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All writing is a form of prayer - John Keats

Tuesday, May 5, 2020

Jesus wept. Are we?


I’m just stewing!

I’m no longer a broadcast journalist. Now I’m simply a prisoner advocate, trying to hold the hands of people behind bars, as well as their friends and loved ones, during this pandemic. Right now I’m fretting, after hearing these updates:

            -More than a quarter-million people have died from Covid 19
                   72,000 in the United States
                   More than 4,000 in Michigan
                   More than 40 in Michigan prisons.

Maybe I’m missing something, but I’m not hearing a lot of weeping.

I remember when George H. W. Bush received his party's nomination for president of the United States in 1988. In his acceptance speech, he called for a "kinder, gentler nation." 

Who can forget that day in 2001, when terrorism raised our blood pressure to new heights? Two days after 9/11, in a press conference, the Christian Science Monitor’s Francine Kiefer asked President George W. Bush: "About the prayer day tomorrow, Mr. President. Could you give us a sense as to what kind of prayers you are thinking and where your heart is for yourself?" In his first public expression of emotion since this most traumatic event, his eyes welled with tears. He leaned forward: "Well, I don't think about myself right now. I think about the families, the children."

I was touched, in 2015, when President Obama sang 'Amazing Grace' during the funeral of Clementa Pinckney. Rev. Pinckney was the pastor of Mother Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, South Carolina, and was one of 9 people killed in a massacre at the church.

Empathy and compassion trickled down.

At the national level, I’ve not heard one word of condolence, grief or compassion from our President.

At the state level, I saw people with guns storming our capitol claiming rights were being stolen or violated, but I heard no words of empathy for the sick, the dying and the grieving.

When it comes to Michigan prisons, we simply receive numbers every day. Numbers of men and women who tested positive, numbers of staff members who tested positive, numbers of inmates who died from the virus, and numbers of prison staff persons who perished from this curse. Just statistics.

Perhaps I was a hardened newsman. In my 29 years as a reporter, I covered, first hand, more deaths from traffic accidents, fires, water tragedies and criminal acts than you could ever imagine. But I learned about grief at a young age when my only sister was killed by a drunk driver---a young married woman, preparing to start a family and build a career. That very incident colored the way I reported every fatal accident from that day on. I personalized the stories I wrote. I often dropped a personal note to the families of traffic victims.

We’re going to survive this crisis. But as a part of our survival, we must not ignore those who are suffering.

Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.
Galations 6:2


3 comments:

Unknown said...

Will you love me when I'm gone).
5-04-2020
If you loved a friend or family member while they was in the free world try not to forget them when they are locked up. A real intelligent conversation can be far and few apart in these fences so a phone call, email,visit, or good ole fashion hand written letter go a long way. We understand it can be busy and hard on you to make the time for us so I guess the only thing to say is, Thank You.
Some of us in here didn't get here because of good decisions, can you believe that? lol So here's my point, many new inmates may not even know how to explain this place or how friends or family could help beyond sending $ or excepting a call. If you have a son in school (free world) but things just don't seem right, what would you do? Call the school right? During those times they may not have listened so now they made it here. Its not time to give up, nows when you got another shot to help build the future of you're son ,daughter, friend ect.
Don't think you can't be involved in their life just because they are in prison just like in the free world you can call the prison and ask to speak to the unit Councillor that family/friend locks in(ask if they got any write ups or misconducts). Tell them who you are and who you are calling about and that you just wanted to know if they are in good standing in the lockdown that they are housed in- this will cover all the behavior issues if any. If you're friend didn't have a GED and is in Michigan it is recommended that all inmates complete it or be working towards it per part of ever getting a parole. You can also call the prison teacher. If you get denied call the Warden and ask all these same guestions.
The temptations that have destroyed lives over and over again ain't gone because of some prison fence. Addiction lives here in many forms just like in the free world. Gambling, dope, sexualized, store man, extortion, gangs, some of these are to hard for a seasoned inmate to defeat making it next to almost 100% failure for a fish (new inmate)once fallen victim to any of these you may not ever get them back the way you once knew them, if you get them back at all. Stick with em- in here we call you guys our ride or die people- the ones that mean everything to us. Most of all , you are the ones that help us stay right so we can remain human and come home as a productive member in society and never come back to prison- so once again, Thank You. Written by: R. Harris #250625(MDOC)
covid-19 update
inmates 2,025 cases 42 deaths
Staff. 282 cases 2 deaths
God Bless the Staff and Inmates that passed away because of covid-19 R.I.P. 46 recovered.
When will our current Governor address the extreme overcrowding in the MDOC? We inmates will be right here possibly living long enough to get to our 100% outdate before we die. Gov: G.WhitmerThanks for ........................uh.......never mind, we ain't part of the plan until election time you know what i mean. I bet it will sound like this: I will fix prison reform to improve our budget and our roads will look soooooooo good. "Hu......Yep..... OK..... Which Roads"......

