Being incarcerated in Michigan

MWRO just learned that Rev. Edward Pinkney of BANCO in Benton Harbor has been moved again, this time to Muskegon Correctional Facility. After nearly a year of incarceration on trumped up charges and the irrational Deuteronomy fears of a presiding judge, Rev. Pinkney has been shuttled around to eight different jails and prisons.

This Thursday, another MWRO friend from Battle Creek, Efrén Paredes, Jr., is seeking commutation, i.e., release from prison in Jackson by Gov. Jennifer Granholm, while his family and friends gather after 18 years of hope and pleas. (BTW, your calls to her will help 517-373-3400.)

Fellow water activist Marie Mason is currently in Clinton County Jail and will be sentenced for an environmentally-motivated crime early next year.

MWRO has many friends with more friends and family who are serving time in Michigan prisons. All of this has us wondering again about the Michigan prison industrial complex. One recent report states:

…Michigan’s incarceration rate is about 40 percent higher than the average rates of its Great Lakes neighbors. And the cost of all this has shot through the roof: The number of Corrections employees has more than tripled since 1980, to the point that today over 30 percent of all state Civil Service employees are in the Department of Corrections. With an appropriation of over $2.2 billion in 2008, the Department of Corrections spent over 20 percent of Michigan’s General Fund budget.

Michigan spends more today to hold criminals in jail than we do to educate our kids in public colleges and universities; according to the Pew Center for the States, we’re one of only one of four to share that dubious distinction. And, according to the Citizens Research Council, we spend around 30 percent more per inmate per year than our neighboring states. CRC also estimates that if our spending on prisons just matched our neighboring states, we’d save around $500 million each year.

In addition to this, Michigan incarcerates too many non-violent offenders like our noted friends. These millions in annual savings could help our state and local economies, and stabilize thousands of families–freeing them from excess stress, financial strain, and broken up homes.

Write Gov. Granholm and ask her to grant clemency, commutations, and pardons to the thousands of non-violent incarcerated men, women, and juveniles in Michigan (like our friends above) who we need behind garden picket fences, not prison fences.

Honorable Jennifer Granholm
Michigan Department of Corrections
Office of the Parole Board
Pardons and Commutations Coordinator
P.O. Box 30003
Lansing, Michigan, 48909

(Image courtesy of Flickr Creative Commons)

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