“Now your work becomes essential. It was much needed before, but now essential.”
That statement was made to me by one of our business affiliates, and it was prior to Governor Whitmer’s announcement permitting only essential businesses to stay operating.
I’m going to be very upfront about this. I make no claims that our little team ranks among the nation’s top heroes in this crisis, the first responders, the doctors, the nurses, etc. BUT, as you know, there’s an exceptionally vulnerable group of citizens during this emergency, and they happen to reside behind bars. AND, there’s an exceptionally heroic staff of prisoner advocates who are doing their very best to hold their hands.
A retired Michigan prison warden insists that only 12% of these people receive visits.
That means that, in these days of uncertainty and fear about the coronavirus, more than 80% of Michigan’s 38,000 prisoners have no one to talk to, no friends or relatives to confide in, no one on the outside to give them answers. Well, almost no one.
When prison health crisis protocols were introduced, when prison visits were banned, guess where prisoners and their loved ones went for answers? Humanity for Prisoners, that’s where!
My daughter does peer counseling. Once a week there are several inmates in a small room, far over guidelines.
Guys in our facility are paying no attention to limits on day-room attendance. As soon as the doors opened, guys flocked into the rooms like a group of hungry seagulls on a rotten carp.
We have 8 and 16-man cubes! Social distancing?
There’s only one shower for every 25 prisoners and one sink and toilet for every 11 prisoners…severely overcrowded!
No ways to sanitize our phones after a person uses them.
No social distancing for women in our med line.
This facility is seating 200 prisoners in the chow hall at a time and they are seated less than a foot apart.
My husband is denied basic rights, like disinfectants and cleaning soaps.
My loved one is scared to death because he has a heart condition, plus COPD, diabetes and is an amputee.
We’re exceeding our budget on email stamps, postage stamps and telephone calls. No volunteers on duty. Only one or two in the office at a time. But, we’re on duty, 24/7! Up to 90 contacts a day! Prayers and financial support during this time are critical.
I was searching for new or different Bible verses to apply to our situation, but I can’t improve on our favorite in the book of Hebrews:
…remember those in prison as if you were there together with them.