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Christine D Patterson

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Kenneth Chard - Concrete Dreams that Bind the Chains of Hope
by Christine D Patterson   
Rated "PG13" by the Author.
Last edited: Friday, September 11, 2009
Posted: Thursday, June 26, 2003

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This is story # 2 Now I have read many stories of the Three Strikes Law, but somehow this story does not fit the law what so ever. This story fine a fine example of injustice.

Six years of concrete dreams can have a man face reality in a way he never expected. Mr. Chard was incarcerated for robbery. He had accepted his punishment. Now that the gates of freedom were about to open for him, the hardship of knowing that his wife of fifteen years had turned into a heroin addict, and there was nothing that he could do from the concrete walls except support her through the Methadone programs that she was going through.The outside walls seemed different then through the tiny window that he was use to looking through. Freedom seemed much bigger then the fake imagine that he was so accustomed to. Just hours after his release, he found his wife in a sleazy motel with his younger brother who had gotten her pregnant. Now at this point any man with feelings would have done things that would had landed them back behind prison walls. But Mr. Chard had no choice but to walk away.After hours of roaming from bar to bar, trying to ease the emotions of his wife, and hiding the pain of his brother, who betrayed him, he found himself at his older brother’s house. His brother got him a job digging ditches. At least it was a job. He had to make due for what was left of his family, for he had two little children who where depending on him. Everyday after work he would see his children who lived with their grandma and grandpa. But the shadows of his wife kept haunting him. He would see her at his son’s baseball games, and he knew it was a time for change.He contacted his friend of twenty years, decided to move to Kingman, Arizona. There with his long time friend, they opened up a business to restore classic cars. He drove back to Orange County California to get what little belongings his children had. From there the journey of a new beginning began. He made an office in the garage where he worked so the children could do their homework after school. His daughter would love to play secretary, while his son would help him with the cars. A little boy’s dream of working on classic cars, his son helped every change that he got. The long hours and eating hamburgers was worth the hardship. The night hours seemed to be the shortest because all where tired then they reached home.Mr. Chard’s social life was virtually non-existent. All his time was devoted to his children. For the memories of his wife still were in his heart, something only time would ease. He bought dirt bikes for them, which they took to the foothills and went camping for the weekends. But fate was about to knock on Mr. Chard’s door. One day at his daughter “parent’s night” at school he met a lady who was also a single parent. He found that they had a lot in common and things began to take hold in a whole new direction. After four months of dating Mr. Chard and Liz moved in with each other in a house that could accommodate all the children and his new found love. Life was good.Love has way of making anyone blind to reality. The person refuses to see past the heart. But Mr. Chard could see a change in Liz. Her energy became more intense and her sleeping habits were getting more unusual. He had no choice but to confront her. For him being an ex substance abuser he knew the signs. She broke down and admitted to using Methamphetamine. And her ex boyfriend had turned her on to crank. Determined by the love for her, he got her through this time of need. Some months went by and the changes came back once more. He had to get her out of Kingman, Arizona.The car business was doing well, but it seemed that most of the cars were selling in California. So again Mr. Chard had another friend in Sacramento, who owned a warehouse. Mr. Chard thought that being his friend he would ask his friend if he could use half of the warehouse for his car restoration business. The new shop would work out just fine. It was in a well established commercial area that thrived in the financial glow of Citrus Heights. It took eleven days to pack up all the stuff, back and forth in caravans of U-hauls. They thought that it would be best that we left the kids in Kingman until they picked up the last load, because they only had a small pick up truck that would not hold four kids and a baby. Little did Mr. Chard know that that would be the last time he would ever see his kids again.While driving through to California Liz was tending to their new baby, when Mr. Chard saw a sign that “Avenal” and he wondered if that it was the new prison that heard they were going to build. They looked around until they saw the unmistakable