At 16 years old, my daughter, Amber E. Alvarez, scored the highest out of all her peers on the Military Entrance Exam and was hand-picked for service as a Linguistic Specialist at the prestigous Foreign Language Insitutute, Monterrey, CA.
As others who have also served in this capacity can tell you, this is an incredibly demanding, stressful post where drinking is encouraged by all. She was a minor and the Army was supposed to take care of her! They were her guardian! She finally had a chance to get the help she needed that the Army did NOT give her but these entities did NOT do the right thing!
It was a combination of the alcoholism, clinical depression and full-blown postpartum depression that landed her 3 children in my care. I don't know what if anything my daughter was guilty of but I do know she was treated unfairly!
On 3-15-12, Amber Elaine Alvarez (a 33 year old homeless Army veteran, single mother with NO PRIORS who has a dual diagnosis of chronic postpartum and clinical depression and an alcohol/chemical dependency she acquired in the Army at age 17), was forced to plead out to two Class 1 felonies instead of being diverted into a chemical dependency rehabilitation center where she would have receive the appropriate medical care.
Yet, persons who have the exact same charges and WORSE are routinely diverted into drug and/or mental health court and/or have their charges reduced by the State's Attorneys Offices so they can be admitted into diversion programs. Many of these are repeat offenders who have a Public Defender but, the majority of them are those who can afford bail and a private attorney.
In fact, had Amber been arrested 30 miles east in Cook County, she would have been diverted into one of their 6 Veterans Courts, placed on supervision, received chemical dependency rehabilitation and upon successful completion, no convictions!
Justice is dependent upon which State's Attorney you have, whether or not your last name is Latino, and whose career who might be able to assist!?!?!?! For Veterans it is dependent upon which county you live in!?!?!?!?!
OTHER COUNTIES HAVE VET COURTS, COOK, MCHENRY, LAKE, MADISON, ETC, BUT NOT KANE. WHY??
WHY DOES DIXON SPRINGS BOOT CAMP SHAVE THE HEADS OF THE FEMALE INMATES UPON THEIR ARRIVAL??
WHAT KIND OF JUDICIAL SYSTEM WON'T ALLOW A BOND REDUCTION AFTER 8 MONTHS?
WHAT KIND OF AN ATTORNEY FAILS TO PRODUCE CRUCIAL MEDICAL AND PSYCHOLOGICAL EVIDENCE IN A DEFENSE AND WHILE NEGOTIATING PLEA BARGAINS??
WHY WOULD A PUBLIC DEFENDER NOT WANT A CLIENT'S NEXT OF KIN TO HAVE A POWER OF ATTORNEY TO ACT ON THEIR BEHALF??
WHAT THE HELL IS GOING ON IN KANE COUNTY??
WHY IS TONS OF COMMUNITY SERVICE:
1) AMERICORPS MAKE A DIFFERENCE DAY BUILDING READING LOFTS AT A INNER-CITY CHICAGO SCHOOL
2) LITERACY VOLUNTEERS OF ILLINOIS CONFERENCE
3) JUST HOUSING'S 3RD WARD FEST FOR 3 YEARS IN A ROW
4) THE LATIN-AMERICAN CLUB MANY ACTIVITIES
5) AURORA-FOX VALLEY FIRST BOOK BASKIN ROBBINS FREE SCOOP DAY WHICH RAISED THE MOST $$ NATIONALLY
6) MISS LEE'S BAR ACTUALLY DRIVING THE DRUGS OUT OF THE BAR!
NONE OF THIS IS TAKEN INTO CONSIDERATION!!
HELL NO! LET'S GIVE THE PERSON WHO IS OUT THERE ROBBING THEIR FAMILIES, FRIENDS, AND NEIGHBORS MORE CONSIDERATION!!!
WHY ARE THE WOMEN ALWAYS ON LOCK-DOWN AT THE KANE COUNTY JAIL, GETTING OUT OF THEIR CELLS 1 OR 2 HOURS A DAY??
HOW ARE THEY SUPPOSED TO CALL THEIR ATTORNEYS AND OTHERS FOR HELP???
Now because Amber has been convicted of two felonies, she will not be able to live and/or visit her 3 minor children who live with me in our federally subsidized home EVER. No Christmases! No Birthdays! No Visits! Nothing!
Basically, these convictions and not receiving the appropriate treatment, will exacerbate Amber's depression, as well as, condemn her to carrying those felony convictions for the rest of her life even though she has NO PRIORS.
Now, Amber's convictions have permanently placed her at an insurmountable disadvantage in this economy to become employed, to provide a home and thus, be reunited with her children as a family. These convictions have many more deeper, far-reaching consequences that are totally unfair, unjustifiable and disproportionate under these circumstances.
Amber has been sentenced to 4-6 months in Dixon Springs Boot Camp instead of a rehabilitation center after a 13 year struggle to get her the help she needs! They had the ability to return her to sanity and to her children, family, friends and society as a whole, responsible contributing individual.
Please, won't you assist us in stopping this from happening to other Veterans and their children, their families?
THE WAR ON DRUGS IS REALLY A WAR ON THE POOR!
NO PRIORS, A VETERAN & A SINGLE MOTHER OF 3 YOUNG CHILDREN WHO NEEDED MEDICAL CARE *NOT* INCARCERATION.
PLUS, IT WOULD NOT HAVE COST THE STATE OF ILLINOIS TAXPAYERS A DIME AS THE DEPARTMENT OF VETERANS AFFAIRS WOULD HAVE PAID THE COSTS OF HER REHABILITATION.
THE FOLLOWING IS THE ANNUAL COST OF FEMALE INMATE INCARCERATION AT DWIGHT CORRECTIONAL FACILITY AS OF 8/31/11:
Dwight Correctional Center
Opened: November 1930
*Operational Capacity: 1,212
Maximum Security Adult Female
*Current Population: 1,018
Average Age: 34
Average Annual Cost Per Inmate: $33,977.00
*As of 8/31/2011. Reflects bedspace capacity analysis as outlined in the October 1, 2011 Quarterly Report to the Legislature.
PLEASE HELP US GET MORE NAMES AND WRITE LETTERS TO GOVERNOR QUINN, PRESIDENT OBAMA, THE IL DEPT OF VETERAN AFFAIRS AND THE U.S. DEPT OF VETERAN AFFAIRS OFFICES!!
HOW MANY VETS HAVE BEEN IMPRISONED BECAUSE THEY LIVED IN A COUNTY THAT DOESN'T HAVE A VET COURT? WHAT IS THE POINT OF HAVING VET COURT LEGISLATION IF VETS CANNOT ACCESS IT?
WHY ARE CONVICTED REPEAT FELONS TREATED BETTER THAN VETS WITH NO PRIORS? WHY DO THEY GET REHAB AND NO CONVICTIONS??
THANK YOU ALL IN ADVANCE FOR YOUR CONTINUED SUPPORT AND DO NOT HESITATE TO CONTACT US!
Governor Pat Quinn
100 W. Randolph, 16-100
Chicago, IL 60601
207 State House
Springfield, IL 62706
President Barack Obama
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20500
Visitor's Office: 202-456-2121
Director Erica Borggren
IL Dept of Veteran Affairs
Illinois Department of Veterans' Affairs
833 South Spring Street
P.O. Box 19432
Springfield, IL 62794-9432
Illinois Department of Veterans' Affairs
James R. Thompson Center
100 West Randolph, Suite 5-570
Chicago, IL 60601-3219
US DEPT OF VETERAN AFFAIRS
The Honorable Eric K. Shinseki
810 Vermont Avenue, NW – Washington, DC 20420