As a radio newsman, I looked for good news.
I wrote radio news copy from 1954 until 1983, but I never agreed with the concept “If it bleeds it leads.” Those who worked in my newsrooms knew that we loved human interest stories, especially those on the lighter side. We were sensitive to complaints from listeners that only bad news gets aired.
That leads me to this short discussion in the holiday season of 2018. It seems that the only news we hear or read about prisoners is negative. We hear just how terrible these people have behaved, and we agree that they should be caged and forgotten.
Just as I and my reporters did back in the old newsroom days, you gotta look for the good stories behind bars. There are plenty of them.
We recently received an update on the Youth Detention Program, brainchild of a Michigan prisoner in 2008, and approved by the Governor. Prisoners took special training to counsel teenagers heading for trouble. Says our reporter from behind bars: “Over the past ten years the Youth Deterrent Program has helped hundreds, if not well over a thousand troubled at-risk teens avoid the pitfalls associated with indulging in criminal thinking and/or activities. We took on the motto of No Youth Left Behind and vigorously worked in saving the lives of so-called at-risk youth by providing them with viable alternatives rather than the indulgence in criminality.”
Earlier this month a group of students graduated from the Inside Out Prison Exchange Program sponsored by Grand Valley State University in the Michigan Reformatory of Ionia. This fine program has been going on now for 9 years and is now in 9 Michigan prisons!
I’m taking a moment to write about this stuff after receiving a message from David’s friend. “David just cut off all his hair this morning. He and some of his fellow students (Calvin Prison Initiative, Handlon CF) are donating their hair to an organization that provides hair replacements to kids with hair loss.”
HFP just delivered another shipment of yarn to a Michigan prison so inmates can knit and crochet caps, mittens and blankets for the homeless and needy.
Thousands of inmates are doing their best to brighten this holiday season, a real challenge in the dark and lonely cells of the Michigan prison system. God bless them, as they strive to turn a negative into a positive.
In all of our gaiety, we must not forget them.