Showing posts from December, 2012

They're just prisoners

Some end of the year thoughts. It was a week ago that I wrote about the women being so cold in a couple units of Huron Valley. It doesn't have to be that way. The fans on the cold air return can be turned down. We complained, all the way to the top. Just got word as to how the state responded. Our source tells us that a sergeant ordered that everyone in the cold area be issued a blanket. It wasn't a heavy blanket, but at least it helped the girls stay warm. Two days later, they collected all the blankets again. So much for staying warm in the bleak mid-winter. After all, they're just prisoners. And on another subject, for several years we've been wondering how a seemingly inept judge who persists in abusing his power remains on the bench in Berrien County. Judge Wiley mistreated a client of ours to such an extent that it was an outrage. The man was a professional, with no prior arrests, who was involved in an unpleasant incident that police and a prosecu

Cold Christmas

Marcia and I were returning from a delightful week in Hawaii with our son and his family. We were just getting used to temperatures in the mid to high 70s when we were forced to wait for a commuter airplane in any icy wing of Chicago's O'Hare Airport. Even when wrapped in a blanket Marcia couldn't get warm. When we eventually arrived at our warm home, it still took hours before she felt comfortable again. Then I opened my messages from prisoners, and stared at this one from the women in one of the units at Michigan's facility in Ypsilanti: Lack of heat in our unit, Calhoun B. They have the return air set on 15, that pulls the outside air inside. Heat is barely on. Honestly can't even feel any heat in our rooms. All we feel is the cold air from the outside blowing on our beds all day/all night long. The head guy says they cannot turn the return air off because of germs. OK, so can we at least have enough heat so we can sleep at night, not having to curl

This. too, is why we're here

If you read the previous post, you'll certainly want to follow-up with this one. It was the sister of Mr. D. who gave all of that information to HFP, and today we're pleased to advise her that some progress has been made. We've learned over the years that every problem cannot be solved at the top. In fact, sometimes one must start very near the bottom. So in this case, we simply contacted one of our good friends behind bars, an inmate at the same facility. We knew that we could count on Mr. R. He's a former executive, with take-charge skills. We passed along the information that we had received from the sister of the suffering inmate. It's the Christmas season, and Mr. R. responded to our appeal for help saying he was "Santa's helper." His word to us: "Two very capable older prisoners have taken him under their wings. I believe you and his sister can rest for a while." May Mr. D. have a peaceful Christmas. May the Princ

It's why we're here

Seems like we hear stories like this every holiday season. 62 year old inmate Mr. D. is in poor health. He uses walking assistance and is going deaf. He had gotten robbed several times after receiving a store purchase of $85. But fortunately he found a room-mate who watched out for him, and that stopped the robberies for a few months. This nice roomie would also alert him for call-outs---meal time, counts, etc., as he can't hear. Some think perhaps dementia is even setting in. Well, the nice guy got transferred, and Mr. D. now has a new room-mate. He was just robbed again. But this time the thieves stole all his property, including a footlocker that contained not only his personal belongings but his legal papers to try to fight his case. They stole his radio and head-set. They tried to steal his TV set but it was zip-locked in place. As far as we know, the prison did not conduct any searches, because it would have been relatively easy to find a footlocker, one would

Open letter to the boss

To Mr. Daniel Heyns, Director MICHIGAN DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTIONS Dear Mr. Heyns: You make one generalization in your letter to the editor of the Detroit Free Press, published in the November 11, 2012 edition, that must be challenged. In praising your team of employees, you say this about their work with prisoners: “Every day, they deal with the worst of the worst of Michigan's citizens.” It's a generalization that must be challenged. The worst of the worst? I started going through the HFP files to list exceptions to that rule. I intended to list names of prisoners, and a list of reasons why I so admire these men and women...all of them friends. I found too much material. Many of these inmates have gone 10, 20, 30 and 40 years without one misconduct. They are active in positive programs like the National Lifers Association. They are mentoring and teaching. They are knitting clothing for the underprivileged. They go out of their way to help senior citizens and the mentally

When will it stop?

I had sort of lost touch with Pete. He's in a prison in California, his writing is so small I can hardly read it, and now that HFP takes cases only in Michigan there was little reason to be communicating. But this week I heard from him. Still tiny print. Still hard to read. But this time it was not only difficult, it was painful. Pete's prison has been in lockdown a lot lately...he didn't say why. But that means that inmates can't get out. In his case, it was worse. He said that he was brought breakfast and lunch in paper bags, which were shoved through the opening in the door. Dinner was also served through the same slot. The door, locked from the outside, was never opened so he could get out, so there was no human contact for a month. There was no window in the tiny room, which he described as the size of a closet. He had no radio or TV to help pass the time, and he said his newspaper subscription had expired several months ago. Said Pete: "I