Michigan State Representative Joe Haveman, Republican from Holland, was addressing 75 people keenly interested in sentencing and Parole Board reform. The Michigan primary election had been held earlier the same week.
"How many people here voted on Tuesday?" Among the 75, a paltry few hands went up.
"Before you voted, how many of you met with the candidates to find out their views on prison issues?" One hand went up.
And there, boys and girls, is the problem.
75 people, all in the same room, demanding reform, and nobody doing anything about it.
There are a few very simple facts that you can discuss with your state legislators.
-One of every five dollars in our state general fund budget goes to corrections: more than any other state!
-Michigan keeps people in prison longer than any other state!
-Michigan's Parole Board in many cases has taken over the role of judge, and is greatly responsible for our prison over-population!
The big question isn't what HUMANITY FOR PRISONERS is going to do about it. Or CITIZENS ALLIANCE ON PRISONS & PUBLIC SPENDING. Or CITIZENS FOR PRISON REFORM. Or MICHIGAN COUNCIL ON CRIME AND DELINQUENCY.
The question is what YOU will do about it!
Our only hope for reform is by responsible legislation. Legislators as well as the Governor are elected to office. They listen to voters, but only if voters speak up. If you do not go to the polls, and you do not speak to your elected officials, you're simply going to have to remain silent. You're not cooperating. You're not helping. You're part of the problem.
Let's made a decision today to make a difference. List the three points mentioned above in your missive to elected officials, demand an opinion, request action, and express outrage.
Prisoner advocacy agencies in this state are working hard. Now it's your turn.