Wednesday, September 27, 2006
Granholm Sends Another Black Man To Prison For Threatening To Expose Her Evil Ways in Public
From: John W. Cromer, Jr. Detroit, MI 313-878-1965
It has been said that “the system is designed to ensure the failure of black men in this country/state!” After my most recent experiences with high-ranking Michigan governmental officials it has not proven to be untrue!"
I suffered the last four months in prison as a result of exercising my constitutional right to attend and participate in the National Town Hall Meeting in Detroit. Individuals of Governor Granholm’s staff worked in cahoots and retaliated against me; causing great devastation not only in my personal life, but also in the mission to establish support mechanisms that will keep ex offenders in the community, in jobs and contributing to society.
Annually, approximately 800,000 prison inmates and juvenile detainees being released from secure detention facilities every year, and returned to their communities. Eighty-five percent (85%) of these ex-offenders are male and nearly 80% are African Americans. Out of the ten thousands inmates released from Michigan prisons each year, nearly 4,000 to 6,000 are returning to the Detroit area; some return to society with NOTHING! Without a job, and being disconnected from the labor market and from social networks, an ex-offender is at a high risk of re-engaging in criminal behavior. The question is: “Why do African-American represent only 13% of the USA population, but nearly 80% of the prison population?”
Our government must understand that creating employment opportunities for ex offenders will not only create safer communities, but will also provide a means to pay supervision fess, children support; allow for higher education, home ownership and make an honest living – while reducing unemployment, crime and recidivism.
How God Brought Me Through The Fire:
I am an African-American Man who has served more than 10-13 years in prison for a non-violent offense (retail fraud – 4th habitual): last conviction in 1995 involved a pair of gym shoes and a set of bed sheets. I was paroled on September 23, 2004. I came home and did everything that was expected of me: Got a Job, reported to my parole agent(s) [all 7 of them] as instructed – never missed a report, paid all supervision fees, restitution, lived independently and became a productive member of society by establishing credit, paying my bills and taxes on time, and saving for the purchase of home. I am a single father. I also made my acting debut as “Malcolm-X” in a motivational play “Dream Museum” for the Detroit and Highland Park Public Schools – featured in the Michigan Chronicle. But importantly, I remained crime free!
Not only was my transition successful, but my efforts in Wayne, Oakland and Macomb counties helped in the Michigan Prisoner Reentry Initiative – that was adopted by the State of Michigan to reduce the costly recidivism rate and help offenders successfully transition back into the community in a way that promotes community safety and is cost effective. While on parole God blessed me to develop relationships with employers that resulted in hundreds of jobs for more than 300 ex-offenders, Hurricane Katrina victims, homeless and other displaced individuals. See, the Detroit News (9-27-05), or visit http://www.americaworks.com/ “Streaming Videos”. In March 2006, I secured a grant to recruit, screen and pre-train pharmacy technicians for a Pharmaceutical Store Chain.
I was scheduled to be discharged from parole on March 23, 2006, which was my original parole expiration date.
On March 24, 2006, I went to pick up my discharge certificate, but my then 5th parole agent (Mr. Connell Williams) refused to give me the parole discharge certificate and submitted a request to have parole extended for 6 months based on an alleged dirty urine on March 6, 2006 - for THC that was later determined to be negative and/or never confirmed via scientific urinalysis. They confused my file with someone else's!
On March 30, 2006, the parole board violated MDOC Policy Directives and Operating Procedures 06.04..130(G), page 4 of 4; 06.05.135-FOA and 03.03.115, and extended parole for 6 months based on inaccurate and unsubstantiated information. I did not test positive for THC on March 6, 2006. Per policy, “Extensions of parole are to be requested by the agent, approved by the parole board and provided to parolee prior to the original parole expiration date, i.e. all prior to March 23, 2006.” This did not happen in my case.
On Friday, April 28, 2006, I attended the National Town Hall Meeting to hear and participate in the public debate with Governor Granholm and Mr. Dick DeVos, Chairman, Amway Corporation.
During Q&A from the audience, I exercised my constitutional right and asked the following question to Governor Granholm and Mr. DeVos:
“ ….. What does an ex offender have to do to prove that s/he has been rehabilitated and deserves his/her freedom from the Department of Correction? …. Since being out of prison, I have developed relationships with employers that have resulted in over 300 ex offenders being placed into job; averaging $7 to $12 an hour. All of these ex offenders including myself have been connected with mentors from the Hartford Church. Do you think I have done enough to deserve my freedom?”
The Governor’ Response was: That she had met with Dr. Adams to discuss the program and the good work that we have been doing. She supports our efforts, is proud of me and encouraged me to keep doing it.
