alex king update

I received an e-mail last night from a reader asking for an update on Alex. To tell you the truth, I’ve been keeping that story in the background because we’ve entered a quiet stretch in the legal process, and while I feel comfortable talking about the legal stuff as it happens, I do not feel comfortable talking about prospective legal plans and events.

I can summarize his situation as follows:

Alex is being held without bail (in solitary confinement) on a probation violation charge initiated by the Florida Department of Corrections based upon two facts: Alex is charged with leaving the scene of a traffic accident on foot, and opiates were detected in a urine test the day after the incident. Alex suffered a cracked or bruised rib in the crash and had taken a single hydrocodone pain-killer the previous night. At the time FDOC filed the VOP (violation of probation) they did not consider or even know that Alex had a valid prescription for this medication. Nor did they apparently consider that, as a result of all the threats and abuse Alex has suffered over the years (many of them while incarcerated by the state and under its control), Alex suffers from a form of post traumatic stress syndrome which would predict and explain his flight response after the accident. He simply did not have the capacity to think about it in the same way you or I would, and this is to some degree of the state’s making. Flight was an automatic, non-volitional response.

When I raised these facts with his probation officer I asked her, “When are you going to withdraw the VOP?” And she answered that her department would not be withdrawing the charge. “We are leaving that decision to the courts,” she said. Pass the buck. Spoken like a true bureaucrat.

In other words, I thought, FDOC can de-rail Alex’s education and cause him to be jailed on the basis of charges made as a result of a flawed process in which FDOC failed to consider relevant information and failed to exercise the judgment and discretion one would consider to be benchmarks of basic competence and fairness.

Alex has already been in jail 103 days—3⅓ months, more than ¼ of a year—and his VOP case is still a long way from being heard. The longest jail time to which Alex can be sentenced for fleeing the scene is only 60 days. From the time that prosecutor David Rimmer decided to prosecute an abused child as an adult criminal instead of the confused victim that he truly was, the State of Florida has consistently subjected Alex to excessively cruel treatment. This is just more of the same.

Alex’s case is procedurally complicated. The VOP charge was filed with the court in Okeechobee County based in part on a traffic charge in Escambia County which must be heard in that county’s own court. Two courts, 546 miles (8 hours 41 minutes) apart. This naturally leads to screw-ups, delays, and longer incarceration. Alex has already missed two court dates—one in Escambia County and one in Okeechobee County—because the state held him in custody in the wrong jurisdictions for him to make timely court appearances. Alex’s next court appearance in Escambia County is June 14th (unless the state transfers him back to Okeechobee before then—it all depends on the state’s intent).

Because of the complexity, distance, expense, and hassle involved, we have not been successful in getting a top-flight private attorney involved. So for our defense we’re relying on the public defenders in each jurisdiction and, based on Alex’s assessments, we have a high degree of confidence in each public defender’s competence and potential effectiveness.

And remember, we’re not talking about an offense that would normally violate one’s probation. It’s not like Alex robbed a convenience store or was snorting cocaine at a rave. He’d been working hard at school and was doing well in a whole bunch of challenging subjects. He was doing what the state supposedly wanted. Now the state is screwing with him over a technicality with an excess of willful negligence and maybe even malice.

Thus far the state is giving every indication that it is less interested in supporting Alex’s rehabilitation and return to society than filling another prison cot somewhere within its money-making prison-industrial complex. But that’s just my take on what’s happening. I could be wrong and I hope that I am. Only time and events will tell.

While Alex’s legal ordeal slowly grinds on, my job right now seems to be mainly serving as a communications hub between Alex and his support network. I forward mail and messages back and forth in an attempt to help Alex keep his spirits up. Now that he is being held at the Escambia County jail, I am able to keep him in a steady supply of books and Ramen noodles.

The thing you may not appreciate is if you’re incarcerated, being in communication with people on the outside—your family and friends, your lawyer, with anyone at all—is like trying to thread a needle while wearing welding gloves. It is also very expensive. A fifteen minute phone call with Alex costs me about $20. Not everyone can afford that. Communicating with prisoners takes a lot of extra time and effort, too. The state’s control over a prisoner is so total, it can effectively prevent that prisoner from mounting an effective defense. Abuses happen. Florida is not a compassionate state.

That’s about as much as I can tell you about Alex right now without sliding into an outraged diatribe about Florida justice. Nobody likes a whiner or complainer, anyway. Alex doesn’t ever whine or complain and does a pretty good job at keeping me from doing it too much.

I need to live up to his good example and be patient.


Groove of the Day

Listen to Carly Simon performing “Anticipation”

10 Responses to “alex king update”

  1. 1 Gloria
    June 1, 2011 at 9:14 am

    Is really sad to see the persecution of this Young man. All I would like to do now is as you politely said to enter in an outraged diatribe about Florida justice. But what a waste of time and energy. However, the Hall of Shame on Florida is so extensive that I couldn’t help but post the link here, http://www.google.es/url?sa=t&source=web&cd=1&ved=0CCAQFjAA&url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.privateci.org%2Fflorida.htm&ei=SkPmTeuPKs2whAfQ57XUCg&usg=AFQjCNEukVzJe42aFx3VToQYA2Bg65poTA

  2. 2 Gloria
    June 1, 2011 at 3:32 pm

    Another sad case this time a 10 year old, it happened 2 years ago he is now 12 and since in New Mexico you can not be tried as an adult until you are just 12 years old, they have decided to wait until he is 12 years old so the prosecutors will act as the cowards they are. How Repugnant. He was only 10 years old.

