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  • Doug Tjapkes

Shouldn't happen to a dog, let alone model prisoners!

Some of Michigan’s 29 prisons that just seem to be “hot spots” for trouble. When prisoner reports come in from some of those facilities, eyebrows are hardly raised. We don’t like it, but we sort of expect it. Not so, however, for the R.A. Handlon CF in Ionia. That’s where wardens and MDOC officials have proudly trotted out the college credit program offered by Calvin University, and the job training Vocational Village. Exceptional programs. Exceptional prisoners. Let me be clear about why I’m focused on this today. I’m NOT saying it’s bad because exemplary inmates shouldn’t be treated this way. What you are about to read here should not happen to any Michigan prisoner...not the worst of the gang-bangers, not the trouble-makers in Level Five! OK. Now the words from our whistle-blower: I want to let you know about what is happening here at R.A. Handlon. Following a spate of drug overdoses, administration has chosen to respond by locking down the entire compound. It is no mystery who the real culprits are here, yet this issue has been met with derision and the usual ineptitude: punitive measures imposed upon all, effectively dispensing "kindergarten justice." Worth noting is the fact that drugs are NOT entering the facility by family or friends of prisoners because visitation was cancelled statewide effective Friday, 3/13/2020. Anything illegal coming into MTU through regular U.S. mail suggests either dereliction of duty or complicity of mailroom personnel to allow contraband into the facility. If not them, who else is left? In D-Unit, one of two housing units shared by students and graduates of two programs: Calvin University's CPI and the Vocational Village skilled trades, we have been locked in our rooms since 1:10 PM Tuesday, 10/6. Please note, these are where level 1 and level 2 prisoners peacefully cohabitate together to lead positive programming. Given that we are keyed-in our rooms all day and all night, there's no ability to use restrooms when most necessary, no access to showers, no laundry, and little-to-no effort made by shift command or unit officers to accommodate the most basic or fundamental human needs. Men are being forced to throw human waste outside their windows because it is the only option during many hours! This is not only disgusting, it merits public disclosure. Further, normal access to outside communication is denied. Someone in Lansing should know about this inhumane treatment we are being subjected to. Access to restrooms, showers, and drinking water are basic human needs and a must! Grievance forms are unavailable. Even if we could gain access to forms, we do not have the ability to file it because we cannot get past the desk to unit mailboxes. Shameful! Here is the slogan for the Michigan Department of Corrections: Committed to Protect, Dedicated to Success. Years ago, the old slogan was, Seeking Excellence Every Day. To which my friend Ronnie used to add, and never finding it! Indeed.

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