Should I let my son go to jail? (long)

It’s a long story…

Last year, at spring break, my son and his buds were coming back from Corpus Christi. They got pulled over but “didn’t notice the cop car” for many miles. The officer subsequently arrested my son for evading arrest.

He was put on probation (deferred adjutication) for 2 years and assigned community service. If he doesn’t toe the line and pay all the fees and do the community service, they will revoke his sentence and put him in prison for 2 years. Evading arrest is a felony. He also has 5 tickets that he hasn’t paid, and has 5 bench warrants for his arrest, totalling about $1000.

He’s been doing pretty well for months and months, working and paying all the fees for the probation. Buying his own “cleaner” for the drug test, because he refuses to stop smoking weed. He doesn’t have a car (another long story) but was going to work, depending on friends for rides.

He got fired a couple of weeks ago. I let him borrow my motorcycle for job searching ONLY. He still doesn’t have a job.

He just turned 20 years old. High school drop-out.

This morning he asked me if I would “help him” pay his PO on Monday. I said no. He said “but she’ll put me in jail!!!” I said it’s not my problem, it’s his.

It’s very hard to be like this. I don’t want him to go to prison. He’s not bad, just a stupid immature spoiled teenager.

What would you do?

It’s probably easy for me to say, since he’s not my son, but I think you should let him go to jail if that is the consequences of his choices. I’ve been learning a LOT lately, due to interactions with various of my siblings, that helping out people who aren’t interested in helping themselves never leads to anything good. The one sibling I quit helping out 15 years ago is now a reasonably responsible person. The one I have recently been trying to help has done everything she can to alienate and piss off everyone in the family except those whom she thinks she can still con.

Hang in there–my best thoughts are with you.

Unfortunately, I’m a big fan of the rule of law. Fortunately, my kids know this, and act accordingly.

While I don’t know that jail will help your son, I don’t know what else might work either. If this were a one-time thing, I’d be very sympathetic, but it seems like a pattern of behavior that he refuses to break.

The whole business about not giving up weed (where does he get the money for that?) despite being under police supervision seems to be unbelievably stupid.

He’s not my son, but I think that the worst thing a parent can do is to go overboard in shielding children from the consequences of their actions. And this is not a kid we’re talking about, but most standards, he’s a man. He needs to act like it. Maybe jail is the slap upside the head he needs.

I’m sorry you’re in this spot. We’ve been lucky so far, but I know that it doesn’t take much to tip a child one way or the other.

Not easy, prison can make a borderline potential villain into a fully paid up member of the club, but it can also frighten some away.

Plenty of kids take much longer than others to grow up, and have a few rebellious years and then turn out fine.

The big problem is the cannabis use, not the actual usage of it, but the lack of vision.
Instead of keeping off the weed for a period of time, he is cheating on it and it is the idea that he thinks he is cheating the system rather than his own self and that will be his undoing.

You can fool the people some of the time…etc

The fact is, that he is playing fast and loose with the drug testing regime, but he is the only one who will suffer the consequencies should it fail. He is developing an attitude that others can pull him out of the do-do, either by providing cleaning kits, or by paying up for him.

He is the one who is smoking dope, he is the one who has evaded arrest, has unpaid tickets, is responsible for losing his job, dropping out of school.

Sounds bad but it needn’t be, you could do with some help, try some family counselling you might be able to get through with just a few stories for reminiscance.

I guess for me it would depend. Why was he fired? How hard has he been looking for a new job? Has he genuinely been looking and just unable to find one?

If he was fired for some dumb mistake and he’s been looking pretty hard for a new job, I might help him out once, at most twice. (Are his meetings monthly?) But I would let him know that, while I understand his inability to pay this time, these fines are his responsibility and he needs to find a way to pay them because I’m not going to pay them for him. If after two months, still no job, he’ll have to tell his PO that he doesn’t have a job but that he’s trying as hard as he can to find one.

On the other hand, if he basically got himself fired (by not showing up or being a smart-ass or something) and/or he hasn’t been seriously trying to get another job, I would not help him out. He’s made his own bed, he can lie in it. He needs to tell his PO that he’s out of work but looking, and he needs to make finding a new job his number-one priority if he doesn’t want to get revoked.

