All writing is a form of prayer - John Keats

Thursday, August 2, 2018

We get a failing mark on treating prisoners, especially the mentally challenged!

Persons doing hard labor may develop callouses on their hands, but I can assure you that persons doing prisoner advocacy never get callouses on their souls!

I’ve shared this Bob Pierce quote before, as our Medical Director Bob Bulten has it posted on every email that he sends: "May my heart be broken by the things that break the heart of God."

That happened again yesterday in a message which I received from my friend Lois. Her son Kevin, who has struggled with mental issues all of his life, has been in and out of prisons since he was a little kid. Sometimes it would appear that we choose not to handle mental illness in appropriate ways, when it’s so much easier to just put someone behind bars.

Lois and Kevin and I go back a long way. Back in the early days of this organization, when I was making a lot of prison visits, I went to see this young kid, chatted, drank root beer and ate candy bars with him. And I worked with his mom when and where I could.

Life has been a struggle for this young man, and Lois gives updates and seeks prayers from time to time. Meanwhile, she has devoted her life to prisoner advocacy and prison reform.

Anyway, getting back to that message of yesterday, she mentioned that Kevin is now serving some time in an Indiana prison. And here’s the part that really hit me. Here are the meal times in that facility's unit for the mentally challenged:  Breakfast 2 AM, Lunch 9 AM, and Dinner at 2 PM!  What the????

I’m reminded of Russian novelist Fyodor Mikhailovich Dostoyevsky’s famous quote: The degree of civilization in a society can be judged by entering its prisons.

We’re failing.

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