Showing posts from December, 2022

Part Two from yesterday’s post. Still fuming!

I’ve always been reluctant to criticize the media, mainly because that was my first career. I was a radio broadcaster. More specifically, a broadcast journalist. Even though my writing appears only on a blog page now, I still consider myself a part of the media.   It’s so easy, as an octogenarian, to talk about the good old days, and how reporters just don’t get it anymore. And, that’s not fair. I see wonderful, brilliant examples of outstanding journalism in my daily news addiction searches. But I’m struggling with a Michigan issue…one that I alluded to in Thursday’s blog posting.   We have serious racial issues in our so-called system of justice , and we seem to be ignoring them. Perhaps it’s because we’ve gotten so used to the problem. In a day and age when white supremacy gains in popularity, and rewriting American history to soft-pedal our racist past also gains in popularity, those of us who are reporters must remain diligent.   Last weekend Governor Whitmer announced the good ne

Of the 18 year-end commutations approved by the Guv, only 1 white person! Surprise?

Yes, Governor Whitmer deserves thanks and congratulations for granting 18 requests for commutation at the end of the year. We haven’t seen that in recent years, and all credit is due.   Aside from that, it’s important that we take a careful look at individual cases. And as we do, we should be ashamed of America’s justice system, which we claim is the best in the world.   Let’s zoom in on some.   True, John Aslin participated in an unarmed burglary 40 years ago. But the victim had a heart attack and died. He was sentenced to life without parole, and served 38 years.   True, Jimmy Burden took part in a robbery 40 years ago. Only $16 was taken. He was sentenced to 60-100 years, and served 39.   True, LaDon Cloud was arrested for a non-violent drug offense. He was sentenced to 40-100 years, and served 22.   Likewise, Willie Kincaide was arrested on a similar charge. He was sentenced to life in prison, and served 27.   True, Monika McCain took part in an unarmed robbery. The

Bah, Humbug!

Louis Cassels was one of my favorite news writers. A Washington Correspondent for UPI for many years, he later became its national religion writer. In 1959 he wrote a parable for UPI that will last forever. I was News Director of WJBL in Holland when I first tore that copy off our newsroom teletype machine and aired it. For the next 25 years my listeners, first in Holland and then in Grand Haven, heard me read this parable at Christmas time. Today, as the founder of HUMANITY FOR PRISONERS, I share this beautiful story on Christmas Eve as my gift to you.   Now the man to whom I’m going to introduce you was not a scrooge; he was a kind, decent, mostly good man. He was generous to his family and upright in his dealings with other men. But he just didn’t believe all that stuff about God becoming a man, which the churches proclaim at Christmas time. It just didn’t make sense, and he was too honest to pretend otherwise.   “I’m truly sorry to distress you,” he told his wife, “but I’m not

It’s a dog’s life!

Today I surrender the blog pen to another Doug. This Doug, and his pal Jim, are an exceptional pair of dog trainers in the Michigan Prison PAWS program. Last week, as new dogs were arriving, Doug and Jim were pulled aside. A doggie with serious emotional issues was arriving, and they were selected to be the ones to help this little girl. I think this wis a neat holiday story, so I share it with you today.   Doug’s words:   “Well, when our new girl (named Goldie) came in, she nearly had to crawl she was so low to the ground, with her tail tucked completely under her belly, head and ears down and panting. Terrified. One of those break-your-heart ASPCA commercial moments.  I scooped her up into a hug and carried her to the back of the room. When there was a break in the action, I carried her completely out of the building. Pretty much everything scares her, or at least did the first two days, but we've barely left her alone for more than ten minutes, doting on her like our lives d

1886 prayer. Still perfect for today!

I have a beautiful Christmas gift for you. A simple gift. The words from a tiny, but meaningful prayer. The thing is, it’s very old! It’s my first Christmas alone. It’s midnight, and I’m listening to an Ave Maria that I haven’t heard before. It’s from Verdi’s opera Otello. Since the vocal solo was being presented on television, the producer chose to show the English translation, and I was moved. This was a beautiful prayer! This is perfect for the holiday season. This is appropriate as we near the end of 2022.   In the opera, the Ave Maria aria is sung by Desdemona (Otello’s wife) in Act 4, as she kneels in prayer with a troubled mind before going to bed.   Here is the English translation. Pay particular attention to the phrases I have highlighted in bold print:   Ave Maria, overflowing with grace, Blessed be the fruit of thy womb.   Blessed are you above all women for delivering to us Christ Jesus.   Pray for the one who kneels in prayer before you,   Pray for

Only coal in Christmas stockings for these prisoners!

I was reading an article the other day about the lack of gratitude when spoiled rich kids receive gifts. It reminded me of my parents talking about Christmas during the great recession. They felt blessed to receive an orange for Christmas!   Back to the magazine article. This account is typical of the many stories told in the TODAY Parents Newsletter. “A close friend of our family came back from a trip bearing gifts for my children. Upon receipt of his gift, which was a little hand-carved wooden box from one of the countries my friend visited, his response was, ‘Oh brother, is that all?’. I immediately sent him to his room…later he was sent out to apologize to our friend. After our friend left, my husband and I discussed his horrible behavior and knew we had created this monster by our buying the kid just about anything he wanted, anytime he wanted it. His punishment for this behavior was being grounded for a week and each day of that week he had to pick out four of his gazillion toy

What's in the brown paper bag?

I’d like to share a beautiful story...a story not written by me.   I feel certain that Luis Ramirez would be honored to have us pass along what he has written, but I can't ask him.   He's dead.   This message came to me from Texas Death Row in the early days of HFP. I was so touched by the experience that I vowed to keep the story alive. We generally re-publish it during the holiday season. May it remind us, again, that the names on death row represent real people. And, that the death penalty is dead wrong!   Anyway, here’s my gift to you today...a story from the late Luiz Ramirez: (In all caps, just the way he sent it)   I CAME HERE IN MAY OF 1999...A TSUNAMI OF EMOTIONS AND THOUGHTS WERE GOING THROUGH MY MIND.   I REMEMBER THE ONLY THINGS IN THE CELL WERE A MATTRESS, PILLOW, A COUPLE SHEETS, A PILLOW CASE, A ROLL OF TOILET PAPER AND A BLANKET.   I REMEMBER SITTING THERE, UTTERLY LOST.   THE FIRST PERSON I MET THERE WAS NAPOLEON BEASLEY.   BACK THEN, DEATH ROW PRISON