Sunday, August 26, 2012

Welcome home, Bobby

For today's blog entry, I'm going to write an obituary. As a news writer, I've penned my share of obits over the years, but never for these reasons. I'm writing this obit because I'm sure no one else will do it. I'm writing it because Bobby deserves it. And I'm writing it because this glimpse of prison life must also be seen on the other side of the bars.

Robert McKinney: 04/07/1952 - 08/26/2012.

Mr. McKinney died less than five hours ago at the Thumb Correctional Facility in Lapeer, Michigan. Liver disease claimed his life at the age of 60.

His health had been failing, and the prison doctor suggested a transfer to the Duane Waters Health Center for McKinney, where he might receive better pain control medication. McKinney refused, saying that he would prefer to remain among his friends and endure the pain. And endure the pain he did: the methadone he was given wasn't adequate. He was in such pain, according to his friends, he was unable to keep food down. His weight was down dramatically.

Prisoners shared McKinney's frustration just two weeks ago when the Governor refused to commute his sentence, per recommendation of the doctor, for health reasons. It's supposition on my part, but I've learned that when rejection comes, someone still considers the victim a threat to society.

Bobby wasn't a threat to anyone. Quite the contrary: He was a friend to many. He had been in prison 39 years.

"He was a God-loving man," said his long-time friend James. "He liked to get together with a few of us to sing gospel songs with the guitar."

There'll be no funeral service. No one knows of any family or friends on the outside.

On the inside, life goes on. Without Bobby.

"I'm going to keep his Bible," said James.

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