Prisons are their own communities, and the loss of a friend still has a sting. Our client Mr. J eulogizes HFP client Reginald Williams:
"We are saddened to announce the recent passing of Reginald C. Williams, Jr., long-standing Chairman of the National Lifers of America, Inc. (NLA). Reggie was born May 29, 1948, and passed away on October 13, 2020. Reggie was a prolific advocate for criminal justice reform and social justice. He led the NLA many years and will be greatly missed. Reggie was respected and loved by many. There are so many positive attributes to list about Reggie and his life. It is extremely difficult to sit here and think about losing another dear friend way too early. Lord, p
From a whistle-blower at Muskegon CF:
"It's never a good thing when the administration breaks out the shields and batons. The landscape here is one that brings to mind a sci-fi novel. One cannot allow themselves to be fooled by the peaceful and beautiful fall colors. You could probably best describe this atmosphere as something you might see in an episode of the Twilight Zone. You are intrigued by your surroundings in one instance, and then shocked and horrified in the next. Where else are you going to see ( in real life) men dressed in ninja attire carrying shields and clubs as they storm a building to remove men who have audibly disagreed with the administration when ordered into a situati
“So, how do you measure your success?”
The question came to us from a potential new staff member. The HFP team and members of our Human Relations Committee were conducting interviews for someone who may be called upon to help us raise funds. “When approaching foundations for money,” she said, “I have learned that they want to see positive results.”
Fair Question. Fair observation.
I have long held Father Greg Boyle’s opinion, that success is valuable only when it is a by-product of faith. As he puts it, success can be set up by choosing to work with those most likely to produce positive results, rather than those who most need support. In other words, HFP does not choose who it will help i
Criticizing the media is a real challenge for me. You see, I am a part of it!
That’s right. Long before I was a prisoner advocate, I was a reporter, and a darn good one!
Today, I’m fuming about headlines in weekend MLive newspapers. Yet, I must confess that at one time I might have done the same thing! Might have, that is, before I got into this prisoner business.
Here are the headlines that raised my hackles: “Three young women, bound, raped and strangled.” “The murders in Kalamazoo that summer nearly five decades ago left the community in fear.” “Now, the convicted killer wants to be a free man.”
The story is that of Michigan inmate Brent Koster who committed the crime when he was 15
Marcia and I were watching the news one evening last week, prior to the election. The non-stop political advertising was overbearing. TV news was filled with “what ifs;” and, opposing candidates and opposing parties were issuing dire warnings.
I’m an old broadcaster and an old newsman, and all that stuff is ho hum to me.
But then, Channel 8’s investigative reporter Ken Kolker presented a lengthy expose' on what appeared to be a wrongful conviction. That started my blood boiling.
Listening to the U of M Innocence Clinic’s fine leader, David Moran, telling a story of shoddy police work and all the other ingredients that led to locking up an innocent man ruined the evening for me.
The report of Reggie’s death got me to thinking.
Reggie was not only old, but he was an old-timer, having received a sentence of life-without-parole back in the 70s. He was never going to get out of prison. He passed into glory the other day.
I got to wondering what I would do, how I would behave, if I knew that I was going to spend the rest of my life behind bars, due to my own foolishness, without even a glimmer of hope.
My preacher friend Al used to say that if he ever got locked up for a crime he did not commit, he would be a “raging bull” in prison. But Reggie was guilty. He was contrite, but that makes little difference with a life sentence.
Seems to me like it would be quite easy t
It’s funny how things work.
Two days ago I wrote a piece for this column about my brother Maurice Carter, a black man from Gary, Indiana, who spent 29 years in the Michigan prison system for a crime he did not commit. I spent the last decade of his life at his side, trying to get him out of there. And when that finally happened, he lived for only three months. Maurice died exactly 16 years ago.
Reliving that experience over the weekend, however, left me in a melancholy mood that wasn’t easy to shake.
But, as the old gospel songwriter exclaims, Joy Comes in the Morning.
On this dark, cold, rainy morning, I found myself in the car heading for Ionia, Michigan, and the Richard A. Handlon Corr
Some things were never the same after that memorable October 25, 16 years ago. Some things never changed.
What changed the most was my life!
My two careers had centered on two of my favorite things: radio and music. My 29 years as a radio broadcaster, and 21 years as a church organ salesman were just exquisite. But that all changed in the mid-1990s when I met an indigent black man from Gary, Indiana, sitting in the Michigan prison system and claiming wrongful conviction. No big deal, right? All prisoners say they’re innocent, right?
Well, the old news reporter in me smelled a rat, and I wasn’t wrong. This was an innocent man who had been caged in the hoosegow since the 1970s for something
“Lock her up!”
That was a popular phrase during the 2016 presidential campaign. The chant at Trump rallies was in response to perceived indiscretions by his opponent, Hillary Clinton.
Four years later, the roles got reversed when a New York Times expose revealed that the President has been paying little if any income tax. “Lock him up,” chanted attendees of a Joe Biden rally.
Last weekend, the chant got revived just north of here in Muskegon, where President Trump cited a recent court ruling against our own Governor Whitmer. “Lock her up,” shouted the crowd.
And to all people who attend political rallies for both parties, I shout back No! No! No! We don’t want anybody to lock up anybody!