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  • Doug Tjapkes

There’s never a cop around when you want one!

I don’t know how many times I’ve said that after some rude bully of a driver cuts in front of a string of patient motorists waiting in line. I always wonder what kind of behavior these people exhibit in other parts of their lives. Well, the same kind of thing happens in prison. Obviously, it’s not cars in a traffic jam. It involves inmates waiting in line for their food. Our office received this message from a friend who, for obvious reasons, must remain unidentified: While prisoners from my unit were still on the chow line, an officer called another unit, so another 200+ people joined the line. Immediately 75-100 of them cut the line to go ahead of all the guys who were already waiting. The officers created this situation, then stood there and watched the guys cut in line. But if one person had tried to do the right thing and engage one of those line-cutters to get them to stop, the officers would have taken him to the hole for causing a disturbance. This happens not just in this instance in my prison, but in prisons across the state. I approached the officer who had called the extra unit, and his “professional” response was to tell me to “get the f*** away from him.” Our friend, who has spent years behind bars, insists that this is just one way that this kind of behavior is exhibited in the prison system. He asked that we forward his message to Heidi Washington, Director of the Michigan Department of Corrections, along with this question: How are you going to ensure that officers and staff work together so that inmates come out of prison better than they went in, so that the public is protected by a system that teaches and promotes prosocial thinking and behavior? Sadly, no one really expected a response. But, to the surprise of many, Director Washington not only responded, but said that she would personally review camera footage from that facility. She's been in touch with our office. She's digging in. Maybe there was a cop around after all!

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