Showing posts from December, 2008

Happy New Year?

I'm in the office alone on New Year's Eve. I was unable to leave early because the wheel kept squeaking! Mr. V. wanted me to send letters by email to his two sisters in Honduras, wishing them a Happy New Year! He tries to send them letters, but mysteriously they never arrive. Mr. H. called, and needed a little TLC. He has been in prison 24 years, claiming wrongful conviction, but now has a glimmer of hope because a foreign documentary maker wants to tell his story. I read the email message to him, his spirits were lifted, and he told me that he loved me. Mr. D. wrote me a letter asking me to try to reach his grown children. He has been in prison for 15 years after his estranged wife accused him of child molestation. He could have settled for a one year jail term on a plea, but maintained his innocence. His holiday is ruined because judges ruled against him in one of the nations high courts a few days ago. Now he's desperately hoping to find offspring with a conscienc

Call to action

Christmas was no sooner past than we received an urgent call to assist a prisoner on death row in Texas. Seems a jury had reached a verdict and decided on the death penalty in just TWO HOURS! A retired forensic pathologist pleaded with us to do something for this man, because records show he was actually in a county jail at the time of the murder ! His execution date is just 35 days away. In spite of holidays, HFP has already received a record 50 requests to date for assistance in December! We need you at our side this final week of the year. If you will get your donation in before Auld Lang Syne fills the air, you will not only receive a 2008 tax deduction, but you will also help us to do our best for forgotten prisoners with healthcare, mental illness, parole, hospice and wrongful conviction issues! To make it even more convenient for you, here's your online donation form: I conclude with two kind comments from our wonderful partners t

Thank you!

It's no secret that we have a wide variety of supporters. There are atheists, agnostics, evangelicals, protestants, Catholics, Jews, liberals, name it. But there is a two-strand cord that binds us all together: We agree that all prisoners deserve humane treatment, and we believe that wrongful convictions are not acceptable. It's Christmas Eve, and the holiday weekend is here. I and my family will be in church tonight. But regardless of where you are, and what you will be doing, I hope that for all of you the weekend will be special; that you will have the opportunity to enjoy and appreciate friends and family. And during the laughter and gaity, I ask that you take a moment to remember a huge segment of our society under a black cloud this weekend. With more than 2-million people in prison in the United States, please remember not only the incarcerated, but the moms, dads, grandparents, children, relatives and loved ones...all real people, with real feeli

New week, new year

On beginning the new week: “ There is only one way in which one can endure man's inhumanity to man and that is to try, in one's own life, to exemplify man's humanity to man. ” Alan Paton quotes ( South African Writer and Educator , 1903 - 1988 ) I chose that quote because of the following experience: Over the weekend, Mrs. T sent me a brief message by email: My father is 68 and in prison, suffers from heart problems and cannot get the medicine that the doctor told him he must have. He was sent to the emergency room last Wednesday with what we thought was a heart attack. They performed a heart cauterization WITHOUT ANESTHESIA. The doctor was told that the Bureau of Prisons did not want to pay for anesthesia and not to administer it. I ask you, is this humane? We do more for our pets than we do for our prisoners. Within minutes we pounced on that case, and will resume our pursuit of humanity today. But we cannot do it alone! Your year-end assistance will enab

The gift with a heart

In the past two days, HFP was pleased to receive financial contributions in the name of another family member . We were asked to notify that family member that a gift had been given in his/her name by the donor. If you would like to do something similar, contact me by email asap...the letter can go to your family member or friend in time for Christmas. Thank you! Doug HUMANITY FOR PRISONERS 20 W. Muskegon Avenue Muskegon, MI 49440

Count your blessings!

From COUNT YOUR BLESSINGS by Charles Partridge and Greg O'Brien: If you have never experienced the danger of battle, the loneliness of imprisonment, the agony of torture or the pangs of starvation...YOU ARE AHEAD OF 500 MILLION PEOPLE IN THE WORLD. Today, with your help, we'll try to touch at least one of them! Doug Tjapkes, President HUMANITY FOR PRISONERS 20 W. Muskegon Avenue Muskegon, MI 49440

Scrooge lives in North Dakota

I asked our friend Chanda Hidanovic, in Fargo, North Dakota, if there were any new developments in her husband's case. Mevludin, as you may recall, is a Bosnian who claimed wrongful conviction having to do with a skirmish at the county fairgrounds, claiming he was with his family at the amusement rides when this happened. He said that faulty eyewitness identification resulted in his arrest, refused to take a plea with a short jail sentence, and instead opted to count on our judicial system. He learned that the wheels of justice ground to a halt in his case . He was found guilty and was put behind bars. Now, because he is not a citizen, Immigration officials have deemed him a criminal not fit to live in this country. Regardless of the fact that he has a wife and four children here, he is being deported to his native land. The incident happened in 2006, and since that time HFP and many other friends have tried to assist the family and the legal team all the way to the state Su

'Tis the gift to think of others...

