You’re My Counselor, G

This is a hard post to write, but given that my interview–a formality– is scheduled, I need to get this out so i can finish up my 13 years.

I’m leaving the JSO unit.

I have worked with sexually problematic youth for my entire career.  Thirteen years may not be a lot of time, but it is all I have ever done.  I am moving on to a new position: Juvenile Advisory Council Coordinator.  This position is one I have held part-time and on a voluntary basis for seven years.  Now, in order to make this program grow, I’m being given the chance to establish JAC and ensure that it gets the resources it needs to become a fully integral part of the Juvenile Court.

That doesn’t make this easier.

I am good at what I do. I really am.  I can get most kids to talk to me about private matters within a matter of weeks.  Even the kids that never come out of denial admit that I helped them with something.  And while this may just be smoke, the record supports my notions:  Most of my clients are relapse free.  In 13 years, and after a hundred or so clients, I’ve had a total of 4 relapses…  In short, I’m pretty damn good.

When my job was at its most stressful, I would view my therapy groups as a way to break the stress.  I was hestitant to call of work when I was sick–even really sick–on a group day as I love it. I will always love group.  And soon, i’m giving it up.

Let me tell you why:  I can make a solid therapeutic connection to most kids. I have this one kid:  Latino, gang banger, loves to push buttons and boundaries with everyone.  He returned to group after a mandatory anger management class.  He was talking about the other counselor as if he was from another planet:

So here’s this old, pudgy white dude. He had grey hair on his head and in his beard.  And he told us he’s never been in trouble with in his life. He’s just this old white dude who has lived in the suburbs all his life.  He doesn’t have an anger problem.  He doesn’t know what I’ve been through.  He doesn’t know anything about where I live or what I do. And he’s going to help me with my anger?  Fuck that.

I pointed out my similarities to this guy. White, pudgy, never been in trouble in my life.  The kid looked at me and in the seriousness he could muster, said

“No. You’re my counselor G.”

He told me I didn’t pretend to know what he went through and I would always let him talk–even after I kicked him out of group.  He was clear about how I was there not to tell him how to be, but to help him be better.

Maybe he was blowing smoke.  Maybe he played me.  It wouldn’t be the first time…and it may not be the last time.  But, for what it’s worth, I believe him.  And it made my day.  While the guys don’t know I’m leaving, I do. And it is going to be hard to say goodbye.





Why I Lost Faith

I left the church completely when they turned their back on a child in need. This is happened years ago, but Charlie Pierce has an essay up that made me rethink about my own relationship with the Church. My thoughts are far too complicated for twitter, and I’m not sure they will make any sense with the blog, but all the hoopla on the Church lately has made me think about why I walked away from Catholicism and the Christian faith. I left because of the sheer hypocrisy of the Church.

I had a client, years ago, who was a devout Catholic. As with all of my clients, this young man was sexually aggressive. While in the world of treatment, his case was not necessarily the worst I had ever seen, he had done great harm to his victim, her family as well as his own family. His family came to me for treatment, and I worked with him to address his thoughts, feelings and behaviors. Given his level of activity in a peer group he was considered lower-risk. The family, who was accustomed to getting strength from the church ,assured me that this young man would continue to be embraced by the church community and receive the requisite spiritual and social support necessary to live a positive life.

They turned to the church, and the church kicked my client not just out of the youth group, but his school as well, citing his non-adjudicated offense as the reason why he could not be around children his own age.

Let me be perfectly clear: The kid offended someone much younger. He had no contact with kids of that age any more. He wasn’t on probation, he was diverted. This means he wasn’t even in the Juvenile Justice System because the authorities in the State’s Attorneys Office deemed him to be low risk.

So the Catholic Church, which goes on and on about forgiveness, redemption and social service turns its back on a parishioner who needed help. Meanwhile, the Bishops are shifting pedophiles and hebephiles around like collectible collecting cards. Here was a kid who was ready, willing and able to work through his shit.  They walked away from him.

The kicker:  I knew the pastor of that church.  He was, when I knew him, a good man who cared about children of all kinds.

The Church did nothing for this kid, while they have gone to the MAT for adults who have offended dozens of children.

