> No More Secrets And Lies: Monitored Phone Calls

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Monitored Phone Calls

A week or so later Mary's corrections officer, social worker, and guardian ad litem all hopped in a car and drove all the way up to North Homes to visit Mary. They always traveled together, and it made me wonder how the GAL maintained any degree of objectivity regarding Mary's case, or regarding me, after spending so much time with people who had anything but objectivity about Mary's case, or about me. Of course, he didn't pretend to be objective so I guess that wasn't a problem. But maybe I was just a little envious, since he had spent only about 20 minutes, at best, talking to me, and was now on a ten-hour ride to North Homes with Mary's workers — people who automatically rejected every idea I had regarding what I thought was best for my daughter.

After they returned home, they emailed the team to let us know how their visit with Mary went. They said that when they first arrived, Mary was upset with how things were going with her case and that she didn't feel like talking to them. I guess they didn't like this attitude of hers, and so they spent part of their time trying to get her to come around. Their words.

They were somehow able to do this and were finally able to have their talk with her. But they never did say how they got her to come around, and that made me start wondering about things I had good reason to wonder about, like… could they have said anything about me? Could they, maybe, have told her I wasn't a good parent?

Why would I think something like this, you might say?

Because that's exactly what they did. When I called Mary later that evening, she told me about it:

"Dad, my corrections officer, social worker, and guardian ad litem visited me today and they told me that I shouldn't listen to you and anything you say to me. They told me you aren't a good parent and that you don't know what's right for me."

Absolutely true. Even Mary knew this was wrong. And she doesn't lie.

And so the poisoning began.

But they didn't stop there. They wanted to make sure if I did say something to Mary they'd know what it was. And so, before they left for home that day, they instructed the staff at North Homes to start monitoring Mary's phone calls between her and her parents (meaning between her and me) and listen for anything that ... might not be right? Who knows. 

The next time I called North Homes to talk to Mary, I was put through to her unit and a staff person intercepted my call. She told me she would be listening in on my conversation with Mary. I didn't know what was going on and I asked her why she was going to listen in on my phone calls with my daughter. She was surprised I didn't know about this and told me that Mary's workers had requested that all phone calls between her parents and her be monitored — not phone calls between Mary and anyone else.

I told Mary's lawyer about this, too, and she became furious. She emailed the team, again, upset that she was never informed about any of this, and she told Mary's workers to stop this phone monitoring because it was a violation of Mary's rights. Mary's workers replied that they weren't going to stop listening in on her phone calls because they felt Mary was "misinterpreting" information she was getting from her parents (meaning me) and this way the staff listening in could tell Mary (meaning her corrections officer and social worker) what was being said.

Despite Mary's lawyer's repeated requests to get her workers to stop monitoring her phone calls, they refused, and she had no choice but to schedule another court hearing, tie up more county time, and ask the judge to force Mary's workers to comply with the law. The judge agreed and the monitoring stopped.


John Brosnan said...

National Association of Social Workers Code of Ethics

Minnesota Guardian ad Litem Requirements and Guidelines

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