Get the Lead Out

Get the Lead Out

Hey America, double standards lurk everywhere. In Flint Michigan, low income and minority residents including children have been drinking lead contaminated water, lots of it, for a year. Do you think that would have happened in a white affluent gated community? Never! Speaking of gated communities, how about US prisons and the American public’s disdain for inmates? Innocent until proven guilty, throw the book at them and toss the keys; no grace, no forgiveness no second chance.

My question; if lead was confirmed in the water of a Federal prison, would anybody care, other than family? I doubt it. Would the public ever find out? I doubt that as well. You may say, hey pal, you’re blinded with overly protective husband goggles because your wife did Federal time; that’s fair. However, my wife and her fellow inmates were served seriously stale date food, experienced sub standard health care and a coal fed power plant spewed pollutants right across the street in Pekin, Illinois. I can hear it now, lousy food and bad health care, get over it. If you don’t like the air or water, don’t breath it, don’t drink it. You broke the law, this isn’t Club Fed, this is prison; do the crime do the time.

So how do you advocate for improving things for a family member who is incarcerated? If you rock the boat, there can be punitive retaliation against the inmate, dished out with no accountability. So then how does an inmate stand up for themselves on legitimate issues without being written up for disrupting the orderly administration of the prison? I’m over reacting you say? How about this: a female guard in Pekin, Illinois tried to have my wife Patty charged with inciting a riot when Patty filed her only complaint, seeking to keep the chapel hours from being reduced; other inmates independently supported her. This was chapel hours, not contraband. Inciting a riot, seriously? Such overreaction speaks to systemic power and arrogance with little accountability, even when an inmate advocates through proper channels. There is such a huge double standard behind the wire; it makes Flint look like a walk in the park.

I believe you have to support those behind bars to the maximum possible, without breaking rules. Visit as often as possible, write frequently, put money into their commissary account, and keep them in touch with the outside world, especially their kids. It takes time, money and sacrifice while you try and keep your own head together; everybody does time when a family member is incarcerated.

Daily I reflect on inmates behind the wire, living life in dark places with little support, faith or hope, for years; simply existing, slowly dying with their eyes open. Why should you or anybody care? Because we the taxpayers pay the tab and it’s a huge bill for a broken system. Most inmates will be released, some perhaps to a neighborhood near you. Frankly, I’d take my chances on a released inmate who acknowledged their mistake, seeks a second chance and has hope for a job and housing. What’s the alternative? An institutionalized broken angry human being with no support, destined to fail with nothing to lose. How about you? Are you happy with a 70% recidivism rate? $6.8 billion allocated for the Federal Bureau of Prisons in 2014 is serious coin and half the inmates released end up back in the slammer. That’s failure in my books.

Perhaps there is an opportunity to improve. Oh I forgot, the judicial system doesn’t accept change or accountability very well. For what it’s worth, Maricopa County Sheriff, Joe Arpaio, self anointed America’s toughest sheriff, whose own department is under federal investigation, endorsed a presidential candidate who wants to build a wall and evict 11 million immigrants. God help the inmates.

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