Mr. DeVos’ Response was: That he is a Christian that believes in grace and forgiveness. That he supports all that I am doing and if he can do anything to help, to please let him know..
Immediately following the final remarks, Mr. DeVos introduced himself and his wife (Mrs. Besty DeVos) to me. Mr. DeVos and I exchanged contact information, and Mrs. DeVos was handed the ex offender program information.
As I walked away from The DeVos’, I was aggressively confronted by Governor Granholms’ Director for Community & Faith Based Initiatives, Mr. Gregory G. Roberts who said, quote, “John Cromer lose my number! Don’t ever call me again! Someone else from your office may call me if they choose to, but you better lose my number!” end of quote.
Befuddled by his hostility, I responded, “Greg, I can’t remember the last time I even attempted to call you? In fact, it was my understanding that you were supposed to call me following the meeting between Dr. Adams and Governor Granholm. I have been so busy finding jobs, etc. –but have been waiting for your call!”
Mr. Roberts then retorted, “You heard what I said John Cromer! JUST LOSE MY NUMBER!” and he walked away! I was appalled and felt very threatened, embarrassed and humiliated by Mr. Roberts tone, and his personal/public attack!
As I continued to speak with others in the crowd, Mr. Roberts persisted on harassing me by telling others in the crowd not to talk to me. Mr. Roberts then began whispering into the ears of secret service officers, state police, other appointed directors and governor assistants causing alarm as if I posed some kind of threat.
Example: Mr. J. Jerome Marks (Governor Granholm’s special assistant) reached out and shook my hand and said, “John Cromer, my brother, I just knew you would be here! How’s everything going with your program? Has anyone from the MDOC gotten back with you regarding the issues with the parole board? The matter was given to the Governor, and she referred it to MDOC for them to investigate and get back with her….”
Mr. Greg Roberts rushed over and admonished Mr. Marks by saying, “Hey, don’t talk to him. Leave him alone!” and pulled Mr. Marks away from me. The same happened when I spoke with other state officials (e.g. Linda Parker, Director of the Michigan Dept of Civil Rights) who were identified as part of “the Governor Granholm Team.” Mr. Roberts then stepped directly in front of me and whispered to the Director of the State Police. Mr. Roberts, the state police director and other recognized security then almost formed a circle around me. I felt as if I was going to be arrested or that something worse was about to happened to me for speaking out at the town hall meeting. It was a very frighten moment! I have no idea why Mr. Roberts attacked me at a public town hall meeting or why he brought others into it. Citizens should not be treated like this. This behavior coming from the person who is entrusted to reach out; on behalf of the Governor - to the community and faith based organizations should not be accepted!
[Note: Mr. Roberts told others that he confronted me because: 1. I was in public applauding and supporting Mr. DeVos – I simply clapped for responses that Mr. DeVos gave to the questions being asked. 2. I embarrassed the Governor, and 3. I would not let an older woman go before me during Q&A. #1. Both Gov. Granholm and Mr. DeVos gave good responses. There is no truth to #2 or #3!]
I reported Mr. Roberts’ conduct to Governor Granholm and other community, religious and political leaders via letters and emails captioned: EMOTIONS IN POLITICS CAUSE BLACK COMMUNITIES TO SUFFER.
On Sunday, April 30, 2006, I attended the NAACP’s Fifth Annual Freedom Dinner at Cobo Hall where Mr. DeVos came over to our dinner table to greet my mother and guess. Mr. DeVos and I posed in a photo together at the dinner. I also gave Governor Granholm and others a copy of the letter about Mr. Roberts’ public attack.
On Monday, May 1, 2006, I received a call from Mr. Marks who told me that, “The Governor received the letter about Greg Roberts, and that she had given it to Greg for a response.” Mr. Marks went on to say, quote, “Look John, don’t sweat it! The worse case scenario is, you will be on parole until September 23, 2006, then you will be off, etc.” The phone conversation ended.
About 30 minutes or so later, Mr. Marks called back and asked “who else did I let know about what happened at the town hall meeting?” I told him that I gave a copy of the letter (complaint) to other religious and community leaders, including Mr. DeVos. Mr. Marks retorted, quote, “Oh you gave DeVos a copy to? Man, I’ve gotta make some calls about this. I’ll call you back!” Mr. Marks did not call me back.
Instead a collusive plan to return me to prison for speaking out was authorized when Mr. Mark Coulter, an Area Manager for the Parole Supervision Unit (in the same building where Mr. Roberts works) sent an electronic email/omni note to the parole violation team dated 5-1-06, that says, quote, “parolee (Cromer) need to comply with supervision. Parolee (Cromer) went to governor conf. / will review with parolee what need to be done to be in compliance of parole rules. Also will set up assessment.” Copy attached.
