Inflation behind bars. Do we give a damn?

I’m reading about the crazy battles in Lansing, as lawmakers fight over which tax breaks they’ll approve. Let’s face it. Inflation is real, we all feel it, and we’d like relief. 

“Inflation has driven the cost up on everyday goods, which is squeezing household budgets and forcing families to forego necessities,” Governor Whitmer, Senate Majority Leader Winnie Brinks of Grand Rapids and House Speaker Joe Tate of Detroit said in a joint statement. “That’s why they sent us to Lansing…” 

I read through Lansing accounts in Bridge Magazine, the Detroit News, and the Detroit Free Press. I scoured all reports to see if there was anything about how inflation affects Michigan prisoners. Nary a word! 

Inflation behind bars is especially crippling, because as store prices continue to rise, wages remain stagnant. 

Check out these messages on my desk, just received. 

Doug at Saginaw CF: “Lunch today is pseudo Bologna, so my bunkie is making a simple bowl cook-up. ‘Simple’ is going to be a way of life after our store monopoly just shot the prices up again this quarter. Tortillas, for example, went from 91 cents this time last year to $2.12 for a six pack of flat, round bread! Even making bowls is expensive with Ramen Noodles going to 44 cents. To put it into perspective, a porter here earns 84 cents a day! 

James, in Ernest C. Brooks CF, writes about “these ridiculously high store prices that we're constantly being hit with 3 and 4 times a year. Since we were awarded the tax money, store items skyrocketed! Prices have raised as much as 75% to 95% on us! The spending allotment we are allowed isn't being raised, nor are our work wages! 

Food prices are one thing. Personal hygiene is another. Tammy wrote: “I am really concerned about the rising secure pak costs for prisoners. They keep raising the costs of their items, therefore the inmates cannot afford to get their hygiene products. It's terrible the way they keep upping the prices! Please at least let them afford to keep clean.” 

Pastor John Pavlovitz says: “It’s exhausting to give a damn, isn’t it? To be a person of compassion in a time when compassion is in such great demand? To wake up every day in days like these, and push back against predatory politicians and toxic systems and human rights atrocities and acts of treason and spiritual leadership failures—the volume and the relentlessness of the threats can be wearying.” 

On behalf of 30,000 Michigan prisoners, facing constant and continued price increases, while never receiving increased spending allotments or pay raises, I’m begging you to give a damn! 

We have new faces and new hope in Lansing. Contact your legislator. Forward this piece! 

God is not unjust; he will not forget your work and the love you have shown him as you have helped his people and continue to help them.” Hebrews 6:10


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