Beat the drum slowly, but get Larry out quick

Now it is a waiting game. A time to count time — by the days and even hours. But, counting time is something Larry Drum and his family are good at. They’ve had plenty of time waiting, counting. Nearly 17 years, to be exact.
Seventeen years is how long Larry Drum, 70, former Eagle Scout and Marine from the area has spent in Michigan prisons after a conviction stemming from his cocaine usage in the 1980s. He’s been serving a sentence tied to the state’s old ?650-lifer? law — which gave judges the authority to lock up folks for life if busted with more than 650 grams of a controlled substance. If Larry serves out his sentence, he’ll be released in 2022 — when he’s 85.
In the past two years family and friends have worked tirelessly trying to spring Larry from the big house — lawfully of course. Their efforts reached far and wide. Over 40 articles, columns and editorials were written about Larry in newspapers across the state. The hard worked garnered support letters from over 300 people — including one from former Michigan Governor Milliken. Milliken’s signature in 1978 made the state’s 650-lifer law a reality.
I say it’s a waiting game now, because earlier in the month, on Nov. 13, Larry received an open-to-the-public parole hearing. And, according to Larry’s little baby sister, Gayle Garcia of Lapeer, things went pretty well. Supporters of Larry, 22 in all, were present and were able to speak on his behalf.
‘One, Pat Denis from Indiana, commented that the five years Larry was into drugs was but a snapshot of his life. That he was a respectable and honorable person for all the years before and after. That his life before and life in prison can attest to the true Larry. The small percentage of his life where he screwed up has cost him 30 percent of his life,? Gayle said.
I received an e-mail from a person who shall remain anonymous, also showing a side of Larry I hope Governor Granholm pays attention to.
Mr. Rush,
I knew Larry Drum back in 1963, Larry used to come into a cleaners that I worked in after school. I know it’s unusual to remember someone that long ago as a customer. I was only 17-years-old at the time, very young and innocent. Larry would come in right before closing every Thursday to pick up his shirts (three white shirts no starch and on hangers). He was very particular regarding his clothes. Larry noticed that I would become extremely nervous whenever my boss came into the shop. My boss had been taking inappropriate advantage of me and I didn’t know how to handle it. I couldn’t quit my job, my parents would want to know why and my boss was a respectable community leader in our community. Back then I don’t think anyone would have believed it. I never said anything to Larry, but I sensed he knew what was going on. Larry’s presence in the cleaners at closing time or he said something to my boss was enough for him to leave me alone. Now you know why I remember him, he would be hard for a young girl to forget.
I don’t think Larry would even remember the incident, but I never forgot. His act of kindness to a young girl will never be forgotten.
Gayle said the day after the parole hearing she received a call from Gov. Milliken, ‘He wants to talk to Gov. Granholm when the recommendation goes to her office. He is still very much in support of Larry’s release.?
She suspects the Parole Board’s recommendation concerning Larry will be sent to the governor’s office by the end of this week. Once there, the Gov.’s legal council reviews the recommendation and then makes its own recommendation to the governor — which she can accept or reject with the power of commutation.
If he gets out, he has a home, job and plenty of supporters waiting for him.
I’d like to end this by again asking Gov. Granholm — let Larry Drum free. Send him home to his family for Christmas. A society that cannot forgive is a hard society and one I wish not to be a part of — and it is time for society to forgive Larry Drum.
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