Since my last conversation with Mike (the accusation-fest thirty minutes on my birthday), I have been contemplating appropriate next steps. While we are not interested in receiving collect phone calls from Mike, nor are we in a position to bail him out, we are still his parents. I decided that the first step would be to check the official record to see what he has been charged with. At our county courthouse (perhaps it's this way across the country as well) is a computer terminal where the public can access the information.
My query with his name produced five "hits," including some nuisance charges (fire in a park, misdemeanor damage to property), as well as some more serious charges (underage consumption of alcohol, for which he has been fined $274), as well as the two most serious charges: driving after revocation of license (the truth is that Mike has never been licensed) and receiving stolen property (a felony charge, which according to statute can result in up to five years in prison and a $10,000 fine).
I wasn't exactly surprised with this information, but decided to contact his public defender to see how aware the attorney is about Mike's mental health diagnoses. His return call to me this afternoon was enlightening. It appears that he has been able to convince the prosecuting attorney to release Mike ... this afternoon.
As the attorney shared the news with me, I could feel my stomach knotting. I said, "Well, you understand that because of his chemical use, history of theft and the ways he terrorizes our family, he cannot live in our house." My words were met with professional silence. I continued, "If Mike needs a mailing address for court documents [something the attorney asked about earlier in the conversation], we are OK with that, but Mike will need to check in with us, without coming to our house, in order to find out about those." More silence. "You realize that Mike has no where to go if he's released?"
"Well, it looks like he's going to be getting out this afternoon" was his response. "Let me know if there's anything else I should know."
"Like hell," I thought to myself. And I won't be the first person to let you know. It will be law enforcement who will either bring him in on new charges or because he has failed to appear at his upcoming hearings.
In a few minutes Mike will once again feel victorious and relieved to exit lock-up. His attorney feels he has done what his client has requested. The county will have one less inmate's per diem to be concerned with.
But Mike will exit with little or no money, no clothing other than what he was wearing when he was arrested, no identified place to live, and more unanswered questions about what happens next.
For Mike, his attorney and the county system it seems like a good thing. But to his parents who have known him the longest and loved him the most, it sounds like an opportunity for even more problems. But I guess it all depends on your perspective.