The Quiet Horror of Matt DeHart’s House Arrest

Mother Jones recently ran an article entitled “The Quiet Horrors of House Arrest, Electronic Monitoring, and Other Alternative Forms of Incarceration.” Knowing of the DeHart family’s traumatic experiences with what most people assume is a fairly benign form of confinement, we forwarded the piece to Matt DeHart’s father, Paul, and asked him to comment. Here, in his own words, Paul describes the quiet horror of Matt’s house arrest and explains the ordeals they endured both in the United States and Canada.

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Above: Matt DeHart at his parent’s home near Toronto under house arrest.
Photo: Peter J. Thompson / National Post.

This is in response to an article brought to my attention by FMD at I can speak directly to the impact electronic monitoring and other release conditions has on an individual and that individual’s family.

In the United States

While awaiting a trial my son, Matt DeHart, was in the Warren County Jail, Bowling Green, KY in space rented by the federal government. His conditions were maximum security and he was in a “pod” of 18-20 other detainees — 9 two-person cells — nearly all of whom were already convicted criminals. He was there from September 2010 until May 2012.

For nearly two years my wife, Leann, and I drove 125 miles down from our home in southern Indiana every Saturday except two (due to weather) just so we could get a 15-minute visit with Matt behind glass. Thankfully we were able to get a phone service for him which cost us approximately $50 per month plus $3.00 per 20 minute call. He called every day he was able to. We regularly placed money on a commissary account so he could purchase supplemental food since his diet at the jail was deficient in protein.

Over the course of his detention every chance he had to speak with his attorneys he asked for a bond motion so he could be released. His first two lawyers simply refused to do so. One said there was no chance in hell that he would be released on bond and that if he ever were released then (they — not specifying he or she) would give him (their) law license.

His third lawyer finally agreed to make a motion for bond even though he did not believe it would be granted. Matt was released on bond on May 22, 2012 after the Judge read classified reports of an interrogation of Matt by the FBI after he was tortured for information in August 2010.

The cruel tone of law enforcement’s attitude towards his release was set the very day the Judge ordered his release. The order came after a lunch recess in mid-afternoon. Matt changed from his orange jump suit into the civilian clothes we had brought him. We had a very emotional and tearful reunion. We were finally able to embrace our son after two years of separation.

He was in the probation office on the 7th floor in the same federal building as the court room and was being fitted with a GPS-tracking ankle bracelet. A probation officer was explaining how to comply with the restrictions of the bracelet. Unknown to us at the time, the Assistant US Attorney filed several motions that afternoon to stay his release pending an appeal to the 6th Circuit (where the AUSA’s mother was a judge). Matt’s judge in TN denied the motions for a stay. Her ruling never was appealed.

However, that did not stop the prosecutor that day. I had to leave the federal building to retrieve the titles to both of our vehicles which were collateral for bond. I was gone less than 10 minutes. As I reentered the building I saw two US marshals escorting Matt in handcuffs briskly down a hall way. I was totally baffled. When I arrived on the 7th floor at the probation office Leann was in frantic tears. The marshals thought they had found a loop hole in the release order so they re-arrested him and were getting ready to shunt him off on the earliest bus going away from the building. He was going to a totally different jail than the one he had been held at for two years. Matt said they taunted him as he was being escorted away.

In addition to the titles to our vehicles we also put up the equity in Leann’s mom’s house. The wording of the release order gave us 30 days to have the paperwork drawn up to place a lien on the home as collateral. After failing in her attempt to stay Matt’s release we believe the prosecutor working with the US Marshals saw this as a loop hole to keep Matt in custody at least until the lien was completed. We assume it was she who ordered his rearrest by the Marshals. But, we have never found out.

I remember reading somewhere about the Gestapo using such tactics to emotionally break their captives. They would release someone from custody, allow them a very brief time to feel the hope of release, only to rearrest them again dashing their hopes in order to break them psychologically. The prosecutor’s plans would have had the same effect on Matt had not the probation officer had a conscience.

