Showing posts from June, 2023

Putting hardened criminals back on the street?

Beware! Democrats want to put hardened criminals back on the street in Michigan!   That’s the essence of a warning in a recent Detroit News column. Just for the record, I’m not a novice. I’m an “old-school” editorial writer. In my career as a broadcast journalist spanning nearly 3 decades, I wrote and aired hundreds of editorials about issues in my community. I think there was a clear difference between my opinion pieces and those being written in newspapers and aired on TV these days.   On occasion a listener would chide me for trying to persuade people to think my way. My immediate and strong response was NO. Instead, I simply wanted people to think! Period. I raised the issue, and expressed opinions, to prod listeners into doing their own research on the topic allowing them to reach an informed opinion.   I get the feeling that too many of these cable news commentators and flaming liberal or conservative columnists have goals of high ratings…integrity be damned. Many seem inte

Are they “Corrections Officers?” Who needs the correcting?

So, I take a break from my duties on behalf of HUMANITY FOR PRISONERS, grab Wednesday’s edition of the Detroit News, open the newspaper and I’m greeted by two repulsive headlines. Across the top of the page I read: Eight prison workers charged in inmate’s death. Right below it, in the right-hand column, I read: Officer charged in assault of prisoner. What the? Is it open season on inmates?   The second story is actually a report of a city cop in Warren who, while booking a 19-year-old prisoner, let his anger get the best of him. Witnesses said, and a video cam proved, that he punched the kid in the face, then slammed him to the ground. Just for the record, the police officer was charged with two misdemeanors. Guess what the kid might have been charged with, had he displayed such behavior?   The lead story, however,  is of particular importance to everyone in the State of Michigan.   Jonathan Lancaster had mental issues, and he stopped eating and drinking while incarcerated at the

Juneteenth. Are we making any progress?

Many years ago I was honored to serve on a board that administered a scholarship fund in memory of Black gospel singer Alma Perry. Alma was a dear friend, and cancer cut her life short far too early.   We met on a beautiful Saturday morning in downtown Grand Rapids. The date: June 19. In a nearby park along the Grand River, tents and booths were being erected for what would obviously be some kind of celebration. Venders were barbecuing ribs and hawking sweet potato pies.   I innocently inquired as to what the heck was going on. I’m ashamed to confess that this was the very first time I had ever heard the word Juneteenth!   Many decades later, I’m no longer a broadcast journalist. Now I’m a prisoner advocate, and I’m proud to say that I am now familiar with this new national holiday!   Juneteenth celebrates the end of slavery, a pivotal time in race relations in our country.   Sad statistics about prisoners help to emphasize why this holiday must remain so very important to al

Happy Father's Day?

I’ve been making prison visits for a long time. I’ve absorbed a lot during those visits over more than two decades. On Father’s Day, 2023, I’m hoping we remember those behind bars.   Many of my visits were before COVID, when families could be together.   I’d watch Ted as his wife and two little kids made their way into the visiting area. I wasn’t there to see Ted, but I’m a reporter and a good observer. I kept an eye on what was going on.   Ted’s eyes lit up as Carol and the kids came into the room. Hugs, kisses. Most prisons had some toys---perhaps not in good shape---but at least they were there for the kids.   Over the next hour or two I watched Ted reading a story to his little girl. I could see the tenderness and the love. What I couldn’t see were his thoughts, but I’ve been friends of many inmates for years.   How the hell did I screw up so much that I can’t be home to enjoy this every night?   When I get out years from now, will the kids forgive me? Will they still l

How Pride Month sparks pride in our office

While waiting to speak with an administrator at Calvin College back in the 70s, I got sidelined into a tiny office. I never learned whose office it was, but I never forgot a little piece of paper tacked on its bulletin board. A child had scrawled in crayon: God don’t make no junk. What makes it more interesting is that different colors were used for each word, and that was before all the significance of rainbow these days.   That crumpled little piece of paper sticks in my mind as we begin Pride Month.   At a time when there are more unkind words spoken, more unpleasant thoughts expressed, more unreasonable and unfair rules and laws discussed and enacted, I’m proud to discuss Pride Month from the view of HUMANITY FOR PRISONERS.   We deal with this on a daily basis. The HFP office probably gets around 100 requests for help per year from the lesbian-gay-transgender community behind bars. As of today, among our 10,000 clients we have about 80 transgender persons.   According to Th