I went to DC in April to stay with my mother. On May 2 I got an email from VANS, the Vermont Automatic Notification Service, which sends out updates on an offender's status to registered users.
Edmond Arundell was notionally serving 14 months for breaking into my house at night last August and threatening to shoot me, which is to say that, since he was apprehended and taken into custody in early September, the sentence would presumably end some time in November. When I say "notionally" I mean that this was the sentence agreed in the plea bargain, which conveys to the uninitiated the notion that the time spent in jail will be 14 months.
Before breaking in he had shown a pattern of obsessive behavior which would have been a clear case of stalking in many states; in Vermont it wasn't so clear; he had been charged with two cases of unlawful trespass in early May. (I have discussed this briefly in an earlier post.) What he would do upon release was anyone's guess.
The notification from VANS said he was up for parole or a record review next month, and gave a number I could contact if I wished to participate. It looked as though this was the last month when I could live at my place with the guarantee of not being disturbed: if he was under supervision in the community he might comply with the conditions of his parole or he might not. So I went back to Vermont to snatch of a month to work on a book, and when I got back I began calling the number I had been given. If EA was to be let out I wanted some kind of restriction on his movements so that he could not come back to my place.
I left one message after another, trying various numbers. I finally tracked down someone who agreed to give my email address to Ashley Fisk, the victim advocate (roughly) within the correctional system. Fisk made some calls and reported back. Mr. Arundell was not, in fact, up for parole. He had maxed out his sentence and would be released unconditionally at the end of May. Fisk explained that he had served "good time" and it was this that had brought the date of release forward.
Now, I do understand that incentives for good behavior help to make prison populations manageable. But this is pretty tiring. Arundell is a self-confessed alcoholic, prone to violent rages when drunk. Sober he's a different person, "the nicest person in the world" according to staff at the local Sheriff's Office. Since he has spent 9 months of enforced sobriety, it's not surprising that he made a good impression.
The problem is, he himself admits that he can't help himself. He rejected probation as an element of his plea bargain because this would include a ban on alcohol with which he would be unable to comply. So his behavior inside is no predictor of what he will do upon release; his own assessment was that he would instantly start drinking again. And according to his landlord E was obsessed with me, could not stay away.
If his release had included the requirement to stay away from yours truly, a violation would have triggered a return to custody for the remainder of the original sentence. Now, if I get a stalking order or have a notice against trespass served, a violation will mean that the whole legal process starts from scratch.
Vermont has very liberal gun laws. Some states require a license for any kind of gun, some for concealed carry; some states exclude certain classes of people from ownership (felons, addicts, alcoholics). Vermont requires no license and places no restrictions on ownership. To the untutored eye, it is particularly ill-suited to a happy-go-lucky approach to the administration of justice.
So I have been organizing a new notice against trespass, and looking into a stalking order, and wondering whether there is any point. The message sent by the legal authorities is that a woman who wants to live in Vermont should get a gun and learn how to use it.