I had the pleasure of hearing a lecture by Cokie Roberts of National Public Radio this week. I took away something from her overview of things happening in Washington that can apply to you and me and our work with prisoners.
It's no secret that our elected officials in Washington have done a terrible job. But the important reminder that I picked up is that these people are elected to office. By us! We can put pressure on them to demand change. We can elect replacements if we're not satisfied. Which then switches the attention from them to us. If we don't tell them how we feel, and if we don't go to the polls, WE'RE TO BLAME!
Why am I talking about that from the HUMANITY FOR PRISONERS desk?
Well, I'm just putting together the February HFP newsletter, and the front page is about Michigan prison violence, particularly in two facilities.
I've had my belly full. I'm sick of these stories. I worry for our friends in these two facilities, as well as some others where violence is prevalent. But I'm contacting the same people in the same agency about problems every day; problems of abuse, health care, visitation, you name it. My voice is weak.
But the point is, YOUR tax dollars are being used to run these prisons. The State of Michigan owns and operates them, and YOU elect the people who run the state. So now it's your turn. Don't do it to help us. Do it out of compassion for these poor people who are scared out of their wits, who don't dare leave their rooms, who don't dare look their neighbor in the eye for fear of injury or death. The names of your state representatives and state senators are listed on the internet. It's time for action.
Incarceration is the punishment for prison inmates. Terror must not be included in that punishment.