This was a kid who could have–and  I should point out, was–helped without the guidance of the Church. As far as anyone knows, he’s relapse free for at least five years.  During those five years, the Church has continued to shelter pedophiles and turn its back on people in need based on sexual orientation or gender.

I beat up on the Church because the Church chose to protect and shelter pedophiles, and because it abandoned families in need.  Their hypocrisy drove me away.  And now, despite my desire to believe in the hereafter, they can’t get me back.

VonDad, Meet MartyDad. He’ll Show You Around


On occasion, I like to indulge in a fantasy about how my mom and dad would react to the parents of my friends.  For instance, in between servings of amazing gravy (that’s pasta sauce to most of you), great beer and even better company, I wondered how my dad would get along with Falconesse’s family. First, I know they would have hit it of right away.  I know Falcondad and I did five years ago when we first me, so its pretty easy to guess that my dad would have done the same.

Where as I listened to Falcondad tell stories, my dad would have come back with insanely great stories of his own.  With each story, and with each beer, my dad’s accent would have returned.  Pretty damn soon, it would become who is more Irish:  The guy from Boston or the South Sider.  I would expect them both to talk about cars they had (legally and illegal), battle scars they earned (like the lump on my dad’s head from being hit with a lead pipe) and who had the worse neighbors.  I could see my dad calling falcondad an asshole, laughing it off, and producing a fine bottle of scotch.  Failing intervention from a spouse, they’d probably finish that bottle together.

My mom would have been too busy with Falconmom to stop my dad from swapping stories.  This is not to say there would have been a separation of the sexes.  I think my mom would just want to talk with Falconmom instead of trying to show off for Falcondad.  I can also guarantee that my mom would have indulged in as much wine as Falconmom.  The four of them would have a party that people a third their age would be jealous of.

This is an easy scenario to imagine. It’s as easy as it is to imagine my parents and my in-laws.  In all fairness, I would expect my mom and my mother in law to quickly turn their conversation towards embarrassing their respective children; however, my mom would avoid mother in law’s tequila.

This may come as a shock, but I don’t just imagine how it would be if my parents were still alive.  Despite my difficult relationship with religion, I cannot help but imagine my parents in Heaven.  This is what I want more than anything in the world, and I still struggle with trying to place this core belief of my parents within my own understanding of how the world works.

To be fair, I don’t think of it often.  I only think of it when someone I care for loses someone they care for.

Today I’m imagining my dad showing VonDad around.  I’m sure that VonDad, being the amazing human being that he was, would have his own entourage of brilliant people.  But knowing my dad, I think he would approach VonDad with a perfect Rob Roy–yes, my dad would sling drinks in Heaven–and show him around the place.  My dad would play pool with VonDad and loose terribly.  They would swap embarrassing stories of their children.  My mom would gush over Von to VonDad. I like to think that, even though VonDad might have heard it all before, hearing it from my mom would make it all the more meaningful.

Seriously, my mom would have adopted Von.  So would my dad, for that matter.  They’d both have to fight VonDad though, and I’m not sure my folks would have won.

All these years later, I still miss my folks.  I can cope now by remembering who they were and thinking on who they would be today.  I can even think–and hope–that what I imagine is true.

Von, I don’t know what you’re going through.  The pain is similar to the one I still have, and the circumstances are familiar as well.  But your grief is yours.  I am so privileged to share it with you.  I hope to be able to help ease your burden.  If these fantasies help, great.  If not, I’ll shut up.  I’m good like that.

I know when I think on the full life my parents led, this song brings me comfort.  I saw the briefest glimpse of how amazing your own dad was, and I thought of this song as well.  While the world has lost so much with his passing, he has made his mark on the world and on you.  For that, I am grateful.

Another Letter to John P Daley

Mr. John P Daley, Commissioner 11th District,

Two weeks ago I wrote you a letter asking if I could talk with you  regarding serious budget issues that affect me and my clients in Cook County.  In that letter I identified myself as a new resident of the 11th district and a long time Probation Officer in the Clinical Interventions Division.   In that letter, I did not describe my job duties.  I had hoped that I would be able to discuss the nature of my job with you or with one of your staff.  That has not happened.  In order to encourage this badly needed conversation, I am more than willing to discuss about my job and my responsibilities in a more direct fashion.

