HFP President Doug Tjapkes made a prison visit yesterday. That was not uncommon, but what was uncommon was the reason for the visit. The Warden of the prison felt that this elderly individual, now in bad health and who had already served 46 years, deserved to be released. She asked if HFP would help.
Herb is 74, died three times while in prison due to a heart attack but was successfully revived, and then survived heart surgery. 5 bypasses later, he’s ready to step out and help others.
In his 46 years behind bars he has received only 5 tickets, none for violence…none in the past 25 years.
In his 46 years he obtained a high school diploma, a liberal arts communicate college certificate, a tool and die worker certificate, and a para-legal degree. He’s now a library clerk, and loves his work.
A heavy-duty alcoholic, he never touched a drop in the past 46 years (and alcohol is available behind bars!).
He was granted a parole in 1982 by a unanimous Parole Board vote, but the decision was vetoed by a judge unfamiliar with the case who just wanted to be tough on crime.
Since that the, the Parole Board has simply shown “no interest” in his release.
Some reflections by Doug on the prison visit:
I wish you could have been there today.
I wish you could have seen the expression on his face when guards opened the prison gates, and I was allowed to meet with him in a private room.
I wish you could felt the incredible sense of gratitude when he learned that his warden asked me to just do what I could.
I wish you could have heard the agony in his voice as he tried to remember what happened 46 years ago during an alcoholic black-out.
I wish you could have seen the tears roll down his face as he insisted that, at the age of 74, he still had a debt that must be paid to the Lord who not only bailed him out, but also straightened him out. He intends to devote his remaining years to help inmates and former prisoners.
I wish you could have seen the expression of wonder and thanksgiving when I told him that ours is a ministry of compassion and caring…he would not be forgotten. We couldn’t guarantee success, but we would definitely help.
I wish you could have sensed the presence of the Holy Spirit as I fumbled through a closing prayer that I felt was imperative to the entire experience.
Your partnership with HFP can bring about change. By clicking on our donation button, you can help in the fight to bring about long overdue sentencing reform and badly needed Parole Board reform. Your dollars will keep us right there on the front line with continued expressions of compassion to the “least of these.”
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