• Doug Tjapkes

Sitting on our hands while prisoners croak? Shameful!

I’m going to let some other folks do the talking today. The words of a HUMANITY FOR PRISONERS client suffering from COVID: “From what the Marshall Project's statistics show, Michigan ought to be ashamed of itself. We ranked 2nd in deaths per 10,000 behind New Mexico, and 3rd in cases per 10,000 behind South Dakota and Arkansas. We are messed up as a prison system regardless of the MDOC's spokesman's propaganda on their ‘wonderful’ protocols. I've got a bunch of dead friends who wouldn't be if staff had actually followed the protocols, or better yet, had reduced the population so we aren't stacked up in here like logs on our own funeral pyre. Okay. Deep breath. Yeah, I've got some seriously strong feelings about the screwed up way this pandemic has been handled when, for a couple of those days, I thought I might be a double stat.” The words of a client of SAFE AND JUST MICHIGAN: "We always heard about the restaurants and the schools. (Gov. Whitmer) never really addressed what was going on within the prison system. We just felt like we were inhuman to her. Like we didn't exist. We have something to live for just like everybody else in society, and we deserve the same thing. [What] society is getting, the prison system deserves it as well." – The words of Jonathan Sacks, Director, STATE APPELLATE DEFENDER OFFICE: “This is a humanitarian crisis. Every day at the office, we hear of clients (prisoners) who have tested positive and even died. Michigan must prioritize vaccine access for incarcerated people, as recommended by the American Medical Association, and as, example, Massachusetts and California have done. In Michigan, corrections staff have been identified as a priority, and appropriately so, but not the people in their care.” Now it’s time for our voices to be heard. No more stalling. No more excuses. Our elected state officials must know where we stand. Prisoners MUST get the vaccine! In conclusion, one more quote, from author DaShanne Stokes: “If I were to do nothing, I'd be guilty of complicity.”

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