A non-profit group advocating for prisoners and their families in the state of Michigan
Action with compassion!
Starting the new week with Nelson Mandela
December 9, 2013 "Where
globalization means, as it so often does, that the rich and powerful
now have new means to further enrich and empower themselves at the cost
of the poorer and weaker, we have a responsibility to protest in the
name of universal freedom."
December 8, 2013 "...let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth."
I John 3:18 (NIV)
December 6, 2013
"For to be free is not merely to cast off one's chains, but to live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others."
Behind Bars - Gang violence in another lower Michigan facility
November 24, 2013
An update to HFP:
"We have been having alot of gang action here. As a result massive searches were done and my TV was confiscated. My account is so screwed up I cannot buy one. Now the little gang members in here control the TV in the unit so it's not worth watching even if you could hear it. They asked for my help in identifying those responsible, but they turn around and take a little comfort that lets me stay away from so much trouble. My 74 year old Mom sent money to a guy's wife going home to get that TV. What a system. To make matters worse, the guards took everyone's toilet paper. The counselor said she would have it passed back out before she left on Friday. We will be lucky if we can get any until Monday. It's hard not to think of just ending it all rather than live in a system that punishes everyone for the actions of a few. I could help them with their problem but that would put me at great risk, for what?"
Behind bars - Prisoner appreciation
December 4, 2013
A note from a new HFP client:
"I received your newsletter and brochure today. I must say that I am extremely impressed with what I've read. I enjoyed each article; especially your own "Lows vs. Highs.” No words, which I know you've heard before, can express the inspiration that is felt from reading such. I've allocated a portion of my Dog Handler/Trainer earnings which isn't much. I believe that if/when everyone is doing their part the whole benefits. Again, thank you for everything that you do, even the seemingly insignificant."
December 3, 2013
We have a day for giving thanks. We have two for getting deals. This year, the United Nations Foundation and New York's 92nd Street Y have started a new holiday tradition, #GivingTuesday.
It’s a simple idea. Just find a way for your family, your community, or your company to come together to give something more. Then tell everyone you can about how you are giving. Be a part of a national celebration of our great tradition of generosity!
Humanity for Prisoners asks that on this #GivingTuesday, you consider a donation to our cause. All contributions are tax-deductible.
If you're considering a non-cash donation, those donations are still tax-deductible! Items you can donate include:
Gold and silver, including jewelry and silverware
You are also able to make instant donations online by clicking HERE.
As always, we thank you for your generous donations that allow us to help "the least of these."
Starting the week with Theodore Roosevelt
December 2, 2013
"Let us remember that, as much has been given us, much will be expected from us, and that true homage comes from the heart as well as from the lips, and shows itself in deeds."
- Theodore Roosevelt
Think of prisoners when lighting the HOPE candle
December 1, 2013
Take a minute to read the latest entry on the HFP Blog, "Think of prisoners when lighting the HOPE candle." Click HERE to read.
December 1, 2013
"I know that the Lord secures justice for the poor and upholds the cause of the needy."
Psalm 140:12 (NIV)
Behind bars - HFP helps with parole
November 27, 2013
Your dollar support enables HFP to advocate for deserving inmates before the Michigan Parole Board. This is typical of the expressions of appreciation:
"HELLO DOUG. IT WAS A PLEASURE FINALLY MEETING YOU PERSONALLY. THANK YOU FOR BEING WITH ME AT THE PAROLE BOARD INTERVIEW. I WAS VERY NERVOUS AND EXCITED TO BE BLESSED WITH A HEARING. I WAS ALSO IMPRESSED WITH HOW THOROUGH AND PROFESSIONAL YOU WERE. THANK YOU DOUG FOR ALL THE SUPPORT AND TIME YOU HAVE GIVEN ME. I SHARED WITH ALL THE FELLAS HOW THINGS WENT AT THE BOARD WHICH WAS INSPIRING TO MANY OTHERS. HOPE CAN TAKE US A LONG WAY... PEACE AND LOVE JOE"
Behind bars - Doing the right thing
November 26, 2013
Some inmates try hard to make the best in difficult circumstances:
"I am doing well, keeping myself busy. I have a mentor group I head in the unit with some young ladies. We are studying communication, conflict resolution, critical thinking, self esteem and leadership. It is going really well. I have some staff support in the unit, I really like it."
We're thankful for you!
November 25, 2013
It's Thanksgiving week, and the perfect time to consider a special Thanksgiving contribution.
We'd love to catch up on all HFP expenses this month, and with a little help from our friends, it could happen. Giving is as easy as clicking HERE. We are thankful for every gift that comes in, large or small, and especially for the generous spirit of the giver!
Have a blessed holiday.
Starting the week with Kyan Douglas
November 25, 2013
"I just don't know that shame and fear need to be our teachers; rather, compassion, understanding, and love should be our guides."
November 24, 2013
"I know that the Lord secures justice for the poor and upholds the cause of the needy."
Psalm 140:12 (NIV)
Behind bars - Gang Violence Part 2
November 22, 2013
On Wednesday of this week, I drove to Jackson to participate in a public hearing for a female inmate. As I drove up to the Training Center at the G. Robert Cotton Correctional Facility, I was startled to see three busloads of reinforcements moving onto the grounds to assist guards at the facility. One guard informed me that the horn had sounded early, indicating there was some sort of problem. He could tell me no more.
Being the reporter that I am, I contacted one of our reliable correspondents within the prison to find out what was going on. Here is his chilling report:
"I hate to say it, Doug, but violence is at an all time high. It is unprecedented. The day before you arrived at the training center, someone was either cut/stabbed on the temp side, Level I, and shortly thereafter, someone was cut/stabbed on Cotton side, Level II. These youngsters are off the hook. They cut individuals from the corner of their mouth to as far as they can get and call it a "buck fifty." You don't have to have a prior or even current beef. They simply seem to engage in violence without cause because they can. Guys you would never expect to be cut have been. So, the training cadets came in and searched four housing units on my side for weapons/contraband, while a crew of 75, I'm told, went to the temp side to search. The bad thing about it, after they left and normal operations resumed, something jumped off in Level IV and on the temp side. Every day is an adventure. I work and/or hug the room. I am blessed to have a good bunky. I credit this rookie warden with trying to make a difference. The media need to crack for state wide critical incident reports and start putting pressure on folks to cause change. I hope I have helped you understand the situation here."
Behind bars - More gang problems
November 22, 2013
Gang problems appear in lower Michigan facilities, also.
"MR C HAD HIS FACE SLASHED BY THE LATIN COUNT OR LATIN KINGS WHO RUN THIS YARD OVER HERE AT OUR FACILITY IN JACKSON. WE HAVE BEEN ON LOCK-DOWN SINCE."
Another inmate wants to support HFP!
November 21, 2013
Correspondence with HFP:
"I would like to know if your organization takes donations. I would like to donate some funds to you for some of the directions you have afforded me in the past months...you really helped me through my tough times here."
Last call for wreaths!
November 3, 2013
A quick reminder for those who haven't gotten their Christmas Wreath orders in yet, we'll be accepting them through the end of the week.
To view the order form, click on the link above.
Behind bars - Medical care in the UP
November 20, 2013
A recent note to HFP:
"I would like to know if you have received any complaints about medical problems in the northern region up here? Many prisoners are being denied their medications, and they are being removed off their medical accommodations, and these things are being done without exams etc., or in accordance to policy. There are prisoners that are bipolar and they are being denied meds as well. Are they taking medical accommodations from the prisoners in the lower peninsula, or is this only happening up north?
"Likewise, dental care is very poor up here."
November 19, 2013
A look at HFP's workload today on the HFP blog: Click HERE
A widow's lament
November 19, 2013
Words from the widow of an inmate who had been wrongly accused on a charge of criminal sexual contact:
"A friend's son got accused of CSC as part of a nasty divorce...ex-wife pulled the 'Daddy touched me' card. Angers me somewhat that I am an expert on a subject that was so foreign to me, back when life made sense."
This is more common than anyone can imagine...two other HFP friends were wrongly convicted under similar circumstances. It's time to enact laws that punish those vindictive people who initiate these arrests...and put teeth in them! HFP editorial comment.
Starting the week with Gloria Gaither
November 18, 2013
"You always have to have ideas bigger than your life."
November 17, 2013
"Hate evil, love good, maintain justice in the courts."
Amos 5:15 (NIV)
Don't forget us!
November 16, 2013
Our office has experienced a dramatic decline in contributions since the typhoon, and that is very understandable. While we appreciate the compassion and generosity of our supporters, we simply ask---if possible---that you not make this an either/or situation. We're struggling to get our bills paid, and we really need you this month. Thanks for always being there!
It's time to help Shirley!
November 15, 2013
In recent weeks we have been communicating often with our friend Shirley Lawrence. Her husband, James Lawrence, #827455, is dying of cancer. He appeared before Parole Board Chairman Thomas Combs last October, but apparently didn't answer questions correctly and apparently made no impression on the chairman. And so parole was not granted.
Shirley has been frantically contacting everyone she can think of to seek assistance. She simply wants her husband to die at home, with her. No one seems to be listening. No one seems to care. Besides that, her husband is in pain, and is reportedly unable to obtain the relief that he needs. Yesterday, she emailed this letter to MDOC Director Daniel Heyns:
I spoke to my husband last night. He informed me that if he doesn't get something for the pain he will not be able to walk today. That means he won't be able to eat. So along with the excruciating pain he is in, now, the little food they did give him, well, he won't even be able to get that. I have to say that at least when he was at the former prison, the doctors there cared enough about a fellow human being to care for him. He told me when he was sent up north that he was being sent there to die. I certainly didn't believe him then. I do now. Everyone on the outside that I have spoken to says that MDOC has a legal responsibility to treat every prisoner if they are aware of the need. Well, my husband must not have the need. As I mentioned in the past several e-mails, I will not stop. I did speak to an oncologist yesterday. He informed me that anyone on the outside with the disease Jim has would be on hospice care now. They would be given whatever pain meds needed to keep
them comfortable. In the oncologist words, Neproxin is just the "baby" of pain meds, they will barely touch the pain Jim is in. He also thought it was reprehensible that the prison system is treating a prisoner this way. Kelly from the Bureau of Health called me yesterday. I asked her to explain some of the test results to me. Her words were that she couldn't explain what the doctor was saying that only he could. So, I know nothing more about my husband's health than before she called me. She couldn't even explain or tell me what the blood results were. She did tell me that no more diagnostic testing is in order. I can't believe that my husband is being given less care than most people give their animals. I have also spoken to a psychiatrist that worked for the prison system. She can't believe the reasons given for Jim's flop. Again I will say this is a 60 year old man with terminal cancer. I have always been told that the squeaky wheel gets the grease. Well, I work at a
newspaper, so I know how to squeak. And if my husband dies in the care of MDOC, due to their lack of care, I will squeak really loud. The Governor is aware of what is going on, our State Representative is aware and every agency that I was able to notify has been made aware of the lack of care for this man. He can't even get a simple Aleve. And as Kelly informed me the medication was ordered on November 5th, she doesn't know why he hasn't gotten it yet. Well, Mr. Heyns, the next time you get a headache or a backache, put in a "request" for some pain meds and wait for 2 weeks to get them before you can take them. This is not only reprehensible to do to another human being here on earth, but there will be a judgment day.....I will not give up.
