All writing is a form of prayer - John Keats

Thursday, January 29, 2009

And now you know...the rest of the story

I am proud to own one of the dream catchers that Mevludin made for me, and proud that we stood by these people through the entire ordeal! I am sad that we could not have done more. Doug

Oh Doug, we are finally done!

The media felt the need to make Mevludin look terrible so the people feel really good about the decision. They said he had bad behavior in prison. I can’t believe it. Mevludin was perfect. He spent hours making hundreds of dream catchers. He took GED classes. He had a write-up for not attending alcohol classes because he is not an alcoholic. They said he destroyed property. What a joke. He lived in a dorm with six other men and one of them accidently broke the thermostat when he was adjusting the temperature. Everyone got a warning for that. They said he had “visitation issues”. His brother had a baby and brought him to see Mevludin. The baby was three days old and not on “the list” yet so ultimately it was the guards decision to let this dangerous baby back to visit Mevludin. They wrote Mevludin a warning for that,too.

The media is bull shit. I am tired of talking until I am blue in the face.

People are sick, ugly and racist in North Dakota. They lack compassion and humanity. I wish I could take my kids with me and away from these evil people who live here. People were actually commenting on the internet that Mevludin is a terrorist.

I hope God is watching what is happening to us.

Chanda Hidanovic

Very sad

Pardon request denied

By JAMES MacPHERSON Associated Press Writer

The North Dakota Pardon Advisory Board has unanimously denied the request of a Bosnian man set to be deported, citing his violent background and poor behavior in prison.Mevludin Hidanovic wa convicted two years ago of engaging in a riot while armed during a 2006 brawl at the Red River Valley Fairgrounds. He maintained he was innocent.All five members of the pardon board on Tuesday denied his request for a pardon, saying he has earlier misdemeanor convictions involving domestic violence and that he had behavioral problems in prison. They did not release details."(He) will have to abide by the consequences of his criminal activity," said Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem, one of five board members.Stenehjem said a pardon "is extraordinary relief that ought to be for people who deserve it. Frankly, I didn't see that in this case."Hidanovic did not appear at the hearing and did not have an attorney there. No one spoke on his behalf, and the board acted quickly with little discussion.Hidanovic could be deported at any time. He has been in the custody of the federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency after serving a 1½-year sentence on the state charges. He currently is in a federal prison in Elk River, Minn., said Warren Emmer, the pardon board's clerk.Emmer said Hidanovic, who came to the U.S. in 1999, could be deported to Germany or Bosnia. The board's action means Hidanovic "has no legal remedy to avoid deportation," Emmer said.Hidanovic was accused of using a baseball bat to strike other participants in the June 2006 fairgrounds melee, which authorities said involved as many as 30 people. Hidanovic said he arrived after the brawl was over, and denied he had a bat.The state Supreme Court last year rejected Hidanovic's argument that his conviction was tainted because of racist statements by a juror in his trial and last August, East Central District Judge Wade Webb turned down a request for a new trial.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

A letter to the editor

Today I sent this letter via email to the Muskegon Chronicle:

I want to begin this letter by making one thing very clear. I firmly believe that we have prisons for good reason. There are many, many dangerous people who cannot fit in society and must be incarcerated.

Now I’m going to respond to the Muskegon Chronicle story of January 23, carrying the headline: WEST MICHIGAN PROSECUTORS OPPOSE EARLY RELEASE OF INMATES.

Let’s begin with the inaccuracy of the headline. Governor Granholm and legislative leaders from both sides of the aisle did NOT propose early release of inmates as a method of reducing prison costs. They proposed the release of inmates who have served MORE THAN their minimum sentence, unless the Parole Board determined that the prisoners still posed a high risk. (12,000 Michigan prisoners are still behind bars past their early release date. Certainly all of them don’t pose a “high risk.”)

Muskegon County Prosecutor Tony Tague responds to the news: “…Now they want to make Michigan the most dangerous state in the country.” Does he really believe that the release of model prisoners who have served more than their minimum sentences will make the Great Lakes State the most dangerous in the country?

