Open Letter to SJ Reporter Lauren E Hernandez

Lucia Pamatz’s life cut short by shooting

I just read your story about Lucia Pamatz and Christian Acosta.  I am wondering why this story is so common compared to stories about male victims of domestic abuse.  Domestic abuse is about control as much as it is about violence.  Even after my ex-wife admitted I had never hit her Polk County continued to prosecute me.  My story needs to be told too.  I don’t want to just stir people up though.  The fear of what is happening needs to be focused on a constructive outlet.

I grew up in this environment too.  I suffered from night mares all my life as a result of the abuse on top of anxiety levels I was born with and a lack of coping skills.

I spent 12 years as a stay at home Dad and I have pursued recovery rigorously in order to stem the violence being handed down from one generation to the next (see my credentials as an attachment).  But something happens when people like me stand up and advocate for change in the middle of a family and/or a community that have become comfortable with their dysfunctional place in a larger system.  This is akin to whistle blowing in a family.  This is whistle blowing in a community.

Now my criminal history says ” Harassment: as constitutes domestic violence.”  Nothing could be further from the truth and there is no crime listed that fits this legal distinction.  This is just one part of the price that is being paid by my children for my choice to confront Judge Sally Avera’s abuse of discretion.  It is not just a hint, I have been told in plain English to leave the valley and the prosecution will stop.

But this is the side story.  The important story is the constructive outlet.  Restorative Justice is the larger issue.  As a member of the Oregon Prison Project I have the opportunity to share the specialized skills  I have developed over three decades to overcome the behavior patterns of abuse and neglect that have been handed down over generations, to facilitate a course correction for my family and for the community.  Based on the book Non-Violent Communication: A Language for Life we take communication workshops into the community and into the jails and prisons. At the bottom of every email I send I include —communication is the problem and the solution.   This strategy pursues the root cause for both male and female perpetrators because we are all responsible.  Parenting classes were always one of my favorite strategies for re-parenting myself because I did not have to endure this burning, public focus on only my failures.  Instead that was left for me to open up about (or leave silent) and the public focus was on what we could do next to improve our skills as parents.  NVC communication workshops do the same thing, they leave room for the individual to own the mistakes and we are encouraged to do so empathetically.  Admissions of responsibility are often met with affirmations for having the courage to take that all import first step.  These are also learning opportunities and they are a key focus of empathy and self empathy.

Bridging the Gap is another local program that focuses on early intervention by providing mentors for young people still in Middle or High School.

The second part of a larger strategy to reduce violence in our society is Criminal Justice Reform.  Shootings by the police, life sentences for juveniles and over-incarceration are things that exacerbate the problems and create more violence.  Since 2013 Oregon has reduced the need to build new prisons and jails with the Justice Reinvestment Act yet Marion county persists in putting a larger percentage of people in county jail than any other county in the Metro Region or in the state.  (see slides 35 – 45 http://www.oregon.gov/cjc/justicereinvestment/Documents/RIC/MetroNov2016.pptx)  In other counties it is more common to use justice reinvestment dollars to divert people to services that address the root cause of their arrest.  Marion county is to be commended on the progress they have made but this is just a beginning.  Civic Groups including Oregon UU Voices for Justice, Bridging the Gap, Ecumenical Ministries of Oregon, The Fellowship of Reconciliation (this list goes on) are now collaborating with each other to pursue solutions that include mental health services as an alternative to incarceration.  The election of Trump has had the unintended consequence of motivating individuals and acting as an effective pry bar to get them off the couch and into action.  This will entail some basic paradigm changes for officers of the court including Judges, DA’s, Public Defenders and Police Officers.
Please respond to this plea.  Please collaborate with me to write a story that will accelerate the healing for our community and publish it.  I want a better world with more opportunities for my children to learn to carry the torch.

Peace

Victor Reppeto

Let My People Go

The Return is yet another POV production worth watching.  California’s three strikes law put thousands of our citizens in jail for life without parole for minor and nonviolent crimes. Prop 36 changed that in 2012.  Now these people are being let out unless that third strike was serious or violent.  In watching this film it strikes me that we have ripped many families apart here in Oregon with behavior similar to the three strikes law being perpetrated by our criminal justice system.  They are the gatekeepers, they decide when someone is appropriate for mental health court or drug court.  When asked they say their job is to prosecute to the fullest extent of the law.  They deny their responsibility to make this important decision about what happens not only to the perpetrator but to the families of these people.

This video shows where it leads and what happens when we look the other way.  This video shows how tremendous the task is to rebuild what has been lost when we evaluate so many members of our community as disposable.

The Return

An examination of an unprecedented reform to California’s “Three Strikes” law.
the-return

 

 

victor

Victor Reppeto has pursued recovery from inter-generational family dysfunction for three decades, including mental illness and addiction.  He was a stay at home dad for three children for 12 years, two of which have special needs.  He is a computer technician and a social justice advocate with lived experience as a in inmate in county jails and a consumer of mental health services.  As of October 2016 He is working with a coalition to pursue criminal justice reform in the state of Oregon.

