Not much more could have gone wrong in Tammy’s life.
She came into the Michigan prison system with a fistful of charges four years ago, and did well until a few months ago when she claims she was set up on a misconduct charge of smuggling. But until the state could conduct a hearing on her non guilty plea, she was placed in segregation…or as the prisoners call it, in the hole.
And while there, last month, things went south.
Her mother was brutally murdered in her Detroit home on January 6th…it was all over the TV news on the 7th.
Tammy’s sister Judith, who is on her visitor list and who serves as her emergency contact, immediately called the prison to relay the bad news. That was on the 7th. But the system resisted. Who knows, could be a fake call. Her sister tried again every day until January 13th. Finally, one week after the slaying, Judith was advised to fax proof of their mother’s death to the Warden’s office. The following Tuesday, January 17th, Tammy was officially notified of her mother’s passing and was allowed to make a phone call.
But, this was 11 days later. And while there are no TV sets in the hole, Tammy’s friends had television sets, and that’s how she got the news.
She was so distraught that she was placed on suicide precaution. Then, of course, she missed the memorial service. A therapist gave her a book on how to deal with grief, suggesting that she create a scrap book and develop a strong support system among her friends. None of which could really work very well since she was locked up in isolation.
But that’s not the whole story.
In addition to these problems, Tammy hasn’t been able to have visits since last August when somehow, the state claimed, there was a “system error.” Between August of 2016 and January 31st of this year, her family continued to call about the visitation problem, and continued to receive the same answer: The matter “had been forwarded to the Warden’s office.”
A friend suggested that she write to HUMANITY FOR PRISONERS. “It is my hope,” she said, “that someone will reach out to me concerning these issues.”
We promptly responded, and within 24 hours we received the reassuring words from the Warden’s office: “Issue resolved. It appears that her list was deactivated in error. I have reactivated her list so the family may now visit.”
I love the words of this old gospel song:
Does Jesus care when my heart is pained
Too deeply for mirth or song,
As the burdens press,
And the cares distress,
And the way grows weary and long?
O yes, He cares, I know He cares,
His heart is touched with my grief;
When the days are weary,
The long night dreary,
I know my Savior cares.
Yes, Tammy, Jesus cares.
So does HFP.