It’s a terrible thing to lose your mom. It’s even worse for someone in prison to lose a mother, or any family member for that matter. There’s no way to mourn. No one to talk to. There’s no quiet time for reflection. Other family members can’t be there with you to share memories. You may not even attend the memorial service. It’s heart-wrenching!
So a young, 28-year-old Connor was hurting last week on the day of his mother’s funeral, and it’s no surprise that he got into an argument with a Corrections Officer. From that point on, specific details aren’t available, but we’ve received enough reports that substantiate the final chapter of the story. Connor told the officer his mother had died, and the aggravated officer replied, “F*** your mom!”
Connor’s response was a quick punch to the officer’s face. And predictably, other guards raced to help and Connor became a punching bag. He was hauled away to Level 4 in a cart, we’re told, bleeding and suffering from possible head injuries. Connor has now been transferred to a prison where they have a Level 5, which is tantamount to solitary confinement. His grandmother is worried, and we’re trying to find out more.
It's easy for me to use a broad brush when painting a picture of Michigan prison guards, and I want to avoid that. I regularly meet very nice people behind bars who try hard, and do their best. It’s not an easy job. Many prisoners live up to their reputation and make life miserable for these officers. And that leads me to my topic for today.
In recent years our former Board Chairman Dan Rooks and I have traveled to numerous prisons in the state to lead workshops. I talk about the services that HFP can and does provide, and Dan, who is a practicing clinical psychologist, talks about non-violent communication. In fact, Dan is so adamant in his determination to help prisoners with anger management that he teaches a course, twice a month, on that very topic in a state prison.
Every time he speaks, prisoners beg him to start a similar course in their facility. They take notes. In the noisy environment of the prison, you can hear a pin drop when Dan discusses alternatives to violent responses to provocation. The inmates seem like sponges, absorbing every drop of precious information on the subject.
In addition, I have seen prisoners take the initiative on this topic. In my two most recent visits to the Cotton CF in Jackson, I’ve witnessed hundreds of inmates taking a peace pledge…swearing to do their best to lower incidents of violence in their environment.
BUT, I’ve never heard of such a thing among corrections officers. And as I see it, this is a two-way street. If their union is already making work of providing non-violent communication skills to their members, God bless them. It’s the route to go. If not, then such action is past due.
I’m not a violent person…dunno if I’ve ever hit anyone. But I can tell you this: You’d better watch out if you say to me, “F*** your mom!”