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  • Doug Tjapkes

When will the AG speak for all deserving inmates?

When you’re the Michigan Attorney General, somebody listens. When you’re the founder of HUMANITY FOR PRISONERS, that same somebody says, “Doug, who?” Case in point: the Michael Thompson story. Thompson is one of hundreds of unfortunate prisoners in Michigan who have been over-sentenced. He got 42-60 years on drugs and weapons charges. That type of sentence prevents him from even seeing the state Parole Board until he has served the minimum number. He was 45 years of age when he was sentenced, so some judge determined that should not have a chance for parole until he was 87 years of age! Shameful. Thompson is one of more than 4,000 Michigan prisoners who have contracted the COVID19 virus in recent weeks. And, Thompson is one of more than 100 patients at the Duane L. Waters Health Center, a wannabe-hospital located in Jackson. You get the picture, right? There are many prisoners in similar situations. Yet, wonder of wonders, Thompson is getting a Parole Board hearing this week. Why? Because the Michigan Attorney General has spoken. As newspaper stories are pointing out, Thompson’s case “had gained notoriety nationwide as a symbol for the draconian drug laws of the 1990s.” A “Free Michael Thompson” movement was started on social media. With that kind of support, the prisoner was then able to hire an attorney, who called for an expedited Parole Board hearing last January. Still nothing, until the Michigan Attorney General got involved. A couple weeks ago Dana Nessel wrote a highly publicized letter to Governor Whitmer, supporting calls for his release. Here’s the thing. There’s no question that Michael Thompson should be considered for release. He’s 69 years of age, he has served 24 years, he’s dealing with a serious medical condition and he’s on oxygen. We hope these efforts are successful, and we wish for him not only an early release, but also a successful recovery. BUT, he’s not the lone wolf! From the very beginning of this pandemic we’ve been trying to get the Attorney General’s attention, and we’ve been begging the Governor to take a fresh look at this. There are all kinds of people in the Michigan prison system who have been over-sentenced, who have served way more time than they deserved, who are ailing and elderly, and especially because of the coronavirus, who deserve immediate consideration for early release. They just haven’t been fortunate enough to have caught the attention of celebrities and major activists. Not the Attorney General or the Governor, either. They have caught the attention of HUMANITY FOR PRISONERS, however, and today, with our small voice and with little or no clout, we obey the command in Proverbs 31 to speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves! Will someone please listen?

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