Showing posts from May, 2018

Another sad tale of life's final hours behind bars

This is the story of a prisoner who experienced a taste of hell on earth. And it didn’t have to happen that way. We never got to meet Terry. The first we heard about her, and her plight, was late last year. The mother of her special friend contacted us, saying the 69-year-old woman was suffering from cancer. She had had at least two surgical procedures. The reason for the call to HFP was the shameful treatment Terry was receiving. A corrections officer was not only abusive and demeaning, but had also refused to undo her shackles and allow her to go to the bathroom. We heard nothing further until a few days ago. “ Terry is in a lot of pain because they ran out of morphine. The family can’t find out anything .” Then her brother reached out to us. I believe she is gravely ill, maybe terminal (not sure). As I am Terry’s Patient Advocate, I'm wondering why no one from the prison is keeping in touch with me regarding her condition. Do you know what the prison

It's Memorial Day behind bars, too

I love Memorial Day. When I was a kid, back in the 30s and 40s, it was often referred to as Decoration Day. I did some checking on that, and found this: Memorial Day  is an American holiday, observed on the last Monday of May, honoring the men and women who died while serving in the  U.S.  military. Originally known as Decoration  Day , it originated in the years following the Civil War and became an official federal holiday in 1971. The parades on Memorial Day were somber events back then. People didn’t clap, and bands didn’t play. Soldiers and sailors marched. I remember seeing quiet weeping among bystanders as military units passed by. Many years later, as a radio station owner and manager, I did my best to make this a special day for our listeners. No up-tempo music and fun lingo. Instead, meaningful commentaries and appropriate music. Two careers later, I’m working with prisoners on a daily basis, but my Memorial Day focus is still the same. Nationwide, about

It's true: We are family!

Ev'ryone can see we're together As we walk on by (Hey) and we fly just like birds of a feather I won't tell no lie (ALL!) all of the people around us they say Can they be that close? That was a good old song we used to hear on the radio in the 70s and 80s: We are family. The phrase was sung and shouted over and over again. Loved it! I was thinking of that this morning as I checked my calendar. We’re rejoicing, we’re celebrating with Bryan today. He walked out of prison this morning…his first day of freedom in 30 years! We helped him get to this point, and attended his Public Hearing to testify before the Michigan Parole Board that we felt this man was ready to reenter society. Family. Yesterday was Mark’s birthday. Nobody but other prisoners to celebrate with him. His mother died last year. His grown kids are out of state. Mark has been in prison for nine years for a crime he did not commit. We’ve been at his side, and we’re hoping he’ll be working with

Kudos to two local TV journalists!

Doug complimenting local TV news coverage! Will wonders never cease? OK, OK, I agree that I do my share of complaining. That’s what "old-timer" reporters do when they listen to the radio, read the newspaper and watch the boob-tube. Marcia will tell you that on some days, such coverage or lack thereof can result in a loss for me---loss of temper, loss of appetite, etc. But fair is fair, and two local TV journalists this week did outstanding work! On Channel 8, WOOD TV’s Ken Kolker created a great piece entitled “Miscarriage of Justice:” State fights wrongful conviction payments. It’s a shameful account of how state legislators passed a law that would enable persons who had been wrongly convicted to receive a payment of $50,000 per year for every year that they had spent behind bars. It was the honorable thing to do. But the dishonorable result, Ken points out in his insightful piece, is that the Michigan Attorney General, William Schuette, seems hell-bent to pre

Prison is especially tough for transgender inmates!

I read something from Reuters over the weekend that shouldn’t have surprised me. But I found it upsetting. The Trump administration has rolled back protections for transgender prison inmates introduced under former President Barack Obama after some prisoners challenged the policies in court. An inmate’s “biological sex” will now be used to make the initial decision as to where transgender prisoners are housed, instead of the gender to which they identify, according to a change in guidelines announced on Friday by the U.S. Bureau of Prisons. The word “transgender” gained popularity in the 1990s as an umbrella term for people whose gender identity and expression did not necessarily match the gender they were assigned at birth, according to Susan Stryker, an associate professor of gender studies at the University of Arizona. I’m not going to use a blog to examine this complex issue. What I want to address is this matter of treating all people with respect. Our staff has pos

Cold temp/Hot topic

Maurice Carter was freezing! I was granted special permission to visit him in his hospital room at the Duane L. Waters medical facility, a part of the Michigan prison system. He was in the final stages of Hepatitis C, and eventually would have his sentence commuted for medical reasons. But right now, he was fully clothed in a hospital bed, locked up in tiny, grey room. “Can’t you get another blanket, Maurice?” “Well, I asked for one.” An unconcerned corrections officer, assigned to guard Maurice so he wouldn’t try to escape, paid no attention. I don’t know if Maurice ever got his blanket. That was back in 2004. I’d forgotten about that incident until I chatted with a guy who recently had visited a Michigan prison psych unit while on special assignment. He explained that it was exceptionally cold in there.   As he left the facility, he tried making conversation with an officer who was bundled up in his own coat. My friend kidded him about staying warm. The guard sa

Little things/big point: You’re just a number!

Little things. Often, it’s the little things that touch me. I’ve written several blogs about that. But then, it can be little things that set me off, too! Rudy recently sent this message to me by email: My mother came to see me on Sunday and was refused to be let in because she cannot go through the metal detectors because she has a heart pace maker because she is battling cancer. I believe that was kinda harsh to reject the visit, when they could have pat her down or scan her with the wand. His elderly and ailing mom comes all the way from Detroit to Jackson to visit her son, and the CO can’t take a moment to use the metal detection wand? Harsh? Are you kidding me? One will never prove whether race might be involved, or whether the officer was just having a bad day. Guess whether this is the first time something like this has ever happened. Second example. Carl sent me this message by email: Dear Doug: My wife died this Easter Sunday. She thought the w