• Doug Tjapkes

Are we mad, yet? If not, why not?

'I’m mad as hell and I’m not going to take it anymore’ declared the longtime news anchor Howard Beale in the 1975 film classic Network . In the picture, people everywhere toss open their windows and repeat the catchphrase with a barbaric yap. They rush to the streets in maddening throng to air their grievances.” Jeff DeGraff, Ph.D, Psychology Today People are funnier than anybody! That was the title of a Spike Jones record when I was a little kid. But it’s true. They storm the state capitol and capitol hill in Washington DC over the “big lie,” a proven non-issue, but when it comes to the abuse of a substantial segment of our population in prison, we just sit here and take it. HUMANITY FOR PRISONERS can keep right on responding to thousands upon thousands of requests, complaints and pleas from people living in our state prison system. -We can file hundreds and hundreds of FOIA requests for those behind bars, because our state refuses to call them “persons.” - We can continue to respond to hundreds of calls each month about lack of medication, wrong medication, no medication---all kinds of medical complaints and issues---because prison healthcare is often a joke. -We can continue to try to give prisoners hope by helping them file commutation applications, even though this governor has shown no interest in using her authority to release deserving inmates. - And we can cluck our teeth when prisoners continue to describe their environment as “the darkest, evilest, and wickedest that humanity has managed to create for itself.” I think we’ve used up all the patience we could muster. Now it’s time to tell the world that enough is enough! HFP directors can lead the way. Our board can continue to support and collaborate with those agencies seeking change at the state level. But more than that, I think it’s time now to express the fact that we’re fed up with this. It’s time to aggressively meet with and perhaps join state agencies and committees that can bring about change. In a dignified and non-militant manner we must storm the capitol! I’m reminded of these words about incarceration by Victor Hugo: The sea is the pitiless social darkness into which the penal system casts those it has condemned, an unfathomable waste of misery. The human soul, lost in those depths, may become a corpse. Who shall revive it? We can. We must! It’s time for our supporters, especially those who have family or loved ones behind bars, to “toss open their windows and repeat the catchphrase with a barbaric yap: I’m mad as hell and I’m not going to take it anymore!”

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