Realizing the injustice happening to Matt the probation officer took Leann and I up to the 8th floor and the court clerk’s office down the hall from the Judge’s chambers. There I delivered the vehicle titles while he went into the judge’s chambers with a supervisor from the US Marshal’s office. We could hear the judge yelling at someone all the way down the hall. When the probation officer emerged from chambers he escorted us back to the probation office where a short time later Matt was brought back by the Marshals, unhandcuffed, and free once more.

At that point the probation officer skipped the rest of the briefing about the GPS system. Matt was still wearing the ankle bracelet. Instead he said something to the effect that we had better get out of the building before “anything else happens.” He escorted us down to the lobby where we exited the building in a state of desperation. On the nearly three hour drive home we continually wondered whether some federal agents would stop our car, rearrest Matt, and haul him off again.

He had to wear the GPS tracking bracelet just long enough for him to get to Indiana and report to a probation officer in the federal building in Evansville to be fitted with a new monitor. The Southern District of Indiana did not use a GPS tracking system but rather an RFID system. Whereas a GPS tracking ankle bracelet could monitor a person’s movements continuously via cell phone towers, the RFID unit was only to ensure a person was in his/her residence during curfew hours. Matt was fitted with an RFID bracelet at the probation office in Evansville within a week of his arrival at home. A probation officer also came to our residence to hook up a base unit and inspect our home. Matt’s curfew was from 9pm to 6am. Whenever Matt was within range of the base unit in our home the unit would dial via landline phone modem and report his presence. Whenever he left the range of the base unit it would dial up to advise that Matt was out of the residence.

Matt’s release conditions had some 20 plus restrictions. Here are a few.

Three times a month he had to report to a federally certified drug counselor in Evansville, Indiana about 10 miles from our home. Each visit was ½ hour long and he had to give a urine sample every time even though Matt’s charges had nothing to do with drugs and he had never had a drug or alcohol problem. The counseling sessions were perfunctory.

Matt was not allowed to consume any alcohol. He was not allowed to be in the presence of a minor unless accompanied by an adult. He could not travel outside the Southern District of Indiana without advanced approval from the probation office. He was not allowed to view pornography. He could not be in a residence with firearms. He was not allowed to use a computer. He was subject to regular home inspections by a federal probation officer. He was subject to periodic polygraph examinations to confirm compliance with release conditions.

Home with his family, able to attend church, able to travel in the local area, able to be outside in the sunshine during the day, Matt did not find the restrictions difficult to comply with. His life was a vast improvement from the maximum security conditions in the Warren County Jail.

Matt was treated respectfully by the federal probation officer in Indiana. She came to our residence at least once a month to inspect the home and speak with Matt about his compliance. The drug counselor was a very experienced professional as well and Matt did not mind speaking with him the required three times a month. He never missed or was late for a single appointment in nearly a year.

Thankfully my office at the church was less than a mile from our residence and Matt was able to accompany me during the day. He did volunteer work around the church including painting classrooms. He was unable to secure other employment.

Despite having Matt back home we all felt an underlying constant stress. The threat of a bond violation and rearrest were always in the back of our minds. It was palpable. We could never truly relax.

As soon as he was released Matt was finally able to see a psychologist about his torture in Maine during August 2010. He was diagnosed with PTSD and prescribed an anti-depressant. Since Matt had no health insurance we had to pay the cost of treatment and prescriptions out of pocket.

Several examples illustrate how stressful it was living under monitoring. First, one day all three of us had been out for the day and we drove down our street to home. We lived in a rented, ranch-style duplex on a cul-de-sac. As we approached the end of the street and our home, we saw three police cars parked in front of our residence. Our hearts raced. We were terrified that they had come to rearrest Matt and take him away to jail again. His face was ashen white and he was trembling as we pulled up. Thankfully, the officers were responding to a call from the unit next to ours. Our neighbor was a veteran of the war in Afghanistan and suffered from PTSD as well. Our neighbor’s outbursts of rage sometimes required police intervention and hospitalization.

