Showing posts from July, 2023

When the wheels of justice ground to a halt

On Maurice Carter day, this story is worth repeating. Maurice Carter was not exaggerating when he complained about the lack of justice in his case. An off-duty white police officer was shot and injured in what may have been a hold-up attempt during the Christmas shopping season in Benton Harbor. That was back in the 1970s. Two years later, based on the testimony of a jail-house snitch, Maurice was arrested in his hometown of Gary, Indiana. It was 29 years later before he ever took a breath in free society again!   Talk about “grinding to a halt,” consider these points.   - No one, not even the police officer and his wife, identified Maurice from the police department lineup photos until 2 years later, after his photo accompanied the news of his arrest in the Benton Harbor newspaper.   -The only real witness to the crime, the store clerk, insisted that police arrested the wrong man. The shooter, she said, was “African black,” and Maurice was lighter-skinned. When asked if she co

Singing about the "Unsung"

I learned a lot about unsung heroes when I was a young radio newsman. As News Director of a small-market radio station, I discovered that we were pretty much taken for granted.   The larger stations in the larger markets were getting publicity and awards. That’s because their operations had enough money to spend on special investigations, documentaries, extensive coverage of events, etc. I’m not taking away the importance of their work. It’s just that, in the little radio stations, we had no money for that kind of exotica. With what dollars we had, we did our very best to make sure the people in our community were properly informed. I was one of hundreds of small-market reporters doing our best to not only fairly cover the news, but to make sure that public officials were operating within ethical norms.   That’s true in so many categories, isn’t it? We read and hear daily about heroes…rescuing people from sinking boats, burning buildings, smoking automobiles. Granted, those police

Listening to Michigan prosecutors cry

Michigan prosecutors have it tough these days. All you have to do is listen to them complain. Some of their most recent comments can be read in Paul Egan’s fine Detroit Free Press story: Michigan prosecutors push back as state allocates millions for indigent defense.   Keep in mind that I’m an amateur. I’m an old guy who got into the field of advocating for prisoners late in life. I have no legal credentials or experience. But, I am a journalist, and I accurately report what I see and have seen.   When I got into this business in the mid-1990s, prosecutors held all the good cards. They had police departments and state agencies at their beck and call. They had investigators on staff. And, they had dollars.   True, the constitution guarantees that everyone must have legal counsel. But, in those days, some penniless guy who got arrested might end up with a court-appointed attorney who got the job by submitting the lowest bid. My friend Maurice Carter was charged with assault with in

Is God still on His throne?

Pastor Nate actually quoted me in one of his sermons a while back. He reflected on one of the lowest periods of my life. I nearly died as the result of a stubborn staph infection in 2010, lost 65 pounds, and was on a feeding tube for 6 months. During that time, a very good friend---a prisoner whom I had helped to attain freedom---not only reoffended and was returned to jail. While there, he took his own life.   It was at that time that Nate, during one of his pastoral visits with me, asked for my reaction to all of this. My reply: “God is still on his throne.”   On this 4 th of July (I’ve seen 85 of them now!), as I reflect on everything in the newspaper today, I suppose it’s fair to ask if God is still there?   As Pastor John Pavlovitz pointed out in an email message this morning:   This has been a bad week for diverse humanity.   It has been a bad week for vulnerable people.   It’s been a bad week for racial equity.   It’s been a bad week for people buried in debt.