Showing posts from May, 2019

Is Cindy right? I hope so!

Cindy Anderson may have a point. Cindy, former board chair of HUMANITY FOR PRISONERS, still serves as a director. And when she heard the news that the Michigan legislature had passed a series of bills making elderly, frail prisoners eligible for parole, she insisted that we had something to do with it. My immediate reaction was to refute that contention, because we really don’t get involved in lobbying and legislation. But Cindy was holding to her position. She pointed out that we’ve been seeking better and more compassionate care for the aged and ailing behind bars for 18 years. And when an agency doesn’t let up over that period of time, the message is bound to get out and the effort is likely to spread. Well, she’s definitely right about our aims and goals. After all, it was an elderly and sickly human being that helped form this organization. Maurice Carter had not only served 29 years for a crime he did not commit, but he was also dying of Hepatitis C because of p

A Memorial Day salute to the MDOC and its incarcerated veterans!

The Government calls them “justice-involved veterans.” They’re former service members now serving time under the supervision of the criminal justice system. On this Memorial Day, I’d like to pay tribute not only to incarcerated veterans in the State of Michigan, but also to the Michigan Department of Corrections for its treatment and care of veterans. How many are in prison, and what brought them there? Well, there are more than 100,000 military veterans locked up   in prisons throughout the United States…2,300 of them right here in Michigan. More than 98% are men. According to the VA, more than half of “justice-involved veterans” have either mental health problems or substance-abuse disorders, most notably alcohol or cocaine addiction. In addition, a large percentage are also homeless or at-risk for homelessness, and many others face such challenges as finding work and reintegrating into society. Sadly, these vets also may be at higher risk for suicide. What can

Some random thoughts on hypocrisy

Example one: Alabama Governor Kay Ivey, while signing that state’s Human Life Protection Act on April 15, 2019: “…this legislation stands as a powerful testament to Alabamians’ deeply held belief that every life is precious and that every life is a sacred gift from God.” ONE DAY LATER, Equal Justice Initiative issued this statement in a news release: Today, the State of Alabama executed Michael Brandon Samra, who was 19 at the time of the crime, despite evidence of an unfair trial and unreliable conviction and sentence. Example two: I have a very good friend who abandoned his church after the church leaders aggressively urged the pastor, as well as other “evangelical” churches in that community, to condemn homosexuality as sin. The sign in front of the church proudly states: “Everyone Welcome!” Example three: One of the largest churches in our community boldly proclaims on its website: We are a community that experiences the transcendent glory

Happy Mother's Day?

Paula often dreamed of being a mom. Now, it can’t ever happen. One stupid mistake. That’s all it took. Now she’s spending the rest of her life in prison. Someday she would settle down. Someday she would find the right partner and have a family. But for the moment, life in the fast lane was fun. Fun, that is, until a tragic day when the wrong crowd with whom she had chosen to associate got involved in some shady activity. And then something went horribly wrong. “The jury finds the defendant guilty, Your Honor.” Life without parole. Mother’s Day is a busy day at Women’s Huron Valley, Michigan’s only prison for women. Of the more than 2,000 women housed in the facility, many are mothers. And, many occupants have moms who are still alive. It’s a bittersweet time. The visits are usually pleasant, but then come the “goodbyes.” Inmates must return to their cells. Alone. How Paula would love to chat with her mother one more time! Yes, her mom would be so pleased that she is f

Yep: Joe's mad at HFP!

Old Joe is pissed! It says right in the HUMANITY FOR PRISONERS brochure: No request for assistance is ignored or denied! And Joe, who has been in prison since 1984, is flat broke. So, he asked HFP for money. And guess what? He got denied. Joe was so angry that he filed a complaint with the Michigan Attorney General. Now our team will have to take time off from helping other inmates to explain to Dana Nessel’s office that we really weren’t ignoring him, and that his request just didn’t fall into any categories otherwise outlined in that same brochure. But be that as it may, the incident points out a couple of things. First and foremost, prisoners do have money problems. There are times when I wish I could be a DeVos or a Van Andel, just so that I could help people like   Joe, who needs money to pay for his deodorant, toothpaste, bath soap and other personal hygiene needs; Karen, who desperately wanted money to pay the cost of prison guards so that she could atten