To forgive or not to forgive

 

This American Life

20 Years Later
604: 20 Years Later
Dec 9, 2016
 When Gerald McFadden was released in 1994 from life without parole he was only out 98 days before committing this crime. This audio documentary covers ths familie’s journey to find forgiveness and hope. Pennsylvania’s population of imprisoned lifers went from 268 to over 5000 because it became politically incorrect to commute their sentences after the McFadden debacle.

We need accountablility and reform in Oregon’s Criminal Justice System

The public defenders in Marion and Polk Counties seem to be suffering from systemic issues of attempting to force clients into guilty pleas when they are not guilty.  I have been appointed several attorneys over the past 4 years and all of them, without exception have attempted to coerce me into such plea deals.  I will continue to seek the attention of federal prosecutors and other appropriate oversight authorities.  The eventual outcome is predictable.  Attorney’s will lose their licenses and some will end up in jail.

These behaviors are in stark contrast to the public defenders association in Seattle.  They sued the police department to toward a system of restorative justice including the L.E.A.D. program (Law enforcement Assisted Diversion).

The false criminal charges leveled by Dallas PD, Polk County deputies and Marion County Deputies that I have had to repeatedly defend myself against have destroyed the estate that we had built in an effort to become self sufficient. Since I was 18 I have overcome drug and alcohol addictions, pursued years of parenting classes and education as an addictions counselor in an effort to provide peace and prosperity for our descendants and be a productive member of this community.  In response you have continued to punish me instead of rewarding me for all this hard work.  This issue requires your collaboration and consensus.  Without that you will only makes things worse, not better.

I have pursued healthy alternatives to generations of family violence, addiction and dysfunction for decades.  In response the State of Oregon has subjected my family to a process of extraordinary rendition on behalf of officers of the court abusing their legitimate authority to pursue political popularity.  This undermining of the rule of law is neither ethical or legal.  The deaths of officers in Dallas are a precursor.  Just as the school shootings have mounted across the country and spread to Oregon so will the bloodshed of officers and civilians.  In the interests of preventing this catastrophe it is paramount that officers of the court pursue accountability, consensus and collaboration with efforts to reform it’s criminal justice system.

I beg you.  Please consider the consequences of your actions.

peace,

Victor Reppeto

 

On Mon, Nov 7, 2016 at 2:20 PM, OSB General Counsel <gc@osbar.org> wrote:

November 7, 2016

Victor Reppeto

vreppeto@gmail.com

Re:       Subject:  TJW 1601163

Travis Dickey (Victor Reppeto)

Dear Mr. Reppeto:

I have reviewed all of the relevant materials submitted in connection with your complaint regarding the conduct of Travis Dickey. I affirm the Client Assistance Office’s dismissal of your complaint.

As we have explained previously, the role of the Client Assistance Office is to determine whether there is sufficient evidence to form a reasonable belief that a lawyer may have violated the rules and statutes that govern their conduct so as to warrant further review by Disciplinary Counsel’s Office. We have no authority over quality of service issues.

After reviewing the relevant materials submitted, I do not find any evidence of ethical misconduct. For this reason, I affirm and adopt the Client Assistance Office’s dismissal of this complaint.  The Oregon State Bar’s file concerning your complaint is now closed.

Very truly yours,

Amber Hollister

General Counsel

 

cc:        Travis Dickey, Attorney at Law (office@travisdickeylaw.com)

— Communication is the problem and the solution

Here’s to the Crazy Ones

Here’s to the crazy ones.

The misfits. The rebels. The troublemakers.

The round pegs in the square holes. The ones who see things differently.

They’re not fond of rules. And they have no respect for the status quo.

You can praise them, disagree with them, quote them, disbelieve them, glorify or vilify them.

About the only thing you can’t do is ignore them.

Because they change things.

They invent. They imagine. They heal. They explore. They create. They inspire. They push the human race forward.

Maybe they have to be crazy.

How else can you stare at an empty canvas and see a work of art? Or sit in silence and hear a song that’s never been written? Or gaze at a red planet and see a laboratory on wheels?

While some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius.

Because the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones who do.

— Advertisement for Apple Computer, snitched – without attribution – from the writings of Jack Kerouac

Letter to the Mid-Willamette Homeless Initiative Task Force

This is an excerpt from an article on Willamette Week’s web site.

Oregon Was About to Open a Second Women’s Prison Because of 25 Inmates

<snip>
Peters’ announcement followed a period of lobbying by sentencing-reform advocates, who feared that opening another facility would fuel Oregon’s prison growth at a time when it’s trying to reverse that trend.
Shannon Wight, deputy director at one such group, the Partnership for Safety and Justice, called the DOC’s decision Thursday a “temporary reprieve.”