grey buildings surrounded by gun towers and razor wire, located in the foothills not far from where they were driving from. Liz had never seen the outside of a prison before. Knowing Mr. Chard’s past she wanted to see the awful stories that she heard from him. So he did not see any harm in letting her see what the prison looked like. Liz had made a comment on how the prison looked so evil on the outside. She also noticed that it was like a dead silence. There was no one around. Mr. Chard had noticed the same thing and looked at his watch, He explained to her that all of the work crews where back on the inside for it was 3:30 p.m., and no moment was allowed unless directly supervised by a prison guard. They were getting ready to leave the prison parking lot when all of the sudden a dark blue security truck pulled directly in front of the U-haul. A uniformed CDC cop got out of the truck, yelling at him that delivery trucks are to report to tower #2. Mr. Chard told the cop that they were not there to make a delivery, that he wanted to show his fiancé what a prison looked like from the outside, because she never seen one before. What happened from that point is hard to believe. The guard had Mr. Chard accompany him in his U-haul to another location to check his identification. Again Mr. Chard tried to tell the guard that he was only visiting the prison. He asked Mr. Chard to step out of the truck, by then Liz in confusion began to cry wondering what was going? There was another vehicle coming from behind them. They where escorted to the gun tower to where they were told to step out of the vehicle once more. Mr. Chard saw them grab Liz to where the baby in her arms almost fell to the ground. He could not take the abuse that they where receiving by these guards and decided to move back towards the truck. And then Mr. Chard heard a round being placed into a gun, and the guard replied; “you are not going anywhere.” They searched the cab of the truck and his pockets finding a pocket knife that Mr. Chard used to cut the ropes with when he was packing, they also took his drivers license. The chaos did not stop there. Mr. Chard and Liz where taking into the reception center and the child protection services where called for the baby. After four and a half hours, searching the cargo area of the truck, the Kings County Sheriff’s Department was called to transport us to the County Jail on the charges of “ Introduction of Contraband,” ( being the two beers that they didn’t drink the night before where still in the ice chest.) Liz had a couple of collector’s knifes in her purse, she did not want them to get lost so they where in her purse.Mr. Chard was charged with Penal Code 4574, (Ex-felon on prison grounds). And having a buck knife that he had used to cute the ropes with? Mr. Chard received 25 years to life under the “Three Strikes Law” because the judge said “Because Of Your Past Record”? Things have not been easy for Mr. Chard every since then, because of the trail involving the guards of the prison. Several things have happened to him. He has not heard from his son and the only thing that keeps him going is the contact from his daughter. It has been nine years now that Mr. Chard lost his freedom over this “Three Strikes Law.”The last crime I cannot see 25 years to life. Yes he might of made the mistake of going on prison grounds, but where do we begin to draw the line between reality and stupidity? This law has gotten out of hand. And it is up to the people to say enough is enough. This man wanted to show his love the reality of a prison not to loose her for the rest of their lives. We need to amend this law so that this will stop happening to families. We are paying the cost of stupidity. We are taking money away from our children’s education, health care, California is going deeper in debt and etc. A voice needs to be spoken, and the blind need to open up their eyes.  



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Reviewed by Ron Lamoreaux (Reader) 4/4/2005
Kenny, my cousin, died on March 6, 2005 at the hospital in Manteca, CA, chained to his bed. He died from complications from hepatitus that was not treated by the prison even though it was noted on his medical file. He didn't deserve to die this way. He was a loving and gentle man.
Reviewed by Carolyn Red Bear (The Bear Paw) 6/27/2003
Christine, as you said, this, too, is disturbing. I know this doesn't matter too much, but are you talking about state or federal prisons in these articles? Thank you Christine, for your voice!!!! It's needly more than anyone understands...
In Spirit,
Reviewed by lashanda 6/26/2003
Your work will never amaze me because you are an extraordinary writer. Because of you changes will be made.
Reviewed by Angela 6/26/2003
It is amazing how much the system seems to forget their "amendments". Some of the "victims" of 3 Strikes Law can be rehabilitated not thrown away in prison for stealing food to feed his family while these murders get out on parole.
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