Wednesday, July 8, 2009

It seems so simple

As an advocate for a prisoner in his/her parole board interview, you speak for only two or three minutes.

BUT HERE'S WHAT YOU MUST TAKE INTO CONSIDERATION
-the inmate has been waiting for that interview since the last rejection for parole or commutation
-this poor prisoner hardly slept the night before the interview
-one slip of the tongue, one inappropriate statement, one comment in the wrong direction
AND THE INTERVIEW WILL BE TERMINATED!

I've done many of them, and each time I am uneasy.
I pray before each session.
I ask others to pray.

My name is called. Our interview is next. We sit in a tiny prison room with a social worker, the inmate and I side by side, we face a member of the Michigan Parole and Commutations Board on an interactive television set-up, and we do our best. We choose each word carefully. We try not to offend or irritate. We silently pray. And then it's over.

Today, the kind interviewer was compassionate enough to indicate that freedom may be on the way for my friend Ray, an innocent man who has served 36 years in prison! As we leave the little room, the prisoner and I have just enough time to throw arms around each other. Then back to his cell; back to my car. I think we succeeded!

Thank you, Lord.


Doug Tjapkes
HUMANITY FOR PRISONERS
P.O. Box 687
Grand Haven, MI 49417

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