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A New Chapter

Well, as a claims maker for social justice issues like criminal justice reform and improving compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act I am writing more these days.  This is  key tool for organizing the grassroots effort it will take to confront the massive power behind the Department of Corrections.  It has been said many times that communication is the issue and communication is the solution.  This has been true for me.  Words have set me free.

Over the last few weeks I have had the opportunity to assist with hosting a compassionate communication workshop based on Non-Violent Communication by Marshall Rosenberg.
Having spent time in jail and having pursued recovery from addiction and mental health issues I found this experience to remarkable.  The connection with the students felt authentic.  They were asking practical questions like what to do when it feels like an officer is abusing their authority.  It feels secure and content to be rewarded with this opportunity to pass on the tools I have invested so much time in learning.
I look forward to connecting with deputies and staff as well.  Emotionally intelligent communication such as this dramatically reduces incidents where seclusion or restraint become necessary.  Modeling this behavior is a key tool for reproducing it in the community.
That’s all for tonight.  May you all be well.

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What part have you played

 

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I love this one. Please watch it!! In order to address domestic violence, in order to address our addiction to incarceration, in order to to address children experiencing homelessness ….. we all need to learn to communicate differently. Sending police officers and convicts to anger management classes is pointless unless we take responsibility for our own patterns of communication that sanction privilege. We are responsible for the problems of addiction and obesity in America. These problems will not get better until we all accept responsibility for the part we play and learn to change they way we communicate and behave.

We must listen to and address the needs and wants of everyone including those who seem to deserve it the least in order to build relationships that are rewarded with respect in the minds of those we wish to reach.  We cannot expect progress or success in in asking people to change if we give them no reason to respect us.  With convicts that means empathy and active listening.  With law enforcement that means the same thing but the use of different words like respect, mutuality and motivational interviewing are likely to be better received.

5-31-2019

 

 

 

Justice Reinvestment Accountability and Equity Act

To: hjud.exhibits@oregonlegislature.gov
Cc: rep.carlapiluso@oregonlegislature.gov,
Sen.JackieWinters@oregonlegislature.gov,
Rep.JenniferWilliamson@oregonlegislature.gov,
Rep.TawnaSanchez@oregonlegislature.gov,
Sen.JamesManning@oregonlegislature.gov,
Rep.JanelleBynum@oregonlegislature.gov,
Rep.ChrisGorsek@oregonlegislature.gov,
Rep.KarinPower@oregonlegislature.gov

To: House Committee on Judiciary
From: Victor Reppeto

Ask : Please include language that defines people struggling with mental health issues as a minority population to be served by this bill. Secondary concerns that might be addressed include criminal histories being sealed automatically unless violent or otherwise severe. California is considering this bill now. Also, a standard amount of $10,000 remuneration for the falsely accused. The current tort claim system is completely inaccessible without an attorney.

I am a white 52 year old male. I am homeless now and I have struggled with persistent and severe mental illness approximately since the age of four. That is when the childhood trauma began. I lost my left leg below the knee in a farming accident at the age of thirteen and went to jail the first time at 14. I was an alcoholic by the age of 16.

In spite of all that I had three children, got married, pursued a career as a computer tech and real estate investor/landlord. I was a stay at home dad for 13 years and two of my three children struggle with mental health. Since the age of 16 I have been pursuing what I have learned to call recovery. My credentials/resume can be viewed at https://vreppeto.wordpress.com/about However, my efforts to prevent the dysfunction of my parents from being handed down to my children have gone unnoticed by the state of Oregon.

There is an assembly line in every courthouse in Oregon. Innocence or guilt is no longer a consideration. The only issue at hand is what kind of
guilty plea will be entered into the record. I have been charged with false charges at least half a dozen times in the last 15 years. I have not seen my children in 6 years. My estate and life savings are gone. The
crimes committed against me by the state of Oregon and the criminal justice system are documented. I have heard of few people of color that have suffered as much at the hands of law enforcement. To the contrary, I have reached out to them and people of color in the Salem area, even in the clergy do not relate to the anger I express. The danger to my children of being sucked through the revolving door has increased exponentially due to the persecution I have suffered. My efforts to arm my children with an education have been cut short.