Under no circumstances would I help him pay for “cleaner” so that he can continue to willfully violate his probation. Even if I decided to pay the installment on the fine once or twice, I would not give him one dime over that amount.

In any event, he should be keeping a job-search diary – number of jobs applied for, when, and where – to show his PO to prove that, even if he hasn’t been able to find work, he’s sincerely been trying. If he’s meeting the rest of his conditions and he can show he’s really looking for work, he probably will not be revoked for unemployment. So if you don’t help him out – and if you choose not to, that’s totally reasonable IMO – tell him to come clean with his PO and keep doing everything else right. His PO doesn’t want to send him to jail (unless he or she hates him for some reason), so make sure your son doesn’t think this means he’s screwed and he should just throw in the towel and stop making his appointments or something. My 2 cents.

I don’t know you or your son, so I’ll talk about what I do know.

I was once an immature, spoiled, willful, contemptuous, too-smart-for-my-own-good teenage scofflaw sort of guy. I saw no point in obeying laws I did not like, and was quite certain that my brilliant intellect could solve any piddling problem or consequence generated by my actions.

One day, not too long after I got my driver’s license, my old man sat me down and had a “Talk” with me. One of those Capitalized Talks.

It basically boiled down to this:

“If you are arrested, for any reason, you are on your own. You are big enough and old enough and smart enough that I cannot stop you from doing whatever you want to do, but if you get busted, you are on your own. Do not call me to come and get you out of jail; it will be a waste of your one phone call. Here are some lawyers’ cards, and here are some bondsmen’s cards. Call them, instead. Do not call me, because I will not disrupt my life or my bank account to get you out of jail.”

He scared the living doggy doodle out of me with that one. I believed him. I stayed the hell out of jail. I didn’t necessarily give up all my bad habits, but I exercised considerably more care and caution in practicing them.

Years later, I finally wised up and straightened out, in a variety of ways.

Not too long ago, my old man admitted that if I’d been arrested for something ridiculous – murder, or attacking a police officer, or something he knew quite well I would NEVER do – he’d have bailed me out and hired me a lawyer. But for petty drug charges, DWI, or stupid teenage stuff, he’d have let me rot, and/or pay my own fines.

“You’d have bailed me out if I’d been up for murder?” I said. “You really believed in me enough that you knew I’d never kill anybody?”

“I couldn’t see you killing anyone on purpose, back then,” he agreed. “But I didn’t dare stick any qualifiers in there. You’d have been calling me from jail every weekend going, ‘Does this one count?’ As long as I kept you scared, you stayed the hell out of jail.”

And damn him, he was right.

Thanks for all the advice and opinions. I’m trying to be strong and tough. His dad passed away last January, and it’s been rough learning to be the “tough” parent. His dad always did that, but was almost abusive in his zealousness. It also explains the rebelliousness, and I tried to be understanding at first.

He also owes banks money from opening accounts and overdrawing, then abandoning them. He thinks mommy will fix everything, I guess. He has no balls when it comes to owning up to his mistakes. Like not calling the banks and working out a payment plan, or calling about the tickets and making a deal. I explain to him what he should do, but it goes in one ear and out the other.

The proverbial mother’s lament, huh?

Thanks for all the support, you guys.

OH, so aside being an evader, an habitual drug user, and a general scofflaw, he also runs scams on banks?

Hell yeah, let him rot for a while. Let him know that you’ll come visit him, you still love him, but you will do NOTHING to help him avoid the consequences of HIS actions.

Anyone who can find the money to support a drug habit (and the ‘cleaner’ for his urine tests) has no sympathy from me.

Oh, Dolores, that truly sucks.

As you said, though, he’s 20. It’s time he started learning the consequences of his actions.

Don’t bail him out. And if he’s still in your house, still smoking pot, you can be held liable. (I think. IANAL)

You keep helping him out of his troubles, how will he learn to keep his own self out of trouble? Stop being a safety net. We’re not talking about a 13 year old kid. We’re talking about a 20 year old who should no better.