Not only did we feel a sense of tension from just being monitored and knowing that the prosecutor in Nashville fought his release so adamantly, but we had a constant sense that nothing we said in our own home was truly private. For the first time in two years Matt was home with us and finally able to speak freely about his torture and interrogations by the FBI regarding national security matters and the group Anonymous. But, we did not feel comfortable speaking in our own home since we believed we could be or likely were being monitored.

First, there was the RFID base unit sitting on the dry sink in our dining room. It was about the size of a bread box. Did it have the capability to record conversations in the home as well? How could we know? We wondered the same regarding his ankle bracelet. Did it also have the potential to record our conversations? What about our cable TV reception box? As a former signals intelligence officer I was aware of what was possible. Considering the types of questions Matt had been asked under duress by the FBI we could not rule out that clandestine voice monitoring was also probable.

One other example illustrates the degree to which we felt no real sense of privacy and enjoyed no true peace even in our own residence. Matt had served in the Indiana National Guard before his discharge in Jun 2009. His unit was involved in drone operations — a very sensitive part of military operations. One day while Matt and I were outside on the back porch enjoying some sunshine we heard a very loud buzzing sound like a large lawnmower. However, this sound was coming from overhead. We looked around to see the source of the noise. Now and then we had seen ultra-lights flying in our area, but this sounded louder than that. We looked directly overhead and then saw a white, v-shaped drone with a propeller in the rear flying directly above our house in a northwesterly direction. It was flying about as slow as an ultra-light and even lower than the altitude we had seen ultra-lights fly. We had never seen a drone fly in our area and did not recognize the configuration of this particular kind of drone. Normally, this would have been just a curiosity but considering Matt’s situation it raised red flags with us. Why over our house specifically?

Still another example is probably the saddest. The congregation I served as minister for had been very supportive of us and Matt during our entire ordeal. When Matt was released on bond, he got up in front of the assembly of about 130 people that first Sunday morning and explained what he was charged with and what his restrictions were. To their credit the members of the congregation welcomed Matt home with open arms and surrounded him and us with love and support.

Christmastime of 2012, some members thought we could use some encouragement so they arranged a surprise for us. They planned to bring refreshments and presents to our home one evening, sing us Christmas carols outside, and surprise us with an evening of warmth and celebration. It was a very sweet and kind gesture. So one evening in late December before Christmas about 8pm we heard loud banging on our front door.

We were relaxing at home and not expecting anyone. It had been a particularly difficult day for Matt for some reason and he was really on edge. The knock at the door scared all of us almost to death. I can not adequately describe the feelings this unexpected knock at the door had. They were visceral, nothing rational about them. We were so sure it was someone coming to take him away that we were all completely paralyzed with fear. When I finally got the courage up to open the door there standing outside our door were a dozen or so friends from the church who broke into Christmas carols. I called Leann and Matt over to the door and we soaked up their ministry of songs. However, we were all so shaken from the door knock that they could all tell something was the matter. They brought in the refreshments and gave us our gifts. But they only stayed for about half an hour. When they left, we all cried. We were so stressed and so damaged emotionally by having to deal with the situation since 2010 we couldn’t even enjoy that simple act of kindness.

The most stressful aspect of bond release however, was the constant threat of a polygraph exam to ensure compliance with bond conditions. Matt had a mandatory court appearance for a status conference before the federal judge in Nashville in November 2012. A van full of members from our church came down to support us and Matt at the hearing. Concerned with the fact that his attorney had given the government a number of 30-day extension to reply to suppression and dismissal motions without our knowledge, Matt felt compelled to file supplements to both motions on his own. As the hearing started the judged asked everyone to clear the court except Matt, Leann and I and Matt’s attorney. The attorney had filed to withdraw from the case because Matt had filed motions on his own.

