Prisons, Prayer and Budget Cuts

Standish Maximum Security Prison may shut down in October.  That's an interesting blow for the good people of Standish, Michigan.  One, it was just announced that the Standish facility was being considered for the relocation of Guantanamo detainees.  Two, it's the largest employer for the town and that means folks won't have a means to survive.  Truth be told, it's a scary situation when your hometown is on a possible list of casualties during a statewide budget crunch.  It's happening all over the nation.  However… and I repeat, HOWEVER… it's not good karma, in my book, to have a citywide prayer vigil beckoning God to keep the prison open.  I'm talking about how Standish minister, Reverend James Fitzpatrick, described the possible prison closing as catastrophic and organized a prayer vigil in hopes to stop God's wrath.

I'm aware that people use prayer for a variety of reasons.  Through prayer folks beckon God to provide peace of mind, a brand new Toyota, a faithful spouse, a good-haired and light-eyed baby; but to gather in the streets and ask God to keep a prison open is distorted and sick.  Look, a close relative was incarcerated for a crime that would make a dog roll over and laugh.  He actually needed to be in drug rehabilitation and some form of therapy.  My point is:  he, like so many other men, are locked away in some prison for years while towns feed off their misfortune of being black and/or poor in a society where criminals are synonymous with revenue.  So when an American town, whose livelihood is built around the misfortunes of the incarcerated, goes to God for help… I get concerned.  Here's some advice to the people of Standish: if God doesn't answer your prayers and the prison shuts down, well, just move to some other part of the country where socio-economic marginalization is amok.  I'm certain you'll find ample employment opportunities.


Keith Josef Adkins is an award-winning playwright, screenwriter and social commentator.

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