I will recover financially to a degree but my disabilities preclude rebuilding my estate. There simply is not enough of me left physically and mentally to repeat such a feat.

Please do not abandon my children. Please include language that defines people struggling with mental health issues as a minority population to be served by this bill.

Peace and Respect,
Victor Reppeto
615 Commercial St NE
Salem, Oregon 97301
503-383-9517

— Communication is the problem and communication is the solution.

Note: Please use discretion with your personal information in written
testimony (i.e., do not add personal information you do not want the public
to see). All meeting materials, including your name and any personal
information contained in the submitted documents, are posted to the
Oregon Legislative Information System (OLIS) and are accessible to all
major search engines, including Google, Bing, and Yahoo.

3/16/2019

 

3/16/20193/16/2019

Police Violence Has to Stop

in response to the story in the Register Gaurd titled : Fatal Police Shooting in Front of Cascade Middle School was justified, DA rules.

It is important that we transform this tragedy into a learning opportunity.  Let’s start by asking some questions.  On what grounds was this man asked to leave the school grounds? Wasn’t He invited there by staff? Trespass and disturbing the peace is a go to charge the police use when they want an excuse to arrest someone, it is commonly referred to as a “contempt of cop” charge. The man saw his daughter and started to walk over to greet her. They did not have enough training in communication and deescalation so they did what they often do. They instigated a physical altercation so they can arrest someone. This is why I make no effort to see my children at their school. These strategies being used by the police are predictable. I was physically attacked by Officer Kory Kneeland at the Marion County Courthouse while holding my hand up and asking him to engage in a conversation. Only through years of training was I able to demonstrate forethought, turn and offer my hands to be cuffed in the midst of being physically struck repeatedly in the chest. Had I resisted I would have de

stroyed my own credibility and the false charges would not have been dismissed.

We all need to ask ourselves “what part did I play in this”? We all are responsible for what happened. First, Police use of physical violence to avoid having a difficult conversation is an abuse of their authority. They invited this man to the school for a conversation then attacked him and now he is dead. They shot him in front of his daughter. This daughter will likely hate them and for good reason. Poor decision making on the part of the officer on the scene led to an armed confrontation. Second, Mr. Landeros may have been justified in defending himself against armed attackers but the outcome was predictable. Third, Even if there was a majority of the public that felt Landeros was justified in an armed response it would never be known or make a difference because not enough people possess the motivation to make their opinion known in a letter or even sign a petition.

Once you allow the police to draw you into a physical confrontation they have the resources to escalate far beyond anything that you can throw at them. This is why MLK advocated for non-violent strategies for civil disobedience (while keeping a loaded revolver at hand only in his home). Violence simply will not be successful against an organized militaristic force such as the police. Communication is the problem and Communication is the solution.

This is why I engage in workshops presented to the students at the public safety academy. These students are learning to give real consideration to whether or not governmental intervention is legally warranted. They are asked Is the subject doing something illegal. They are also asked what is the best strategy for de-escalating the situation.

I want to thank Charles Landeros and his family for the sacrifice they have made to provide an opportunity to see this problem and learn from their experience. I also want to thank the DA and the Eugene Police department for demonstrating honor and courage by releasing the video and helping us to transform this tragedy into a significant learning opportunity for us all.