While the dozen or so church members waited in the hallway outside the court room several of them heard the two AUSA’s discussing Matt’s case out loud. They made no attempt to conceal their private conversation. The attorneys disparaged Matt especially his mental health and our family. The lead AUSA was heard to specifically say that she was going to have Matt polygraphed and wanted to make him undergo a mental evaluation. Several of the members of the congregation heard this and two were disturbed enough to write the court. One of the letters is on file in the docket.

Sometime prior to Thanksgiving 2012 we received a letter in the mail from the probation office in Nashville, TN informing Matt that he was required to report for a polygraph examination. Matt was under the supervision of the probation office in the Southern District of IN, Evansville. However, since the Southern District of Indiana did not use polygraphs to monitor bond compliance the probation office at the Middle District of TN arranged this for Matt. The polygraph was to be conducted in a medical office in Cookville, TN about 4 hours’ drive southeast from our residence.

Matt’s previous attorney had been allowed to withdraw at the November hearing. Since we no longer had any financial resources left to retain another private attorney, the court appointed Matt a “panel” attorney. The first phone conversation Matt had with this attorney was about the polygraph. His attorney told him he would not have to take the polygraph. His attorney and the AUSA appeared before Matt’s judge and made an arrangement. Matt would be required to take a polygraph after all but he would only be asked four questions which his attorney had agreed on in the meeting with the judge and the AUSA.

I drove Matt down to Cookville in mid-December to take the polygraph. Even though Matt had not violated any terms of his bond release conditions he was nonetheless very nervous about taking a polygraph. The tension built as we drove the long way down. The polygrapher’s office was in suite of medical offices shared with a counseling service, if I recall correctly. Matt’s attorney did not attend this event. Instead he sent two private detectives he had retained and who had met Matt only recently before this.

When we arrived, Matt and I took an elevator to the upper floor and reported to a window where patients sign in. The polygrapher came out to meet us and the two private detectives. He had a clipboard with a number of forms for Matt to sign. Matt sat down and began filling them out. The first form Matt came to in the stack gave the government permission to access all of Matt’s medical records. Knowing that church members heard the prosecutor mention wanting to make Matt undergo a psychological evaluation, he was very concerned that his privacy was being invaded and perhaps his HIPPA rights violated by the broad scope of the permission requested.

He told the two private detectives that he did not feel comfortable giving permission for the government to have carte blanche access to all his medical records and could see no connection between that and a polygraph test. After some argument with us the private detectives agreed to call his attorney to ask about the medical question. His attorney in turn called the probation office in Nashville and after nearly an hour it was decided that the questions would be modified to allow the government access to just the polygraph records, which for some reason are considered medical records.

As you can imagine this entire incident only heightened Matt’s anxiety. There was and has been absolutely no appreciation on the part of the justice system for the fact that Matt has PTSD. Matt then proceeded to the next set of papers to sign on the clipboard and he came to a Post Conviction Sex Offender Test (PCSOT). There were approximately 60 questions having to do with Matt’s sexual life and even thoughts. First, he had never been convicted of anything. Secondly, his attorney had agreed that he would only be asked four questions related to his bond compliance. One of the questions on the PCSOT asked specifically what he thought about while he masturbated.

Matt was infuriated. We called out the polygrapher from his office and asked him to explain the questionnaire. He said this is what the probation office in Nashville required and that if Matt did not complete the questionnaire it would be considered a failure of his polygraph exam and he would be violated and go back to jail. So Matt was coerced into abrogating his Fifth Amendment rights in order to comply with his bond conditions. The private detectives had already “bothered” his attorney once and did not want to do so again. Afraid of being thrown back into jail, Matt completed the questionnaire answering not applicable to many questions. Of course having to lend legitimacy to the sexual charges against him which he has consistently maintained his innocence of was excruciatingly frustrating. By the time he was done with the questionnaire he was shaking.

