My Friend Michael is Looking for Help

[Note: Friends of Justice is a personal blog. I speak only for myself.]

Dear Friend of Justice,

Michael Waterman was a good prison friend of Bernard Baran. While I had some correspondence with Michael while Bee was still in prison, we became closer after Bee’s release in 2006. We wrote each other; I took his phone calls about once a week; and I visited him when I could. Over the years, I learned his story.

My personal belief is that Michael was most probably falsely accused and wrongfully convicted. But when he was a naive 18-year-old, he was bullied and tricked into taking a guilty plea. He was told his options were a year in the county jail or life in prison.  He wasn’t told that after his year in jail he would be locked up as a sexually dangerous person and kept there until the courts declared him no longer dangerous.

Last May, with the help of an excellent public defender, a jury unanimously found Micahel not sexually dangerous. (Unanimity is not required in civil cases.) But while still in prison, at a hearing in which he had no representation, the Sex Offender Registry Board (SORB) classified him as a level-3 sex offender. (The SORB gives very little weight to the rulings of the Courts.)

Michael asked me recently if he could post a message to this blog. The content is his, but I worked with him on grammar and phrasing.

Michael’s girlfriend corresponded with him while he was in prison. Until Michael gets a job (he has training and experience in printing and silk screening), he is living on food stamps and disability. His girlfriend, however, has a good job which she has held for several years. If they can’t get a place together, Michael could probably only afford a rented room.

Here is Michael’s message:

Dear Friend,

My name is Michael Waterman and I am a good friend of Bob Chatelle. We have known each other for six years. I am fresh out of prison. I have been living in a trailer that’s on the property of another supporter. The trailer is half-owned by Bob – he and another supporter bought it for me so that I would have a place to live. But it’s not working out. It’s not meant for year-around living. And it’s in an area of very high unemployment. It’s not easy for a registered sex-offender to get a job to begin with.

I have a terrible label on my head: level 3 sex offender. I’ve been trying to find a place in and around the Boston area, but no landlord will take me. I have a girlfriend near Boston and I hoped I could live with her. But her landlord and neighbors don’t want me there. When I registered there, the police came to my girlfriend’s house and harassed and scared her. They said things like, “Why are you with a sex offender?” and “You can do better than that.” They said they’d make her life hell if I moved in.

I am hoping that a good-hearted and caring person will find it in their hearts to help me. I want to live a life out of prison that’s better than what I am living now.

I am now 26 and I was locked up at 14. (I was out for just a few weeks after I turned 18.) I have learned a lot and I hope I get the chance to live and learn more. If I can only get the chance. If you think you can help me in any way, feel free to contact me or Bob. My email address is mikewaterman4.21.85@gmail.com.

Sincerely,

Michael Waterman