It's rare that we send out a message this lengthy on our email network, but we felt that you may wish to contact your state legislator to demand assistance in this matter. Place yourself in this position. May God grant his peace to Jim and Shirley.
Behind bars - Showers in the women's prison
November 14, 2013
An update to HFP:
"The bathrooms are getting fixed. Well, they started on the restrooms and showers three weeks ago and they have only worked two days in it . We are working with one shower for 70 women. They don't even work only 1 to 2 days a week on it, we are allowed one shower per day. As for restrooms we stop drinking a lot of water and are bound up from only having so much time in the restroom. We are yelled at all the time. Is there anything you can do to rush this along a bit!!! thank you"
Behind bars - Gratitude
November 13, 2013
Many prisoners are grateful for the compassion of HFP in providing assistance:
"So many men who know me, are truly hopeful and inspired about the future. I have been informing them of your organization and the impact you had on my parole success. I have more ideas which I believe and hope will be helpful to expand your humanitarian efforts. I will keep you informed, and stay in touch. PEACE and GOODWILL."
A Christmas Gift!
November 12, 2013
Again this year, HUMANITY FOR PRISONERS asked MDOC Director Daniel Heyns to allow visits on Christmas Day, even though Wednesday is not a regular day for visitation. Today he informed HFP President Doug Tjapkes that the visits will be permitted! Great news for Michigan inmates, families and loved ones.
Behind Bars - From the mouth of a Michigan inmate
November 12, 2013
In to HFP:
"I know prison is punitive for our crimes, but bullying, abuse and retaliation is just MEANNESS! If prisoners do not accept the abuse/bullying/retaliation and try to do something about it, MDOC finds a way to make prisoners suffer for it. This is real wrong!"
77 on 11/11
November 11, 2013
On November 11th, our nation pauses to honor its veterans. Humanity for Prisoners would like to join in recognizing all those who have served protecting our country, including those in prisons.
But today is also a happy day, as we celebrate HFP President Doug Tjapkes' 77th birthday. To honor Doug, HFP asks that you consider making a gift today of $77 to celebrate Doug's 77 years. You don't even have to leave your seat, an online donation can be made by clicking HERE.
For those wishing to send Doug a note, you can email him at email@example.com or send a card to:
PO Box 687
Grand Haven, MI 49417
Starting the new week with Dorothy Day
November 11, 2013
"The Gospel takes away our right forever, to discriminate between the deserving and the undeserving poor."
November 10, 2013
"Good will come to him who is generous and lends freely, who conducts his affairs with justice."
Psalm 112:5 (NIV)
Behind Bars - Budget comments from the women's prison
November 9, 2013
A letter to HFP:
"Broke is the American way sadly. Never used to be. I'm great with $but on $1.77 a day wage(and that is good here) and now they want us to buy meds, T.P., condiments for food, etc. we are all broke. I wish I could be working a real job."
Behind bars - Chilly in the women's prison
November 8, 2013
A quick note to HFP:
"Hi, hope you are staying well and warm on this chilly fall day. Our housing unit has no heat. It has been worked on for two days, but so far, brrrrrrrrrrr!"
HFP Blog - No toilets
November 7, 2013
A group of 74 women in the women's prison have no shower or bathroom in their facility thanks to "improvements" from the MDOC. Read on in Doug's blog: http://humanityforprisoners.blogspot.com/
Behind bars - Not a country club
November 7, 2013
Ever hear people argue that prisoners have it good...three squares a day, TV, etc?
One of our friends, serving life in prison in another state, addresses the issue. His description of conditions are pretty much typical for prisons in most states, including Michigan:
"The physical living environment is cold, hard and unyielding. There is nothing by concrete, brick and steel above, below and on all sides. The mattresses are thin and lumpy and do very little to cushion the flat metal bunks.
"It is blisteringly hot on the cellblocks and dorms in the summertime. There is no air-conditioning. The temperature can reach well over a hundred, with high humidity. In the winter time the heat is sometimes inadequate or nonexistent. The clothes often have tears and holes in them and don’t fit well. The water is often brown and dirty tasting.
"The shower room is packed so tightly with prisoners there is almost no room to move around. In the winter time, there is no heat in the shower room. Fans blow cold air onto everyone. The towels are often non-absorbent. All they do is spread the water around instead of soak it up.
"Our cells and cubicles are often ransacked by guards. Our meager possessions are left strewn about, and sometimes wind up broken or missing.
"We are stuck in the same place month after month, year after year. We live the same, hellish day, over and over again. It’s Satan’s version of Deja Vu. We have almost no control over our lives. We’re at the mercy of our keepers, and some of them have little or no mercy.
"Worst of all, we are away from our families and friends for years at a time, sometimes decades. We don’t get to be with them for special occasions like birthdays, Thanksgiving and Christmas. We’re left in limbo, seemingly forever. Imagine being stuck in a doctor’s waiting room for 10 or 20 years. That’ll give you some idea of what it feels like.
"No, prison is not anything like a country club. Unlike a country club, it’s not a place you would ever want to go to."
Behind bars - The chow hall
November 6, 2013
From our friend Jay, wrongly convicted and serving time in a Texas prison
"The food is worse than anything you can imagine. Suffice it to say that your dog would almost, certainly reject most of it.
"In the chow hall, we often have to sort through many trays to find one that is fairly clean. They’re never completely clean. Sometimes we have to settle for one that is pretty dirty, and wipe and scrape it. The same goes for the cups and sporks (combination spoon and fork).
"When we eat, we have to watch closely for bone fragments, pebbles, rocks, pieces of metal and plastic, roaches, mice droppings, baby mice, crickets, grasshoppers and flies in our food. It’s not uncommon for many of us to get chipped teeth and get quite sick from eating."
How your dollars directly touch lives
November 5, 2013
"Thank you for your continuous support - it is awesome. I continue to wait impatiently. It is very hard."
"You are always in my prayers. Love, A"
"Thanks, you're a life saver! Peace, yours truly, D"
"Thank you for all that you do on behalf of all of us. Have a blessed week. A hug for the week. A"
"Thank you very, very much for checking for me. Thanks for all the assistance you've given me. Peace, love and a Tues hug, L"
"JUST FINISHED READING YOUR--AS ALWAYS-- SUPPORTIVE LETTER. THANKS. D"
"I realize that most people do not realize how important you are to us and well I really appreciate all you have done. Take care and know I care, J"
"Ban the Box" update
November 4, 2013
From Fair Chance Coalition:
Ban the Box Supporters
Wanted to let everyone know that our hard work has paid off. HB 4366 has been given a hearing with the Commerce Committee next Tuesday November 12, 2013 at 8:30. This is the legislation that takes off the box on job applications that asks if you have every been convicted of a felony. Rep Haveman suggested that change the act to "Employment Application Fairness Act" as he feels it will sell better.
I am attaching the memordum from Rep Durhals office and a sample of a support letter. We need all of you to write a letter in support of this legislation. You can email them to this email and we can forward them all to the entire committee and make copies for the hearing. We would love each of you to write your own letter, not a copy of what we sent out.
If you haven't all ready heard, Target corporation has taken the box off the job application so hopefully that is going to help our campaign and movement. We have also added California to the list of states that have eliminated the box off the application. There has been some great momentum through out the United States and we want Michigan to be the next State to eliminate the box and allow ex offenders the opportunity for an interview.
Please write a letter in support of this legislation, we would also love if you could please come and attend the hearing to show your support. This is the right time and a win win situation for everyone. Read the material and bring your voice to this campaign. You can mail letters to the address below, you can email them to this email and they will be forwarded to the commerce committee and copies at the hearing, you can call 517-999-2894 if you have any questions or concerns. We are waiting on a room confirmation for the hearing, but it will probably be in the House Building at the address below, but another email will go out before the hearing.
We are counting on your support. Please share this with your connections and lets get the momentum going.
Address: Representative Fred Durhal Jr
House Office Building-S-589
124 N Capital Ave
Lansing, MI 48933
Thank you in advance
Employment Application Fairness Act
FAIR CHANCE COALITION
Ban the Box
530 W. Ionia
Lansing, MI 48933
November 4, 2013
“There may be times when we are powerless to prevent injustice, but there must never be a time when we fail to protest.”
― Elie Wiesel
November 3, 2013
"God is not unjust; he will not forget your work and the love you have shown him as you have helped his people and continue to help them."
Hebrews 6:10 (NIV)
Michigan's Shameful Treatment of Prisoners
November 2, 2013
HFP President Doug Tjapkes was asked to be a guest speaker at the Calvin Academy for Lifelong Learning Noontime Series on Oct. 31 at the Chapel on the campus of Calvin College. His presentation, titled "Michigan's Shameful Treatment of Prisoners," was recorded and is available to view by visiting http://new.livestream.com/calvin-college/events/2358948. If you'd like to skip the announcements, the introduction to Doug's speech begins near the 3:20 mark on the video.
Behind bars - UP Slashings
October 31, 2013
While people enjoy horror stories for Halloween, prisoners are facing a real-life horror in the Upper Peninsula:
"Two guys I knew arrived here lookig like Frankenstein's monster. They came from a prison in the UP that last year had 256 reported stabbings. This year they're already up to 248 due to gang violence.
"Mr. G. was in the Hebrew class and a good student, and was still attending when he tried to prevent a guy from slicing up his roommate while he was sleeping. For his troubles, he ended up with 37 stitches in the face and neck.
"In the case of Mr. J., he refused to steal some box cutter blades from maintenance. It took the surgeon four hours to stitch his face together.
"How does that Jewish proverb go? 'If you can't be thankful for what you have, at least be thankful for what you've been spared.' That's me!"
Behind Bars - Punishment for female inmates violating rules
October 30, 2013
In to HFP:
"I will not be able to email you back until Thursday because I got a ticket for cutting a ladies hair in the dayroom last night, I did not know it was not allowed. I should have asked, I see everyone cutting hair all day long literally. But now I learned my lesson and I will not be doing that again."
Support for HFP is a direct route for touching lives!