Said the Prosecutor: “Let’s get rid of the tennis courts and the television sets, and start making prison time hard time…”

There are three prisons right here in Muskegon, where inmates are doing hard time. I can tell you of a man in MCF who can’t get his blood pressure and diabetes medicine, even after being evaluated at the U of M Hospital! There’s a prisoner at Brooks whose doctor took away his cane, even though his leg was shattered in a traffic accident and he needs it to walk! I have friends in MTF whose facility was so crowded last year they had to wait 30 minutes just to go to the toilet!

I recently spoke with the mother of a juvenile, serving time in another Michigan prison, whose son had to walk with stocking feet in raw sewage for a weekend because toilets had overflowed. I think this exceeds “hard time.” I think it’s cruel and unusual punishment!

A national policy center states that Michigan could save $262 million in prison costs by 2013 by bringing parole policies in line with other states. That’s not unreasonable.

Our governor (a former prosecutor), and lawmakers from both parties agree. Many prisoners are poised to become active and productive citizens. We could create a “win-win” situation by giving them that opportunity and reducing prison costs.

Doug Tjapkes, President
20 W. Muskegon Ave.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Prayer request

----- Original Message ----- From: "Chanda Hidanovic"It has hit the news~

ChandaMan convicted in 2006 Red River Valley Fair riot seeking pardon

Brittany Lawonn - 01/26/2009BISMARCK -

The North Dakota Pardon Advisory Board will hold an emergency meeting Tuesday to consider granting a pardon to a Fargo man convicted of engaging in a riot while armed. Mevludin Hidanovic is set to be deported to his native country of Bosnia on or before March 5. Hidanovic and his wife have maintained his innocence since the conviction resulting from a 2006 brawl at the Red River Valley Fair. The pardon hearing is set for 3:15 p.m. Tuesday at the state Capitol.

Remember that here in Michigan, we are in the Eastern Time Zone. Set your prayer clocks accordingly.

Doug Tjapkes
20 W. Muskegon Avenue
Muskegon, MI 49440

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Young snowmobile champ a winner for HFP!

In his first effort to raise funds for Humanity for Prisoners, 11 year old snowmobile racing champ Spencer Hassevoort did just fine! In fact, he nearly won first place in both races. He was beat by a ski-length in the A-Stock event, to win second prize. But he came right back in the A-Super-Stock event to capture the first place trophy on Saturday, January 24.

Despite his age, Spencer is already a legend at the Big Extreme Vintage Racing Assocation's (BEVRA) winter snowmobile outings at Tamarack Lake, near Lakeview, Michigan. He brought home six first-place trophies last year! His Father, Scott Hassevoort of Spring Lake, Michigan, who also races, serves as Spencer's personal mechanic. Both father and son race vintage sleds. Spencer's high-performing machine is a 1978 Yamaha 300 Enticer.

In this, the first outing for HFP, Spencer raised nearly $1,000 for our 501c3 organization! Three more charity events are planned, two in February and one in March.

Supporters submitted pledges for both races, hoping that he would place in the winner's circle (1-2-3) in both events. And he did so handily! The tax-free contributions may be mailed to the home office: HUMANITY FOR PRISONERS, 20 W. Muskegon Avenue, Muskegon, MI 49440.

A high-five for Spencer!

Doug Tjapkes, President
20 W. Muskegon Avenue
Muskegon, MI 49440

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Urgent prayer request!

Please help our dear friend in North Dakota, whose husband was wrongly convicted and has been scheduled for deportation to Bosnia. If you believe in prayer, your prayers are needed. If prayer is not a part of your life and you still want to help, please contact the Governor's office. A deportation would split up the Hidanovic family...a mom, a dad, and four children. HFP supporters have been wonderful to these dear people. Many of us believe this unexpected turn of events is the answer to many prayers. We ask for your prayers and support one more time! doug

----- Original Message -----
From: Chanda Hidanovic
To: Doug Tjapkes
Sent: Thursday, January 22, 2009 2:36 PM


My last plea to you and your supporters. Please continue to pray for us. The ND Governor’s office called me about an hour ago. They are having an emergency Pardon hearing for Mevludin next week. They generally only meet twice a year but it would be too late and Mevludin would be deported by the next one. They want me available via my cell phone for questions and are going to call me with the date and time shortly.

This is our last shot. Please continue to email ( or call (701-328-2200).

Suddenly out of nowhere the local media have caught wind and my phone has been ringing pretty steadily this morning.

Chanda Hidanovic

Snowmobile champ races for HFP!

