This week while other parts of the country prepare for some server winter weather, we have our first snow. The ground is barely covered — just enough to disguise the earlier freezing rain slippery surface.
Sandy and I still have to make our tours outside. We both need the steps, even though they are few at a time.
Those Steps in Defiance
I know that the computer chair, while one of my favorite places to be, is not good for me in long term doses. Our 4-5 trips outside every day, walking, meditating, plotting, breathing deep, maybe gardening are important to maintaining a healthy brain and body. When Sandy isn’t here, I do the walk-about on my own because it is a time when I re-arrange the brain cells and dwell on the projects at hand.
A simmer of beans or a tub of bread dough can promise a tasty lunch. They can be left on their own for the time I want to devote to computer work. This small dose of winter weather has inspired us to cook up a package of pinto beans. They’ve been turned into a savory chili con carne and sweet baked beans. Slow cookers in at least 3 sizes are BFFs for virtual professionals!
The colder temperatures and breezes are easier for me to enjoy when I go ahead and put on a worm coat, gloves and hat. When the surface is this slick, I wear shoes with metal screws in the soles to give me some traction! This evening’s breeze made my eyes water and cheeks sting. It was nice to come in to a blaze in the fireplace and a hot cup to sip.
Technology Makes Virtual Possible
Working virtually enables me to be here for the projects of the home while applying an accumulation of skills to the marketing my clients need for their business. I was NOT born a century too late — I enjoy technology and tools which permit me to be ‘cloudish.’ You can learn more about my virtual practice at Bar JD and at the other places where I blog in addition to Ozarks Mystique.
Bank Notes came into being several years before the actual publication when Keith Giammanco made the extremely unwise decision to steal what he wanted from others without thought about that loss. That decision has been worried to pieces in the media and on reviews. Giammanco doesn’t defend his decision, although he does softly excuse it because of his perceived needs at the time. The catalyst decision is no longer an issue because the courts have decided a punishment plan and as the book says, Giammanco is serving a lengthy sentence in a Missouri Penitentiary. The expansion of that sentence through further charges locally after the federal charges had been answered are the subject of controversy throughout the book. Does the second prosecution violate double jeopardy conviction? I am not a legal expert; not conversant in the manipulations available to prosecutors which may not meet fairness measures, but aren’t illegal. It is a head scratcher as to the necessity of the second prosecution after the Federal courts had handed out a lengthy sentence. While the crime was despicable, it was non-violent and there had not been previous criminal issues.
The book ‘gently’ discusses the prison environment from inmate society to administration. This book is not about the inmate society except for the parts where Keith and Caroline are at various times at risk. There seemed to be more times when Caroline’s safety was more at risk from administration than inmates.
There is a mission involved in the story of Bank Notes. At first reading, one might think the mission is to get Keith out of prison, together with family and on with life. I’m sure this is one of the missions of the team, but exposing the sloppy and corrupt prison system is a greater mission. The conditions of the last encounter where Keith is moved to a different facility, but he and Caroline are denied visitation priveleges would seem to have personal motivations…”punish these people for getting together and speaking out” with a goal of separating them. As an observer/friend, i see this petty decision as having the opposite effect. Their connection is not infatuation, but more mature and solid. Being physically separated only brings them closer and more dedicated to the mission of reform.
Bank Notes has been criticized as being too sympathetic with Keith Giammanco’s actions. To that I say, “So what.” He admits he made extremely stupid choices and accepts the punishment meted out, even that which seems quite unfair. He’s used the time to make life better for others in the inmate community by helping with education. Part of the reform mission involves giving inmates different tools to use when they are back in society…tools that can help them become contributing members of the outside community where they have family who need them.
One thing about Missouri — it isn’t very good at being sneaky, invisible crooked. Those things happen right up front where they can possibly be addressed and see some rehabilitation such as that we might desire for prisoners. As the Giammanco family takes a stand about the flaws in the prison system, their intent isn’t to embarrass individuals, but to have a system that builds rehabilitation rather than mirroring criminality.