October 29, 2013
A recent note to HFP:
"I'M VERY THANKFUL FOR MR.DOUGLAS TJAPKES FOR ALL THE CONTINUED SUPPORT OVER THE YEARS, AND THANK THE CREATOR FOR HIS MERCY AND GRACE. This is a man who fights for prisoners regardless of their case. GOT NO RESPONSE FROM ANYONE BUT DOUG???? I SEE WHO REALLY CARES!"
HFP Release: HFP at Calvin College
October 28, 2013
HFP President Doug Tjapkes will be the guest speaker this week Thursday, October 31, for the noontime lecture series of the Calvin Academy for Lifelong Learning (CALL). The event is held in the Calvin College Chapel in Grand Rapids, and is open to the public. The topic will be Michigan's Shameful Treatment of Prisoners. Membership in CALL is open to all persons age 50 or over. Organizers on the Calvin campus say the the CALL program is for men and women who wish for lifelong learning.
Starting the week with Abraham Kuyper
October 28, 2013
“When principles that run against your deepest convictions begin to win the day, then battle is your calling, and peace has become sin; you must, at the price of dearest peace, lay your convictions bare before friend and enemy, with all the fire of your faith.”
October 27, 2013
Vs 21 ...blessed is he who is kind to the needy.
Vs 31 ...whoever is kind to the needy honors God.
Behind bars - Prisoner can see again!
October 26, 2013
HFP went thru the painstaking process of helping an inmate purchase a new pair of glasses after his broke. After a series of messages by email, snail mail and telephone, Matt was able to place the order with a company and the glasses were shipped directly to the inmate.
"Today I got my glasses! Again thank you so very much. I also mail the check to Matt today. You are a wonderful one. I feel bless to count you as my friend. Your sensitivity and support I really appreciate and your kindness. This I will never forget. For once I don't feel misunderstood. Have a bless day."
Behind bars - A prisoner's desire
October 25, 2013
A note from a friend behind bars:
"I can't wait to become a part of your fight for justice and equality. There is no better joy for me, than to bring HOPE to those who have given up on life. I believe in paying it forward. So many people (like you) have helped me throughout my life, especially in the last (35) years. I am committed to display my gratitude through my deeds and actions, this is one of the goals I inspire to fulfill in my life. (Please Read Ephesians 4:21-29) PEACE and GOODWILL."
HFP Special Video - Watch and Share!
October 24, 2013
Humanity for Prisoners had the privilege to work with our friends at DSE-TV in Muskegon to make a brief informational video on HFP. We invite you to watch the video and share with your friends!
Behind bars - Follow up on Linda's death
October 24, 2013
Message to HFP from the women in prison:
"I know that you already know of the sad event that has happened here with Linda.
"These women are our family, and the loss is the same to us. We lived most of our lives together. It is a shame that here in this state we are living the 'Other Death Sentence!'
"Is there anything that can be done? Please let me know...there are so many of us who want to do something.
"Thank you for all that you do on behalf of all of us. Have a blessed week."
Behind bars - Bedbugs in the women's prison?
October 23, 2013
A note to HFP:
"We just got off of a lock-down for a suspicion of bed-bugs of all things, and MDOC doesn't send in the bug spray man like they used to. So, we suffer the repercussions! I haven't seen any bed bugs and don't want to, but geeze they sure put us through the wringer!"
Over the top!
October 22, 2013
It took longer than expected, but we have exceeded our goal to raise $25,000 over and above regular contributions. The funds were used for equipment and personnel expansion. Thanks to a few generous donors who noticed we were struggling at the very end, we've gone over the top. Sincere thanks to every contributor who made this possible!
October 21, 2013
"You can't live a perfect day without doing something for someone who will never be able to repay you."
October 20, 2013
"If I give all I possess to the poor...but have not love, I gain nothing."
I Corinthians 13:3 (NIV)
October 18, 2013
We'd like to thank everyone who came out last night to help make it a special evening for Humanity for Prisoners. Thanks to the generosity of our supporters, we raised nearly $5,000.
We'd also like to thank the John Shea Trio, the fine staff at Harbourfront Grand Hall, the volunteers who assisted in set-up and break down, and the many donors who helped make this event possible.
If you didn't have a chance to make the event but would like to make a donation in honor of the occasion, visit our donation page of our web site by clicking HERE.
Commentary on MI Prisons
October 16, 2013
One of our supporters, the Rev. Celia Hastings, has sent this letter for publication to several northern Michigan newspapers. We thought it was worthy of wider distribution.
In Michigan’s prisons, inmates are struggling without basic health care, without mental health care, without adequate sanitary supplies or toilet paper, without adequate heating/cooling, without adequate sewage disposal due to overcrowding, abusive treatment by guards, and no preparation for release.
In an animal shelter near you each animal receives care from a veterinarian, medications and surgery when needed, clean cages, fresh litter, adequate heating/cooling, love and attention, and people dedicated to finding them a forever home.
If the greatness of a state is measured by the way it cares for its weakest citizens, something is terribly wrong with this picture.
The Michigan Department of Corrections (MDOC) is under the Executive Branch of government headed by the Governor. So please let Gov. Snyder know your concerns as the 2014 election season gets underway. His phone is 517-335-7858, his fax is 517-335-6863, his snail mail is P.O. Box 30013, Lansing, MI 48909, and his e-mail is Rick.Snyder@michigan.gov
Behind bars - Another obit
October 15, 2013
The heart-breaking part of this business: prison deaths.
On the heels of our sad reports about the deaths of Otto and Joey comes another from the women's prison at Ypsilanti.
First, this report from Prisoner A:
"With a heavy heart I am writing to let you know that Linda passed away early this afternoon in our infirmary. You know she had stage 4 cancer and has been undergoing treatment for the past year. She has been down some 30 years and was supposed to have a public hearing on parole Nov. 7th. She did not make it. Thank you for helping these ladies obtain their parole. In Christ's love,"
From Prisoner B
"It was devastating, seeing her leave in a body bag. She had been incarcerated many, many years, and was truly an excellent prisoner to release on an expedited medical commutation. Yet, she was denied? Please know I continue my endeavor to get this corrected in the legislature, with the MDOC Parole Board denying prisoners with less than 6 months to live released stat. The warden needs to exercise her power for this. I have a form that she can submit for recommendation for immediate release. I will be making copies of it and sending her a note, how this would have benefited Linda. Thanks for listening, peace my brother in Christ."
Starting the new week with Conrad Black
October 14, 2013
"All emphasis in American prisons is on punishment, retribution, and disparagement, and almost none is on rehabilitation."
October 13, 2013
"Defend the cause of the weak and fatherless; maintain the rights of the poor and oppressed."
Psalm 82:3 (NIV)
Behind bars - Fighting in the UP
October 11, 2013
A note this week to HFP:
"Its been getting stupid around here again. today 4 inmates in the housing unit I am in were taken to the hole after a big and bloody fight.
"Yesterday it was 2 inmates from this same housing unit.
"On Friday there was another fight on the big yard."
Admission also includes beverages (beer, wine and soft drinks), appetizers, entrees and desserts.
A fine suggestion re prison deaths
October 10, 2013
Rev. John Lamsma is a retired Federal Prison Chaplain. He recently sent this message to HFP President Doug Tjapkes:
I just received your latest newsletter in the mail and it certainly is tragic any time an inmate dies in prison away from loved ones. One of the things I was able to start early in my ministry was to hold a memorial service for an inmate who died and I recorded the whole service, including comments from his friends in prison. I always encouraged the inmates to share some of their remembrances since the families obviously did not know the friendships he had made while in prison. I would get written permission and do all the paperwork necessary and send the cassette tape (that was the only recording mechanism I had available to me) to the family. It always worked very well.
In addition to the obvious benefits to the families, it also provided a modicum of respect for the inmates who came to the service. Usually many of them became angry and hooked their anger on real or imagined shortcomings of the prison system.
In the two cases you submitted in your newsletter, it might have been possible for the chaplain at the last institution the inmates were at before being moved to hospital prisons or hospitals in the community, to have a memorial service which can be recorded and sent to the surviving spouse.
It is such a little thing to do but so important. If nothing else, it brings a little "human-ness" into the prison setting. And isn't that what Christ wishes us to convey?
Thanks for sharing your reports and your continued ministry.
Behind bars - Foreigners in Michigan's prison system
October 9, 2013
There are people in the Michigan prison system who are not US citizens, and who have special needs. They often feel forgotten and lonely. HFP does its part to try to help them:
"Thank you very much, it brought a smile to my face becos I was feeling a bit blue thinking I didnt have much support... Words cannot explain how much hope it brings. I thank God for caring people like you. Have a good day."
Behind bars - Women appreciate HFP
October 8, 2013
A note to HFP:
"God Bless You! Thank you for listening and actually doing something! You are a blessing and I can't begin to tell you how much you are appreciated by all of the ladies here! God is good and I trust in God!
"Take care and keep in touch.
Starting the new week with Thomas Jefferson
October 7, 2013
"Experience demands that man is the only animal which devours his own kind, for I can apply no milder term to the general prey of the rich on the poor."
October 6, 2013
"Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good."
Romans 12:21 (NIV)
Behind Bars - Gratitude from a Native American Prisoner
October 5, 2013
Native Americans behind bars appreciate the help they receive from HFP:
"I realize that most people do not realize how important you are to us and well I really appreciate all you have done ,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,, take care and know I care,,,,,,,,,, i close with clean dreams.. clean heart and clean hands in saying I pray for all of you"
Behind bars - And you think you've got it tough
October 4, 2013
A prisoner shares an answered prayer:
"I went to Jesus and he raised up someone to help me. I get money now to live on. For 10 months I had not one cent to live on. The Lord Jesus found ways to take care of all of my needs, and some things I didn't need but wanted (candy bar and a jar of peanut butter)."
Behind bars - Shameful treatment of Native Americans
October 3, 2013
A new issue shown to HFP:
"I am presently having a struggle with the place here taking some of the ceremonial materials that we use for the sweatlodge (Native American purification ceremony).
"They took the blankets that had been allocated to us by an older staff member. He had gotten approval from the warden and donated the items to us. Well, they took them from us saying we had not used them for a while, so we do not need them. Believe me, if a man does not read his Bible for a while, they do not take it from him."
Behind bars - Thanks
October 2, 2013
Your support of HFP draws thanks like this!
"I'd like to give a sincere thanks to you for your incalculable and selfless assistance in this matter, as well as on behalf of other inmates in unrelated matters. Thanks for the love and availability to lend a hand and keeping a heart that's more reflective of Christ Jesus to make a difference in the lives of other people under the umbrella of unconditional love!!"
