I’ve never forgotten the quote, although I have forgotten the circumstances. A preacher was quoting these words, emitted by an African American man, at the scene of a tragic inner city incident…using them as a sermon illustration. I remember those words, daily, as we hear one sad story after another in the HFP office. Let me share.
I was on the phone for a lengthy conversation with the elderly mother of an inmate yesterday. Her son was in good health when he entered prison, but two years ago an accident happened in the weight room. Another inmate dropped a 45-pound weight on his foot. X-rays showed no broken bones. That was two years ago, but the foot kept swelling. Later the swelling extended up to the knee. Three surgeries later, the swelling now extends to the groin. Doctors claim they don’t know what it is, and can do no more. The inmate must wear what is called a pressure boot to keep his leg from swelling, and he’s on crutches. The man is penniless. The elderly parents are on Social Security and have no means to retain expensive lawyers or doctors. Will the swelling go higher yet? Everyone can do nothing more than wring hands and pray. The world ain’t supposed to be that way!
An elderly dude sent a short letter to us: “I’m an 83 year old man with a bone-crippling disease and they won’t give me any pain medication and they won’t send me to the hospital for help. I’m in a wheelchair but healthcare won’t allow me to have the chair to go back and forth to the medical line. I am confined to my room because they won’t let me have the chair to move around. Will you please help me to get to a prison that can help me?” The world ain’t supposed to be that way!
A Detroit attorney tells how she tried to visit a mentally ill female inmate at the Huron Valley facility in Ypsilanti recently…a visit that had been previously arranged. She arrived with the inmate’s mother at 4 PM. At 5:15 they were called into the visiting room where they waited some more. At 5:30 they were told the inmate refused to visit with them. The attorney explained to prison officials that the woman didn't have the option to refuse a legal visit because her guardian, who has the power to make such a decision, had determined that she needed this visit. By that time the word was that the inmate was back in acute care, and there could be no visit. Said the attorney: “It’s hard to know what portion of this is intentional and what portion is incompetence. Regardless, the effect is a complete denial of access to counsel/the courts/family/legal guardian.” The world ain’t supposed to be that way!
Makes me long for glory.
But for now, major prison reform cannot come soon enough!