“Even they make it clear that if we don’t do justice differently, they will have to open a new prison,” she wrote in a statement. “Oregon is at a critical juncture: do we continue to use prisons as our default response to crime, or do we commit to curbing racial disparities, investing in community-based programs, and advancing effective public safety solutions?”

<snip>

This article highlights the point I have made to the Taskforce repeatedly.  The Courts are putting too many people in jail.  This basic attitude toward incarceration needs to be curbed.  Judges shout down defendants to keep them from making valid motions.  Police are arresting and charging so many people the courts cannot process them all without undermining basic rights like the right to a speedy trial, accommodations for disabilities and allowing all relevant evidence to come to light.  Public Defenders fail to document motions that are necessary for the these faulty decisions to be properly vetted on appeal.  If these motions are not documented they did not happen.  Abusing millions of citizens across the country like this does not make our communities safer.  This behavior represents state sponsored terrorism and the effect on our economy is crippling.  The state of Oregon is already under censure by the Federal Government as of 2012 for abusing incarceration as an alternative to treatment for mental health issues.  Oregon has yet to release prisoners sentenced for cannabis related offenses and this alone would make building a new prison unnecessary.
Ignoring these problems will not make them go away.
peace,
Victor Reppeto

Be a hero

I just watched Defying the Nazis: The Sharps’ War.  I love this kind of story!  This is what attracted me to the UUCS (uusalem.org)  in the first place.

We have a number of important battles to fight right here in our community.  Leadership abounds from organizations like the Ecumenical Ministries of Oregon, the Racial Justice Organizing Committee, Friends of Reconciliation, Oregon Family Support Network and Head Start.  The Oregon convention of UU Voices for justice meets here at UUCS on October 15th, 2016.  A dozen others have entered my sphere of influence since I joined UUCS.
The soapbox that has my full attention is Criminal Justice reform.  If we study the history of slavery, if we talk to holocaust survivors the most horrifying experience is to be separated from ones children.  Even worse than torture is to see one’s own children sold off knowing full well they will be exploited by the world around them and I will not be there to protect them.  Yet we do this with impunity.  Children are separated from their parents every time we send a parent to jail.  Judges disregard ethical guidelines so routinely it is just part of the job to most of them.  Anyone who is arrested and charged is expected to plead guilty in one form or another or face being brutalized by every ounce of power the state of Oregon can bring to bear.  The U.S. represents 5 percent of the worlds population and 25 percent of the worlds incarcerated.  Oregon is one of several states in the nation that allows incarcerated children to be sent to isolation without statutory limit to how much time they can spend there. This is why jails and prisons are called Monster Factories by author/corrections officer Sunny Schwartz.
A powerful tool has been discovered by some communities across the nation.  They are called court watchers.  They sit in the court room and take note of the behavior of the Officers of the Court.  Just the act of watching is enough to bring order to chaos in many cases.  It is not for everybody.  The escaped child who thanked Martha Sharp was right.  Not just anybody will take such a risk and step forward to care for others in spite of the real danger represented to themselves.
Court Supporters are similar but they attach themselves to a likely client and accompany them to visits with the public defender as well as court dates.  Court advocates are another part of the team and they lobby with legislators, the Commission on Judicial Fitness and Disability and the like.
We do not need permission to do this.  Asking the courts to police themselves has proved pointless again and again throughout history.   This must be a civilian effort independent of the justice department.  Yet we must collaborate and offer these officials respect for the same inherent worth and dignity we wish them to bestow on the citizens they are responsible for holding accountable.  No one can engage in this endeavor alone.
I ran across a quote from May Sarton’s  Journal of Solitude, “And it occurs to me that there is a proper balance between not asking enough of oneself and asking or expecting too much. It may be that I set my sights too high and so repeatedly end a day in depression. Not easy to find the balance, for if one does not have wild dreams of achievement, there is no spur even to get the dishes washed. One must think like a hero to behave like a merely decent human being. ”  Maybe the battle you choose is another.  Fine, pick one and fight it.  Fight deliberately with plain intent.  Spiritual well being consists of five elements, physical, psychological, financial, spiritual and social.    Let us work this program of maturation and apply ourselves to a worthy cause.  Read a book, go to meetings, journal, exercise, meditate then bring it all together and work the steps toward victory in your chosen battle.
Be a hero.

I don’t have time to volunteer right now!

 

  • That’s great!  Most volunteer organizations, including this one will figure out what fits into your schedule.

    This is an important way to help connect community partners.  I do not have enough time in my schedule to make a large commitment to them all so I stay in touch via email and show up for the occasional event where my presence can make a difference. I also take on the occasional small task for them.

    Going to their meetings once in a while really fills my emotional bank account so I have the energy to read and journal and study and exercise and meditate and do self-care.  It is also a great way to meet peers (eventually) who can co-op with me to fill mutual needs like child care, transportation, empathy buddies, study buddies and the like.

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.

post