One of Michigan's hottest snowmobile racers has agreed to support Humanity for Prisoners! And here's the kicker: The racer is only 11 years old!

Spencer Hassevoort, of Spring Lake, Michigan, brought home a half-dozen first place trophies from the short, Michigan snowmobile season last year! And he's off and running this year. He participates in two events, sponsored by BEVRA, Big Extreme Vintage Racing Association. In the first event of this season, last Saturday, he captured first place in one; second place in the other. His personal mechanic is his father, Scott Hassevoort, also a racer. Father and son attend the events together, and both participate.

Spencer, when alone, is rather shy. He's a fine boy soprano and sings in the Kids Choir of Ferrysburg Community Church. But shy he is not when he gets on the oval at Tamarack Lake, near Lakeview, Michigan! His uncanny ability to work his way into the lead, on his 1978 Yamaha 300 Enticer, has caught the attention of veteran racers.

There are four Saturday races remaining, and the HFP office will be taking pledges on Spencer's two attempts each time, via email. Details coming up.

Doug Tjapkes, President
20 W. Muskegon Avenue
Muskegon, MI 49441

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Today it's back to business

The impressive, historic day in our country has come and gone. Now it's back to brass tacks. Here are just a few of the problems on our desk this morning.

Natalia was referred to us by our representative in the Netherlands. Her husband is in prison in the State of Nevada.

Hello. My husband is at ESP. He is the one who was beaten by officers while handcuffed and shackled at NSP. His case was mentioned in the SF Bayview letter. I was told that you may be someone who can help. I hope so.Rickey has blocked arteries and high blood pressure, all caused by his initial problem of severely herniated discs in his back, causing constant excruciating pain. This problem has been ongoing since 2004. In addition, because of my family's advocacy on the part of Rickey, they took his visits away in 2005. We're still fighting that on the legal level.Yesterday his lawyer gave me news that he was being transferred back to Ely State Prison from NSP, without any treatment either for his blocked arteries or his herniated discs.

Ely is a hell hole! We have similar requests from Nevada. If you're in our office, and this woman asks for help, what is your reply?

In Arizona, we haven't even been able to get someone to visit a suicidal prisoner from Canada who has been abandoned by family and friends. In the daytime he's tormented by demons , and at night he sleeps with cockroaches. He's completely alone. Everyone knows of a church or an agency who will do something. There are all kinds of suggestions. For two years we've been knocking on those doors, and for two years there's always some excuse why someone cannot visit this man. We agree that it won't be a pleasant visit, but he's a human being!

Here in Michigan, a prisoner who got arrested for drunken driving too many times after he rolled over his SUV, cannot seem to get follow-up treatment for his shattered leg. The screws are coming loose, he says. What we DO know is that one of our favorite doctors in the MDOC took away the man's cane! That should help.

Perhaps, in our country's new era, we will also recognize that inhumane treatment is rampant in our prisons and must come to a screeching halt.

Thanks for caring and for encouraging us to keep on during this critical financial crunch! We cannot do it without you.

Doug Tjapkes
20 W. Muskegon Avenue
Muskegon, MI 49440

Saturday, January 10, 2009

From our friend Laura

"For the amount of time I have been reading these blogs, and info on HFP, I have never doubted Doug and his work on behalf of the prisoners, whether he is trying to "free" them, or just help them in whatever way they need it most. I never read anything questionable into intent or purpose of HFP's "mission" either, but if it helps to clarify for OTHERS that might have questions, I guess this is a good thing. My prayers are with Doug & HFP and ALL the prisoners he helps, regardless of their guilt or innocence, because I do believe he is fulfilling the command of Christ to "minister to the least of these brethren."

Friday, January 9, 2009

on the real HFP

I had two "wake-up calls" this week, and I'm thankful for both of them.

The first took place in a church board meeting. I was making a presentation (begging, actually) for some office space because it appears that we must move. Even though I believe our mission statement clearly spells out our position, I discovered that some others interpret it quiet differently. Some feel that we are "do-gooders," just wanting to free prisoners.

The second hit me during a telephone conversation with a friend whom I was asking (begging, actually) to consider serving on our board of directors. This person said that, based on the messages sent out on our email network, it appeared, to him, that we took the position that most prisoners are innocent!

This means that others must feel this way!

Let me quickly dissect our mission statement in a simple effort to clarify the position of HUMANITY FOR PRISONERS.