Saudi Students Escape Justice in Oregon … and with Good Reason

Image result for High school students in Oregon
Students are Targeted by Oregon Criminal Justice System

You complain about Saudi nationals escaping justice in Oregon but there is no justice in Oregon. I have a criminal history from when I was young. Through accountability and recovery I overcame obstacles such as a violent childhood, addiction and serious mental health concerns. We owned 8 houses, I was a stay at home dad for 13 years, a computer technician and now I specialize in advocating for criminal justice reform and promoting healthy communication skills. But the courts were not done with me. More than half a dozen false charges have been leveled against me costing me thousands at every episode, millions if you count lost income. The worst was being accused of assaulting my wife and children, nearly going to prison. I have been represented by more than a dozen public defenders and every one of them attempted to coerce me into a false guilty plea rather than challenge the status quo. That status quo does not include any real effort at dismissing false charges. Every one who is charged is expected to plead guilty to something. Innocence matters not. I have not seen my children in 6 years, my estate is gone, my life savings is gone. I was in top physical condition when I went to jail for six months on a false charge, my PTSD was exploding from the abuse I was being subjected to. In Polk County they arrested me and took my medication away from me and tortured me with sleep deprivation and gave me an extra 30 days in jail and beat the crap out of me when I could not control myself in the courtroom. It has been two years and I will never completely recover from that six months in jail.

I accepted responsibility for cleaning up the mess my family made in my head at the early age of 14, I have spent decades pursuing emotional sobriety. Instead of supporting me you have done everything possible to paint me as a failure. There has been an unintended consequence though, I now have the political leverage necessary to persuade others to take notice.

The Saudi Government is not stupid. They know there will be no justice for these young people in Oregon. The US puts 5 times as many people in jail as any other country on the planet and 96 percent of them are men. The Saudis have spirited their children away from the abuse that was in store for them at the hands of the DOC and rightly so.

I have worked hard at recovery for 35 years because I wanted above all else to prevent my children from inheriting my demons, (my addictions and my mental health issues.) You have undermined all that, you have turned a blind eye to the crimes committed by my ex-wife in the throws of her own disease and then you have the temerity to ask where are the parents. You worry about terrorist acts against the citizens of the U.S. Look no further. You are the terrorist, you are a dictator, you are tyranny.

Corruption is Circling the Wagons

The shooting of Laquan McDonald highlights the corruption that is apparent when officials circle the wagons to protect one of their own. Here in Marion County Oregon it is called “being a team player”. I have not seen my children in 6 years because my ex went to the police in Dallas, Or in Polk County and told lied to them about me committing crimes of domestic violence. I have been fighting this battle for years now and I can tell you that the blame cannot be hung around the necks of the police alone. Taking such a case to a jury is a slam dunk for a prosecutor because John Q. Public just wants to close the case and go home. Better yet they would prefer not to serve on a jury in the first place. Also, there is always someone on the jury willing to send a man to prison on the word of lone person.
 
So it goes like this. The police refuse to actually investigate because they don’t want to cost themselves a conviction by uncovering evidence of a person’s innocence, the prosecutor does not want to upset the police and wants to tout 100% conviction rate to get elected so he ignores any evidence of person’s innocence. The public defender does not get paid enough to mount a real defense and most of his clients really are guilty. His or here job gets much more difficult if he or she gets sideways of the prosecutor or the police. She or he has a case load that is crazy overload. If it does get to trial the story told to the jury are half truths and they hear only what they want to hear. People likely to buck the prosecutor are carefully weeded out of the jury so they almost always convict.
 
I lost my children, my estate, my retirement funds and my ability to get a job in the positions I have spent my life training for. Because of old criminal history this effort to become employable had been 3 times harder than a normal person. I only got six months in jail for harassment against my wife and children. In spite of all this it counts as a victory. I came very close to going to prison for three years on false charges. My two sons came forward at the last minute to testify on my behalf. Even family members who were on my side were incapable of joining the battle on my behalf. It is just too scary.
 
The risk of being swallowed by the system in such as fashion was terrific for me because of the culture in which I was raised. I recognized this danger early in life and my resume is stacked with parenting lessons, communication workshops, recovery meetings and outreach in an effort to break the cycle of incarceration and mental illness and addiction for the sake of my children. I did my job. I worked hard to make sure I had done everything I could clean my plate of the issues that landed their so my children could be proud of me and anyone who noticed my myriad of mistakes would have good reason to work with me rather than disregard or punish me.
 