Then, around 4:45PM, I received a phone from a new parole agent (Mr. Keith Hollingshed – my 7th parole agent in 19 months) who advised me that “my case was just assigned to him.” I informed Mr. Hollingshed that “I was just assigned to a new parole agent (Ms. Gilmore – my 6th agent) on 4-21-06?” Mr. Hollingshed talked to me for more than 1 hour, which made me feel uncomfortable. Part of his conversation included thing like, e.g. “I being reviewing your file, and it is very impressive. You only been home for 19 months and you have 2 cars? Are you buying or leasing them? I have been to your big pretty house. I’ve never seen anything like this, etc.” Then out of the blue he said, “Now you do know that anytime you’re around the Governor or mayor or any public official, it is considered police contact.” According to Mr. Hollingshed, “it is considered police contact because everybody that works around the Governor and mayor are police.” Of course this not true. Even as a ex-felon in the State of Michigan, I have the right to vote and peacefully participate in public forums designed to petition the government for the redress of grievances; including town hall meetings, etc viz: 1st Amendment Rights.
Mr. Hollingshed threatened that I could be in trouble for addressing the Governor in public about parole issues. He said “I broke the chain of command.” He also mentioned the fact that I received some traffic tickets, and even though I paid the tickets and reported them to my agent(s) via phone. The conversation ended with the understanding that I was to report to Mr. Hollingshed on Tuesday, May 2, 2006 before 4:30PM.
On Tuesday, May 2, 2006, at or about 10:00AM, Mr. Hollingshed called demanding that “I report to his office immediately because new developments?” He claimed that, “he received an anonymous phone call from someone that claims to have seen me a bar after the town hall meeting on Friday, etc.” I denied it. However, Mr. Hollingshed reported this to my pastor, employer and others.
At about 2:30PM, I reported to the parole office as instructed. Mr. Hollingshed administered “an instant drug test” that he claimed was positive for THC – marijuana. Mr. Hollingshed did not open a new testing strip in my presence. It is my belief that he used a dirty strip to test my urine sample. He immediately handcuffed me and referred to my arrest as “hitting the lottery!” I feverishly disputed the instant drug test and asked Mr. Hollingshed and his supervisors (Mr. O’Connell and Mr. McVittie) “to please retest me because I was not positive, and had not been smoking marijuana,” but to no avail. Mr. Hollingshed gave me a direct order to stop talking and threatened to issue me a major misconduct report for insolence – for accusing him of not following proper procedure when administering an instant drug test, i.e. to re-test with a new strip before taking me into custody for a parole violation based on an instant on-site drug test.
As I sat there handcuffed and emotionally distraught, Mr. Hollingshed asked another agent, quote, “Hey, show me how to check his driver’s license.” He said my driver’s licenses were suspended and he was “going to charge me for that to!” He told me, quote, “See, all you had to do is admit that you have been smoking weed, and I was going to let you go into treatment, but since you are unwilling to face the reality of the drug test, I’ll let the parole board deal with you!” end of quote.
I was immediately transported to the Dickerson (Wayne County) Jail.
On May 3, 2006, I was transferred from Dickerson Jail to the Reception & Guidance Center – SPSM – prison in Jackson, MI., and charged with the following false parole violation charges:
I was violated for testing positive for THC – marijuana on May 2, 2006 via instant on-site drug test that was administered by Mr. Hollingshed. The urine was sent out for urinalysis despite an omni note from Mr. Hollingshed that indicates my urine did in fact test negative. See, Omni Note dated 5-2-06 SAT. Copy attached.
On May 8, 2006, Kroll Labs faxed the laboratory results to Mr. Hollingshed and his supervisor (Mr. O’Connell). The urinalysis was NEGATIVE FOR THC – MARIJUANA.
On May 9, 2006, Mr. Hollingshed made an omni note to the conclusive NEGATIVE drug test results from Kroll Lab.
On May 10, 2006, at the 10-day preliminary parole violation hearing Mr. Hollingshed did not reveal the NEGATIVE DRUG TEST RESULTS, and gave false testimony to a positive (dirty) urine. Probable cause was established based on Mr. Hollingshed false testimony that I tested positive for THC, and Count 1 was scheduled for revocation a revocation hearing.
On May 17, 2006, I was transported to TRV (Technical Rule Violation Center in Ypsilanti), where TRV staff (Mr. Hickmon and Mr. Roberts) tried to coerce me to sign away my rights to a lawyer and revocation hearing and admit guilt to all counts in exchange for 70 days at TRV. I refused to sign the documents and was returned to prison.