Author, Caroline Giammanco, is a contributor to Ozarks Mystique, an Ozarks native and blogger at BoonieHatBandit.com. And a friend of mine who crochets, teaches and enjoys puppies. The cause around the need for reformation in the Missouri prison system is being addressed through efforts at End85.com. There are other efforts out there, I am sure, but this is the one with which I am most familiar. The group moving through End 85% Law addresses the issues of government money (‘government’ translation = you and me) distributed to states for increased incarceration. This has become another bureaucratic albatross, abandoned even by the ones who developed it. They now say “Error — it costs too much.” Missouri has yet to join other states in abolishing the 85% minimum sentences served before being eligible to meet with the parole board.
Click here to listen to the interview Caroline Giammanco had on WGNU 920 am.
Bank Notes: The True Story of the Boonie Hat Bandit has been acquired by a publisher and will be released for purchase in the next three to five months! Soon readers will have this fascinating book, which is more than a crime story, in their hands.
Once the release date is known, information will be posted regarding book signings and other promotional events.
Bank Notes takes readers behind the sensationalized headlines. Find out what would motivate a mild-mannered devoted father of twins to risk everything for a life of crime–a life he would hide for nearly a year. Follow Keith Giammanco through his arrest and the dark corridors of the Missouri criminal justice system. Keith would learn that none of us have protection from Double Jeopardy, and that having a lawyer doesn’t mean he is working for you.
Find out what prison is really like–not the pop culture version we see on television–but the ugly, dysfunctional system that has very little to do with rehabilitating offenders. Seen through the eyes of both an inmate and a staff member, Bank Notes gives a unique insight into a system shrouded in secrecy.
Grassroots activism and legislative reform are shown to be successful, even for topics that are uncomfortable for some to talk about. Prisoners and criminal justice issues don’t make good poster children, and many would think that a conservative state like Missouri wouldn’t be a likely arena for reform. However, on an issue that spans party lines, Missouri is recognizing the need for reform. It is the morally and economically feasible thing to do.
Bank Notes tells the story of one man, but this one story is a wake-up call for everyone. Are we protected by the Constitutional rights we grew up believing we had? Is the system truly geared toward public safety?
Mention the word “felon” and people immediately envision the most desperately evil person imaginable. Having worked for two and a half years in a maximum security prison, I can tell you that those monsters are real. BUT, not everyone who commits a felony is one of those monsters. Many people who are imprisoned are regular middle class or working class people who made a mistake. Keith Giammanco is a kind, intelligent father of twin daughters who made mistakes.
Put Keith in a business suit, and you would confuse him with the stock trader that he is. He does not fit the stereotypical image of an inmate. He made a few wrong turns after financial ruin in the stock crash of 2007-2008. Before that, no one (including Keith) would have guessed Keith would become a notorious bank robber.
Who is Keith Giammanco? He is the youngest of four children who grew up in a single parent, hardworking home in northern St. Louis County. He is an avid hockey player, and he enjoys playing and watching sports. Golf is one of his passions. Keith enjoys informed political discussions, and he has traveled the world. He has an incredible memory and can recall details from scenes years ago. Keith has a keen mind for the stock market and would fit in at any business meeting. Keith Giammanco is not the typical inmate.
Keith is a loving and devoted father to his twin daughters, Elise and Marissa, whom he tried to shield from the financial turmoil that struck their household. He raised his daughters as a single father, and at the time felt alone and desperate when the world tumbled down around his ears. He used his brilliant mind to find a solution. Unfortunately, that solution was to rob banks. Keith is not a violent person, and he never used or threatened a weapon. In reality, he was more in danger of a security guard or off-duty officer shooting him during the robberies than anyone was in danger from Keith. He used notes, not bullets, to take the money he needed to keep his family afloat.
Keith has maintained a strong and healthy relationship with his daughters. Not everyone is as blessed to have children who stick by him. Other family members have turned their backs on Keith, but we are both thankful for the warm relationship we have with Elise and Marissa.
Keith is a kind, creative, brilliant man with a caring soul. He has a sincere dedication to God. He isn’t a prison convert. Keith’s belief in God has been a part of him his entire life. For a short time he forgot to have faith, to trust, in God and that is where he began the dark path to prison.
I am proud of who Keith is. He has made mistakes, but he has always accepted responsibility for his actions. He is much more than the sum total of those mistakes. He is a remarkable man, and I hope when my book is published you will get to know him even better. His crimes made national headlines, but he is a person who surpasses the infamy of his bank robberies.
I hope you enjoy finding out about Keith, his motivations, and his experiences in the legal and prison systems.