Thursday, July 27, 2017

Buddy, Can You Spare a Dime?

This was one of the best-known American songs of the Great Depression, written in 1930. It was considered by Republicans to be anti-capitalist propaganda, according to Wikipedia, and attempts were made to ban it from the radio. 

I’m thinking of that song as I open an envelope from a prisoner this week. Henry has been granted a parole, and I figure he’s sending me a short note of elation. Instead, it’s a check to HFP for $15.00! I know this is money he can’t afford to give away, and I know he’s not looking for any favors because he’s about to leave prison. Instead, it’s a vote of confidence, pure and simple. He knows what we did for him. He knows what we’re doing for others.

Last week it was a check for $10.00 from another prisoner. This inmate probably makes between $1 and $3 a day in his job. Just imagine the sacrifice. Talk about a “widow’s mite!”

A very nice, well-meaning person said to us a while back: “I appreciate your monthly newsletter, but do you have to keep on begging for money?” The short answer is yes.

Last year HFP responded to an average of 7 contacts a day from prisoners or prison representatives…7 contacts a day, 7 days a week. So far this year, it’s double that number! We need more staff, more space, more volunteers…and that means more dollars.

Here’s what I know…

When two Muslim women behind bars complained about abusive treatment and conditions during Ramadan 2017, involving both staff and fellow-inmates, nobody wanted to touch it. We were there for them.

When two transgender prisoners reached out from two different facilities, begging---at the very least--- for just some understanding and humane treatment, nobody wanted to touch it. We were there for them.

So far this year, more than 70 prisoners hoping to persuade Governor Snyder to commute their sentences, needed help in preparing their application forms. While agencies and attorneys were charging anywhere from $1,000 to $10,000 to provide this assistance, we were there for them. AT NO CHARGE!

To date, HFP has worked with more than 600 prisoners this year!

I have no problem with trying to save puppies, kittens, whales, seals and elephants, but I do have a problem with not trying to provide, preserve and protect humanity for prisoners. Back to that title song, Buddy, Can You Spare a Dime?, that dime would be worth $14.00 today.

Buddy, can you spare $14.00? Gifts and contributions have dried up in the summer sun, and we really need it!

I thank you.

So does a Michigan prisoner.


1 comment:

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Wow, I think what you’re doing is very amazing. Prisoners do deserve a humane treatment and most penal system conditions are degrading and prisons are hell.