To add insult to injustice, the Parole Violation Unit (Ms. Rachel Waterbury) tried to use Count 1 as a bargaining chip” to coerce me to plead guilty to Counts 2 and 3, via a Plea Offer on June 6, 2006. Mr. Hollingshed was required to reveal the NEGATIVE DRUG URINALYSIS at the preliminary hearing, but he did not!
[Note: Mr. Hollingshed made a false report by claiming that I tested positive for THC – marijuana on five (5) different dates. However, there are no drug tests, laboratory urinalysis or any evidence to support any positive urine tests for THC.]
On June 14, 2006, Count 1 “the dirty urine” was DISMISSED at the Parole Revocation Hearing due to the NEGATIVE URINALYSIS!
I was violated for driving a motor vehicle on May 2, 2006, while license were suspended – DWLS. Mr. Hollingshed fabricated this violation, and gave false testimony at the preliminary hearing by claiming that, “He observed my car and recovered my car keys to prove that I drove there, etc.” Count 2 was scheduled for a revocation hearing. However, I was never stopped, ticketed or arrested by police for DWSL. I was found NOT GUILTY of Count 2.
I was violated for “failure to report police contact within 24 hours,” - I received a traffic ticket for not signing my car registration and having an expired tag in September 2005. However, I did call and report this police contact to my agent (Ms. Charlotte Williams) within 24 hours. My cell phone bill shows communication with my agent.
On May 10, 2005, at the preliminary hearing, Agent Williams testified that, “Although she could not remember the telephone message that was left for her some 8 months ago about the traffic stop, though such reporting would not be unusual for me, as it was my habit to keep her very well informed!” She went on the record as saying, quote, “… if Mr. Cromer says that he called me to report the police contact (the ticket), then it is very very possible that he did, because he called me about everything - even things that I did not think were important.” End of quote. Despite the testimony of Agent Williams at the 10-day preliminary hearing, Count 3 was still scheduled for a revocation hearing.
At the revocation hearing, Agent Williams admitted that she does not make a note everything a parolee calls her to report.
On June 29, 2006, I was found guilty of Count 3 - for not reporting a traffic ticket within 24 hours. The traffic ticket was for "not signing my car registration and having an expired tag." (& did not warrant being sent back to prison).
The hearing officer recommended reinstatement (reparole) after the revocation hearing.
On June 30, 2006, I was transferred from RG&C to the Gus Harrison Correctional (ARF) Facility in Adrian, MI – level 1 security.
On July 12, 2006, I was transferred from ARF to the Saginaw Correctional Facility (SRF) in Saginaw, MI – level 1 security.
On July 13, 2006, the Michigan Parole Board (Chairman Rubinschin and Member Berrios) reinstated parole, but extended it for another 12 months – with an expiration date of August 29, 2007, and a projected release date of August 10, 2006.
On or about August 17, 2006, my security was raised, and I was placed in level 2 security; at SRF, and placed in the same housing unit with a known enemy (134986 Caver who is named in a major misconduct for assault & battery in 2003 at Ryan Correctional Facility).
On August 29, 2006, after spending more unwarranted days in prison, I was released and returned to parole status.
Due to the abuse of power and retaliation coming from high ranking state employees, I was sent back to prison for speaking out at the town hall meeting. As a result, I was thrown in prison – away from my daughter, mother, family, church and job. My credit has been ruined, my cars have gone into repossession status and my housing has been jeopardized. On top of this, Mr. Roberts and Mr. Hollingshed told people that I was positive for THC – marijuana to assassinate my character as a contributing citizen.
On August 31, 2006, I was orientated by my 8th parole agent, Mr. Austin Spencer who referred me to Apex for assessment.
On September 7, 2006, I reported to agent Spencer. He took my report at the door and instructed me to call-in to report on 9-14-06.
On September 12, 2006, I was assessed by Apex.
On September 14, 2006, I reported to agent Spencer via phone.
On September 18, 2006, I received a call from agent Spencer who said “he some bad news.” He advised me that my case was transferred to parole agent Keys.
I immediately called Ms. Keys to receive reporting instructions. Ms. Keys advised me that “her report days are on Wednesdays and instructed me to report on 9-20-06.
The Instant Drug Testing Strips
On September 20, 2006, I met my 9th parole agent, Ms. Keys at 8:15AM. She ordered my first urine drop since I was released 3 weeks ago. The first instant drug test strip came back POSITIVE FOR CONTROL SUBSTANCE, namely THC. This was very scary because I do not use drugs!! After being explained the procedure, I requested that a new strip be opened in my presence and used to re-test in the urine, the results came back NEGATIVE! The instant test strips are not accurate. Something needs to be done about the way these instant drug tests are regulated.