Mr. Daley, for the past 11 years I have provided supervision, case management and treatment to Cook County Wards with aggressive sexual behaviors.  Cook County’s community based treatment program is a leader in addressing sexually aggressive children and youth, and this program is in danger of being cut by the recent threat of layoffs from the Cook County Board.

In addition to the services I provide these youth, I am also the Co-Chair of the Juvenile Advisory Council (JAC).  This is a national model of youth input in Juvenile Justice matters.  Jurisdictions from 20 states have come to the Cook County Juvenile Court to learn about the Juvenile Advisory Council, how we work with court wards and court staff and how JAC improves the services at the Court.  This program is also targeted by Budget Cuts.

I am not sure how the Cook County Board can demand for more cuts to programs and services while Cook County Commissioners refuse to take their furlough days.  I do not understand how vital court services can be cut or delayed when management heavy offices in Cook County Government are not sharing the burden of the budgetary short fall.  I do not understand how the County Board can talk about providing key services while cutting key staff.

If Layoffs occur, half of the JSO unit will be affected.  This will affect my workload and make it impossible for me to run the Juvenile Advisory Council.  This year I have already surrendered 5% of my salary to Cook County and increased my workload 25%.  Another 5% pay cut and another increase in my work load will make me look for work outside of Cook County Government.

I want to work providing service for the residents of Cook County.  I want your office to support me, and my coworkers, as we work to provide vital services to the children of Cook County.  Will you help me do my job?


I look forward to hearing from you or your staff,

Martin Gleason


An Open Letter to John P Daley

To Mr. John P Daley, Cook County Commissioner, 11th district,

Mr. Daley:

I am recent resident of your ward and a long time employee of Cook County.   I have been blessed to work with the children and families of the Cook County Juvenile Court for the past Eleven years as a member of the Clinical Interventions Division.  It is in this capacity that I am writing to you and asking for a meeting to discuss my concerns regarding the 2012 budget.  In short, I am deeply concerned that vital services will be cut from the our program in the name of austerity.

Cook County Juvenile Probation provides a vital role in taking at-risk youth and transforming them into productive members of society.  We save the county and state resource by providing these services in the family’s home, rather than in the Department of Juvenile Justice.  We empower parents so they can keep their children safe.  We keep communities safe by watching our clients.  We work with our local schools to ensure that our clients have a chance to better themselves.

Cuts to our budget directly impact the amount of the services we provide to the families of Cook County.  We will lose mental health service, sex offender treatment and supervision programs, and youth input programs (currently a trend in Juvenile Justice and pioneered in Cook County) if our funding is cut.

I would welcome an opportunity to discuss these concerns with you, as well as to generate additional ideas on how to balance the budget.

Best Regards

Martin Gleason

Cook County Juvenile Probation Officer

Clinical Interventions Division

JSO Unit/Juvenile Advisory Council Co-Chair.

Values, Morals and Get The Fuck Away From Me.


Over the past few months, I have given a lot of thought to what I believe in and how I live my life. A number of individuals on the Right–the loud mouthed bastards that have co-opted and perverted conservative values–have deemed that I have no morals and it is people like me who ruin the country. For evidence, turn on Fox News or Talk Radio, and listen to hear some some over paid, poorly educated mouth piece rail on unions, liberals, “college students” and so on. I am not interested (today) on who says what and who started this fight. I’m more interested in say the following:

My values and beliefs are not so different than yours.

I believe in making the world fair for everyone. I believe in my family. I want the government out of my bedroom. I want the government to keep me safe from corporate interests. I appreciate the sacrifice of the troops, the dedication of teachers, the enlightenment brought on by artists and I admire the work ethic of my fellow Americans. I want unbiased, factual reporting of the news.

My pay has been stagnant for three years, and this year, I’m taking hits on my health insurance, my pay and my personal time. This puts me squarely with the majority of this country: Left behind in the “recovery.”

This has been, and will be, the position from which I argue every belief, value and moral I hold dear. For the most part, I believe a number of people on the Right share some form of these values. Their meaning, priority and execution are completely different than mine; however, this is the position I start and–until proven otherwise–I assume the Right has as well. They say the believe it all the time, so I try and take it at face value.

If I can start from this position, I think just about anyone can. If you can’t meet me half way, get the fuck away from me.