Tonight, Parole Diaries premieres on TV One. It explores the world of parole—a world of limbo between prison and freedom. Mess up, and you’ll find yourself right back in prison. And, it is the job of the parole officers to try and give these parolees the best chance they have to make it on the outside—and try and keep them on the straight and narrow. In Indianapolis, there are almost 2,600 individuals on parole.
“This job is mentally draining,” Parole Agent Denise Jackson said. “I have a case load of 107 women. We’re dealing with a rainbow of people from all walks of life. You gotta look at all of that when you’re dealing with these clients.” And, sometimes working with parolees can be draining. “Sometimes I feel like need to go lay on somebody’s couch and talk to them myself.”
As she points out, their job is dangerous—they don’t know what they are walking into with parolees—and it is important to be honest with clients to give them the best hope of success, like with Melissa, a drug addict who was sent back to prison during her last probation. Now, her mother has her three children, and she is pregnant with a fourth.
“There’s no way you could have protected your children while you were incarcerated,” Agent Jackson tells Melissa, bringing her a reality check. “Don’t be mad at your mom because she has custody of your children, because if she wouldn’t have took them, your kids would be lost in the system. … You sacrificed your family, friends and freedom.”
Yes, Ms. Jackson tells it like it is.
But, when someone wants help, she will give them help. She does not just take their word for things tho’, like with Melissa, who she tests for drugs before deciding to help her.
Gerald Carter is a parole agent for over 50 male sex offenders. “When you’ve got a case load of child molesters, they are sneaky. They are also intelligent,” Agent Carter says.
Parolee Kenneth Jones is missing; not living at your contact address can result in a violation and send you back into lock-up. And, like Jackson, Agent Carter does not accept excuses. When he does not hear from Jones in an acceptable time period, he knows he is not staying at his registered address. And, when he smarts off to Agent Carter, things do not start off well for the parolee.
John Taylor has been a parole agent for 19 years. “Our job is to not only keep the community safe, but to help transition those guys back into being members of the community. I supervise what we would commonly call ‘drug and thug’ caseload. Out of 135 guys, I’ve gotta figure out, ‘Is he that guy who is trying to run a game on me?’”
Brian Chatham may be going the right way, but he could also be “that guy.” In his first meeting with Agent Taylor, they discuss his background—according to Chatham, a robbery gone wrong turned into a kidnapping that got him 20 years behind bars. But, after seven years, he is out on the streets once again. However, Chatham did some work while in prison, unlike a lot of parolees. Not only did he get his GED, but also an associate’s degree and a bachelor’s degree in business management. But, did he get them in good faith? Is Brian sincere, or is it just something else that will help him run a new game?
Will Melissa pass that drug test? Will parolee Kenneth Jones' smart mouth get him sent back to prison? And, is Brian Chatham truly one of the guys who will strive to make it on the outside, becoming a productive member of the community?
Parole Diaries premieres tonight, Wednesday, September 12, on TV One at 10 p.m. (ET).
Image: Towers Productions, LLC