Follow Up To Yesterday’s Post About Problems At The Pov

by William Skink

This post is a follow up to yesterday’s post about problems at Missoula’s Poverello Center.

On Friday two homeless individuals got into a fight in the men’s dorm at the Poverello Center. The man who lost the fight was found unresponsive in the dorm. First responders initiated CPR and took him to the hospital. There has been no update to his status.

The alleged assailant was arrested and booked in the County jail. According to reporting by the Missoulian, 29 year old Johnny Lee Perry “is being held on suspicion of aggravated assault, according to the Missoula Police Department.”

This is not true. Johnny Lee Perry is not currently being held on suspicion of aggravated assault. For some reason this dude was RELEASED THE VERY SAME DAY of his arrest! Here is the screenshot of the Missoula County Jail Roster showing when Perry was booked, and when he was released:

Screen Shot 2020-01-05 at 6.48.03 AM.jpg

Why the hell was this guy released? Was he released on his own recognizance to the general public? Or was he sent to a psych ward or Warm Springs to be assessed? I really hope he wasn’t just released to the streets, but I wouldn’t be surprised if he was.

I mentioned in yesterday’s post that I was assaulted by a guy on meth years ago when I worked for the Poverello Center. The arresting officers asked me what I wanted to see happen to my assailant, and I said I wanted him taken to jail and assessed. That is not what happened.

Instead, the man who assaulted me was taken straight to court to appear before a municipal court judge. The judge released the man on his own recognizance. He didn’t spend a single hour in jail for assaulting a social service provider.

I didn’t come in to work the following day when I heard the guy was back on the streets. Lucky for me the guy showed up at the ER, where he made specific threats in front of nursing staff that he intended to kill me. This required them to notify me of the threats.

The mentally ill meth-head who wanted to kill me was sent to Warm Springs after that, and I got a personal apology from Mark Muir, the Chief of police at the time.

If this violent, 29 year old homeless man is back on the streets, where is he going to go? I assume the Pov still has some form of consequence for a client who nearly kills another client and that he won’t be served with shelter services anymore. So maybe instead he’ll go to the Reserve Street camps and pop a tent.

This case, for me, is once again highlighting how utterly broken our systems of support and punishment are. Our criminal justice system is broken, our health care system is broken and the people trying to triage the need are being overwhelmed by it.

There are still 3 months left for winter shelter in Missoula, then two more years after that where the Pov has agreed to put their clients and staff at increased risk by triaging those actively using drugs and alcohol in their shelter.

There better be some serious conversations happening because the Pov is paying the price for the city’s continued failure, and at some point that price could be lethal for someone.

About Travis Mateer

I'm an artist and citizen journalist living and writing in Montana. You can contact me here: willskink at yahoo dot com
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4 Responses to Follow Up To Yesterday’s Post About Problems At The Pov

  1. Syd says:

    Our criminal justice system is broken because… it’s getting too hard to incarcerate people before they’ve been found guilty? You’re starting to sound like superpredator-era Hillary Clinton.

    • if there were less people taking up space in jail for non-violent, victimless crimes then there would be more space available to hold someone accused of almost killing another human for more than 24 hours to better assess if he’s a danger to the community.

      • Syd says:

        If you’re suggesting the accused be held without bond until they prove they present zero danger to society, thats quite the authoritarian flex. If you’re suggesting some amount of cash bond, you’re advocating for wealth-based justice. Literally all evidence shows that neither approach leads to safer outcomes.

        • we already have a wealth-based justice system that puts people into jail for not paying fines. I am not advocating for that at all. I am describing the criminal justice system as it exists in reality and speaking from my own experience as a service provider who was assaulted by a dangerous person who was clearly mentally ill. that person continued to pose a threat to my safety, which is why he was finally sent to Warm Springs. I guess you can call that an “authoritarian flex” if you want to abstract the real world experiences I am describing.

          Syd, what do you think victims of violence should expect from the criminal justice system? should they expect measures to be taken to keep them safe while the wheels justice turn?

          and what do you think the victim in the hospital will think, if he hasn’t suffered serious brain damage, when he discovers his alleged assailant was released the same day he was arrested? maybe his feelings and hospital bills and potential to hold his assailant accountable doesn’t matter to you, but those are things he will be dealing with in the real world.

          neither the victim, nor the alleged assailant, have permanent addresses. I wish that didn’t matter, but from my real world experiences, it does matter. I don’t know if Johnny Lee Perry has ties to Missoula, or a job, or any way to ensure he appears in court to face the charges he stands accused of. maybe he does, and maybe he was defending himself, so maybe the courts did the right thing by releasing him.

          anyway, thank you for commenting.

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