Tuesday, April 3, 2018

Not your run-of-the-mill prison "do gooder" agency!


A typical day in the office of HUMANITY FOR PRISONERS?

HFP Executive Director Matt Tjapkes was in Ionia, to testify at a Michigan Parole Board Public Hearing on behalf of an inmate who has served nearly 20 years, and who, in our opinion, has demonstrated that he is worthy of a parole. We don’t do this on a routine basis, but we try do it when we feel a prisoner needs someone at his/her side. In some public hearings, a deserving inmate may have no one. Not even family. Way to go, Matt!

HFP Vice President Holly Honig-Josephson was in Ann Arbor, to participate in a panel discussion at the Arts for Justice Conference on the Campus of the University of Michigan. She was speaking on the critical need for reform in Michigan’s parole system. HFP was honored to have been invited to participate by co-sponsor Shakespeare Behind Bars. When it comes to parole issues, to quote the bald guy on television, “We know a thing or two because we’ve seen a thing or two.” Way to go, Holly!

HFP Medical Director Dr. Bob Bulten was preparing a letter to a Michigan prison warden, encouraging him to initiate medical tests for an inmate who appears to be experiencing seizures, and who apparently is not attracting the attention of prison healthcare personnel. Our office is contacted regularly by conscientious prisoners who are worried about the condition of fellow inmates. They turn to HFP. Way to go, Bob!

HFP President Doug Tjapkes was soliciting the assistance of a supportive immigration attorney in the complicated case of a Mexican native, in a Michigan prison for parole violation, who is desperately trying to reconnect with parents in his native land. HFP has a panel of lawyers, in a wide range of specialties, who serve us daily in many specific categories. We can’t promise positive results, but we can demonstrate that we care. Way to go, Douger?

Does this sound busy? Does it sound complicated? Does it sound intriguing? Does it sound overwhelming? Does it sound challenging?

To those of us now responding to up to 20 calls a day, 7 days a week, the answer is “yes” to all of the above.

Truth be told, we love it!

These examples, from just one day of activity in the HFP office, may help to explain our expanded definition of what it means to abide by a Matthew 25 mandate.

It’s where we are. It’s where we belong. It’s what we do.

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