The community did not do their job. They did not meet me halfway. They did punish me in an indiscriminate manner. 
 
I continue my work as family advocate to confront this corruption in our community. I don’t ge paid for it. Often I am punished for my efforts. Circling the wagons is a cultural phenomenon that is not exclusive to law enforcement.   It is common in the corporate world, government institutions and non-profits.
If you have the resources and feel the inclination to help me personally or with the work I do please reach out to me. I cannot win these battles alone. I want to see my children again. I want to be a productive part of the community again, and get paid for it. I want to build an estate and a retirement fund again.  I want to build a community where children are not at risk of paying for the sins of their parents.
Peace,
Victor Reppeto
vreppeto@gmail.com

The Could Be Should Be of Community Policing

636277907582372614-Bynum-Janelle.jpg
(Photo: Special to the Statesman Journal)
The Statesman Journal of Salem, Oregon published a story titled Police called as black Oregon lawmaker, Rep. Janelle Bynum, knocked on doors.
Coverage of this story by the statesman journal is appalling.  This story is important.  OPB did a much better job.  The discourse between Bynum and the deputy is a classic example of good policing in a difficult situation.  Especially when the deputy facilitated contact between Bynum and her accuser.  This was an essential element that transitioned the event from an example of the Drama Triangle to
​the Empowerment Dynamic (powerofted.com).   It amazes me to see a police officer do this effectively in today’s society as it exists in Oregon.  I would like to know if the officer was condemned or congratulated for such an exceptional performance.  I would like this conversation held up as shining example for other officers and citizens to follow. The bare mention the Statesman Journal has given it assigns a negligible value to the collaborative, compassionate communication that is key to building healthy relationships between the criminal justice system and the public.
Peace,
Victor Reppeto
Turner, Or

No to Assault Weapons?

On Mon, Jun 4, 2018 at 2:45 PM Katie Larsell <katielarsell@gmail.com> wrote:

Dear Victor,
Thanks for your email the other day. It looks like you don’t agree with Oregon UU Voices for Justice on gun regulation.
Its been a while since we have seen each other, but I enjoyed meeting you last year. I respect your opinion and your unique perspective. I was just about to say that I was sorry we disagree but I don’t think I am sorry! Our congregations need more healthy disagreement and difference. I hope you can understand my perspective also.
I want guns to be regulated the way we regulate cars. Traffic can be dangerous and so we license drivers. Some drivers get their license taken away if they are dangerous drivers. Car manufactures are asked by the government to make cars with more safety features. Does regulating drivers and improving cars make hi ways completely safe?  No, we still have terrible traffic accidents. Cars and driving though, are much safer than they used to be. However, I would not want to live in a country where there are no regulations on cars and drivers. I feel the same way about guns.
Take care Victor, I hope all is well with you. I hope you don’t experience any more difficult experiences with the police.
Rev Katie A Larsell

