I was going to make the statement that, to the State of Michigan, black lives do not matter. But that wouldn’t be quite fair, or quite accurate.
Here’s what I can say with some degree of accuracy: The State of Michigan doesn’t give a damn about sick and dying prisoners!
Yes, my anger is evident today. It’s right at the surface, after a tearful telephone chat with the mother of Allen Hollins. Allen died Saturday afternoon at Henry Ford Hospital just 7 minutes before his mother arrived to say goodbye. He was 34.
Readers of this column will remember when we launched an effort to get him released from prison, to die surrounded by family. His mother, Mrs. Yvette Patton, first contacted our office in January. Surgery had been performed a year earlier to remove cancer from behind his eye. Doctors thought they got it all. They didn’t. The cancer returned with a vengeance.
Optimistic despite MDOC warnings that efforts to obtain compassionate releases rarely succeed, we jumped through all the hoops. By early spring, HFP had rushed a commutation application, signed by his mom, through the process and into the hands of the Parole Board. Letters were sent to the Governor. Mrs. Patton was assured by the PB that they would get back to her. She’s still waiting.
So, here’s why I make the board statement that the State of Michigan doesn’t give a damn about sick, dying inmates in our state prisons.
If the Michigan Department of Corrections really cared, they’d provide better medical care for prisoners. It cannot be proven, but there’s strong indication that if Allen Hollins’ cancer had been properly handled from the beginning, he’d still be here today.
If the Parole Board really cared, applications like that for Allen Hollins, could and should be expedited.
Medically frail prisoner bill
If the State Legislature really cared, lawmakers would have drawn up a reasonable and effective bill to see that sick and dying prisoners get released. Instead, they rewrote and revised a bill, signed by the Governor in May, 2019, that was a cruel hoax. It specified criteria that few prisoners could meet. I checked today on how many prisoners have been released under that bill. Here’s the State of Michigan response:
To date zero prisoners have been released under the specific criteria of the Medically Frail Legislation. The Parole Board is reviewing a number of cases that may be eligible, but the definition for “medically frail” in the bill is narrow and has to be applied by the board consistent with the law.
If the Governor really cared, she’d do something about it. So far, nada.
I rest my case.
RIP, my friend Allen.
We really, really did.