And while he’s in jail, throw out his “cleaner.”


know better.

Standing back and letting your kids fall flat on their faces is probably the hardest thing a parent can ever do…and it’s one of the most important things a parent can ever do. In order to become truly grown-up, we have to learn to take our own risks and reap the rewards or punishments that result for ourselves. Bite your lips and sit on your hands, and let him learn to be a grown-up.

He could always enlist…

I would let him go to jail personally.

At first I was willing to give him the benefit of the doubt as I was once almost arrested for evasion of arrest (I really did not see the cars and once I did, I pulled over and thank god the cop wasn’t too pissed. This still scares the hell out of me a full year later) and while marijuana’s illegal, I don’t think it should be a jail-worthy offense, but when you posted about the bank scams, that tipped the scales.

He’s not going to grow up until he’s out of your house. I know I didn’t start to mature until I did.

I’m going to differ from the crowd here. Sure, he is old enough to know better, and he definitely deserves to be punished, but prison is much more likely to hurt than help. Prison is an awful place in most cases, and is geared much more towards punishment than rehabilitation. Your son deserves to be punished, but he also deserves to be helped. I guess that’s ultimately what you need to decide. Does he deserve to go to prison and what would benefit him (and society) more in the long run? It is highly doubtful that prison will make him a better person or magically turn him around. Whether or not he goes to prison, he has to make the decision to straighten out.

Just to address why I feel this way a little more specifically, nobody should ever be sent to prison just for doing drugs. The incidents with the banks, warrants, and tickets are more serious, in my opinion, but there still would be much better ways to punish him and rehabilitate him in this area than by sending him to prison.

Also, it sounds like his problems could easily stem from issues (death of father? I’m guessing there are other or related issues) that could be helped a lot with some quality counseling and mental healthcare. I would probably offer a deal to him, something like quite smoking dope, quit scamming banks, obey the law, and go to regular counseling, and you will give him the money he needs. That, assuming he actually lives up to his end, would be constructive, hopefully help a lot more than prison, and also would probably be more palatable to everyone involved.

Not anymore he can’t. The military won’t take felons, or people with serious misdemeanor busts. And the first thing the military does when you sign up is test your urine, and they use tests that often beat “cleaners”.

I certainly wouldn’t want a guy like this on my ship, or in my unit.

I think he’s shown a pattern of disregard for the law and the consequences of not obeying the law. He’s 20. He needs to get it together and take care of his business. If he’s continuing to do drugs, and run various scams I think I’d tell him I love him but he’s got to step up to the plate and take care of his own business or suffer the consequences.

While loaning him money solves his immediate problem it does not address the life pattern he seems to have settled into of diregard for law and consequences.

My grandmother had two favorite grandchildren, one of them my brother. Both of these two boys went to her for money to pay tickets and later bail from jail and other problems. She always got them out of trouble with her money. She did not loan money or give money to the other grandkids. The two that were always getting help getting out of tickets and jail for little things are both now in prison for big things. The rest of us who had to pay our own first ticket or whatever all managed to learn to live as responsible adults. That’s not to say we didn’t make mistakes, just that we knew we had to account for them ourselves.

Let him know you love him and that you are confident he’s man enough to sort out his own problems and if necessary to deal with the consequences of his behavior.

Hang in there. You care, you’re a good Mom.

Maybe in the French Foriegn Legion, but the U.S. military won’t take him. High School droput, a criminal record, on parole, and financial misdeeds are the starting points, not to mention the drugs. They tend to be a bit more restrictive in their testing methods, I’d wager.

I would have thrown him out on his ass just for that.

Maybe I’m confusing the order of events here, but if he’s using drugs while on probation, that’s a violation and he needs to be busted.

At the very least, make sure he’s not living in your house anymore.

I think I would’ve gone to his probation officer the minute I found out he was still smoking pot and using cleaner (whatever that might be) to try to beat the drug tests. No, I don’t think pot is bad, but I do think that if you are on probation and one of the conditions of said probation is “no weed,” then that means no weed, or take the consequences.

No, I don’t have kids, but I have a brother who is the same age, and I’ve got eight years on him. I feel rather maternal towards him.