There’s gotta be a better way!
I say this every time we hear another tragic story. Well, the stories keep coming, but the better way never seems to arrive.
I’m specifically focusing on sex offenders here, because I feel many aren’t getting fair treatment in Michigan. And I’m not referring to the sex offender registry, although I have serious issues with that as well.
Let me be clear at the beginning of this little diatribe: I’m not minimizing sex offenses, and I’m not trying to make sex offenders look good.
Here’s the story of Mr. M, who got arrested 37 years ago at the age of 21. He became eligible for parole 20 years later, but the Parole Board never saw fit to release him. His family claims he was flopped by the board 15 times, despite a prison record that was not bad.
There’s more to the story.
In 2012 he started coughing up blood, and despite his requests for treatment, nothing was considered serious. It got serious, though, in 2015, because when they got around to testing, they diagnosed lung cancer. And by then it had spread. He was told he had 2 years or less to live.
Medical reports were sent to the Parole Board several times. He met with a member of the Parole Board as recently as January of this year, and, as usual, much of the time was spent in discussion about the alleged crimes. It must be stressed here once again that, regardless of whether the prisoner admits to the crimes (and Mr. M. consistently claimed his innocence!), the Parole Board wants to see remorse. Even if you didn’t do it! That session didn’t end well, and in January of this year, with less than a year to live, he was given an 18-month continuance! What? Did the PB really believe this dying man was a threat to society?
Mr. M. died over the weekend in a Jackson hospital. He was 58.
Now here’s what I’m getting at when I call for change.
-If Mr. M. had received appropriate healthcare response to coughing up blood in 2012, he might still be alive today.
-If the Parole Board would treat those charged with sex offenses the same as it treats other offenders, he might have died a free man.
It wasn’t fair to Mr. M.
It wasn’t fair to his family.
It wasn’t fair to the taxpayer, in that the State of Michigan was paying up to $100,000 a year to keep this man behind bars, 17 years past his earliest release date. Our prison budget is too high. Our prison population is too high. This is a good example as to why.
May God help all of us in our state to see: There’s gotta be a better way!