appointed location – only to be told that the technician had selected a different location several miles away.
“Somehow we made it there on time, probably breaking several traffic laws doing so,” David recalls. This sudden change of plans resulted in the creation of an unnecessary high-stress situation, just as the harried young man was going to undergo a scientifically dubious examination that measures, among other things, his stress levels.
The second polygraph examination resulted in Donny being sent back to confinement to be treated for what were described as “thinking errors.”
“What on earth is a `thinking error’?” David asked, his voice burdened with incredulity. One of the doctors who examined Donny asked the same question: “He told us that he had no idea what was meant by the expression `thinking error,’ or how it could be treated.”
This meant another prolonged separation from the family as Donny made the circuit of treatment facilities in Idaho and Utah. Despite the anxiety, depression, and other difficulties he faced, Donny excelled in his independent study program, earning top grades in academic subjects and finding a place on the Honor Roll. Yet with metronomic regularity, some new problem would arise to extend his period of confinement and prevent him from graduating.
After Donny enrolled in the Rebound School, David recalls, “We went to a counselor … to try arranging an alternative to a polygraph. The proposal was that he would undergo six additional counseling sessions, and do some special assignments, in place of the polygraph examination.” David says that this alternative course was approved, leaving the family hopeful that the ordeal was, at last, winding down. He was once again living at home, flourishing in his studies, and doing volunteer work, along with his mother, every Thursday night at a food pantry run by a church in Kuna.
Every evaluation attested that Donny was not a danger to “re-offend.” If the object had been rehabilitation, that goal had clearly been achieved. But the probation and parole system is run by people who have the power to prolong the suffering of harmless people, and the whimsical cruelty necessary to do so on the thinnest pretext.
“We were half-way through the supplemental therapy sessions when the probation officer showed up and arrested him at school” last November 18, David recalls. “He had called the Principal at the Rebound Academy and found out that Donny had two weeks left to finish his work for graduation.” In what could reasonably be construed as an act of deliberate sadism, the probation officer waited until Donny’s birthday to drag him away from school in handcuffs.
“Our family had prepared a birthday party for Donny,” Dave points out. “The kids came home from school eager to see their brother, expecting to have a party. Instead we find out that he was arrested.”
According to the State of Idaho, the “kids” who were so eager to see Donny were his victims, and they needed to be protected from him. The terms dictated to the family made it impossible for David, who is on disability, to find a job: While Donny was at home, one of his parents had to be present to supervise him, especially when the younger children were at home.
“It’s been six years, and our family simply cannot take it anymore,” David told the judge during the January 14 hearing in which it was decided that the state Corrections system would steal another 168 days of Donny’s life.
“Idaho has to be number one in something – and it’s number one in dropout rate,” Norma pointed out in her statement to the judge. “I don’t want my kid to be a statistic.”
Donny wasn’t merely a statistic: He was in many ways typical of thousands of troubled but essentially harmless people who are devoured by the tax-fueled engine of misery called the Idaho Criminal Justice System.
Despite its reputation for being commendably hostile toward government, the state ranks second in the country in terms of the prison population’s growth rate.
Over the next five years, barring dramatic changes in the system, Idaho tax victims will pay roughly $300 million in prison construction and operating costs. The “corrections” system is an immensely lucrative racket, sustaining not only those directly employed to operate prisons and jails but also the profiteers who populate an ever-expanding network of “private” organizations affiliated with the probation and parole system.
Among the changes being considered by the Idaho legislature is a proposal to hire more probation and parole officers and authorize them “to impose immediate sanctions for violators.”
As the ordeal of Donny and his family illustrates, such “reforms” would not be an improvement. Non-violent “offenders” sentenced to probation are handed a Sisyphean
stone and assigned an overseer who can extend their suffering at his discretion.
*The names of the children have been changed for the purposes of this story.