Yeah, it's not like getting out of prison. It was a lot like getting my military discharge papers, when I finally got out of the service. It was a tremendous relief on my part. I was very pleased with it. I don't want to say happy, because with everything I've been through, particularly the twenty years in prison, with so much time in solitary, I'm not sure I can be happy anymore. But it was definitely a moment to savor, and when I say relief, a lot of people don't realize, when I was on parole, I was subject to various curtailment of my civil rights. I didn't have the same civil rights that people take for granted every day. Bottom line was, if I was detained on some parole violation, I could have been sent back to prison, and if I had been sent back to prison they would have never let me out again. That's a heavy burden to carry every day. Now, I never had any problem obeying the law or the rules of parole, and the parole authorities realized that. I was on parole for five years, and at first they were very cautious at first, and wondering, but as time went on it was clear to them that I was doing what I was supposed to be doing. The problem was these political controversies that cropped up. When my name was in the paper around some activism, it made people nervous.
AND THAT HAPPENED RIGHT FROM THE GET-GO, RIGHT? WHEN YOU WERE RELEASED YOU DID COMPLY WITH ALL THE TERMS OF YOUR PAROLE, BUT YOU NEVER SHIED AWAY FROM ACTIVISM.
No. That's always been a bone of contention, but the thing is, it's not a violation of any policy rules of parole, so when it came down to it after five years, to keep me on parole under the existing policy they would have to establish that I was at great risk of violating a law if I didn't remain under supervision, and that was clearly not the case. I had been on parole for five years and abided by all the conditions of it. Never been in trouble with the law. No speeding ticket, no nothing. Paid my taxes, worked, and all the rest of it. So, yeah, the fact that a large hook can't come flashing out of the night and grab me and send me away, never to return, that's gone now, and it's a big weight to have off my back. Not that I'm home free. I am who I am; I have the background that I have, so I could get stopped for a routine traffic violation and all my shit is going to pop up on a computer. You never know what's going to happen in those situations. So it's not like everything is gone, but it was a significant shackle on my ankle, so to speak, that has been removed.
I WAS REALLY SURPRISED, IN THE EARLIER PART OF THE DECADE, THAT YOU WERE RELEASED FROM PRISON, AND THERE WAS ALSO PART OF ME THAT WAS SURPRISED THAT THEY ACTUALLY LOOKED AT THE FACTS AND RELEASED YOU FROM PAROLE, INSTEAD OF SAYING, LET'S KEEP AN EYE ON THAT GUY FOREVER.