Behind Bars - The kind and compassionate MDOC docs
October 1, 2013
From a prisoner struggling with health problems:
"For months I had been refused treatment for a hernia. Finally one day last week I doubled over in pain and became very sick. I was rushed to the local hospital by ambulance, and after initial treatment was transferred to McClaren Hospital in Lansing. There a surgeon and two interns discovered a second hernia, and told me how the intestine had twisted. The doctor was most displeased with how long healthcare here had left me in such a state. Well, after corrective surgery, I was returned to prison with a prescription for pain medication and an order to return in two weeks for a follow-up visit.
"The next day the prison doctor called me out. He refused to provide the pain meds that had been prescribed. Then he refused to allow me to return for the post-surgery follow-up. And then he added that if he had been contacted when I became ill in prison, he never would have allowed me to go to the hospital in the first place."
Starting the week with that famous author ANON
September 30, 2013
If you want to be like Jesus
Then love the unloveable
Forgive the unworthy
And do good to those who can't repay you.
September 29, 2013
"God sets the lonely in families, he leads forth the prisoners with singing..."
Psalm 68:6 (NIV)
Behind bars - The toilet tissue saga continues
September 28, 2013
A recent message from the women's prison to HFP:
"These days, our toilet paper and sanitary pads are handed out on a "beg as you need them" basis. It is a shame that everyone within earshot knows when you are having your period and that the packs of 24 sanitary napkins are broken down and PLACED IN PLASTIC BAGS (more $$) and handed out 6 at a time to the women who are fortunate enough to get some from our Unit Supervisor. If HE is not here, the officers just blow us off with, "I haven't got any", making no effort to make arrangements for when HE is not available!"
Behind bars - Thanks to HFP
September 27, 2013
A prisoner reflects on HFP's help:
"I guess the hardest thing about doing time is being able to navigate through all of the nonsense all day everyday without a break. It's pretty exhausting I've gotta tell you. This has become more of a mental institution than a prison, not that that's good or bad, but it's just the way it is. This is why I cannot express my gratitude enough about how much I appreciate you and MATT you cant say it enough. "THANK YOU" because up until you, I WAS really at a dead end as far as being able to open up. Keeping everything bottled up was really taking a toll on my spirit. THANKS AGAIN."
HFP Gala Auction: Napa Getaway
September 26, 2013
Join Humanity for Prisoners on October 17th from 7-10 pm at the Harbourfront Grand Hall in Grand Haven for the HFP Benefit Gala. In addition to fine music from the John Shea Trio, the night will feature a silent auction. Today, we highlight a vacation package in California.
Golf or Spa Napa Valley Getaway
Choice of Golf Round or Spa Treatments, Premier Garden Cottage at The Carneros Inn 3-Night Stay with Airfare for 2
Suggested Retail Value: Priceless
This Experience Includes:
* 3-night stay in a Premier Garden Cottage at The Carneros Inn, a PlumpJack Resort hosted at Laird Family Estate in Napa Valley
* Your choice of either one round of golf for 2 at Chardonnay Golf Club OR $200 towards spa treatments at the Spa at The Carneros Inn
* Round-trip coach class airfare for 2 from within the 48 contiguous U.S. to San Francisco, CA
* Winspire booking & concierge service
Indulge yourself and a guest with a unique Napa Valley getaway complete with a 3-night stay at one of Napa Valley’s best luxury resorts and a choice of spa treatments or an 18-hole round of golf, including golf instruction and lunch with the pro.
Behind bars - More on women's prison healthcare
September 26, 2013
An update from the women's prison:
"God bless you for taking the time to help me and others in this situation. There is no excuse for this kind of treatment to anyone. There are way too many people in this facility and one tiny Dr.'s office. Way too many brush-off's going on. Thankful that I know God is in control and I am asking Him to move this mountain."
Behind bars - HFP at work
September 25, 2013
A recent note to HFP:
"I am sooooooo thankful that you are willing to help. I have never seen anywhere that is unwilling to help sick people get well in my life and I am one of the inmates that helps the staff in many ways. Why are my institutional needs not being met and why am I being made to feel like the one with an attitude because I am in pain for 3 &1\2 years now? I am so happy that God sees everything."
A reminder to save the date
September 24, 2013
Humanity for Prisoners encourages everyone set aside the date for our Benefit Gala, featuring music from the John Shea Trio and a silent auction, on October 17th from 7 to 10 pm at the Harbourfront Grand Hall in downtown Grand Haven. The event is free of charge, though donations to Humanity for Prisoners are expected.
For those who have never had a chance to hear the John Shea Trio, here's just a sample of their work: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7OjeXzJtYgo
Behind bars - Not all news is bad
September 24, 2013
An update to HFP:
"THE WARDEN'S TEAM HAS ASKED ME TO TEACH A MINI-COURSE IN DESIGN DRAFTING AGAIN, LIKE I DID AT THE OTHER PRISON , MIGHT AS WELL DO IT...THE INMATES GAIN JOB SKILLS WHEN THEY CAN NOT ONLY DRAW A SIMPLE DESIGN, BUT READ A BLUEPRINT, TOO !!!"
A perfect opportunity
September 23, 2013
In the rush of new school year and new church year, September collections took an unexpected drop at the HFP office. There’s still one week left, and for those who haven’t sent in a gift yet, or who wish to help us reach our goal in the fund drive, it’s the perfect time.
Thanks, in advance, for helping us to remain focused on prisoner problems...right where we belong!
Starting the week with Albert Einstein
September 23, 2013
"In matters of truth and justice, there is no difference between large and small problems, for issues concerning the treatment of people are all the same."
September 22, 2013
"Cursed is the man who withholds justice from the alien, the fatherless or the widow." Then all the people shall say, "Amen!"
Action with compassion
September 21, 2013
Your partnership results in notes like these to HFP:
"I appreciate you to no end. May GOD bless; you and your glorious
spirit continue to provide such a powerful energy that can motivate
anybody no matter the circumstances. "THANKS AGAIN" PEACE and LOVE!
yours truly, D"
Behind bars - Love wins!
September 20, 2013
A friend of HFP had an interesting experience recently in a Michigan prison:
"I just came back from attending a wedding in prison! This morning my friend, Lisa, married a federal inmate housed in Level V. They had led her and him to believe that there would be contact afterward for them to kiss and hug and then, after quite the delay, told her there would be NO contact. Well, she lost it. She lost her temper and then began to cry. I think it was warranted, and I think it made a difference. When that didn't discourage her from cancelling, we got in, and they cut them some slack on what would have been only 10 minutes AND apologized AND let them kiss and hug after the ceremony. QUITE the memorable occasion! And love triumphed! So cool!!!!"
Behind bars - Gang violence continues
September 19, 2013
In to HFP:
"So far this week there have been at least 2 fights in 2 separate housing units. There have also been at least 2 attacks where inmates have been stabbed or sliced up. There may have been a 3rd incident in Level IV, which resulted in no yard one evening this week.It all seems to be gang related-again.
"What might be interesting is whether the attacks with weapons is being reported to the State Police or even the local county sheriff. The MDOC is required to report to law enforcement these "critical" incidents. However, I believe they are being logged as a "fight", and thus not being reported. If they are being reported the incidents of violence would be listed as MUCH higher when those types of data are released. Something to look into."
Behind bars - More struggles from women in prison
September 18, 2013
An update to HFP:
"We continue to have toilet tissue problems. I have a medical condition (fibroids) , and although I have a detail for extra sanitary napkins, they refuse to give me extra tissue."
Behind bars - Poignant reflections
September 17, 2013
A note to HFP:
"Each year it gets harder and harder hanging on to hope, when you know in your heart all you want to do is go home and do the best you can and return the love and kindness so many gave to you during your darkest hour. I blame no one but me for these circumstances. I pray and ask God what is it that I need to do...show me and I will change those things I need. I keep hoping and praying, but so often I have such faith that things will get better, and then comes the big let down. It takes years to pull myself out of the dumps. As of next February, I will have been confined 38 years. Let me thank you for your kindness and encouraging words. In my heart, I believe God has a plan for me. When I was a young boy, my sister and I would attend church, and I loved that minister. Before he passed away I asked my mother to ask him to visit me. When she told him I was in prison, he responded that there was nothing he could do for me. I know I had let him down, but this hurt me deeply."
Starting the new week with Nelson Mandela
September 16, 2013
“It is said that no one truly knows a nation until one has been inside its jails. A nation should not be judged by how it treats its highest citizens, but its lowest ones.”
― Nelson Mandela
September 15, 2013
"The Lord sets prisoners free, the Lord gives sight to the blind..."
Psalm 146:7-8 (NIV)
HFP - Putting words into action
September 13, 2013 CARE FOR DYING INMATES SUBJECT OF LANSING MEETING
HUMANITY FOR PRISONERS was credited this week with bringing the topic of care for dying prisoners to a discussion table in the Michigan Department of Corrections headquarters in Lansing. HFP President Doug Tjapkes said his organization has witnessed what he felt were inadequate and sometimes inappropriate steps taken to assist dying prisoners and their loved ones in the final days and hours of life.
Participating in the September 11 conference were Joanne Sheldon, MDOC Health Services Administrator, and her assistant Lia Gullick, Finance Manager; Patrick Miller, COO of Hospice of Michigan and his Chief Marketing Officer Michael Jasperson; and from the Michigan Regional Office of CORIZON, Mason Gill, VP of Operations, and his two representatives from the CHOICES program---Karen Mason and Brenda Jones.
The various state representatives contended that hospice type care is offered to prisoners through the CHOICES program. Tjapkes stated that he brought Hospice of Michigan into the picture because in HFP's experiences he saw no evidence of hospice care in our prisons.
The CHOICES reps reported that currently there are 39 inmates receiving hospice care. Michigan has some 44,000 prisoners.
Miller suggested that perhaps some very small steps could be taken initially to see if Hospice of Michigan can help improve the situation, perhaps providing a few volunteers at one of the healthcare units, perhaps providing additional training for MDOC nurses and social workers, perhaps assisting those ailing inmates who are given medical releases or who have served all of their time and must be released.
Sheldon said she felt that the meeting was very profitable, and she and other MDOC personnel will meet to discuss possible means of following up on these ideas.
HFP was thanked for making the meeting happen.
What a mistake this would be
September 12, 2013
From Huff Post Business:
Michigan Private Prisons Law Could Reopen Facility With Checkered Past. Click here to read
September 10, 2013
A goal of $25,000 seemed almost impossible when we launched our drive in July. Now, just two short months later, we are within $2,000! So we plead once more...if you haven't given a one-time special gift to help us with our expansion plans, this would be the perfect time. You can do it on line, simply by clicking here: http://humanityforprisoners.org/Donate.html
HFP Blog - Another prisoner's wife left in the dark
September 9, 2013
"It's not our job to play judge and jury, to determine who is worthy of our kindness and who is not. We just need to be kind, unconditionally and without ulterior motive, even - or rather, especially - when we'd prefer not to be."
