The Journal of History     Summer 2008    TABLE OF CONTENTS


No wheelchair!

By Doug Tjapkes
May 6, 2008

A prisoner at Ryan Correctional Facility in Detroit, who was seriously injured because of prison negligence, will not be granted permission to receive a donated wheelchair.

When asked by Humanity for Prisoners President Doug Tjapkes when the prisoner was going to get the wheelchair, Deputy Warden Scott Nobles said, "I don't think he'll ever get it."

The wheelchair scam has been going on since the first of the year when the prisoner, who cannot walk because of a closed head injury inflicted by another inmate, wrote us to say that his wheelchair fell apart, they couldn't find replacement parts, and they couldn't find another wheelchair.

HFB asked for help, and a generous donor offered a nearly new $1,000 unit! It was shipped in March.

Even though records clearly show that the new wheelchair arrived before the state acted, the Michigan Department of Corrections (MDOC) advised us that the prisoner already had been given a new wheelchair. And besides that, prisoners may not receive donated equipment.

Our prisoner, a jailhouse lawyer, proved that another prisoner was allowed to accept a wheelchair from the VA, but the MDOC rejected that argument. The prisoner, however, would be allowed to purchase a new wheelchair!

Deputy Warden Nobles was asked if the donated wheelchair could be returned and sold, and the money sent to the prisoner for the purchase of a wheelchair. He said that might be permitted.

Nobles was asked if he thought this policy made any sense. He conceded that it did not, but that the matter had now gone too high in the state, and no officials were budging any more. For now, he said, the wheelchair remains in a box outside his office.

The story started in January. It will end in May. The winner: the MDOC. The losers: the prisoner, the donor, HFP, HFP supporters, Michigan taxpayers, and all who think that common sense prevails in the prison system.

A five-month discussion among top prison officials over a non-issue proves otherwise.


The Journal of History - Summer 2008 Copyright © 2008 by News Source, Inc.