He was then called into a small back room by himself with the polygrapher. The polygrapher hooked him up to the machine and then showed him the four questions he was to be asked. Matt had a problem with one of the questions. The question read something like, “Have you answered truthfully to every question asked of you since your arrest?” In August 2010, after being drugged and tortured, Matt had given some inaccurate answers to his FBI interrogators. Additionally, he had just been required to sign a form for the polygraph, one of the questions of which was something like, “Are you taking this test voluntarily.” He answered yes to the question. But, he knew he was being coerced to take the test and the consequence of not taking it was being torn from his family again and placed back into a maximum security prison sentence. The only reason he was taking the test was because he was required to by the probation office, not in the state where he resided, but in Nashville.

So, at the very least, he was concerned about how he had just answered that one question on the form. He respectfully asked the polygrapher if he could narrow the question to something along the lines of “since his release on bond.” The polygrapher said he was not permitted to modify the questions in any way. Matt then told him about his torture and interrogations and why he was concerned. As he relayed what had happened to him when he was tortured he became extremely agitated reliving the feelings of the torture. The polygrapher came out to get me to ask me to help calm Matt down. He was nearly hyperventilating. The ploygrapher then said that he could not administer the test and get an accurate result based on Matt’s medical state at that time. He said Matt had been cooperative up until that point and that he did not detect any evidence of “deception” from him.

We drove back home with Matt terribly shaken by the whole ordeal and with a complete uncertainty as to what would happen next.

Rather than being able to enjoy the holidays in peace, we worried constantly that there would be a knock at the door and Matt would be hauled off. This is the backstory to the Christmas Carol event at our house in December 2012 and why we reacted as we did.

Unknown to us at the time, once the polygrapher had sent his report to the probation office in Nashville, the chief probation officer and the AUSA moved under seal (secretly) to have Matt arrested for bond violation. Thankfully, the Judge refused and instead ordered a status conference on the issue in January 2013.

Matt was not required to be at this status conference and we do not know the content of the conversations. Sometime after the conference his lawyer called to inform him that during the conference the government admitted to making a “mistake” by having him fill out the PSCOT. He said the polygraph issue was “dead.”

These events were the final straws which lead to the decision to seek the protection of the Canadian government under international law on April 3rd, 2013.

I wish I could say that this was the end of our experience with life under monitoring but it wasn’t.


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Above: Matt DeHart, left, under house arrest near Toronto, with his parents, Leann and Paul.
Photo: Peter J. Thompson/National Post

In Canada

We did not sneak into Canada, but declared ourselves as persons in need of protection under the UN Convention Against Torture in the early evening of April 3rd, 2013 at the border crossing in Ft. Frances, ON just north of International Falls, MN.

We processed our claim with Canadian border officials until after midnight that evening. We were allowed to drive to a local hotel and get some sleep before being required to report back to the border station the next day, April 4th mid-morning. We called Matt’s attorney that morning and told him of our status as refugee claimants and that Matt would not be attending the court hearing that day.

When Matt did not show for his court appearance the judge issued an arrest warrant which made its way to the Canadian officials. We were in the midst of processing our refugee claims when Matt was arrested in the early evening. Leann and I continued with the process until well after midnight. We were given our paperwork and allowed to go. Matt was detained in the Ft. Frances jail pending transfer to the Toronto area (some 1000 miles to the east).

Matt remained in the custody of Canadian officials with monthly detention review hearings. After more than a month he as transferred to the Toronto area via jails in Thunder Bay, Sault St. Marie, and Sudbury. He was initially held in an immigration detention “range” (group of cells) at the “Metro West” jail.

In August 2013 we put together a bond proposal of a $5,000 cash bond and electronic monitoring and proposed it at his monthly detention review hearing. The Immigration and Refugee Board Member who heard the proposal that month agreed to it but increased the bond amount to $10,000, which we did not have at the time. She also imposed incredibly harsh conditions of release.

Matt was elated to hear of her decision and thought he would be going home that very day. Unfortunately, immediately after this positive decision, officers with the Canadian Border Services Agency (CBSA) took the decision to federal court to attempt to have it overturned. They obtained a stay of release pending the outcome of the court review. So Matt’s hopes were again dashed.

