Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s inaction holds prisoners beyond parole dates and at risk of Covid re-infection

MDOC-brought-Covid-to-St.-Louis-car-caravan-sign-1120-at-Central-Mich-CF-by-WNEM-1400x788, Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s inaction holds prisoners beyond parole dates and at risk of Covid re-infection, Behind Enemy Lines
In early 2021, 20 jail reform bills were adopted by Michigan lawmakers – but our brothers and sisters inside are still forced to wait and accept form letters before getting past due justice. The system in place to “help” people get out is constantly being sabotaged or ignored – so how can we be sure new guidelines will be implemented at all? A task force formed in 2019 found that, from 1960 to 2016, Michigan’s jail incarceration rate tripled, even as crime overall fell – with Black Michiganders caged at grossly disproportionate rates. Pictured here is a car caravan sign in November 2020; since then, many Michigan prisoners have had Covid multiple times, and many have died. – Photo:  WNEM 

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer wrote this letter on Nov. 4, 2021, to Rand Gould:

Dear Rand,

Thank you for reaching out to my office. I appreciate the time you took to write me and the opportunity to respond.

I am committed to keeping an open line of communication between our state government and the people of Michigan. While we have received thousands of messages in recent months, please know that every message is given proper attention and that your correspondence is being reviewed by the appropriate members of my office.

I take your feedback and concerns seriously, and I am committed to protecting the health, safety and well-being of all Michiganders. Thank you again for contacting my office.

Sincerely,

Gretchen Whitmer, Governor of Michigan

Response from Rand Gould to Gov. Gretchen Whitmer

On Dec. 5, 2021, Rand Gould wrote this response:

Dear Gretchen,

Upon receipt of your letter of Nov. 4, 2021, I was surprised to see you and I are now on a first name basis. I was not surprised, however, to see it was a form letter that failed to respond to the issues I raised in my Oct. 25, 2021, letter to you.

Specifically: 

1) Multiple prisoners and staff testing positive for Covid-19 at Central Michigan Correctional Facility in St. Louis, Mich., since Oct. 17, exactly like last year, which led to a nearly 100 percent infection rate among the approximately 2,500 men incarcerated here.

2) Your administration’s refusal to comply with the Control of Communicable Diseases policy PD 03.04.110, and the statutes it seeks to enforce, MCL 333.2843b, MCL 333.5101 et seq., and MCL 408.1001 et seq., by refusing to comply with current Centers for Disease Control guidelines for controlling Covid-19 in correctional facilities and continuing “double-bunking,” eight men in a cubicle built for four, with no way to practice social distancing.

MDOC staff continue to walk Covid-19 into Michigan prisons and your Parole Board keeps us in here past our EROs

3) The refusal of the Michigan Parole Board to parole prisoners, like myself, who have completed all required programming, on their earliest release date (ERO) and, instead, adding programming requirements as they near or pass their ERO, thereby subjecting them to prolonged and unnecessary exposure to Covid-19 that is continually brought into this prison by staff, who in Michigan are 89 percent unvaccinated and refuse to mask properly. Go to https://prisonpolicy.org/virus.

Instead of addressing these issues, you wrote that my “correspondence is being reviewed by the appropriate members of [your] office,” while MDOC staff continue to walk Covid-19 into Michigan prisons and your Parole Board keeps us in here past our EROs by continually raising the bar for parole by adding programming that, more often than not, is not immediately available. 

I waited from Sept. 23, 2013, to Nov. 1, 2021, to begin Phase II Substance Abuse and am over 2.5 years past my ERO of May 25, 2019. Yes, it took them over eight years to get me into that program. 

Consequently, my parole, when I get it, if I get it, sometime in March or April, after completing programming, will have been delayed for at least three years – if the Covid-19 pandemic doesn’t shut down programming again like it did in October and November already this year, and if Covid-19 doesn’t kill me, as I am a 68-year-old man who has had Covid-19 twice and suffer from long-haul symptoms since December 2020. So much for your being “committed to protecting the health, safety and well-being of all Michiganders.”

So, no thank you for your do-nothing approach to Covid-19 in Michigan prisons and your non-sequitur response to my letter.

Sincerely,

Rand W. Gould

Send our brother some love and light: Rand W. Gould, C-187131, Central Michigan Correctional Facility, 320 N. Hubbard St., St. Louis, MI 48880-1926.