Thursday, May 28, 2015

Letter to Rick Snyder: I hope society has the mercy and compassion they said we were lacking as young people...

Rufus Williams
Gus Harrison Corr.
2727 East Beecher St.
Adrian, MI 49221

June 31, 2011

Gov. Ricky Snyder
State of Michigan
Office of The Governor
PO Box 30013
Lansing, Michigan 48909

Re: Maturity and rehabilitation of lifer’s

Dear Sir,

How are you? A few weeks ago I met the new Director of the Mich. Dept. of Corrections and we discussed the budget a little. I want to make you aware of a proposal that I am sharing with the Parole Board, Director of the MDOC, and a few state officials. I wish to focus on the maturity and rehabilitation of some residents who are now elderly, with failing health, but! are also college educated with various vocational skills. Many participate in positive programs such as the National Lifer’s Assoc., religious, and other outreach programs that we ourselves have organized. Also, charity programs that donate to battered and homeless shelters, coat drives during the winter -- we actually raised $2,000 while at NRF in 2009 to help rebuild the Childrens’ Center which was damaged in a flood on Detroit’s east side.  Some of us are ready, our work is documented, and we want to make a difference.

The state of Mich. has invested millions in us through pell grants and other programs during the late 70’s and 80’s, so residents such as myself can have a reasonable chance at succeeding once we are released. The transferable college credits in Business Management, Accounting, Computer Technology, and vocational skills such as Mechanics and even a license in Automotive with electrical specialty (all of which I have accomplished while incarcerated) provide a tangible foundation for employment upon release.

Therapy and Seminar Programming for Re-Entry are helpful indeed, that is why I’m seeking help in combining the Re-Entry program for Mature residents who have received some college education and training for the world of work, and have served 25 years or more. Statistics show that the recidivism rate for these lifers is less than 1%. I am a first time offender, but a lifer with 29 years in. Correctional staff often credit elders with being more reserved and more mature. Findings from reports in Lawyer’s Weekly, newsletters, MI-Cure, and from Mich. State University have been submitted to your office, Gov. Snyder.

For instance - from January 2011 Criminal Defense Newsletter Vol. 34 No. 4:  Corrections Coalitions Report offers Suggestions to Gov. Snyder.
The Correction Coalition, a group formed in 2008 from representatives of business, non-profits, education, and local gov., issues a report in Dec. 2010, highlighting areas for prison reform and cost savings. The report noted the current annual cost of housing a prisoner, key ways to reduce cost, etc., namely the residents of the 70's and 80's whom now need medical tretment.  "If released on parole, their meicare would be shifted to the fed. gov, but there are gov. programs that pay 50% of wages for tax reduction." Therefore, these residents who now have a college education can pay their own bills, etc., through jobs provided by businesses participating in these programs. Public work programs for these inmates to rebuild our roads, parks, and communities through cheap labor with a big incentive for good workers who would have the opportunity to keep jobs with that business upon release. It's a win-win for the state of Mich. Re-Entry program and resident placement.  These residents can be managed the same as those on furloughs with tethers because this program is for the older more mature lifers who are being prepared for re-entry.

While Michigan is not welcoming the necessary cuts in jobs, we all agree that the cost of these prisoners is an ever increasing budget consumption.  Meanwhile, may first offenders who truly realize we made a terrible mistake, some of us were truly misguided, but most importantly, some of us are truly remorseful, and we are ready to do or part, just as we have been doing from prison through our charity programs and humanitarian acts.  I feel no one understands the problems society faces better than we do, since we have lived it, and managed to salvage ourselves from it.  Some of us have prepared ourselves for a successful re-entry into society.  I hope society has the mercy and compassion they said we were lacking as young people, and allow us to help heal some of it's wounds, now that we have been healed.

I thank you for your attention in this matter, and I sincerely hope we can make a difference.


Rufus Williams