Friday, February 9, 2018

OK, I'm jumping into the prisoner mail fray!

Decades ago, when I was young, it was not uncommon, when kids questioned a parental judgment, to receive this blunt reply: “Because I said so.”

I must admit that, as a parent, it took me a long time to recognize that listening to the input of kids, with a willingness to modify decisions and guidelines, worked best.

That’s where we are now on the highly controversial mail decision being enforced by the Michigan Department of Corrections.

True, like the position of our parents, the MDOC had every right to make such a decision without any input from the kids, and without answering any questions. Now it’s time to rethink.

No one questions the seriousness of the drug problem behind bars. Neither does anyone argue that those who want to deal in drugs, as well as those who want to receive drugs, will keep right on being innovative in finding new ways to continue this illicit activity.

But we (and by “we” I mean prisoners, as well as friends, family, and the general public) deserve answers.

For example, how many illegal drugs entered the prison system via U.S. mail in 2016? In 2017? How many arrests were made? If the issue was dealt with in-house, how many tickets were issued? Of those who received tickets, how many were found guilty? What percentage of the total drug picture has involved prisoner mail?

Similarly, since the new policy was implemented, how dramatically has the influx of drugs decreased? What statistical proof do we have that this is working?

Beyond that, prisoners, their families and friends, deserve more answers, based on recent messages to our office:

How do these particular examples establish a means to funnel drugs into the prison system:
-A hand-written note on a yellow legal pad
-A hand-written note on white paper with red ink
-A Christian devotional printed with colored ink
-An HFP newsletter containing a colored photograph?

I’ve stated previously that the MDOC would have been wise to seek input from some responsible inmates, who are well aware of the drug problems, before developing this unusually strict and restrictive policy. That would have automatically and dramatically reduced the number of complaints.

That day has passed.

But, there’s still time for the Department to take the high road (one that it took this parent years to travel!), and that is to lay out the cold facts about the drug war, and then, together, work out an effective policy that will not only make an impact, but have strong support from all sides.

It may come as a surprise to the top brass, but the majority of Michigan prisoners don’t like the drug problem either. They can also provide a lot of input as to how the drugs are coming in.

What they don’t understand is how banning a child’s homemade greeting card, bearing a crayon drawing, will stop it. Or even slow it down.


ABC said...

AMEN! Once again, well put and very accurate!

Unknown said...

Well said

Robert Bulten said...

So wise and true, Doug. In fact, just yesterday many of us from the Muskegon area were at a “Locked in Solidarity” conference put on by 70 x 7 Muskegon and hear from 6-8 successful former inmates who said one of the strongest deterants to recidivism is strong family/significant other support. The present mail policy puts a real damper on that and does not contribute to rehabilitation in my opinion.

Louise Reichert said...

Positively SPOT ON! Please...listen to wisdom, MDOC!