In September 2013 a Canadian federal judge upheld Matt’s release in a 13-page decision which at its heart said that in Canada people were considered innocent unless proven guilty. Matt had been charged but not convicted of anything. Even with this court decision in hand it took several days for Matt to be released. By this time Matt had been shipped from the Toronto area about and hour and a half away to a supermax jail in Lindsay, ON. He had to be transported down to the Toronto area for release and that depended on the prison transports’ schedule.

On the day of his release Matt was fitted with a GPS tracking device ankle bracelet monitored by a private security service. We were required to pay for the service for six months up front. It cost $3,600 for six month’s service. We paid that and the $10,000 bond. A representative from the monitoring service came to our residence and placed an RFID box in Matt’s room. He set the parameters for the range of the box to just the few rooms of our residence. If Matt went out of range of the device it would notify the service and we would get a phone call. Any time Matt was out of range of the device his GPS bracelet would give location tracking information on a regular basis to the service who were in contact with CBSA officials.

The release conditions Matt was under in Canada were much stricter than those in the US. He was restricted 24 hours a day to the two small bedrooms, small kitchenette, and bathroom of our unit. Initially he was not even permitted outside the unit for lawyers visits or doctors visits. He was required to report once a week on Fridays to CBSA’s facility about 12 miles away near Pearson Airport. He was required to notify the GPS monitoring service 24 hours in advance of any appointments to leave the rooms. This included a requirement to notify the service 24 hours in advance each week of his weekly scheduled appointment with CBSA. The service would then in turn notify CBSA of the scheduled absence.

We had to file a request to modify Matt’s conditions to allow him to visit his attorney in Toronto and to go to medical appointments. These were granted several months after his release. He attended regular counseling sessions in Toronto with the Canadian Centre for Victims of Torture.

Matt was released on bond on a Friday evening in September 2013. Monday morning Leann and I took a walk to the corner in order to get a coffee from Tim Horton’s. We were only gone about 20 minutes when we received a frantic call from Matt that two CBSA officers were at our unit conducting a surprise inspection. They were looking to see if there were any data devices in our unit since Matt was not permitted to use anything with access to the internet. We nearly ran back to our place arriving within 15 minutes to observe the officers finishing their inspection. They requested that we put a password on the smart phone which I had on my person and on our laptop which was stored in our truck in the parking lot. We complied with both these requests and showed them to the CBSA officer at the weekly check in that Friday. Had I inadvertently left my smart phone in the residence, the CBSA would have hauled Matt off.

Just a few days later while we were in the rooms with Matt we heard a loud knock at the door. Through the peep hole I saw two large uniformed police officers. I opened the door and they identified themselves as Ontario Provincial Police officers there to check that Matt was indeed in the unit. He came out from his room and showed himself to them and they departed.

Two visits by law enforcement in the first week of his release. We felt like we were under the gun literally. We wondered if this was going to be the pattern of our existence. Police at your door unexpectedly at any time with the threat of hauling Matt off back to jail. Thankfully that was the last time we saw either police or CBSA officials at our residence again until April 2014.

That did not mean we could relax. We could not. Matt was couped up in an area of less than 400 square feet and not allowed outside for sunlight or exercise. The only time he got either was walking to our vehicle for scheduled weekly appointments with the CBSA, for his counseling appointments, or visits to his lawyer.

The GPS monitoring service was very professional. But, there was a constant tension of having to notify them. Once a week we had to be out of our unit for a maid service to clean. We had to wait in the hall outside our rooms. We’d notify the GPS service and hope that they had in turn notified the CBSA. Twice we had to evacuate the building for fire alarms. Rather than be concerned for our safety in the face of a potential fire, we were worried about whether or not the GPS service got our email notification that we had to evacuate and had in turn notified CBSA. We were in constant worry that any little infraction would result in a violation and Matt would be arrested and taken back into custody.

Despite the constant worry and tension we managed to have a happy 2013 Christmas together. As we observed another holiday our fears would be realized.

