The terms of house arrest (also known as “home confinement”) are different in every case. In my case, I’m allowed to leave my apartment to go to and from work (as long as my work schedule is pre-approved by my home-monitoring probation officer the week before- I have another probation officer for general probation, who I send a monthly paperwork report to, and who calls me for random drug tests), and I am also granted permission to venture into the Free World for two three hour “Leaves” each week. I have Earned Leave and Essential Leave every week.
Essential Leave is when I have time to do everything that could be deemed necessary each week. This usually entails a trip to Kinko’s to fax my schedule for the following week, along with a trip to the grocery store. Before leaving my apartment, I’m required to leave a message with my home monitoring PO, telling her the exact addresses and/or cross streets of where I’ll be going.
Earned Leave is the three hours a week (including travel time) in which I can do something of my choosing. As in Essential Leave, I have to leave a message with my home monitoring PO as to the exact whereabouts of where I’ll be going, prior to leaving my apartment. The only real boundary for this is that I can’t go to a bar and that I can’t have any alcohol during Earned Leave. Because I have no record of alcohol abuse, I’m able to consume alcohol in moderation while I’m at home, but for Earned Leave, having alcohol is viewed as a misuse of this time. Earned Leave can be taken away from me at any time, at the discretion of my home monitoring PO. I had it taken away once, when I had to change my work schedule at the last minute, which caused a disruption in protocol.
Okay. That was a long-winded explanation, but I just wanted to fill you in on what details the structure of my house arrest.
So! I had my Earned Leave this afternoon. I kicked it off with a stop at the Rite Aid near my place to pick up a few things. I should have known better than to go there, knowing that they are consistently understaffed at this location. The line is always so long, and today I burned through precious time waiting in line.
Last week I went to this Rite Aid with seven minutes on the clock before I needed to be home. If I ever arrive back even a minute later than I’m approved for, I risk a probation violation, which, as you may imagine, is a serious risk. When I was behind a long line for the register last week, I was sweating bullets and looking at the clock. By the time I got to the register, I was in such a frantic hurry that I left without a bag or receipt in hand. I can only assume that this made for an alarming image, literally sprinting out of the store with an armful of merchandise and an ever-obvious ankle bracelet on. Short of running out wearing a ski mask, it’s hard to imagine this looking more like a criminal fleeing the scene. Thankfully, I was with a friend, and when I pulled in front of my apartment, I hit my emergency lights and had her park the car for me so I’d be safe to run into my apartment on time.
After a lengthy stop at Rite Aid today, I met my friend Matt Cohen to go for coffee and a walk down Melrose Ave. Matt hosts the podcast “Bagged and Boarded”, which he was kind enough to have me as a guest on in January.
It turned out to be an ideal Earned Leave, with the LA weather beaming sun on us all afternoon. By the end of it, I had something that I haven’t had in the more than four months I’ve been on house arrest: a sun tan. God bless the weather here. It was a welcome treat, compared to my usual waddle around my back yard, pacing around, desperately trying to soak in the slice of sunlight that falls on it.
224 days to go.