September 8, 2013
"Do not exploit the poor because they are poor and do not crush the needy in court, for the Lord will take up their case..."
Proverbs 22:22 (NIV)
MintPress News weighs in on American prisons
September 7, 2013
America’s Prison System Is A Disaster
Overcrowded, underfunded, rife with abuse and filled with nonviolent offenders — it doesn't get much worse than U.S. prisons. Click HERE to read
Behind bars - When it rains it pours
September 6, 2013
A letter in to HFP:
"AFTER 14 YEARS OF HOPING FOR A CHANGE IN THE LAW THAT MIGHT ALLOW ME A CHANCE TO GO HOME, IT DID IN '12 WITH PLEA CRITERIA, WHICH I MET. THINGS INITIALLY DRAGGED AS MOM KEPT TRYING TO GET SOME OF THE INFORMATION FROM THE PROSECUTOR'S OFFICE. FINALLY, ALL WAS READY, AND FRIENDS IN MY TOWN WERE GOING TO SPEAK WITH MY TRIAL ATTORNEY AND GET HIM TO SIGN THE ALL-IMPORTANT AFFIDAVIT. HE DIED A COUPLE MONTHS AGO.
"I AM BEGINNING TO THINK THAT SHOULD IT RAIN CHOCOLATE MINT ICE CREAM, I'D GET HIT SQUARE IN THE FACE WITH A STINKY FISH."
100 CLUB - Newest member
September 5, 2013
The newest member of the HFP 100 CLUB is a woman named LaChante, who resides in the Huron Valley Women’s Facility in Ypsilanti. She has pledge a monthly gift of $5.00. If all HFP donors gave the percentage of their income that this inmate is donating, we’d never have another budget problem. It’s easier than ever to join the 100 CLUB now, with a monthly donation of any size, but simply going online: http://humanityforprisoners.org/Donate.html
Behind bars - Samo samo
September 4, 2013
An update to HFP:
"Well I am still in the same old spot. These people don't care about us in here. It's all about lock them up and throw away the key, so to speak. I am in the process of trying to get some stuff going. Things here are slow, but I will keep on going. That's what they want is for people to give up and lay down, but that is not me!"
"In the last 7 to 10 days there have been 2 serious attacks with weapons, and an imate was hit in the face with a weight. In
the last attack, the guy was sliced up very bad, seems to be because of his CSC case.
"I have to start 12 days of sanctions for not being on my bunk when count was called---I did not hear the guard call count time. I am not sure when it will start, so if you do not hear from me for awhile you will know why."
Starting the new week on Labor Day
September 2, 2013
"There is no greater calling than to serve your fellow men. There is no greater contribution than to help the weak. There is no greater satisfaction than to have done it well."
September 1, 2013 "...the
wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving,
considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and
James 3:17 (NIV)
The Heartbreak of HFP
August 30, 2013
This note to HFP arrived late yesterday:
"This afternoon, my husband went from Duane Waters home to be with the Lord. The prison called to tell me. The supervisor told me his COPD was bad, but I suspect --because this was so sudden-- that he had another heart attack. I'm still in a state of shock. I talked with another supervisor a day or two ago and all was OK; he had just come back from some tests and I was told they were 'OK.'
"My children live in another state, but my pastor's wife has been wonderful and came as soon as I called her. She took care of things with the funeral home. My husband's body will be cremated, and we'll have a small memorial service later.
"I called and talked to my sister (in Chicago) and she agreed that this story needs to be told. She had read an earlier draft. So I am going ahead with my plan to add things from his letters and finish it. I'll keep in touch with you too.
"Oh Doug, I SO wanted him to be home and free for at least a short while! But he really IS at home now, with his Savior."
Behind bars - And you thought you had budget problems
August 29, 2013
A recent letter received by HFP:
"I was having trouble with my blood sugar being high. I wrote a bunch of health care kites and brought in outside help. In retaliation, health care took my little $11.00 pay this month, ALL OF IT! I owe so much debt that I only get $11.00 every month from my pay. I cannot save any money or it is taken also. One month I get stamps for letters and e-mail, next month I put 10 on my phone. I hustle for hygiene products. Taking all my money is a violation of policy but unless I can take it to court, the dept. wins. I cannot take it to court because it has to go to State court, and I still owe a filing fee for a case that got dismissed. I earn 35 a month. I owe other debts sufficient that NO MONEY goes to the 85.00 I still owe to the state for a filing fee. Under Michigan law I CANNOT FILE ANOTHER LAWSUIT IN STATE COURT UNTIL I PAY THE 85.00!!! By the time I have calculated I can pay the 85.00 the statute of limitations will up. Every inmate and group of inmates that has filed a
lawsuit against the State over this unconstitutional law has failed."
August 28, 2013
HFP reminds you of two important national broadcasts today. The famous March on Washington speech by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr will be aired at 4 PM and at 8 PM eastern time. Please check your local listings.
This speech, considered to be one of the most important in America’s history, deserves to be heard by all of us, and our children. It will only take a quarter-hour out of your day, and its message is as relevant today as it was 50 years ago.
Pay special attention to the last 5 minutes of the speech, when singer Mahalia Jackson encouraged him to talk about the dream. That’s when he departed from his prepared text, and launched into the powerful I HAVE A DREAM message. Don’t miss it.
Behind bars - Part of the torture process?
August 28, 2013
As you might imagine, a prisoner gets pretty excited when he/she finds out that a release is imminent, after 20-30-40 years behind bars. The excitement mounts as the date of release nears. And then....
"These people here still say they don't know when I'm paroling-I know they've been out to the house-but today is Friday and I haven't been called over to health care yet to sign off on medical. Nobody here that I have spoken to seems to know when or even if I'm leaving. There have been over 7 people at this facility that held up from the date they were supposed to parole! How is this happening?? I was supposed to leave on Wednesday the 21st that was the date on my parole paperwork-yet here I am and they didn't even get out to check my placement until the day I was scheduled to leave. I had a job to report to that I may have lost already because I told them I would be able to start work this week...can't now because I'm here and can't say when I can start because I still don't have a clue as to what's going on."
August 27, 2013
Canadian Anti Death Penalty Group Instrumental in This Weeks Overturning of Pennsylvania Death Row Murder Conviction of Jimmy Dennis
(Toronto) A Canadian Anti-death Penalty group is celebrating this week with the news that a federal judge has overturned the conviction of a Pennsylvania man who's been on death row for the past 21 years. The Canadian Coalition Against the Death Penalty was the brainchild of Toronto residents Dave Parkinson and Tracy Lamourie who created the organization in May of 1998 after coming across the case of Jimmy Dennis on the internet. One of the first projects of CCADP was to make Dennis’ legal documents and case information available online. "It was our thinking that if others were able to read these documents, they would be as disturbed as we were about the case. We hoped to draw the attention of an attorney, a law firm, someone who would be able to help bring justice to this case,” said Dave Parkinson, “We were very lucky that Arnold And Porter law firm took on the case Pro Bono two years later in 2000, and we’re extremely excited that after all these years and all their hard
work, a federal judge has finally acknowledged what we on Jimmy’s team have been saying all along.”
On Wed Aug 21st, after 22 years on death row, and 15 years of the Canadian group’s involvement in the case, Judge Anita Brody vacated both the conviction and the death sentence in a scathing indictment of the prosecutor’s case. The Judge called the conviction against Dennis "a grave miscarriage of justice'' based on "scant evidence at best'' and found that authorities withheld evidence at the initial trial and that the case was based on shoddy police and prosecutorial work.
The Philadelphia Inquirer reported that the Justice for Jimmy Dennis campaign organized by the Canadian group, 1998 now has representatives in 15 countries. When asked how supporters reacted to Wednesday's news, CCADP co - founder Tracy Lamourie said: "We were overwhelmed when we heard. It has been such a long road in the fight for justice you almost begin to give up hope. It was a deeply emotional moment for all of us on the team when we read the strong words of a judge acknowledging all that Jimmy has been crying out for years to be heard. We are hopeful that this is the beginning of the end of Jimmy's long ordeal and that the justice system will now rectify the grievous mistake that was made that cost this man so much of his life. What's next is that we prepare for what we hope will be Jimmy's life of freedom now that a court has vacated the unfair conviction in the case of this innocent man."
Since the founding of the CCADP, the organization has been instrumental in striking down Arizona law preventing prisoners from using third party organizations to get their information out on the internet, having prisoners invite Governors (including George Bush) to their execution dates to dare them to have the ‘courage of their convictions’, made international media with their 1999 Tourist Boycott of Texas, and they provide free internet webspace for anyone sentenced to death anywhere in the world who requests it via mail. CBC's The Fifth Estate produced and aired a documentary on their work, they have made appearances discussing their death row webpage initiatives on national and US television from Court TV, to A&E, ABC, NBC, among others. International print media have included the National Post, Toronto Star, Toronto Sun, Dallas Morning News, Der Spiegel, People Magazine, National Enquirer, and a myriad of newspapers, magazines and radio North America wide.
Starting the week with a dream
August 26, 2013
“I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia, the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood.”
― Martin Luther King Jr.
August 25, 2013
"The Lord works righteousness and justice for all the oppressed."
Psalm 103:6 (NIV)
August 23, 2013
These expressions of gratitude crossed our desk in the past week!
"I am truly grateful for all your Love and support. I pray for the time to be able to return the goodwill, tenfold. MAY GOD BLESS! PEACE and GOODWILL."
"Your efforts are sooooo appreciated no matter what the outcome, but I pray for success. God bless and take care."
"Thanks again for all your help and, most importantly, your many prayers. Talk to ya later, my friend."
"I would like to thank you for what you do for others in similar situations to mine, and offer my prayers for success and prosperity to those who try to make a difference when others suffer from adversity."
"What would I do if I did not have you for a friend. Again, thanks for your help. May God watch and keep you and yours safe always."
Behind bars - You can't win
August 22, 2013
A recent note to HFP:
"It's getting harder and harder for me each day. This weekend a CO I have been having problems with for 2 days in a row shook me down and grabbed my penis. So I filed a complaint. They said they would do a investigation and if it's true, the CO would be fired. They took my statement. They took my witnesses statements who saw what happen. Then 2 days later they come and put me in the hole (seg) and said it was for my own safety till the investigation is over. But I never got any paperwork or nothing. I felt it was retaliation because I was trying to get one of there co-workers fired. I pressed the issue, so 2 days later they let me out. But when I got out to get my property my TV and MP3 were missing. What do you think I can do?"