Each time Matt checked in at the CBSA facility near the airport on Fridays he would have a sheet signed as proof he had signed in and officials would write his next appointment on the sheet. In April 2014, two Fridays before Easter weekend, Matt checked in as usual. When they gave him the next check in date it was not the next Friday but a week after that. The CBSA facility was going to be closed for the Easter Holiday from Friday until Monday of Easter weekend.

On Good Friday we received a note in the door of our residence that we would be required to move up one floor to another unit. The management of the facility where we were staying had this as a policy for its long-term renters. They could require us to move rooms with only 24 hours notice. They required us to move on the Tuesday after Easter between 5pm and 8pm.

We found out on the Friday that the CBSA offices were closed. But, we notified the GPS monitoring service immediately via email and arranged for a representative of their company come and move the box to another room and set it up for us on that Tuesday. The monitoring company notified CBSA of our move and confirmed in an email to us that CBSA had been notified.

The building we were staying in was a five-floor college dorm which rented overflow space to long-term renters like us. Our unit consisted of two connected bedrooms with a shared small kitchenette and bathroom. All the rental units are identical. The building is manned 24 hours a day by front desk staff.

There was a requirement in the CBSA reporting instructions that they had to be notified at least 24 hours in advance of any change of address “in person.” 24 hours prior to our required move was the Monday that the CBSA facility was closed due to the holiday.

On the Tuesday following Easter we moved rooms as required by the facility. The representative from the GPS service arrived in the evening, moved Matt’s box, and Matt moved up a floor to the new room. We confirmed again with the representative from the GPS service that he had notified CBSA of the move and he had. So we thought everything was fine. Matt was scheduled to report to the CBSA office that next Friday. He would ensure they had the correct address on record. We all went to bed that evening exhausted from having to move a year’s worth of stuff to another room.

On Wednesday morning about 10:30am there was a loud knock at our door. Loud door knocks were already nerve racking. Since we had just moved rooms the night before we thought perhaps it was the staff or maintenance with a question. I opened the door and faced a female CBSA enforcement officer and five burly Toronto Police Officers. They said they were there to arrest Matt for a bond violation for failure to provide a change of address prior to moving.

Matt was so distraught at this event that allegedly he attempted suicide at the facility he was taken to. Leann and I were devastated and are even now after nearly a year still coping only with difficulty.

It is so distressing just writing about what it is like to live under a monitored release that I am certain I will have nightmares again this evening as these distressing memories have now been brought to the surface once more.

While Matt was out on bond in the States in July 2012 I had to have a pacemaker implanted though I was only 54 at the time. The stress of dealing with the uncertainty of Matt’s future, learning the details of his torture, and having to live with a daily fear of him being torn from us again took it’s toll on my health.

Based on our experience, I can say that people who are released on monitoring live in a constant state of fear that they will be violated and sent back into custody. There is very little to prevent agencies monitoring the release from abusing their power to violate the person. Certainly there does not appear to be any oversight and there is equally clearly a strong motivation to want those released back in jail and or prison.

Defendants who are warehoused in harsh maximum security conditions over time are worn down and susceptible to any offers the government makes to end their suffering. Matt spent nearly two years in custody in the US and nearly a year on bond under electronic monitoring. He has spent over a year in custody in Canada and seven months under very harsh release conditions. If he did not have the support of Leann and I, he would have succumbed to despair long ago and given up.

None of us sleeps well through any evening. Matt’s PTSD remains untreated in jail. Leann and I likely have symptoms ourselves but since we did not have health insurance in Canada as refugee claimants from the US we can not afford assessment or treatment.

To learn more about Matt’s case, read author and journalist Adrian Humphreys’ award-winning National Post story, “Hacker, Creeper, Solider, Spy — The Story of Matt DeHart.”

Want to help Matt? This defense fund has been established with the DeHart family’s approval.

Follow #FreeMattDeHart on Facebook and Twitter.