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Effective Nov. 1, 2017, the Michigan Department of Corrections (MDOC) has instituted a new mail policy, which they falsely claim will stem the flow of contraband, primarily the controlled substances suboxone and fentanyl, into Michigan prisons, when they well know over 80 percent of all contraband is smuggled into prisons by employees, as confirmed by multiple studies. One can only conclude that stopping contraband is not the goal of this new policy, merely the excuse for it.
Not since the 1980s, when the state of Michigan simultaneously ratcheted up “tough on crime” laws and eliminated good time credits, have Michigan’s prisons been so overcrowded and seething with so much discontent. Crammed into overcrowded prisons, underfed, denied proper medical care and programming while forced to work for declining slave wages as commissary prices rise, no wonder Michigan prisoners are rising up! The only question is, Why did it take so long?
On Dec. 14, civil rights leader and political prisoner Rev. Edward Pinkney will have spent a year in Michigan state prison. An all-white jury convicted him of five felony counts of forgery for changing dates next to signatures on a petition drive for a recall election, though no evidence of guilt was presented. While Pinkney’s appeal proceeds slowly through the grinding gears of the judicial system, he remains in the clutches of the state.
A heavy and cruel hand has been laid upon me. On Oct. 6, 2015, I was transferred back to Marquette Branch Prison, a two-day ride on the bus, shackled, mistreated and intimidated. I was forced to strip on five different occasions. I am forced into overcrowding, inadequate exercise, lack of clean clothing and inadequate medical care which violates the Eighth Amendment’s ban on cruel and unusual punishment.
Another post-conviction motions hearing took place on April 14 in St. Joseph, Michigan, involving the conviction by an all-white jury late last year of a leading civil rights activist, Rev. Edward Pinkney. People traveled from throughout the state of Michigan and across the United States to support the Berrien County leader who many feel has been denied justice by a corporate-controlled racist system in the southwest region of the state.
What a tragic image: A man and his son handcuffed and shackled together, yet musingly delighted about seeing a senior family member whom they are not going inside to visit. Rather, the two are to join in what is widely considered as America’s modern day form of slavery. The inhumanity represented in this artwork should be disturbing to anyone with a conscience – but few are moved.