 
Executive Director 
Oregon Unitarian Universalist Voices for Justice
 
(503) 327-1612
Dear Katie,
First I want to thank your for recognizing debate as an important tool for effective policy development.  The cultural interpretation of confrontation as unhealthy is incorrect.  We had a whole class on group dynamics at Chemeketa that included debate.
I don’t want guns to be without regulations either.  Continuing education should be necessary for parenting as well.  I would even agree to the most strict regulations that you have suggested so far as you enforce limits on the weapons the police are using as well, require practice in a communication practice group at least as much as on the gun range and hold them accountable for not abiding by those regulations.
There is no supporting principles in the UU covenants for failing to protect those who cannot protect themselves.  You talk about a drivers license as a metaphor.  It is apt since we do little to provide transportation for the poor and disenfranchised either.  I want regulations too. It is not the answer to reduce the size of a clip for ammunition for me while ignoring the abuse of military might by the criminal justice system.  I would frame it somewhat differently.  Spiritually I look for a balance between ying and yang.  A six shot revolver against flash bang grenades and full auto weapons is not balanced.  The wholesale disregard for due process and Posse Comitatus is not balanced. Marion County convicts almost as many people as Multnomah Co. with less than half the population.  The public defenders don’t even pretend to defend their clients.  To the contrary they twist their client’s arms to take a guilty plea even when clearly innocent.  The public defenders says they are just doing their job. The DA says they are just doing their job. The police officer says they are just doing their job.  Mass incarceration has increased exponentially since 1963 and the statistics that report 2.3 million incarcerated are misleading because they do not count those held in county jails or detention or on probation.  This is state sponsored slavery and tyranny in the first degree.  You cannot in good conscience tilt scales of power even further than they already are without spending time in the courtroom to see if what I am saying is the truth.  even Martin Luther King Jr recognized the necessity of arming oneself against attackers. He only resorted to use of a weapon when they came in the dark in an attempt to hide their identity and some did wear a badge.  A gun may not be as powerful as the pen but is still powerful enough to make them think twice.   We can learn from him and others that open, armed rebellion is not productive but being armed is still prudent.
I have worked recovery from drugs and alcohol for over 25 years and I have been clean and sober, this time since 2009.  I have worked recovery from mental health issues and family dysfunction for 40 years and will continue to do so the rest of my life, 150 percent. The pen is mightier than the sword so I concentrate on communication skills to a much larger degree than anything else in my toolbox.  I can show you a resume of accomplishments to prove it yet the tyrants in charge of the courts take my kids, my estate and my ability to get a job.
I would not lightly associate myself with others so far to the right but the recovery that has been stolen is not just mine but that of my children.  Families take generations to recover from the rock bottom that my parents represent.  I am prevented from sharing the communication skills and spiritual growth with my children that will be so necessary for them to claim true liberty in this country.  The loss of these relationships with my children is a pain that words fail to describe.  Those who have studied slavery know that this is the worst pain that slaves suffer, when close relationships are rent by their masters. Most have dismissed me as a sore loser but none of them have taken the time to look at the overwhelming evidence presented in my custody and divorce proceedings.
The work of equal rights for people of color and the poor and consumers of mental health services is not a job that we will be finished with so much as it is a torch that we must hand off to the next generation.  There is a universal mathematical formula that states 80 percent of the production is from 20 percent of the population and this is true for the civil rights movement.  We must take every opportunity to recruit and share these tools with the next generation.
In closing I will address your last remark.  I value the time I have spent in court and jail.  It was not pleasant but it was a position of leverage that resulted in change.  Polk county was taking money from the state via the Justice Reinvestment act but not using the dollars appropriately.  They now have a real crisis response team, Counselors and Peer Support Specialists visiting the jail and have reined in their abuse of exorbitant bail amounts. The Command of the Jail and a Lieutenant were fired.  In Marion county I revisited the Mental Health Court last week and observed more evidence of diversion in the form of a dismissed conviction for a successful program of recovery rather than just probation vs prison.  The pro-tem judges in the Justice Center on Aumsville Hwy are no longer allowed to hand out guilty verdicts for anything worse than a violation since the defendant is never given the opportunity to have a trial under a pro-tem judge.  Since I just watched Darkest Hour  where Gary Oldman played Winston Curchhill I currently find it appropriate to quote this ….
Then out spake brave Horatius,
The Captain of the gate:
“To every man upon this earth
Death cometh soon or late.
And how can man die better
Than facing fearful odds
For the ashes of his fathers
And the temples of his gods…”
—Thomas Babington Macaulay
One of the first rules of recovery is to look for things we have in common.  A key element for consensus and effective debate is to put yourself on the other side of the argument.  What are the larger concerns of those that oppose this legislation?  How do we meet those concerns and give these people due regard while still pursuing better regulation and increased safety that seems to be our ultimate goal?  Stephen Covey would consider these partly issues of leadership vs management.
peace,
Victor Reppeto
Turner, Or
 503-383-9517
vreppeto.wordpress.org

— Communication is the problem and the solution