Larry Drum will come home

As I was tooling down M-15, from Davison last Friday night, I had my truck’s radio dialed into the ‘great voice? of the Great Lakes, WJR. It was a little after 9 and I was a little worn out from a long day and ready to plop down on the couch and fall asleep to some really bad TV programming. I really wasn’t listening to whatever program the station was playing — something I am sure WJR programmers love to hear.
And then a funny thing happened, I actually heard the reporterette’s female voice promote the following news segment with, ‘Granholm commutes sentences of drug dealers . . .?
Actually, I really only heard ‘Granholm commutes . . .? because I have learned very few things the last few years, but one of them is this: Michigan Gov. J. Granholm just doesn’t make a habit of commuting things. I am not saying this ‘cuz I am such a smart, forward thinking and observant guy. I just know it from reporting on the story of a local Eagle Scout, US Marine, and Michigan Prisoner #222000.
Within 30 days Lawrence K. Drum, 70, can resume his life as a useful member of society, father, granddad, brother and friend — in other words what we all are but take for granted, human. I’ve been watching Larry’s story since the fall of 2005. I have watched as his mother, Ione, sister Gayle and friend Susan (Sam) pounded the pavement, burned up the phone lines and wore their fingers out typing letters — all with one purpose: convincing Gov. Granholm to commute Larry’s sentence.
It seems their diligence has finally paid off, albeit too late for Larry’s mother, Ione. Mrs. Drum passed away Oct. 31, 2007 — almost exactly two years after she and her family went public with their fight for Larry. It was a fight that would bring considerable attention to Larry’s cause. There were plenty of newspaper articles about Larry’s circumstance and his family’s plea that generated hundreds of letters in support of Larry, letters that were mailed to the family and to state officials.
Those in Larry’s corner were even able to enlist the help of former Michigan Governor William Milliken. Milliken signed into the law that would become one of the most draconian in the nation, and the one Larry was sentenced under. The 650 Lifer law, by the way, ain’t used anymore in the state.
Milliken personally wrote Granholm on Larry’s behalf, asking for his commutation. That was at the beginning of the fight, October 2005 and — well — it didn’t work out, though Larry was able to get an unexpected parole hearing. Unfortunately, that hope too was soon dashed. Larry received a letter from the Gov.’s office telling him his request for parole was denied.
I hadn’t heard or read much about Larry or his family for a long time — until last summer. Last August, an excited Gayle (Larry’s sister) called me. ‘The state is going to give Larry a public hearing!?
The hearing was Nov. 13, 2007. Again, a huge show of support arose for Larry. Apparently that hearing went well, because here’s what I heard that female voice report last Friday night . . .
‘Governor Jennifer Granholm has commuted the sentences of two inmates convicted of delivering cocaine. They could be released from prison within 30 days. It’s the first time the governor is commuting, or reducing, criminal sentences for nonmedical reasons. Previous commutations were granted when a prisoner wouldn’t be alive much longer. But in an effort to save the state money, Granholm is reviewing more clemency applications.
‘The inmates whose sentences were commuted are 70-year-old Lawrence Drum and 40-year-old Vickie Hoskins, both of Oakland County. Drum has been in prison since 1992 and Hoskins since 1998. They wouldn’t have been eligible for parole until 2021.?
Larry can come home.
Now, the healing can begin.
After 17 years of paying for his crime, he has a second chance at life . . . to live, love and give back to the community — and I am sure, once he is acclimated to living in the world as not a number, but human, he will give back. (After all, that is what Marines and Eagle Scouts do.)
There are no big ‘Welcome home, Larry? parties planned. While in his mind, Larry may have thought he had gambled and lost everything, lo? those many years ago, it should do all our hearts well, he hasn’t. He still has all those things we all crave for. He can expect plenty of hugs and kisses from those close to him, those who forgive him for his sins and, after many lonely years, still love him.
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