Why is Drew in Prison?

This post focuses on the judge’s rationale for imposing an active prison sentence. I am providing only relevant excerpts from transcripts. Transcript dates are in chronological order.

THE COURT means judge is speaking.

Sentencing Transcript, June 30, 2014 

THE COURT: [Criminal sentences serve several purposes, deterrence, rehabilitation, retribution, punishment, call it what you will. I think a sentence today would serve no deterrent purpose. I don’t think, in other words, there’s much risk we’re going to see Mr. Harrison again.]

Appeal Bond Hearing Transcript, July 16, 2014 

THE COURT: [I have previously stated and I continue to believe that Mr. Harrison presents no material risk to the community based on the evidence I heard. I think specifically any chance of reoffending of this nature is extremely low.]

The judge granted Drew an appeal bond that day.

Transcript, March 2, 2017– (Drew’s attorney requested the judge consider modifying the active prison sentence to home incarceration.)

THE COURT: [I said previously, and I’ll say now, I don’t think specific deterrence will be achieved by any sentence because I don’t think this gentleman’s going to re-offend.] [But I’ve also pointed out, and I’ll point out again because I repeat, I thought about this when I took the file home last night.] [A sentence sends a signal as to what this community will do, will tolerate, what they won’t tolerate with respect to law-breaking behavior, and I think that’s an important consideration, and I think the goal of general deterrence, the signal we send by our sentences, has no direct relevance to this Defendant before the Court.]

THE COURT: So I’m going to respectfully deny the motion; the sentence stands.

The judge had the power to modify the sentence, including highly monitored home incarceration. He said he read the letters included in the file. This is a sample of input and warnings the judge read:

[Incarceration would obliterate all progress made and would cause decompensation and developmental regression.]

[I worry that he would not receive medications. Possibility of withdrawals, seizures, serotonin syndrome, worsening depression, panic, flashbacks and nightmares are but a few things that could occur.]

[The National Center On Criminal Justice and Disability warned that use of solitary confinement is more likely to negatively impact people with Autism Spectrum Disorder.]

[Incarceration is challenging for anyone but for someone along the Autism Spectrum, it goes beyond appropriate punishment and can be akin to torture.]

Drew’s true “crime” is having autism, and communicating in a style not understood by the court. During three separate hearings the judge said he didn’t see Drew as a threat to anyone. He didn’t send Drew to prison to deter him from committing a crime. He sent Drew to prison to send the community a message.

I watched my son tremble and fight back tears as he stood up, was handcuffed and taken away to face what he had feared every day for over three years.

That evening Drew tried to kill himself.

He was cleaned up, strapped to a Pro-Straint chair and left facing a bright florescent light for hours while he screamed for help. He was then taken to isolation, stripped naked and removed abruptly from all of his medications. Drew experienced horrific withdrawal while in isolation for approximately eight weeks.

“The true measure of any society can be found in how it treats its most vulnerable members.” ~Mahatma Gandhi

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