Reply To: Reasonable shelter denied to registrants facing horrific storms


Robin Vander Wall


All Fred was trying to say is that today, as things exist right now, the present understanding and administration of probation is (whether wrongly or rightly; whether intended from inception to be that way or not) that it’s a continuation of punishment. You’re not going to find a judge in the nation who sees it any differently no matter how many policy arguments you make. Your argument is, I believe, a valid one. But it needs to be directed at legislators. Legislators have transformed probation from what it was intended to be into what it has become. There is very little we can do about that. And the courts are NOT going to provide us with any relief in this area.

I do not believe Fred would disagree with your basic premise here: that people on probation should not be treated as though they are undeserving of human dignity during a time of extreme crisis (such as a natural disaster). All I’ve heard on the radio today are stories about how concerned FEMA is about providing shelter to illegal immigrants and making certain that they aren’t afraid of seeking shelter on account of their status. It’s a reasonable concern. The fact that there is not the same concern for probationers is really unfortunate. And we, at NARSOL, stand together with those individuals notwithstanding the fact that there is very little we can do to alter their circumstances.

This is a policy argument (for legislators and media). It is not a legal argument because it will go absolutely no where in a court of law. It would actually be laughed clear out of the courtroom. That’s reality. That’s just the way it is.