DNA - 35 years late!
August 21, 2013
From the Center on Wrongful Convictions:
I just wanted to share the story below about CWC client Johnnie Lee Savory that appears in this morning’s Chicago Tribune. Assuming that the DNA is testable, we’re confident it will exonerate Johnnie—35 years late—and maybe even identify the perpetrator of the crime.
Rob Warden, Executive Director
Monday, August 19, 2013
Convict puts his faith in DNA
Man given parole wins right to test 1977 murder clues
Johnnie Savory IMG_9603
Johnnie Lee Savory who says he’s innocent of the two murders that sent him to prison, now acts as a
mentor to exonerated convicts.
By Steve Schmadeke
In the seven years since he was paroled from prison, Johnnie Lee Savory found a job and home in Chicago, took up playing chess near Michigan Avenue and became a volunteer mentor to inmates cleared of wrongdoing and freed after years of incarceration.
But Savory, who spent nearly 30 years behind bars for his conviction in a 1977 double murder in Peoria, says he held off on marrying and starting a family because his own longtime quest for exoneration still wasn’t over.
Evidence in his case had never been tested for DNA, even though Savory was one of the first convicted felons in Illinois to seek the testing under a state law passed in 1998. His long legal fight has seen the Illinois Supreme Court and a federal appeals court deny him DNA testing in groundbreaking rulings that have since been cited in hundreds of other court cases.
Then earlier this month, a Peoria County judge ruled in Savory’s favor, concluding the evidence should be tested. Savory heard the news while he was helping set up cellphone service for Daniel Taylor, who was exonerated in June after spending almost 20 years in prison for a murder that took place elsewhere while he was held in a Chicago police lockup.
Judge Stephen Kouri pointed out in his ruling that the tests could be inconclusive or even implicate Savory. But Savory and his lawyers remain confident that the testing will clear his name and possibly solve a 36-year-old double homicide.
“I ain’t never heard the truth to be inconclusive,” Savory said in his quiet but resonant voice during a recent interview at his at- torney’s office in downtown Chicago.
“We’ll know who really did this,” added his attorney, Joshua Tepfer of the Center on Wrongful Convictions at Northwestern University School of Law. “That’s all he’s ever wanted. That’s all I want.”
Savory was 14 when he was convicted of the fatal stabbings of his friend, James Robinson Jr., 14, and Robinson’s sister, Connie Cooper, 19, a single mom. Prosecutors argued Savory had become enraged while practicing karate with Robinson at his friend’s Peoria home.
Years ago an appeals court threw out Savory’s confession, but he was convicted again at a second trial after prosecutors produced three new witnesses who said Savory implicated himself in the murders just hours after the slayings .
All three have since recanted, and for the last 15 years, Savory has sought to have the physical evidence — all that remains of the state’s case — tested for DNA.
The judge’s ruling allows the testing of a folding pocket knife with a bit of dried blood, a blood-stained pair of his father’s navy blue pants, toothpicks used to collect scrapings from the victim’s fingernails, two hairs found in the victims’ hands, a blood-smeared light plate cover and swabs of semen taken from Cooper’s body.
Savory hopes testing on the knife and pants recovered from his home will rule him out as a suspect in the slayings and that DNA on the other evidence will point to the killer.
The case was never investigated or prosecuted as a sexual assault, Tepfer said, even though Cooper was found dead in her nightgown with semen in her body and stab wounds in her pelvic area. Prosecutors argued testing the semen would just drag Cooper’s long-ago lover into the case, but Savory’s attorney said it could help identify the killer.
Last November, on what would have been the 52nd birthday of his sister, Louise, who died a few years earlier, Savory made a rare trip back to Peoria to personally hand-deliver the motion seeking DNA testing to the county’s top prosecutor.
“Not to antagonize him, not to show him up, but to say it’s time that this change and I wanted to participate in the change,” Savory said.
Savory, who works as a paralegal for the Rev. Jesse Jackson’s Rainbow/PUSH Coalition, made the trip with a bus full of supporters. A small rally took place.
Savory, who identifies strongly with Emmett Till, the civil rights icon with whom he shares a July 25 birth date, loves connecting with people and takes his chess — a game he picked up in prison — seriously.
“I love to play because it’s a comfort to me,” he said.
When Savory thinks about life after the DNA testing has been completed, he sees himself exonerated and free at last to start his own family.
“I will begin the journey then to do like Joseph in the Bible, get married and have a family,” he said. “Because that was my goal before I was kidnapped ... was to play football, be married, have children and live the American dream as so many others have been blessed to do.
“I must complete this script first. It’s too much to ask another person to try to join in because it defies all logic. Only my attorneys and those who understand the system can make it make sense. Because it doesn’t make sense.”
Others in the community of exonerated former prisoners to whom Savory serves as a mentor said they are thrilled that Savory might finally find a measure of justice decades after his murder conviction.
“Why does this man keep fighting for 30-something years?” said Terrill Swift, who was cleared of the 1994 rape and murder of a South Side woman after he sought DNA testing of evidence following his release after 15 years in prison. “The answer is clear: The man is innocent.”
Behind bars - 27 years is a long time!
August 20, 2013
Good news from our friend Brian. He was sentenced to prison in 1987. He just received word that a parole has been granted!
"7-days and a wake up:) I should be leaving here about 8-8:30 in the morning. There's a community college nearby that teaches a class for a commercial driver's license. My plan is to get a job driving for a trucking company so I can see the country. I'm just here counting the days is all. 27-years is a long time! I really never thought I would live to see this day but its real and its almost here-I'm ready!"
Starting the week with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
August 19, 2013
"Take the first step in faith. You don't have to see the whole staircase, just take the first step."
- Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
Behind bars - Making an impact
August 15, 2013
Think your dollars don't touch the lives of women in the Michigan prison system? Think again!
The HFP office received a check for $5.00 from one inmate. This could possibly amount to about one third of her monthly salary.
At the same time, our office received this message from another woman:
"I am staying in the fight and tho I get tired God has put people in my life who really care and help me when I am weak. Thank you dear friend."
HFP & HFP Partners: touching lives!
Auction items needed
August 15, 2013
Humanity for Prisoners is getting an early start for the silent auction that will take place during the HFP reception featuring the John Shea Trio on October 17, and we’re asking for your help finding 20 standout items to feature on the auction block.
If you or a business/individual that you know of has something you might be willing to offer in the auction, please contact Matt Tjapkes at the HFP offices at 616.935.0075 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Save the date!
August 14, 2013
Humanity for Prisoners is excited to announce the John Shea Trio has agreed to perform at a special benefit reception for HFP on Thursday, October 17^th from 7 to 10 pm at the Harbourfront Grand Hall above Porto Bello in downtown Grand Haven.
In addition to some of the finest jazz in West Michigan, the reception will include appetizers, an open cash bar, and a special auction of 20 high-end items, including vacations to several different locations.
The John Shea Trio is a talented group of jazz musicians that perform all over West Michigan, including a benefit gig for HFP in the fall of 2011. If you are within driving distance and love traditional piano jazz, please give this serious consideration. It just doesn't get any better. It's not noisy and raucous...it's fun, familiar music that you're going to love, played by three incredible musicians. Good food and drink, wonderful fellowship, and sensational music.
The benefit reception is a fundraiser for Humanity for Prisoners. There will be no cover charge to attend, but we request you come ready to bid on the auction items and provide generous donations to HFP.
Ruling gives MI juvenile lifers chance at parole
August 13, 2013 Detroit Free Press: Judge upholds ban on life, no parole for juveniles in Michigan
A federal judge ruled Monday that Michigan must grant parole consideration to anyone convicted of murder as a juvenile... Read more HERE
Starting the new week with Leo Buscaglia
August 12, 2013
"I have a very strong feeling that the opposite of love is not hate - it's apathy. It's not giving a damn."
August 11, 2013
"He upholds the cause of the oppressed and gives food to the hungry. The Lord sets prisoners free, the Lord gives sight to the blind, the Lord lifts up those who are bowed down..."
Psalm 146:7-8 (NIV)
FCC approves rules to reform prison phone rates
August 10, 2013 The Washington Post: FCC approves rules to cap prison phone rates
The Federal Communications Commission on Friday approved rules to overhaul skyrocketing prison phone rates, dealing a blow to the handful of companies that dominate the market.
Read more HERE
Behind bars - A steady friend
August 9, 2013
Thanks to your partnership, HFP provides a stable and loyal relationship with inmates:
"I haven't heard from the minister who promised to assist me in a while. It's the same story with everyone except you and a few other people. They start off telling me they're going to help me, and then they disappear. At least you have remained friends and in contact with me to the end. I love you for that."
How prisoners respond to HFP services
August 8, 2013
"Thanks for everything...you are a true friend."
"Words are far too scant to express my heart-felt appreciation for your support."
"What you have done is more than anyone has done for me in a long time."
"I don't make much money, but I thought about it, and your fight is the one I'm going to donate to."
"I will not let you down or forget just how much your help meant to me."
Your support dollars go right to the front lines, and this is how inmates respond. Thank you.
Play about West MI story goes national
August 7, 2013
A stage play based on the account of a Spring Lake man and his nine-year battle to free an African American man who claimed wrongful conviction has traveled to Winston-Salem, North Carolina. A staged reading of JUSTICE FOR MAURICE HENRY CARTER was presented last weekend at the 2013 National Black Theatre Festival. Written by Toronto Playwrights Donald Molnar and Alicia Payne, the powerful drama features a dialog between Doug Tjapkes, still on earth, and Maurice Carter, now in heaven.
Veteran Kalamazoo actor and playwright Von Washington portrayed Maurice Carter, a role he has previously played in performances at Western Michigan University and Calvin College.
Playwrights Molnar and Payne, who personally attended the conference, said the acceptance of their drama opened exciting new possibilities for the future.
Photo details, from Left to right: Leasharn Hopkins (Director), Lori Sinclair-Minor (chorus), Jasmine Gatewood (chorus), Darrick Longe (chorus), Chris Berry (playing Doug Tjapkes), and Von Washington (playing Maurice Carter).
Behind bars - How inmates feel about HFP
August 6, 2013
"Please do NOT think you are not helping. Just trying is more than anyone has done for me in a long time. My family on my dad's side gave up on me after he died and I came back to prison. Wrote me off as a lost cause. My cousin is a famous attorney. She could have me out of here in a minute. If I do not say it enough. Thank you Doug. You are there every time I need you. I cannot even say that about my family. I love them but they gave up on me."
Donations beyond money
August 5, 2013
Did you know?
With the addition to our staff at Humanity for Prisoners, we are also able to accept new forms of donations that are still tax-deductible for the donor. These include:
Gold and silver, including jewelry and silverware
If you would like more information or would like to make an item donation, email email@example.com or give us a call at 616.935.0075.
