Saturday, November 24, 2012

Happy holidays?

This Thanksgiving week was a good time to start working on the December newsletter which gets mailed to many HFP friends and supporters.

I have been communicating with prisoners, hoping to find some touching holiday stories from behind bars to brighten the mood of the newsletter. But you cannot imagine how difficult this has been. The negative keeps outweighing the positive.

Some guys at Kinross are scared this holiday season. Violence is common-place in that facility, and prisoners sometimes join gangs simply for protection as staff members look the other way.

A friend at Chippewa just got out of the hole, to find that---while he was in segregation---somebody ransacked his cell. Belongings are missing, including his beloved MP3 player. Legal documents are in disarray or missing. A lamp was broken.
Merry Christmas.

A prisoner at the Thumb told me that it's really sad to see the mentally ill patients in one unit of that facility. He said they're zombies: heavily medicated to keep them under control. I have no way to validate this, but I have no reason to doubt the man. Happy Holidays to these guys and their families.

There's a geriatric division that we've been told about that is really sad. Very much like the nursing homes that you visit. Doesn't it make you wonder why our tax dollars are paying the prison system to care for these individuals? Are they really a threat to society?

Then there are the visitation issues. So far no word on holiday visits, but Christmas comes on Tuesday this year, and Tuesday is not a visitation day with the MDOC. Gotta save money, you know.

A friend of ours won't be visiting her husband. She's been banned for life, and he's in prison for life. What kind of sense does that make?

Women are complaining at the one prison where all women are housed in Michigan. Not enough visiting hours, not enough visiting space. Long waits. Peace on earth.

I know, I'm sounding like Scrooge, and I don't mean to do that. What I mean to do is introduce you to the reality of prison life. It's not a country club, with three squares a day and a warm bed. It's hell, and it's the very reason that we open the office every day. We've got work to do. Lots of it. And we need your help.

Thanks for being there for us. And for them.

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