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All writing is a form of prayer - John Keats

Thursday, February 27, 2020

Be not deceived. The state doesn't really care!


Remember last year when the state legislature adopted a bill that would increase the number of compassionate releases from prison?

The Michigan Department of Corrections issued this statement:

-- Today Governor Gretchen Whitmer signed House Bills 4129 through 4132, which passed with overwhelming bipartisan support, to allow the Michigan Department of Corrections to parole seriously ill and medically frail prisoners so that they can obtain care at medical facilities or nursing homes instead of prison ...May 22, 2019

As one looked a little deeper into the news stories, the bills didn’t sound all that spectacular.

We soon learned that

-legislators weren’t really all that concerned about dying prisoners…it was the cost of the care that was bothering them;

-perhaps as few as 30 of Michigan’s 38,000 prisoners would meet the criteria!

All that attention lavished on action that may affect 30 prisoners?!

I have mentioned Allen to our readers. He’s a 33-year-old terminally ill prisoner whom we’re trying to help. 33 years of age, and he won’t last the year.

A year ago it was discovered that he had cancer behind one eye. Surgery was performed that removed a section of his face, but doctors told Allen they were certain they “had it all.” Turns out, they didn’t. The disease is back with a vengeance. It’s throughout his body now. He’s getting chemo, but one physician told his mother that her son may not live long enough to observe his birthday in June.

After speaking with his mother, I immediately contacted the Department of Corrections.

Under the new bills, would they help? “In January he didn’t qualify for medical parole based on the very narrow definition created by the Legislature.  They didn’t apply the standard solely to those with a terminal condition, as be must also be unable to sit, stand, or walk without assistance.  At last check, he is still able to do those things, so he doesn’t qualify under the law.”

Would the ACLU help? “Has Mr. Tjapkes contacted MDOC’s Bureau of Health Care Services? They’re the ones who have to initiate the recommendation to the parole board.”

Would the Governor’s office help? “Do you know if Mr. H has a medical commutation on file? I understand that this is an urgent matter and our office would like to help anyway we can. However, we have to follow proper protocol for all clemency requests.”

Imagine an elderly mother, ailing and indigent, trying to simply make arrangements for her son to spend his remaining days with his family, yet challenged with unraveling this very large spool of red tape!

Here’s a word that describes the work of our office, from the very day it began 19 years ago: Sticktoitiveness!

Stay tuned.

2 comments:

Louise Reichert said...

Gut-wrenching. And far more prevalent than you present here! Legislators, MDOC bureaucracy, WHERE ARE YOUR HEARTS? Would you want this to happen to someone close to YOU?????

Adam Grant said...

Unfortunately politicians are often more concerned with the appearance of doing something than actually doing something. In the process people continue to be hurt. The people that are hurt are not only those that have committed crimes and thus hurt others, they are family members whose only crime is loving someone convicted of a crime. One thing that HFP is trying to get others to understand is Humanity for Prisoners is simply about humanity for fellow human-beings. We need more humanity in our laws in order to have it for this targeted population.