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Interview with Tawnie

JM: Tell us about the pre-sentencing process:
Tawnie: I don't know that there was one.

JM: Did you have police stop by your house for questioning? If not please give us details on how you came to be arrested.
Tawnie: No. I was on pre-trial release which was revoked when I freely admitted to my probation officer that I had drank alcohol (asking for help), and put in jail with no bail. My court appointed attorney did not visit me or return calls to me in jail so I had no legal councel whatsoever. In court she indicated I would not get out of jail if I were to continue with my plea of not guilty, so I plead guilty in order to get out of jail (after 10 days). I was not guilty, I just didn't want to sit in jail and I was scared of that. The second time the judge put me in jail for a week when probation reported I had been "out of compliance" with treatment (I never was, my treatment was transferred due to transportation issues only), it was a mistake on their part, neverthe less I was not permitted to defend myself and sat in jail for a week due to their paper mistakes.

JM: What was court like? Please give as many details as you recall.
Tawnie: Intimidating. The Judge was hostile, derogotory, mean, and I thought very biased and unfair (Judge Haven). The entire process is scary, confusing, and intimidating. Court appointed attorneys are a joke and everyone knows it. There is no real legal represenstation throught his system unless you have lots of money (power). It was also very humiliating. You feel like a child getting a scolding. Honesty if not expected or rewarded. It felt very dehumanizing and impersonal for sure. Your just meat for their grinder is all (they are getting a pay check from the personal suffering of people, poor people)!

JM: What were your original charges? What did you end up being convicted of?
Tawnie: 2 counts of domestic violence assault (I pled guilty as charged in order to be released from jail). I was not guilty but the court system is unfair if you are poor or if you suffer from a mental health condition &/or substance abuse problem. The 2 usually go together, and I am in recovery from co-occurring alcohol abuse and recurrent major depression/anxiety/ptsd. I never should've plead guilty, but at the time it felt like a matter of survival (do or die)......I felt despondent.

Read about sentencing in the Kittitas County Jail

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