Showing posts from April, 2020

Inadequate medical treatment for prisoners? Nothing new for the mentally ill!

With all the COVID19 commotion, we must not forget the mentally ill in prison. Sadly, a town hall session on the topic, scheduled to be held in Grand Haven in March, had to be canceled due to the coronavirus. The discussion was timely, and it’s still needed. I’m writing a book that may or may not ever get finished, and may or may not ever get read by anyone. I’m trying to focus on the incidents and people in the formative years of Humanity for Prisoners that helped shape who we are and what we do today. Our heart for the mentally ill did not just happen by accident. 2008 was a significant year. MaryAnn had contacted me about her mentally ill brother, an old guy who never should have been sent to prison in the first place. He got into a pissing match with a neighbor, and some tough-on-crime judge decided that this mentally challenged individual deserved prison time. Once behind bars, old Arnie was always in trouble. He’d stand in line hoping to buy some socks when

God listens. The Governor does not!

1 Peter 3:12 For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous and his ears are attentive to their prayer. Jeremiah 29:12 I will listen to you.  Psalm 66:17 God has surely listened and has heard my prayer.  Psalm 66:19 But certainly God has heard; He has given heed to the voice of my prayer. Psalm 34:6 This poor man cried, and the Lord heard him I Kings 9:3 The Lord said to him, “I have heard your prayer and your supplication,.” Exodus 8:31 The Lord did as Moses asked 1st Samuel 1:27 …the LORD has granted me what I asked of him. Psalm 31:22 You heard the sound of my pleading when I cried to You for help. Isaiah 65:35 Even before they call, I will answer; while they are still speaking,   I will hear.  Jeremiah 29:12 Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. Psalm 116:1 He hears my voice and my supplications. Psalm 4;3 The Lord hears when I call to Him   Nearly 40,000 people

Once a Prosecutor, always a Prosecutor?

I’m wondering if a “prosecutor mentality” is what’s holding up the release of prisoners in Michigan. In our opinion, Governor Whitmer has done so many things right in this battle against COVID19. But, she’s been a serious disappointment when it comes to the release of prisoners. The Parole Board says it is working overtime to get those people out of prison who are eligible for parole. But, PB members keep insisting that they do not have the jurisdiction to release aging, medically frail, and dying. And that’s where the Governor not only has the authority to do something, but in our opinion, the responsibility to do something! We know that Michigan Prosecutors regularly take positions against early release of prisoners. They’re speaking on behalf of victims of crime, they claim. In our experience attending public hearings held by the Michigan Parole Board, it is not uncommon for prosecutors to oppose release of inmates---especially if the crime was assaultive in nature---regar

A time to be silent, and a time to speak: Ecclesiastes

I seriously dislike the idea of grabbing a Bible verse and taking it out of context for justification. I hope that I’m correct in feeling that this is a time to speak. I’m watching TV news. Of course, coronavirus dominates the news. But then I hear: “ About 200 prisoners per week are leaving lockup as the Michigan Department of Corrections tries to walk the fine line between public and prisoner safety.” That’s exciting news to me, and to our agency, because ours was one of 11 organizations that asked the Governor and the MDOC to reduce the prison population. Michigan has 38,000 people in its 30 prisons, they can’t practice social distancing in many of the facilities, and the virus is spreading, not only among inmates but also among staff. As of today, more than 400 inmates have tested positive…11 prisoners have died. After making that announcement, though, Channel 8’s news department chose to seek comments from the Kent County Prosecutor and a victim’s rights organization

The last chapter: A good one. Thanks to Easter!

I tuned in to the Robert Schuller worship service on a Sunday morning years ago, hoping to catch some fine music. I loved the Crystal Cathedral choir and majestic pipe organ! But, I was too late. I was about to click off when I noticed that one of my favorite preachers was at the podium. I always enjoy listening to former Fuller Seminary president Richard Mouw. I’ll have to paraphrase his opening story…his style is inimitable. He confessed to the congregation that he sometimes enjoys reading a cheap who-dunnit. Not only that, but he also admitted that sometimes he takes a sneak-peek at the final chapter! He explained that he would become a bit anxious, on page 247, when the hero’s life was in danger, and when the heroine had been kidnapped by the bad guys. Dr. Mouw allows that he still goes back and reads the entire book, but he just wanted to put his mind at ease, knowing that everything ended up OK. He then went on to say that there were probably many in the audience that m

It didn't have to be this way!

Lurking in the shadows of the coronavirus crisis in Michigan is a sub-title, a sub-heading. There’s a related potential crisis that is ready to explode, and if it does, we’ll have a disaster beyond belief. That tinderbox is made up of Michigan’s 30 prisons. We’ve got ourselves a mess! There are 38,000 women and men living in our state prisons, they’re getting sick, they’re dying, and if we don’t do something about it right now that situation is going to get completely out of hand. The sad thing is, it didn’t have to be this way. For years we’ve been complaining. By “we,” I mean all of the fine prisoner advocacy agencies in our state. HUMANITY FOR PRISONERS is the only agency that specializes solely in one-on-one advocacy, but Michigan is blessed with many fine organizations doing their very best to improve the system and help prisoners. We’ve complained about the number of mentally ill in prison, the number of parolable lifers who should be out, the number of juvenil