Good Time: The Hope Michigan Needs
During the past two years our country has had to take a hard look at itself. We have transitioned politically, examined our social mores, and faced an unseen killer. So, why should we concern ourselves about whether the state of Michigan implements “good time” to prisoners?
At one time Michigan’s prison system (and its sentencing scheme) did have good time. Good time is the process which awards a specific number of days to be taken off a prisoner’s sentence, if the prisoner does “good time”. In theory, it would seem as if the prisoner receives an award. This short essay may dispel that belief and enlighten the reader as to why “good time” is a good idea and should be “re-“implemented in Michigan.
Critics of good time and supporters of “truth in sentencing” (which means a prisoners must serve every day of a sentence) have put up a nearly impregnable position. Quoting a classic crime drama, “Don’t do the crime, if you can’t do the time.” However, sentencing in America and Michigan has been disparate between social classes and races (remember confronting our social mores?). The time is long overdue for the sentencing schemes and parole processes in Michigan to be reviewed and overhauled. The restoration of good time is a good start.
Good time should not be viewed as giving bad people a good thing. It does not take a quantum leap of faith to understand that everyday people receive no reward for doing what they are supposed to do. A mother is not called to the White House lawn to be awarded a Presidential Medal of Freedom just because she ensured her child’s safety, provided shelter and food, and determined to educate the child. So, a prisoner should not be rewarded for following rules and attempting to return to society as a productive member. Instead, good time should be compared to the act of providing hope. It is the dispensing of mercy.
Shakespeare penned that “Mercy is mightiest in the mighty.” When a mother provides for her child, she does so with hope. She fills the child with hope. She points the child toward hope. She, herself, is hope. Good time is hope to a prisoner. Hope is not wishful thinking. The Bible demonstrates what hope is.
Hope is the looking forward to the fulfillment of a promise. When YHWH prophesied, or made a promise, He fulfilled it. As He promised the Messiah, the masses looked with hope to His advent. Thus, a promise is made; the masses look with anticipation; the promise is fulfilled.
As a man who has been sentenced to die in prison, i (the lower case “i” is intentional) have no hope. I have absolutely nothing to look forward to. Death, destruction, and despair loom on my horizon. The sun has set long ago on my hope. (And, my sentence is another point–which i will not lengthily discuss. The sentences in Michigan are too lengthy. Prisoners with long, indeterminate sentences are routinely denied parole. Therefore, restoring god time would lead to earlier releases and subsequently save this state lots of money. That saved money could be allocated elsewhere, such as K-13 education.) Nevertheless, when i look at the young men around here who have hope, i find that they lead a better life. The small and insignificant things remain small and insignificant. A focus is made on becoming better men, who lead better lives, because hope has begun to color the sky. Clouds and doubts pass away. If, as the proverb declares, weeping endures for the night, then, joy does come in the morning.
Good time reflects the joy that our society can share. As men and women work together toward a better society, prisoners should not be forgotten. Just as President Trump (and his Congress) included prisoners in the stimulus packages (as did President Biden and his Congress), so should prisoners be included in the building and maintenance of our country. Good time provides hope for the prisoner and for our society. The Great Lakes state of Michigan should implement good time in the prison system and hope to the prisoner.
/s/ hassan-azzard: mohammed