Susan Mwarabu has been a volunteer social media contributor for Amicus since 2011. Susan relocated to North Carolina and is currently in graduate school, attaining her Masters in Public Administration. Her experiences with Amicus have prompted her series of letters to Amicus which will highlight her first meeting with Amicus, her probation experiences, as well as how she has dealt with job hunting challenges.
By Susan Mwarabu
Living in a state of conditional freedom meant having to accept the subconscious effects of constantly reporting and answering to someone at different times. In case you are wondering, I am referring to probation. I understood it was a necessary step towards paying my dues to society. What I didn’t understand and didn’t know how to deal with was the shame and the secrecy involved.
I am not sure what was worse. Perhaps it was the constant worrying that my neighbors would one day figure out the person who walks into my house to check on me was my probation officer. Deep humiliation was my constant companion for a long time. I didn’t really know how to reign in the confusion of meeting my probation officer in a social event where I offered awkward greetings and then quickly herded my family away from the ‘hot spot’ of shame.
Either way, being on probation is a unique and often lonesome experience. I mean it’s not something you talk about with people. You just go through it and hope to make it out on the other side without any problems. What ended up happening was that I learned to be good at not making any new friends beyond my family and those who have known me for a long time. I didn’t bother with joining the PTA or the neighborhood watch. Why would I want to watch over others when I am being watched over? I had my family and a few friends, of which Amicus is one.
I can’t help but continue to hope for a different way to approach probation or parole. Is it possible for it not to be a shame-based process shrouded in secrecy? Would there ever be a chance of the process being an acceptable part of restitution? Will there be a time when someone on probation won’t need to fear being discovered and the accompanying mistrust resulting in lack of job opportunities or having a place to live?
I sure hope so, but until that day comes, at least I can continue writing and highlighting the importance of friendship in a process that can be lonely and difficult. Amicus has been a friend to me and I hope others will find a friend like Amicus to help them get through the last hurdles towards true freedom.