Tuesday, March 17, 2015

On the importance of humble pie

I don’t eat it very often.  Perhaps I should word that differently:  I don’t eat humble pie often enough!

I was giving a speech to a group of senior citizens at Aquinas College, telling of some of the horrors that go on behind bars in the Michigan prison system.  When she got the opportunity, a very pleasant woman raised her hand and explained that she has a son who is a corrections officer.  She went on to say that he has a college degree, is a beautiful Christian person, takes his job seriously, and does his very best to take care of prisoners in a proper and appropriate fashion. 

It was a message I needed to hear.  In our work, we deal with numerous inmates who have suffered from cruel and abusive treatment.  There’s no excuse for it, and those state employees engaged in such behavior deserve strong reprimand.  But they do not represent all Michigan prison staffers, many of whom are doing their very best every day in a very thankless position. I must strive to make this clear in my presentations.

The same holds true for prison wardens.  We have had some unpleasant experiences at Michigan prisons that I feel can be traced right up to the top official in the building:  the warden.  But we must be careful not to paint a picture of all wardens with that brush.

I have had personal dealings with the two prison wardens that serve the three facilities in Muskegon.  Warden Mary Berghuis is in charge of both Earnest C. Brooks Correctional Facility and West Shoreline CF.  Warden Sherry Burt is in charge of Muskegon Correctional Facility.  I think they’re tops!  In my opinion, with wardens like this at every facility we’d have drastically fewer problems.

An upstanding Christian inmate who shares thoughts with me on a rather regular basis and who has worked personally with both wardens agrees with me:  These women have heart!

I bring this up under the topic of humble pie, because I recently let a misunderstanding between staff members at Muskegon Correctional Facility and me escalate into something that turned out to be a non-issue.  Said Warden Burt to the President of HUMANITY FOR PRISONERS:  “Why didn’t you just pick up the phone and call me?”

One more slice of humble pie, please.




No comments: