Things were getting under my skin this week. It all came to a head as I watched a TV report on progress, or lack thereof, in the Flint dirty water case last night. That was it. “It’s time to throw out the Governor,” I thought.
Then I listened further. Not only is the Governor and his administration taking their sweet time, but also the state legislature and the U.S. Congress are shirking their duties.
Let’s move on. Here’s the background for my eruption today.
Earlier this week I joined hands with a small group of professional people to try to help a prisoner who is innocent of the crime for which he had been sentenced to life behind bars. These people wanting to help aren’t just average citizens---two businessmen, a retired judge, and two of the finest criminal defense attorneys in their market. This innocent man was put in prison 15 years ago by a County Prosecutor who used junk science not once, but twice, to get a conviction! It is my belief that the Prosecutor knew this when he did it. And if he didn’t, he should have!
Later in the week I received word that a prisoner who is a good friend, who has served 40 years for a crime he did commit, but who has turned his life around and is eligible for parole was denied that opportunity. The Parole Board was willing, but a judge in the court where he had been originally been sentenced vetoed the idea, and that decision is binding. The original judge is no longer in office, so this was a successor judge who prides herself on being tough on crime. The prisoner is not only a model prisoner, but he has been working with us over the years to help other inmates in dealing with Parole Board issues. He’s not only deserving of a parole, but he’s exactly the kind of productive person that would make an excellent citizen in the free world. Until we can get that rule changed, successor judges hold lives in their hands.
Now here’s the kicker.
The unfeeling judge, the devious prosecutor, the state legislators, the people in congress, as well as the man who serves as our Governor…they’re all elected! They’ve all been chosen by the people, and they can all be replaced. They can also be influenced by voters.
The people in my business complain regularly about the need for sentencing reform, the need for Parole Board reform, the need for compensation for those who have been wrongly convicted. All of these things are in the hands of people we have elected.
We may not just sit here and complain. It’s time that we get off our collective and complacent asses and do something! Say something! Vote! Or if necessary, register to vote.
And don’t give me this business of not liking anyone who is running, so you’re going to sit this one out. That just makes you part of the problem!
Martin Luther King said: "Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter."
Right on, Brother!