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  • Doug Tjapkes

On following rules: good or bad example for prisoners?

I love this quote by Albert Schweitzer: Example is leadership! If we want prisoners to be law-abiding citizens someday, it is important that all of us set good examples. The Grand Old Party did just the opposite last week. While prisoners are expected to follow rules and abide by policies, Republican leaders chose a different route at their national convention. On rules Many prisoners wind up going back to prison after they are paroled. NOT because they reoffended, but because they violated some rules. The same is true about prisoner misconduct “tickets.” Many times, the tickets are issued for the violation of a rule, rather than troublesome behavior. Now let’s talk about the convention. The Hatch Act prohibits federal employees from engaging in most political activity inside federal buildings or while on duty. Yet, the political confab barely got started when There was a presidential pardon from the white house; The Secretary of State gave a political speech while on business in Jerusalem; The First Lady spoke in the rose garden; and The Acting Homeland Secretary presided over a Naturalization ceremony. On Policies Due to the pandemic, the Center for Disease Control has issued these policy guidelines for all Americans. On social or physical distancing: “stay at least 6 feet (about 2 arms' length) from other people...in both indoor and outdoor spaces.” On face masks:wear a mask in public settings and when around people who don't live in your household... Michigan prisoners have similar instructions from the Department of Corrections. In addition, to avoid personal contact, the department has stopped all personal prison visits. Now let’s check on what prisoners saw on TV at the political convention. No wearing of masks; No social distancing; All kinds of personal contact---even shaking of hands! On behalf of all my brothers and sisters behind bars, I ask: What kind of a message is this sending? Where is the respect for rules and policies? Don’t talk to me about political bias. If the shoe fits, ... I’m standing in solidarity with all occupants of prisons---inmates and guards. Rules are rules, policies are policies, and neither have been written or adopted to be disregarded by those of us in free society. “Example is leadership!” Albert Schweitzer “To flaunt is not!” Doug Tjapkes

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