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Showing posts from September, 2018

We can learn from Maria and Anna Maria!

An interesting thing happened on the way to the hearing room. The U.S. Senate was marching toward a confirmation vote for a nominee for the U.S. Supreme Court. I’ll not enter this fray with my opinions, (I have a lot of them!). What I want to focus on is what may have seemed an insignificant occurrence. This has to do with one of my favorite subjects : the little guy . In this case, the little guy was a woman. Actually, two of them. One of the senators who was about to vote on this motion got on the elevator and found himself facing Maria Gallagher and Anna Maria Achilla…two sexual assault survivors. They recognized Senator Jeff Flake, and wasted no time or words on him. They were in Washington to support a woman who claimed she had been abused by the nominee years ago, and they let him have it! The senate hearing to determine whether Judge Brett Kavanaugh should be seated in the land’s highest court, as you probably know, was focusing on accusations of sexual ab

One more on the subject, then we'll move on

I promise to let this go, because forgiveness and kindness are also key ingredients in the Christian walk. But honestly, I have a real problem when one of our area’s most popular and well-attended churches says, about (our) prison ministry, “…this is not something we are willing to invest our time and resources in.” That reply came to a simple inquiry whether we might be able to tell church leaders the story about HFP's work with Michigan prisoners. What if we had given that response to the people who came to us when they didn’t know where to turn? To those caring prisoners who begged us to find a place for Old Bill so that he could be paroled and die in freedom. To the guy with sleep apnea who wasn’t allowed to have his CPap breathing device. To those caring prisoners who begged us to intervene at Carol’s Public Hearing so she could spend her final weeks on earth at home with family. To the prisoners’ mom who wasn’t allowed to see her sons because of unpa

Christians, some hot, some cold

I love the people we work with! I mean it! Some have been wrongly convicted. I hurt for them. Some of been wronged by our so-called justice system. I’m angry with them. Many know they’ve screwed up, and are genuinely sorry. I sense their longing for forgiveness. Regardless of the attitudes of these men and women behind bars, one thing is certain: The fa├žade is gone. They know why they’re there, they’re resigned to it, and there’s not a darn thing they can do about it. In these circumstances, many, predictably, are shunned. Only 12% of them even get a prison visit! The more years behind bars, the more family members and friends start flaking off. And so, when Michigan prisoners discover that someone cares, our love and compassion are unconditional, and we’ll do our level best to help in any way that we can, the response is amazing! It’s exactly what can be expected when a straggly team of caring people try to model an itinerant preacher who stated, in these exact words,

Elephant in the room: Rothermel

Some say that Scott Rothermel is not such a bad guy, and that his marred reputation is not entirely his fault. Well, let me start from the beginning. Mr. Rothermel is an Assistant Attorney General, and one of his assignments is to participate in Public Hearings conducted by the Michigan Parole Board. The board holds these hearings for prisoners convicted of serious of crimes who are being considered for release. The Board stresses that the purpose of these hearings is to determine whether the prisoner might still be a threat to the public. If it is determined that he/she is not fit to reenter society, they’ll be sent back to the slammer. The PB wants to take no chances, and no one can fault them for that. The Public Hearing is conducted by at least one member of the Michigan Parole Board. A major part of the hearing, however, is led by Assistant Attorney General Scott Rothermel, who explains, at the onset, that he represents “the people of the State of Michigan.”

Finally! Somebody fighting for the women!

"We all grumble about the weather, but nothing is done about it." Mark Twain is often credited with making that statement. Historians, however, believe that it probably originated with Charles Dudley Warner. I’m reminded of that cynical comment today as I review Paul Egan’s fine story, published last week in the Detroit Free Press, about possible class action on behalf of inmates housed in Michigan’s only prison for women. I’m checking through our daily email dispatches, speeches I have given, messages posted on our blog site… we’ve been complaining about these things for years ! A lot of agreement with what we said, but nothing ever happened. From the moment I got into this business, I’ve been yipping about the way we treat women in prison. It’s shameful! Granted, for a while the US Department of Justice responded to our complaint about abuse of mentally ill inmates in the acute unit. An investigation continued, on and off again, for a few years. But w

Time to open a fresh can of COMMON SENSE!

Marcia’s advice to our kids when they were growing up: It’s nice to be important, but it’s more important to be nice! I was sitting in the lobby of a prison on the other side of the state when an elderly black man walked in…must have been in his 80s, dressed in his Sunday best. He had been driven to the prison all the way from Detroit for his regular visit with his son. But there was a problem. While being checked in at the desk, he discovered that he had left his picture ID back home on the dresser. You can’t get in without legal identification. It was a sad situation, because staff members knew him…he was a regular visitor. He had credit cards and other things that bore his name. But, no legal ID. And the officer at the desk wouldn’t budge. His heart broken, the old man was sent home. At his age, and in his state of health, who knew if he would even get another chance to see his son? As mentioned in our last blog, Diane went to the Michigan Prison health clinic in Jacks