Dear Uncle Mat 

WTF do I do? Bexar County probation’s UA contractor is crooked, as we ALL know. Do I refuse 2 submit 2 drug tests now? Duh. HELP! Treatment Associates is obviously inept when sampling drug screens.

— A Mad Probationer,
Gettin’ Screwed by a Bexar

Dear Screwed by a Bexar,

Even with my occasionally spotty taste in men, I am unfamiliar with the Bexar County penal and probation system. I have a few ideas, but you will need to apply your knowledge of the system to my suggestions if you want to make some progress. It sounds like you’ve already read our coverage of the issue `see “Urine trouble,” July 29, and “Test-tube maybes,” October 3, 2008`, but if not, I recommend it.

First off, don’t refuse to take a drug test, as this would trigger an automatic revocation of your probation. Have you spoken with your probation officer about your concerns? If you fail an initial urine-sample drug test, you should be entitled to a confirmation test; you may also be able to get a special exception for a drug test with another company or a hair-follicle exam, although you will probably have to work very hard to get the officer and the judge to see it your way.

When engaging the officers and officials, be patient, calm, and friendly, yet respectful. Before discussing the issue with them, write down your thoughts and make a list of the important points you wish to make. Don’t allow the conversation to stray or lose your temper. Be a sweet and tender hooligan. If they like you, they will be more apt to help you. One attorney suggests language along the lines of, “Officer/Judge, I am positive it is a mistake, I have brought my independent drug tests, I will take a drug test right now, I will take a hair-follicle test, whatever I can humbly do to prove to you that I am clean, and that I am serious about completing all the requirements of this court.”

You can conduct your own drug test with a home and/or mail-in kit. Bioscreens.com and uritoxmedicaltesting.com are two websites I found with multiple styles of drug and alcohol tests. You can also visit drugtest.org for home drug tests as well as a variety of cleansing kits and home solutions for your troubles. The next time you are called in for a drug test for your probation, conduct your own drug test the same day. Video documentation and a viable witness to the testing would be a good idea. You could also go to your doctor or a Texas Med Clinic and request a drug screening. This may be harder to do same day or on short notice and will cost you more, but it’s the type of backup and proof you want and need.

Keep a log of every conversation, email, and telephone call you have with your probation officer and any other officials in the system. In your notes include the date, time, name of the person(s) you speak with, and any other important information. This may be helpful later and you don’t want to rely on memory.

It is possible that your relationship and credibility with your probation officer is being adversely affected by bad drug tests and you cannot gain a sympathetic ear. I recommend seeking legal counsel. Speak with a lawyer about your options. In addition to legal action and contacting the judge who assigned you to probation, ask about other local officials they think you might try contacting. Ask for assistance drafting a letter. You can then go on to contact local media (read the papers and look for the bylines of reporters and editors who cover similar stories or areas, such as criminal justice, e.g. the Current’s Greg Harman: gharman@sacurrent.com) and your state and national representatives and senators. Visit vote-usa.org to find out who they are and how to contact them.

Drawing public attention to the problem is more likely to motivate the County to address your concerns. Again, present yourself in an organized and professional manner. Anyone would expect that you are angry; you don’t need to over-express that. There is a fine line between garnering sympathy for your cause through emotional identification and over-dramatizing a situation so that it becomes theatrical and unbelievable. Try to find other individuals in the system who are clean but having the same troubles you are with the drug tests. Ask them to speak up and take action with you.

If you decide to take the public-campaign route, I would speak with a local advocate group for advice and or assistance as well. This type of association or collaboration adds validity and strength to your cause. Texas RioGrande Legal Aid is a local nonprofit that offers legal representation to those who cannot afford a private attorney. Visit their website, trla.org, or call (888) 988-9996 for more information.

Much luck and pee tests like clear skies on a sunny day,

Your Uncle Mat

Uncle Mat answers questions about relationships, sex, pets, and art. Email him at dearunclemat@sacurrent.com, myspace.com/yourunclemat, or check out the Dear Uncle Mat Page on Facebook. Your true identity is safe with him.


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