Seeking rightful resolutions to wrongful convictions
WE DO NOT believe that all prisoners are innocent. Prisons are there for a very important reason: Many criminals are not fit to roam freely among society.
WE DO believe that there are many innocent people in prison. Some estimates range as high as 15%, while a New York Times article placed the figure more like 3%. Only someone wearing blinders could think that a judicial system is right 100% of the time. Among Michigan's 50,000 prisoners, 1,500 innocent inmates, in our opinion, is an unacceptable figure!

Advocating appropriate release for inmates who have served prescribed time
WE DO NOT believe that every prisoner eligible for parole deserves parole. Many more factors must be considered in order to protect society.
WE DO believe that if approximately 20% of Michigan's prisoners are eligible for parole, there must be some in that group who deserve to be released.

Defending the constitutional right to receive adequate prison medical care
WE DO NOT believe that prisoners deserve regular treatment at the Mayo Clinic.
WE DO believe that if a prisoner has broken a tooth and is suffering the excruciating pain of an exposed nerve, he should not have to wait three months for a dental appointment.

Pursuing compassionate action on behalf of prisoners facing imminent death
WE DO NOT believe that just because a vicious criminal is dying, he deserves freedom.
WE DO believe that even the most vicious criminal, at the time of death, is not a threat to society, and perhaps arrangements could be made for him/her to spend final hours in a hospice with immediate family members nearby.

Considering assistance for other prisoners with critical needs
WE DO NOT believe that a prisoner deserves all of the luxuries and benefits of the free. That defeats the reason for incarceration.
WE DO believe that if, for example, a prisoner's wife who is not an American citizen faces deportation because of a technical glitch, we should try to help if we can.

Facilitating reentry, when possible, for freed prisoners
WE DO NOT believe that all freed prisoners are saints.
WE DO believe that if the freed prisoner can be assisted in learning how to reenter society, in finding a job, and in finding a decent place to live, there is a better chance that he/she will not return to prison.

Does that help explain our position?

We do our best to follow the advice of St. Francis of Assisi: PREACH THE GOSPEL EVERY DAY! USE WORDS IF NECESSARY.

If questions remain, please do not hesitate to contact me.

Doug Tjapkes, President
20 W. Muskegon Avenue
Muskegon, MI 49440

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Itchy's last paintings

Itchy McCormick was perhaps best known as a musician affiliated with the European rock band SHOCK THERAPY. HUMANITY FOR PRISONERS worked with him for approximately three years to obtain a parole in the State of Michigan. However, shortly after his release, he died at the young age of 44.

Itchy was also a gifted artist, and his paintings were in demand. They were among the best-sellers at an art show sponsored by our organization. Shortly before his release from prison, Itchy generously presented his final two paintings to HFP to sell for fund-raising purposes. These paintings are now posted on eBay. When you get to the eBay site, just type in the words "Itchy McCormick" in the search box.

All proceeds from the sale of these paintings will go to HUMANITY FOR PRISONERS, which handled all of Itchy's personal and financial matters prior to his release from prison.

Your financial support, especially in the slower first month of the year, will be greatly appreciated!

Doug Tjapkes, President
20 W. Muskegon Avenue
Muskegon, MI 49440

Friday, January 2, 2009


The year 2009 has arrived, and with it two new requests for help already on our desk this morning: one from the mother of a mentally ill juvenile being abused in a state prison; and one from a prisoner whose ex-wife apparently knew a sure way to get even.

While preparing my annual report for the Board of Directors, I discovered that we personally responded to an average of more than 50 pleas per month in 2008. That's almost two a day, 7 days a week! The amount of help that we could offer varied with each case, but each contact received personal attention.

I thought you might like to see our mission statement:


Seeking rightful resolutions to wrongful convictions;
Advocating appropriate release for inmates who have served prescribed time;
Defending the constitutional right to receive adequate prison medical care;
Pursuing compassionate action on behalf of prisoners facing imminent death;
Considering assistance for other prisoners with critical needs;
Facilitating reentry, when possible, for freed prisoners; and
Mentoring understudies so that our mission may continue!

With God's help and your continued support and prayers, we're already rolling up our sleeves to face the new year!

Doug Tjapkes, President
20 W. Muskegon Avenue
Muskegon, MI 49440