“It Would Be Much Easier if You Were Treated As a Person Instead of a Number”

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After their release, Petra and Joe had more work to do in order to see each other.

Today, Petra and Joe are nearly inseparable. But that wasn’t always the case. After their release, a misguided policy kept the two spouses apart. Learn more about their struggle to be reunited.

When Petra and Joe returned from prison, their respective paroles had different rules. While Joe had no restrictions, Petra had a stay-away order preventing her from seeing her husband.

“It shows that [the stay-away order] was not something that had to be done,” Joe said. “Because if it was something that had to be done, because if it was the legalities of it, they would have put it in my parole plans also.”

“It really devastated me,” Petra said. “I was a shell of a person when I got out, and then I wasn’t able to go to the one person that has always been there for me; the person who would make sure I was ok. So it was very hard.”

Petra, who is diagnosed bipolar and ADHD, had trouble getting the medications she needed upon her release because they would trigger a positive drug test.

“I can’t function unless I have my medication,” she said. “My parole agent actually said that he would not approve for me to start taking my medications again because that meant I would test dirty and he didn’t want to have to go through the hassle of explaining why I had a dirty test.”

With Root & Rebound’s assistance, the stay-away order was finally lifted after 8 months. After their ordeal, Petra and Joe are disappointed that the system added unnecessary burdens to their reentry.

“It would be much easier to reenter and adapt to society if you were dealt with like a person and not a number,” Joe said. “In the process of me fulfilling all my obligations, where does it leave the hours in the day for me to have a job, if I can get a job, so I can support myself?”

You can watch Petra and Joe’s story here. You can also visit Root & Rebound’s website to watch the rest of our Stories of Reentry videos and learn how you can help us better meet the needs of those returning to society.

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