Starting the week with President Eisenhower
August 5, 2013
"Though force can protect in emergency, only justice, fairness, consideration and cooperation can finally lead men to the dawn of eternal peace."
— Dwight D. Eisenhower, 34th U.S. President
August 4, 2013
"...for with the Lord our God there is no injustice or partiality or bribery."
II Chronicles 19:7 (NIV)
Behind bars - Far away
August 3, 2013
Does it just seem that way, or do you think the prison system deliberately places inmates far from their loved ones?
"I had a visit with My Mom and sister yesterday, it was good to see them!! Well I am wondering if you would know who to contact to try and get me moved to a facility that is closer to home. I only get 1 visit a year because I am so far away from home. I have tried just about everything in here but to no avail."
There's still time
August 2, 2013
We proved the naysayers were wrong! Some thought the little band of HFP supporters could never achieve a $25,000 fund-raising goal for badly needed expansion. In just one month, we are within $5,000 of our target! And some have not yet sent in their single generous donation in addition to regular monthly support. Thanks so much for your support, past and present. The goal is within sight. There will be no break in compassion for prisoners...with action!
'The Atlantic' weighs in on DNA case
August 1, 2013
The Atlantic: What Kind of 'Justice System' Refuses to Test DNA Evidence? The real scandal in the case of Sharon Snyder, who was fired for helping to exonerate an innocent prisoner. Click HERE to read
Benefit concert raises nearly $3,000 for HFP
July 31, 2013
An informal evening of favorite gospel music and ice cream desserts brought in nearly $3,000 to the coffers of HUMANITY FOR PRISONERS, it was announced today by Board Chairman Dr. Dan Rooks. The program was held Monday in the coffee house of Covenant Life Church in downtown Grand Haven. The performing musicians were John Mulder, Matt Mulder, David Mulder, Doug Tjapkes, Lee Ingersoll and Cal Olson.
The program, called PICKIN' & GRINNIN' has been presented three years in a row now at Covenant Life, with response growing each year. Around 150 people turned out for the event this year.
Roger Sellon, a member of Covenant Life and a prison volunteer worker, introduced the group and explained how the program got its start. Comments were made by several HFP board members during the course of the
evening, including the testimony of a former prisoner.
HUMANITY FOR PRISONERS, founded by Doug Tjapkes, has a history of advocating for needy prisoners for nearly 15 years. The 501c3 agency has its headquarters in Grand Haven. People who attended the program contributed $2,767 in support of the ministry.
Executive Assistant Matt Tjapkes had high praise for the donated talents of the musicians, Covenant Life Church for allowing the event to be held there, and to Meijer for providing ice cream for the sundae bar at no charge.
"The generosity of everyone, not only at the event but leading up to it, was truly a blessing," he said. "It made for a magical evening, one that we will definitely try to duplicate again next year."
Behind bars - Think you could live on this budget?
July 31, 2013
From a friend in the women's prison:
"I have struggled my entire stay in prison. I live off of $11.04 every month. That is all I make working my job in the prison. I cannot even afford all my hygiene items. I have not even washed my hair with real shampoo in over a year, because it cost $2.39, so I buy soap at 64 cents per bar which adds up to alot, due to I have to buy 5 bars every month and toothpaste is 3.93 and I have to leave $5.00 in my account for healthcare for my co-pay so that I don't get behind. So I can afford my hygiene for the next month. It's so hard to live here. I have no outside support and have had none since I have been here."
Behind bars - Free at last? Nope!
July 30, 2013
A new HFP case:
"I had just got a parole and was scheduled to go home on July 2nd, but two weeks before I was to go I was wrote a false ticket. I did everything I was supposed to do to get my parole: got a job, got a trade, did thinking for a change, and accepted responsibility for my past crimes. I have great family support, a job lined up for when I went home...and all that changed with one ticket. My whole life was taken from me. My due process rights and other rules were violated at my hearing, and I was found guilty. After I was found guilty I had to have a parole suspension hearing. Per policy, you are supposed to have 10 days notice of your hearing so you can prepare. My supervisor forged my initials saying I waived the 10-day notice, so I had to have my hearing the next day. I was not prepared, and I was given a 12-month flop. My whole life was taken from me. I should be home right now. Instead, I have even been given a phone restriction and I'm here for another year."
The perfect dessert
July 29, 2013
This is our third annual Pickin' & Grinnin' benefit gig at Covenant Life Church, at the corner of Columbus and First in Grand Haven. John Mulder and his brother David, Lee Ingersoll and Cal Olson will join me around the piano for a most delightful treatment of some of your favorite hymns, from 6 to 8 PM.
Our board members are planning to serve your favorite toppings at the sundae bar.
And we're hoping that all of this makes you feel very generous, as we reach the final stage of our fund drive.
We look forward to seeing you this evening.
Starting the new week with the former Mayor of Seattle
July 29, 2013
“Dare to reach out your hand into the darkness, to pull another hand into the light.”
Norman B. Rice
July 28, 2013
"A generous man will himself be blessed, for he shares his food with the poor."
Proverbs 22:9 (NIV)
Behind bars - Making the heat worse
July 27, 2013
"The guards acted like jerks when it was so very, very hot and humid last week. There are new floor fans bought recently to be placed in the hallways. The guards would not place them in the hallways on the wings. They would not let us leave our cell doors open, even a crack. They would not allow us to open the doors to the activity rooms, which are like ovens and packed with inmates using the microwave ovens, playing cards, etc.
"Thankfully it has cooled down. I just hope to God we don't get another heat wave."
Behind bars - injury and diet
July 26, 2013
A recent note to HFP:
"I'm prepared to file suit against the state. My knee is broke, my other knee has suffered because of it, and they're starving us in here, way below the federal level of mandated protein and dairy which our bodies need. The result is any injuries we incur cannot heal or mend to their fullest because of the malnutrition. That's part of my suit too."
Pickin' & Grinnin' Invitation
July 25, 2013
A quick reminder that the Pickin' and Grinnin' gospel music fundraising concert is coming up Monday from 6-8 p.m. at Covenant Life Church on the corner of First and Columbus in Grand Haven. A printable invitation with a small map showing where to park is available by clicking HERE. If you have an opportunity, please share with at least one friend!
A feature story on Maurice Carter
July 25, 2013
I'd like to extend the observance of Maurice Carter's freedom one more day. This was one of my favorite pieces written about Maurice. It appeared in the Grand Rapids Press, and was written by good friend Charley Honey.
Maurice Carter knows 'It's so great to be free'
I have had the privilege of meeting a man convicted of trying to kill someone.
His name is Maurice Carter. He has gentle eyes, a warm hug and a soft smile that glows with gratitude.
In this thin, ailing man, I saw a presence of grace that I have not witnessed in a very long time.
"I know this God is for real," Carter said quietly, sitting in the lobby of an area nursing home. "He's just answered my prayers. That's what keeps me going."
It had been almost a month since Maurice Carter walked out of prison after 28 years behind bars. He went in at age 32, convicted in 1976 of assault with the intent to murder a Benton Harbor police officer. He came out at age 60 and suffering from hepatitis C, his life sentence commuted by Gov. Jennifer Granholm.
Granholm and the state Parole Board released Carter due to his declining health. He may need a liver transplant to survive.
That did not clear Carter's name from a crime he and many supporters say he did not commit. Based on the information I have seen, I believe they're almost certainly right.
But it wasn't the details of his case that drew me to Carter. It was his lack of bitterness after losing the prime of his life to prison. In him, I saw the power of faith to transform and transcend.
"God put me in there for a reason," Carter said of his imprisonment. "There was a reason I had to wait so long. I accept it now."
We were with Pat Shellenbarger, a Press reporter whose investigative articles drew attention to Carter's plight, and Ed Golder, a Press editorial writer who advocated his release.
Carter was staying in an assisted-living facility while being treated for a staph infection and awaiting evaluation for a possible liver transplant. As other patients were wheeled down the hall, Carter expressed a Rip Van Winkle-like wonder at how much had changed since he went behind bars.
"Things are so fast," he marveled. "They didn't have VCRs when I was out. The Internet, cell phones ..."
He calls his mother in Gary, Ind., regularly now but is restricted from visiting her for six months. For now, he finds comfort in the family of Doug Tjapkes of Spring Lake, who worked long and hard for his release.
Carter came to Tjapkes' congregation, Ferrysburg Community Church, after his release to express gratitude for church members' support and letters on his behalf. He and Tjapkes embraced to a standing ovation, and Carter nodded to a favorite hymn, "His Eye is on the Sparrow."
He figures God's eye was on him in prison. But it took Tjapkes to convince him of that.
After his conviction, he said, "I was really frustrated and bitter and angry. Didn't trust anybody. Sort of lost my faith."
A prison counselor began to change that, turning Carter back toward his better self and the Lord he had worshipped as a child. But it was when Tjapkes began visiting about 10 years ago that he really turned around.
"He'd say, 'Maurice, it's in God's hands.' I said, 'Give me a couple (Bible) verses and I'll read 'em.'"
Through prayer and a Bible study group, his faith revived. "It seemed like every time I asked God to help me, he came through." That's when he realized God had better things in mind than the life he'd been living, even before prison.
"I know what he put me on this earth for now. He wants me to help others. That's what life is all about -- being around good people and doing God's work."
He plans to do so through the group Innocent!, which Tjapkes established, by helping wrongly convicted inmates.
But until his health improves, Carter is just drinking in the beauty of being alive. He rhapsodized about eating steak and salmon from Doug and Marcia Tjapkes' grill, and about how he felt when he got out of prison.
"It was just a great day," he said, hands open. "I felt the breeze; I saw the sun. It's so great to be free."
We walked out back of the nursing home, where fish jumped in the Grand River and a light breeze blew through soft sunshine. Standing next to Maurice Carter, I was grateful to be alive -- and free.
Originally published in the Grand Rapids Press on Aug. 21, 2004
A word from Matt Tjapkes regarding July 24
July 24, 2013
Nine years ago, a crowd of supporters and media collected in a little strip mall parking lot in Jackson to mark a once-in-a-lifetime experience, the release of Maurice Carter. July 24 was always special to myself and the Tjapkes family, as it marks my birthday. But in a way, you could say that day nine years ago was also the birth of Humanity for Prisoners, then known as INNOCENT!
Over the next three months before Maurice passed, Maurice and Doug would talk daily about the organization Maurice had envisioned that would take up the cause for prisoners who needed help. In between those conversations, Maurice also enjoyed all the things he had missed for nearly 30 years - great food, friendship, freedom and the beauty of a Michigan summer.
