“You should mix in more good stories with the bad.”
The advice came from a well-meaning supporter of HFP, and he was referring to our daily dispatches on our email network. Each day Matt and I work on brief messages to give an insight into the work of this ministry. And frankly, it isn't pretty.
We made an attempt to lighten our message today, for example, with a thank you note from a prisoner who appreciated all of our work in just trying to help a dying inmate. But the real story was much more grim. The inmates had been complaining that the man wasn't being treated properly, and even though he was critically ill he was not granted a compassionate release by the non-compassionate State of Michigan. He died alone behind bars in the prison hospital. Without hospice care.
And while there may be bright sides to some of our stories (we did help to improve the toilet paper situation for women, we were able to obtain some heat for a chilly prison unit last winter, we prodded the state into granting Christmas day visits on a non-visitation day), the simple fact is that we're working in a dark area of society. Things aren't nice here:
-Some people are being denied necessary medication
-Some cannot get other appropriate medical and dental care
-Elderly prisoners are victims of extortion and attack by gang members
-Some mentally ill prisoners are being illegally hog-tied
-Some are even forced to sleep on a hard floor without a mattress or pad!
The list gets longer every day.
Sorry if it sounds like we're crying “Wolf.” The very last thing we want to do is to desensitize you. Quite the contrary. We know we can't find this battle alone. Not only do we need God's amazing intervention each day, we also need you. We feel we can best do that by telling the truth about what's going on behind bars...no matter how unpleasant the stories.
We hope these reports will result in prayers as well as financial support.
We're all in this together.