My friend Brett's life took a sharp turn recently. He lives on death row in Ohio, and since his arrest in 1997 he's been trying to prove his innocence. He believed that an execution date would be delayed as the courts debate the question of cruelty by using lethal injection. But without warning, earlier this month, the State of Ohio announced his execution date : April 7, 2009! Said Brett in a letter to me today: It's taking some getting used to for me...I had anticipated I had at least a year or so before I had to worry about this. It is hard to wrap my mind around my new life expectancy! But then he went on... I know this might sound stupid or idiotic, but right now I am trying to enjoy what might be my last Christmas. I am trying really hard to not let the state ruin it for me. It is funny the things that become important, but for some reason enjoying Christmas and the full Christmas spirit is important to me!!?? Go figure! Would you be willing to help brighten

We need your help!

I should be fund raising this week! Every newsletter we receive says that if HFP is to balance its budget, this is the month! I should be fund raising this week! But I had to take time out to dash to a nearby prison to give an inmate a hug ! He just learned over the weekend that he has been granted a parole! You have no idea, unless you've been there, what it's like for a businessman who's never been behind bars to spend 8 years in that hellish environment. He wept. I should be fund raising this week! But we've just learned that we must find new office space by the first of the year. Imagine the time consumption of making presentations to potential sponsors, then making arrangements for office equipment and the transfer of cabinets full of documents! I should be fund raising this week! But prisoners need a Christmas card from us. For some, it is the only piece of mail they receive all year! A volunteer and I will make this happen, but it takes time. I should b

The perfect gift!

A Christmas gift suggestion for that friend or relative who 1. doesn't think there are wrongful convictions 2. believes that the judicial system works all of the time 3. wonders why you support a prisoner advocacy agency 4. has everything 5. loves a love story 6. needs encouragement and inspiration: SWEET FREEDOM! BREAKING THE BONDAGE OF MAURICE CARTER. HFP will ship a signed copy of this book to the person of your choice, and will pay the postage, FREE OF CHARGE, as a thank you for a December contribution to Humanity for Prisoners. The recipient of the book will thank you, and so will we! Doug Tjapkes, President HUMANITY FOR PRISONERS 20 W. Muskegon Avenue Muskegon, MI 49440

Please remember the forgotten!

I WANT TO TELL YOU A SHORT STORY. At a recent speaking engagement, I was confronted by a distraught mother. Her 16-year-old son, mentally challenged, was serving time in an adult facility of the Michigan prison system! Many of you are parents and grandparents, and you and I would immediately recognize that prison is no place for the mentally ill! As our investigation expanded, we discovered more than half-a-dozen kids, some sentenced to prison as young as the age of 13. -At least one had been raped! -Most if not all were not getting proper medication! -Some had been brutalized by prisoners and guards! -One walked in raw sewage for a weekend because prison toilets backed up! HFP rolled up our sleeves, and progress is being made. Perhaps that’s why Jeff Gerritt of the Detroit Free Press said of our organization,… the world is held together by the love of a very few people. The average person can’t do much to offer humanity to prisoners. But HFP

Death notice

Brett Hartman is a friend, we have always believed in his innocence, and have been communicating with him since he was referred to us by the Wisconsin Innocence Project in 2005. It's a sad day. Ohio high court sets 2 execution dates December 03, 2008 09:48 ESTCOLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) -- The Ohio Supreme Court has set execution dates next year for two condemned inmates. The court on Wednesday scheduled a March 3 execution for Jeffrey Hill, sentenced to death for killing his mother in Cincinnati in 1991 for money to buy crack cocaine. The court also set an April 7 execution date for Brett Hartman, sentenced to die for stabbing a woman in Akron 138 times, then slitting her throat in 1997. The state is once again executing inmates after the end of a de facto national moratorium on the death penalty that ended last April. Ohio executed one inmate in October and another last month. There are 178 men and two women on the state's death row. May God have mercy on us! doug

Year-end gifts

I realize that we're talking a lot about this, but our survival is not only important to us, it is terribly important to many who are in prison ! The Rev. Bob DeMoor is editor of THE BANNER, a publication of the Christian Reformed Church. In the December, 2008, edition his compelling editorial was entitled: LET THE LIFEBLOOD FLOW. Just a few quick quotes: When love stops circulating, the world dies. Scripture reveals how much the world needed a kick-start to get love flowing again. World governments, institutions, and banks are not up to THAT task. They're not in the business of spreading love around. So they can't save this dying planet. Whatever your investment portfolio or bank account looks like this Christmas, be sure to keep God's love circulating through your family, household, church, and community. Circulate it back to God as well, through giving to those in desperate need worldwide . (underline mine) Parents of some adult children have informed their

To our faithful friends

This message was sent to me this morning by a dear friend. I forward it to the many people who quietly and faithfully support us throughout the year with the prayers and funds that we so urgently covet. Subject: Emailing: Advent Calendar Doug, this advent reading reminds me of Jesus' vision which has motivated and encouraged me through the years; it also reminds me of you, someone who faithfully follows after Jesus... I remain with you, in the gentle grip of God's grace, Lou Sawai Chinnawong, Old Testament and New Testament The scroll of the prophet Isaiah was handed to him. Unrolling it, he found the place where it is written: "The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor."Then he rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant and sat down. The eyes of ev