Unknown said...

Michigan Robs Innocent Family Members for restitution $)
So the current court system in MI along with some other states pursue restitution $ while an inmate serves his time, sounds like a good idea right? (do the crime ,do the time ,and pay for it while you serve the time...right?) Well, I being an inmate see this side of the fence and would like for everyone to get another look at what is really going on. I do feel an inmate should have to pay restitution it is a good form of being held accountable -but, here is the big problem.
The average job that an inmate in the MDOC gets paid per month is $12.00 to 18.75 which is nothing short of modern day slavery. Any $ past that monthly job will be sent in from the Family of the inmate which then courts will hold so they can pay the courts restitution. (if the court had that order put in place, which is used lots in the MDOC) Why does Michigan feel it is fair to rob any Family for a crime that he /she didn't cause. I will come home (from prison) as long as God sees it fit so, why wouldn't you wait for me to come home and make restitution part of my parole condition, wouldn't that teach me the lesson and hold me accountable?? I always felt that I can't or won't learn a thing if other people pay for my mistake, how do you feel? Written by: R.Harris #250625.
P.S. I am pleased to Present a Friend of mine here at Newberry Correctional Facility for the great accomplishment of finishing his GED which will open many doors for him and his Family upon his release. Congratulations R. VanNatter
#246132
Last but not least the covid-19 update:
inmates-1,623 cases 41 deaths
Staff. - 270 cases 2 deaths God Bless all of the Staff and Inmates R.I.P.

Unknown said...

INMATES PAST FIRST OUTDATES...WHAT!!!!??? 5-5-2020))
Today brings me total disgusts that during these dark covid-19 times inmate D.Montie #322106 has served past his minimum outdate in the MDOC. He was set to go home on 5-2-2020 today is 5-5-2020 no news of being set free yet. Mr. Montie is a role model inmate that is a GED tutor (volunteer) that helped special education inmates learn to read and write. He is also a Facilitator here at Newberry Correctional Facility that helps inmates learn to improve communication skills, boundaries, goal setting, and decision making. The Michigan Parole Board came to give Mr. Montie his parole interview back in Dec.5th 2019. Even though the Parole Board has of now had 6 months to tell him yes or no the date wasn't hit. WHY?
We now have D. Montie past his outdate while his Wife and Son are worried sick for his health and safe return home as the deadly covid-19 rips through the MDOC. The numbers now reaching 2,048 inmate cases 44 deaths, 291 staff cases 2 deaths. Special Thanks are sent to the Parole Board for the extra work they have put in to get inmates released in a timely manner but it is a huge disappointment that D. Montie is still in prison with not one word about a positive or negative parole action: -and that is a prime example of why the Parole Board along with the worst choice ever made "truth in sentencing" needed to be eliminated from the MDOC many years ago. A large amount of States have functioned with way less overcrowding so let's get it done in Michigan so we can better practice the 6ft.distance that increase our chance of life. Another inmate C. Gallup #963839 has been given two 12 month flops which puts him past his first outdate by more then 700 days and costed the State roughly $ 64,000 to keep him incarcerated the reason the Parole Board thinks its justified is because C. Gallup has caught acouple tickets like substance abuse (weed) the thing is this, even though Mr. Gallup has had minimum infractions he did get punished and served the punishment the staff felt fit for the infractions. So why does the Parole Board think its right to continue to flop this young 25 ready to be productive member in society? If a Parole Agent would have caught Mr. Gallup with only a dirty urine he would never in a million years get sent back to prison for 2 years. Weed is now ruled recreational in Michigan,it is a rule violation in prison and by no means does he not understand this. He has took full responsibility and just wants his life back. So why is Gallup being robbed of his freedom? Michigan needs change.
Written by: R. Harris#250625