    Abused 10-Year-Old May Be Tried As Adult

    In response to the Hilburn case — as well as a host of other cases where CYFD allegedly dropped the ball, Gov. Susanna Martinez appointed a new secretary to CYFD and is purportedly ‘cleaning house.’ Yet while it’s easy to point fingers at overworked, underfunded social workers with limited legal abilities (law enforcement needs to sign off on any any removal of children from family homes) there are other culprits that the media is not looking at — the fact that a ten-year-old has unrestricted access to a gun, and secondly that prosecutors have decided that Benjamin Hilburn should be a poster-child for trying children as adults. According to KOAT News, prosecutors stated on Tuesday that it was critical for Benjamin Hilburn to go to trial as it could ‘set a precedent’ for child murder cases across the country


    • 3 Gloria
      June 1, 2011 at 4:39 pm

      sorry I was wrong, in New Mexico you have to be 14 to be tried as an adult, so I don’t know why they are asking a 10 year old to be tried as an adult. Oh, yes I forgot, it seems the prosecutors have decided that Benjamin Hilburn should be a poster-child for trying childrens as adults. that’s why. 😦

  3. 4 Jeanne
    June 1, 2011 at 6:06 pm

    I think it is a shame what they are doing to Alex. Why so long in jail for a minor offense when he is in school and working on bettering himself? This is so sad.

  4. 5 abram
    June 1, 2011 at 7:55 pm

    These child prosecutions as adults is proof the U.S. is a demented society.

  5. 6 andy rea
    June 1, 2011 at 8:26 pm

    Instead of building new prisons convert existing schools!

    Financially pinched states across the nation are making draconian cuts in spending for social services and public education. But there’s one area that gets gentler treatment under Republican governors and legislators: prisons. In fact, while Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder and the GOP-controlled legislature were whacking $300 per student from the state’s K-12 school budget, he was simultaneously moving some of the “savings” over to corrections and prisons.

    That prompted Nathan Bootz,
    of public schools in the small town of Ithaca in central Michigan, to pen a letter to the local Gratiot County Herald suggesting a modest proposal:

    Consider the life of a Michigan prisoner. They get three square meals a day. Access to free health care. Internet. Cable television. Access to a library. A weight room. Computer lab. They can earn a degree. A roof over their heads. Clothing. Everything we just listed we DO NOT provide to our school children.
    This is why I’m proposing to make my school a prison. The State of Michigan spends annually somewhere between $30,000 and $40,000 per prisoner, yet we are struggling to provide schools with $7,000 per student. I guess we need to treat our students like they are prisoners, with equal funding. Please give my students three meals a day. Please give my children access to free health care. Please provide my school district Internet access and computers. Please put books in my library. Please give my students a weight room so we can be big and strong. We provide all of these things to prisoners because they have constitutional rights. What about the rights of youth, our future?!
    I don’t know how strict the English teachers of the 1350 students in the Ithaca schools are about combining question marks and exclamation points, but surely this is one instance when they would not knock a point off Mr. Bootz’s grade. As the superintendent writes, adequately funding schools would give them “the resources necessary to keep our students OUT of prison.”
    To be fair, prison spending was also cut in the budget the Michigan legislature approved without a single Democratic vote Thursday. But, proportionately it was half the cut inflicted on public schools.
    What’s particularly galling about Synder’s caterwauling on the need to hack nearly a billion out of K-12 spending, reduce spending for universities and community colleges and cut already meager welfare payments? He simultaneously got the legislature to lower business taxes by $1.8 billion and raise taxes on pensions for seniors.

  6. 7 Kelly
    June 4, 2011 at 9:27 pm

    I came across your blog a few weeks ago after Googling Alex & Derek King. I live in California, but I wanted to see how they were doing. Sadly, I found out what happened with Alex and read a few old messages on this blog.

    I am very sorry for what has happened to him. I think the judicial system is really treating him unfair. I hope he is released very soon. Please let me know if I can help in any way. I would love to write to Alex if possible. I would also be willing to write to any officials in support of Alex.

    Keep up the good work. Thank you for the latest update.

  7. July 24, 2011 at 1:17 am

    Dan, you know my feelings on all of this. Down here on the other side of the earth (Aussieland) as you know we have a group who support Alex 100%. Reading these blogs just makes my blood boil, thinking what the (so called) “Land of the Free” is doing to kids who have stuffed up (even here in Australia, they hanged Ned Kelly [a “folk hero” like Wild Bill Hickock] for a lot less than what these (multiple expletives deleted) are doing to Alex. Just keep encouraging him for us. Cheers. £ance.

  8. 9 Gia
    October 18, 2011 at 5:31 pm

    I have been playing catch up reading your monthly posts after coming across your post about Alex’s arrest earlier this year (after I too did an internet search to see how the brothers were doing). So sad to hear (at this point) that Alex is still in custody. I am a retired law enforcement employee (non-sworn) so I know first hand about how terribly children can be abused by adults and the affects of that abuse on them.
    Please know that I will try to do what I can to help with assistance…books, cash, etc. starting next month. Unfortunately with my retirement income as it is, I can’t afford as much as I would like.
    Maybe if someone could consider creating a petition on this site http://www.change.org/
    about Alex’s dilemma it would most certainly bring national attention to this issue. I am not very experienced at doing this or I would do it myself. It could be widely circulated for signatures via email, Facebook, etc. It could also then be brought to the attention to Florida state officials. I have signed petitions on this site and many have become extrememly successful.

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