On Thursday, September 11th 2014 Joel Bitar was driven to the border, where he was met with loved ones. Below is his statement from his blog. Thank you to everyone who gave Joel support!! To the end of prisons!!
Joel’s Blog: Free at Last!
For folks who have been following my blog over the months you may have noticed that I hadn’t posted anything in a while. There was a reason. Back in mid-August my parole (parole for deportation) was granted!
A couple of days ago, 2 weeks after my parole eligibility day, I was driven to Niagra Falls by Canadian border police in handcuffs and dropped off on the U.S. side. U.S. Customs and Border Police then took my fingerprints, scanned my passport for outstanding warrants and eventually a door was opened and my freedom became official.
My parole conditions are basic: don’t associate with anyone with a criminal record, attend counseling and don’t attempt to return to Canada. If I return to Canada they can hold me for the duration of my sentence, which is September, 2015.
So it’s finally over, I can’t believe it. Getting out of jail is one of the best freaking feelings in the world. It’s also kind of overwhelming. Emotionally speaking, I got out of there relatively unscathed. I did pick up a bunch of scars, bumps and injuries (mostly all connected to jail soccer games, therefore totally worth it). All-in-all I feel the same. If anything the experience made me tougher, stronger and wiser. I hope to be a source of information and support for those who will inevitably be put through the prison system in the future.
I want to thank everyone who submitted parole letters on my behalf. The parole board received over 30 letters (they couldn’t believe it, they were shocked) and they read every single one. Each letter was integral in winning my freedom. Thank you to each of you who took some time to do that, I wouldn’t be free right now if it wasn’t for you.
I also want to thank everyone who corresponded with me over the past 7 months and I want to apologize to those whom I never replied. Each letter I received made my day a little brighter and allowed me to maintain emotional stability during dark times. My incarceration was a case study in how to do solid prisoner support work. The amount of solidarity I received throughout the process was outstanding and I wouldn’t be in such good shape right now without it.
So thank you, thank you, thank you folks. I can’t wait to give you all a hug when I see you. My heart is filled with so much joy right now.
Freedom is a must!!!