Wednesday, February 4, 2015

It's your turn to get hot under the collar

I woke up hot this morning.  On a cold day!

Have no idea why my thoughts went back to a sermon I heard by a crusty old preacher back when I was in high school, serving as the church organist.  He was preaching from the book of Revelation, and hammering on his own congregation with the words from the letter to the church at Laodicea:  I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot.  I wish you were either one or the other.

And that set me to thinking about all the issues we deal with on a daily basis.

I know, for example, that the state of Michigan is cold when it comes to these subjects.  That was apparent just the other day when the director of the state’s corrections department said:  I serve at the pleasure of the governor.  I think he’s happy with the things I’m doing.

There’s no question that Dr. Martin Luther King was hot when he said, Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.

EJI founder Bryan Stevenson was obviously hot when he said, We have a system of justice that treats you much better if you’re rich and guilty than if you’re poor and innocent.

All of this leads me to the heat under my collar before I even got dressed this morning.

I get hot when an elderly, handicapped inmate doesn’t even feel safe enough to go to the prison store, because he knows he’ll just be robbed by the gang bangers.

I get hot when thousands of women who lived in an environment of domestic violence took things into their own hands, only to wind up behind bars for the rest of their lives.

I get hot when our state’s Attorney General says he’s thinking of the victims, when he refuses to give a person who made a terrible mistake in his early teens another chance.

I get hot when our untouchable Parole Board feels the judge didn’t get it right, and extends the sentence of a sex offender.

I get hot when our mentally ill prisoners are routinely abused, especially considering that an estimated 25% of inmates are experiencing mental issues.

I get hot when hundreds of parolable lifers remain behind bars twiddling their thumbs, as we continue to pay the bill.

I get hot when I see the geriatric numbers, knowing that these old folks on feeding tubes and in wheelchairs are not a threat to society, and should no longer be in prison.

I get hot when I hear of terminally ill prisoners dying alone in the infirmary, without even permission for a family bedside visit, let alone hospice care.

It’s no wonder I hardly needed the hot water for my shower this morning!  And this is just the tip of the iceberg.

Well, my quote won’t be as profound as those of Dr. King and Bryan Stevenson, but here it is, for what it’s worth:  Complacency is a sin.

And this message is not just for state lawmakers, prison officials, parole board members, lawyers, prosecutors and judges…it’s also directed at you.  We can and will join other advocacy agencies to work on these problems.  But YOU can make the difference.

I wish you were hot!

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