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  • Doug Tjapkes

Oscar Wilde: It is not the prisoners who need reformation, it is the prisons!

Activists and non-profits play an important role in monitoring our prison systems. Take the State of Georgia, for example. The feds are poking their noses into Georgia’s notorious prison system, thanks to a lot of noise-making. Prisoner advocacy agencies have stirred up state lawmakers, as well as prisoner families and loved ones, and as a result the U.S Department of Justice has launched an investigation. Newspaper accounts refer to deadly conditions for prisoners, as well as alleged unconstitutional practices by prison guards. The Marshall Project this week discussed the DOJ’s probe into violence and conditions inside Georgia prisons. It's interesting. Some of the complaints about Georgia prison problems don’t seem all that different than those heard in Michigan: squalid living conditions, COVID issues, suicides, homicides, staff shortages, guards working long hours, etc. Unless you’ve actually served time in a corrections facility, you have no concept of that environment. American political activist and journalist Mumia Abu-Jamal was convicted of murder and sentenced to death in 1982 for the murder of a cop. He became widely known on death row for his writings and commentary on the criminal justice system, according to Wikipedia. His words: “Prison is a second-by-second assault on the soul, a day-to-day degradation of the self, an oppressive steel and brick umbrella that transforms seconds into hours and hours into days.” When one reads this stuff day in and day out, and when one reviews the 75-100 complaints per day that are received in our office, it would be very easy to become overwhelmed. How can one person, let alone one little agency, make a difference, let alone bring about change? And that’s my selling point for HFP! We’re happy to work with and support those agencies clamoring for prison reform, those agencies who see the big picture and want to do something about it. God bless them. As of HFP. We listen to the words of Mother Teresa: If you can’t feed a hundred people, then feed just one. I’m proud to say that’s what our wonderful team of staff members and volunteers do each day. One complaint at a time, one issue at a time, one human being at a time. Prompt and quick response...compassionate, personal assurance that every person behind bars matters! Mother Teresa adds: “We cannot all do great things, but we can do small things with great love.”

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