So today we remember that special day nine years ago. It was a day very much like today, sunny and beautiful. So as you go about your business, remember those today who don't, and who maybe will never, have the chance to enjoy a sunny day and the birth of a little organization that has lived on to make sure all Michigan prisoners receive fair treatment.
Behind bars - Toilet tissue update from the women's prison
July 23, 2013
"well we got our store today, and I seen this toilet paper...OMG! Wish you could see it. Unbelievable!!!! Someone said they are travel size. I dont know anything about that, but honestly you need to put at least three of them together in order to make one of them that the state gives us. So out of this four-pack you are actually only getting one and 1/4 of a roll. for mind you $3.36! Way over half of the population cannot even afford that. That is way beyond a rip off! Many of the women continue to file grievances. One officer even stated get an extra roll the best way you can because she will not give out any toilet paper. out cold...."
And the saga continues...
A personal invitation from Doug
July 22, 2013
I hope you'll join me next Monday evening at Covenant Life Church in downtown Grand Haven. John Mulder and his brother David, Cal Olson and Lee Ingersoll will cover all my mistakes as this old man bangs on the piano. We'll be playing gospel music favorites from 6 to 8 PM in a gig we call PICKIN' & GRINNIN' and there's no cover charge. But, we expect generous contributions to HFP. We'll have refreshments, and lots of great music. Hope to see you there.
Starting the week with St. Francis of Assisi
July 22, 2013
"Start by doing what's necessary; then do what's possible; and suddenly you are doing the impossible."
-Francis of Assisi
July 19, 2013
"I was knocked out and raped by two or three men. I woke up in the laundry room and was shocked, to say the least. I was ashamed beyond belief. I reported it, and three days later was transferred to another facility. "I kept asking to see a doctor. They kept telling me I was on his list. But it didn't happen, and then I was transferred again. "I've been seen by a psychologist and a doctor here. I got a prescription, but I don't think I had the right examination. I still have problems. Healthcare here is a joke."
Help keep 25 Alive going!
July 18, 2013
The final stretch of the 25 ALIVE HFP fund drive will be the most difficult. You can help. We simply ask for one extra contribution from our supporters...one over and above your regular monthly gift. Thanks to the generosity of many, we have topped the half-way mark already. Please help us expand enough to handle the increased number of pleas for help from the least of these. Thank you! Your gifts touch lives.
Behind bars - Words of a prisoner claiming wrongful conviction
July 18, 2013
"I have not given up. I KNOW I don't deserve to endure this ordeal, but I try to seek comfort in knowing that if the Lord sees me through this terrible ordeal, when I get out I can pretty much do anything because I will have made it through hell! I have lost just about everything I had: my home and vehicles. I've also lost track of my two children. Both of my grandmothers have died, and my father died of a heart attack. All I have left is my mother. She is disabled and cannot work to pay for a lawyer, but she is an amazing mom whose spiritual and emotional support never falters."
Behind bars - Daily life in the Michigan women's prison
July 17, 2013 "Every
day here is a new crisis...very stressful, but even worse for those who
are ill and suffering without proper and compassionate health care, and
cranky, abusive officers. Pray for us and pray for our keepers,
lawmakers, judges and prosecutors...also our victims and victims'
families. Thank you."
Behind bars - Where's the yarn?
July 16, 2013 Recently we presented a glowing report on how HFP is providing yarn for knitting and crocheting behind bars. We're bringing in lots of it...but some are now questioning where it goes. Words of a donor: "Sounds like the guards have a black market on the yarn. I brought in a HUGE batch last time. Seems they didn't get much of it. This is disgusting." Words of an inmate: "...they take it from us and the class has nothing to work with. It is awful the small amount that we get and the real small balls for the class. There is nothing there to even make anything. If they keep taking it from us I will request that no yarn be sent anymore." How sick is that?
Starting the week with Steve Maraboli
July 15, 2013 “It’s time to care; it’s time to take responsibility; it’s time to lead; it’s time for a change; it’s time to be true to our greatest self; it’s time to stop blaming others.” ― Steve Maraboli
July 14, 2013
"Let your gentleness be evident to all...Do not be anxious about anything..."
Philippians 4:5-6 NIV
Behind bars - Hopelessness
July 13, 2013
"I spoke to my attorney this past week and they tell me there is no hope to help me! So very difficult to hear especially when I know I did not murder my daughter-in-law! I don't know what I expect...I have received the run around for over 18 years. I don't know what to think anymore!!!!"
Behind bars - Another day in prison in a wheelchair
July 12, 2013
"I got into trouble today. I asked an officer for an aid to take me to library since mine was on a callout. She said ask someone. I couldn't find any volunteers so I peddled backwards. An officer came up behind me & took my ID then came into my unit and told me never to leave here again without an aid. I missed my appt so I have to wait till next week. I wish there were more aids, they have to work very hard for 84 cents a day."
Save the date!
July 11, 2013
Pickin' & Grinnin' is returning. Favorite gospel tunes by John Mulder, Doug Tjapkes, and their friends Cal, Lee and David, Monday, July 29, Covenant Life Church in downtown Grand Haven, 6-8 PM. Refreshments. No cover. Donations to HFP expected.
July 11, 2013
HFP's fund-raising campaign is off to a great start! We're hoping to raise $25,000 extra this month to help fund critical personnel, equipment and program expansion in order to meet increasing requests for our services. We're asking our supporters for a one-time generous gift over and above regular monthly contributions. In the first few days we hit $2,500. Today it's up to $4,500. And we have promises of more gifts coming. Your dollars go right to the front lines, touching the lives of prisoners in the name of Jesus.
Donate online at http://humanityforprisoners.org/Donate.html
Donate via snail mail at PO Box 687, Grand Haven, MI 49417.
Behind bars - The ongoing toilet tissue saga
July 10, 2013
A note to HFP:
"As of july 1st. they have placed Charmin toilet paper on our commissary for us to buy at four rolls 2 ply for $3.19. how much of a profit are they making on that price...? A prisoner ran out of tissue on Sat evening. The officer informed her that she is not going to give out any tissue until she emails the counselor and the counselor tells her what she can do. Prisoner then says is the counselor here now. (Sat evening). No but i can email her at home says the officer and she will get back with me. Prisoner walks away and has to rely on her room mate sharing her tissue. The officer never got back with the prisoner. The next day the same officer is working, now Sunday. Several prisoners ask her for tissue. She makes an announcement very very loud saying she is not going to give out any tissue!! Some prisoners can't afford to buy toilet paper. And once again they have raised our store prices sky high. You either buy medication and personal items and not eat, or eat and neglect your health. So do you want to go to bed hungry. etc."
July 9, 2013
HFP's fund drive, launched on July 1, is off to a fantastic start! Our goal is to raise $25,000 to propel us into the 21st century with manpower, equipment, and programs, and we're pleased to report that we reached $2,500 the first week!
We're simply asking all of our supporters to make one generous donation in addition to your regular monthly contribution. Response has been terrific, and the results will be even more meaningful!
Donate online at http://humanityforprisoners.org/Donate.html
Donate via snail mail at PO Box 687, Grand Haven, MI 49417.
Starting the week with Abraham Lincoln
July 8, 2013
"Those who deny freedom to others deserve it not for themselves." -Abraham Lincoln
July 7, 2013
"Blessed are they who maintain justice, who constantly do what is right."
Psalm 106:3 (NIV)
Behind bars - Overcrowding
July 5, 2013
"This particular unit in the women's prison should only house approximately 50 inmates. However, we currently have 94. 4 restrooms, 4 showers and 5 sinks...a three-piece restroom for handicap. This is a violation...there is supposed to be a toilet for every 10 inmates, and a shower and sink for every 15. And these, at times, stay broken. This new housing unit capacity is a fire and safety hazard, increases the noise levels above the standard, and reduces the spacing that we are entitled to. Now offices and closets are being turned into 8 and 24 person cells. This is not safe."
Prisoners 1st to donate!
July 3, 2013
The $25,000 fund-raising campaign for HUMANITY FOR PRISONERS got its official start July 1 with a donation from prisoners! Doug received word Tuesday that a chapter of the National Lifers Organization at the Thumb Correctional Facility in Lapeer has voted to contribute the first $200.00. "When you know how important money is to prisoners, how little they earn at their jobs, and how much they must spend to just survive, you realize the significance of this gift," said Doug. HFP hopes to reach the goal this month to launch the prisoner advocacy agency into the future with expanded equipment, personnel and programs. All regular supporters have been asked to make one generous additional contribution to help reach the target.
Behind bars - Medical care, the beat goes on
July 2, 2013
A recent letter from an inmate:
"The last time I tried to get help they stopped me at the door and stated they were not going to do anything for me but charge me a $5 co-pay if I walked through the door. I left and now they claim I refuse treatment. I am thinking maybe I will just have to try to get out and find a doctor in the 'world' to treat my shoulder. Seems hopeless in here! I see many guys with painful conditions walking around with the same outlook. We treat animals better in this country."
HFP Fund Drive
July 1, 2013
The following letter was sent to HFP supporters along with their monthly newsletter. For those who do not receive the newsletter or who read it one-line, we send out the same message to you.
Dear Friend of HFP
I have such exciting news! As I report in my column this month, our devout and supportive directors took a huge leap of faith. Today we are launching a $25,000 fund drive. That's not large, and hopefully it won't be lengthy. We've just been putting off all expansion thoughts by being near-sighted, and board member Judy VanderArk felt this should come to an end.
So the HFP board now has in place an assistant for me who will provide not only leadership ability, but many gifts and abilities that I cannot supply. In addition, the funds will bring us into the 21st Century with proper computer equipment, computer programs and electronic files. We are buried in old-fashioned paperwork that fills a row of filing cabinets. The result is inefficiency.
As we discussed the incredible increase in pleas for help from prisoners, our amazing love and support from prisoners, and the effectiveness of our daily advocacy for inmates, it became apparent that something had to be done. Our work is too valuable and too effective. We must not falter now.
The timing may not have seemed right to us, but all the pieces came together, and board members unanimously agreed to go ahead in faith. My son Matt will be coming aboard. This has huge implications for the future of HFP, both in continuity and in services to Michigan prisoners.
And so we have one huge request for you: a one-time generous gift over and above your regular contribution. We believe with this small goal we can make all things happen, and be able to expand our support base in the future to cover anticipated expenses.
Please pray about it, and pray for our continued effectiveness with your partnership.
Peace and love in the struggle,
Douglas J. Tjapkes
For it is in giving that we receive
St. Francis of Assisi
Starting the week with Peter Kropotkin
July 1, 2013
"Have not prisons - which kill all will and force of character in man, which enclose within their walls more vices than are met with on any other spot of the globe - always been universities of crime?"
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