Thursday, April 15, 2010

Get outta that Capitol building!

“Until you and your fellow legislators get out of this building and go into the prisons to make surprise visits…you’re allowing a terrible situation to get worse…and you’re not going to be adequately representing those of us who elected you to public office!”

That's what I told a group of Michigan state lawmakers this morning. I was testifying before the House Appropriations Sub-Committee on Corrections at the state capitol.

“You can sit here and discuss dollars, and you can decide that corrections budgets should be increased or decreased…but you’re missing the point. We’re talking about people: people like your kids and mine!”

I was the second person to testify in the packed hearing room.

As President of HFP, I gave specific examples of prisoner abuse and lack of healthcare, especially among the mentally ill. I named names and specifically listed certain prisons where the problems are acute.

Two mothers of prisoners made emotional appeals to the committee for improvement in prison care of the mentally ill, citing numerous examples of neglect and inefficiency.

Committee Chair Representative Alma Wheeler Smith, a democratic contender for Governor, responded by saying the committee should take a closer look at this problem, because, she said, some of these cases could result in lawsuits. “If we don’t,” she said, “we may find that we’re being penny-wise and pound-foolish.”

State Representative Fred Durhal, Jr., of Detroit, who has two state prisons in his district, was visibly upset. “I find this testimony very disturbing,” he said after I spoke, “and I’m going to do something about it!”


lwalker said...

I find it strange that Mrs. Smith is worried about a lawsuit, when they really should be worried about the people.
That's disappointing.
The real question is, will they really do the surprise visits?
I would love to be a little mouse if they do.
They need to do a visit during chow, in the middle of the night, in the middle of a hot afternoon when they laughingly send an ill inmate into hot roof rafters to work with no face mask and when he doesn't come down no one looks for him until count? No one finds him because he died in the roof rafters.
Yes, some inmates think it is funny to pretend to be sick to get out of work or try and get drugs they don't really need.
But it is the ones who are ill that seem to get left by the wayside. Get left to die.
That is Michigans version of the death penalty.
The general public believe that inmates get free health care. It is to a point. The point being that the state charges them $5 co-pays for each time they are called out for any medical/dental/vision visit. Most doctors just tell the inmates "drink more water". That won't help the guy who is short of breath because his high blood pressure medicine was not given on time or at all.
What people need to ask themselves is "What is being human all about?"
We are extremely kind to animals, yet treat humans who have erred with disgust and disdain.
It is easy to think that way. At least until it happens to you or a loved one.

Anonymous said...

More haste, less speed.......................................................