Can Journalism Encourage Justice?

(FERNDALE VIEW - Crystal A. Proxmire – blog)


I have been really sad the past few weeks.  I did a story about a guy locked up for life under some horribly unfair circumstances.  I thought that if I told his story that it would reach the Governor and she'd feel compelled to act. 


When I first heard it, I couldn’t believe that such a tragedy had occurred. A man just a couple years older than me has spent the past 15 years in prison for first degree murder - for a crime that he wasn’t even present for, and a death that was not intentional. 


From the age of 19 to 34 he has been locked up and working for slave wages (He currently earns less than a dollar a day.  Inmates who refuse to work have privileges taken away), and living in a world full of hate, violence, and despair – all because of a stupid chain of events that have landed him in prison for life without the possibility of parole.


Despite that world, this guy has grown into an amazing, intelligent, empathetic individual determined to make a difference in the world.  He leads classes and mentors other prisoners.  He has helped with a documentary about his parents (who were murdered when he was just 15).  And he is working on setting up a program to connect LGBT prisoners with outside resources and support, and to set up mentoring for at risk youth by reformed prisoners.


I’ve just been floored by this whole experience.  Its making me re-think the scope of my work, and making me ask myself even harder “am I doing this the best that I can, or can I be doing more?”  It also makes me question how much impact my writing can make.


I’m not setting out to be an activist. But there are stories like this that are clearly issues that our society needs to face.  Saving the life of a good human being, and restoring some small bit of justice to our system is one of those things.


Or it should be.  At least I wrote this article whole-heartedly thinking that it would be.  I don’t understand why more people don’t care.  Or don’t take the time to feel this outrage, or the sadness, or unfairness.  Did I not explain it well enough?  This person is rotting away in a cell, working like a slave, when he should be out here living life with the rest of us.  Taking 20 minutes to learn about this and contact Governor Granholm is nothing compared to the years and years of life this guy lost.

I've still not heard back from Granholm's office.  They've not had many responses that I know of.


I’m reaching out to everyone I can.  Unfortunately a lot of politicians are busy right now running campaigns (Dave Coulter has been a notable exception whose help - even in the midst of heavy campaigning for State Senate - has been touching). So many others are busy watching tv, complaining about the heat, or twittering.  I just don’t get it.  I don’t know what more I can do.  And I don’t even know anymore if what I am doing makes a difference anyway.  I hope that I can get enough people writing in to Granholm that she will take a serious look at this case, and take action before she leaves office.


What more would compel someone to act than to hear of a life ruined by injustice?  What has to be taken away for someone to care?


Please take a few minutes to read this story I wrote for Between the Lines (they own the rights, which is why I can't go into detail here), and help me get this guy out of prison. The more people that speak up for Josh the better -