I’m always pleased to read about positive advances in the Michigan prison system. I see that Director Heidi Washington is providing leadership into exciting expansions of education opportunities, as well as vocational training. And news that the recidivism rate is going down and the population is being reduced is welcome, indeed.
I’m concerned, however, about some other issues…perhaps considered, at the top, to be smaller items or less important.
It’s on my mind this week, because, right now
-We’re scrambling to get an appointment for a prisoner with a corneal transplant, because it appears his body may be rejecting the new piece in his eye! The U of M physicians who performed the operation gave strict instructions, but they apparently were not followed appropriately. Our medical consultant and the eye doc that provides his invaluable insight to HFP are incensed. Does it have to be this way?
-We’re doing our best to persuade a warden and his health-care staff to get immediate treatment for a prisoner with an aggressive skin cancer. The medics have just been dragging their feet. The oncologist working with HFP insists that he needs treatment right now! Does it have to be this way?
-We have a law firm and a medical team trying to get medical records so that a woman with colon cancer gets appropriate surgery and treatment. Yet the delays continue. Does it have to be this way?
-A prisoner who has been diagnosed with colitis is living with it, even though he must use the bathroom 8-15 times a day. But the toilet tissue is rationed. He’s in a new facility, with a new doctor, and they’re not about to renew his request for extra toilet paper! Does it have to be this way?
-The daughter of a terminally ill inmate who is dying contacted our office: “ The thing that causes us the most pain is that we won't be with him when he passes. It will be a stranger and not a loved one. Isn't there anyway that they can contact the family when they know that he is hours away and allow them (or even just his wife) to be at his bedside at the time of death?” Does it have to be this way?
These aren’t smaller items in our book, and certainly not to the inmate involved.
Our corrections officials, all the way to the top, need to heed this reminder in the book of Hebrews: …remember those in prison as if you were together with them.