Showing posts from February, 2009

Why YOU are so important to us!

“ I am constantly amazed by man's inhumanity to man." Primo Levi From our desk this week: NEVADA My husband (blocked arteries, high blood pressure, several herniated discs) has been transferred back to Ely, without any treatment! They discontinued all pain medication, continued to deny him the use of a walker, and even revoked his no-kneel order that was prescribed by a doctor . OREGON My son was hit on the head, then tranferred to another prison for his safety. One year later a CTscan found the brain was severely damaged and surgery was necessary. Now he has no therapist, no case worker, no psychologist, gets no medication, and has such terrible mood swings he is threatening suicide. MICHIGAN My son had nerve damage in his left leg, with problems in his ankle also. He walks on the outside of his foot because he has no strength to walk on the flat of his foot. The doctor took away his brace and cane. His ankle swelled up, and his leg turned blue. Then he was assigned


It's not been a good week. Friday couldn't come soon enough! Financially, the economy is killing us. Emotionally, the case we're working on is devastating: mentally ill juvenile, abused by guards, slashed by another prisoner, spending much of his time crying. This morning I was in a funk, and just went through the motions. Until noon, that is. A collect call from a prisoner: Doug, I'm walking on air! The Governor has signed the papers! I'm getting out! We started working with this prisoner nearly 3 years ago. -We visited him, even though his prison was in a remote location -We fought for him when he had medical issues -We were at his side for his Parole Board interview -His best friend and I were the only two people to testify at his public hearing. I'm getting out! YOU, SUPPORTERS OF HFP, NEED THIS MESSAGE: BECAUSE OF YOU THIS MAN WHO HAD NO HOPE NOW HAS A VISION FOR THE FUTURE, HAS BEEN SPIRITUALLY REVITALIZED, AND WILL GET A NEW CRACK A

How Michigan prisons treat the mentally ill

A friend of HFP who has a relative in one of the MDOC's facilities allegedly designed and staffed to handle the mentally incompent shared with me that earlier today he spoke with his relative in prison by telephone. Their call had to be cut short, however, because another inmate had become unruly. Our friend said he received a call back some 30 minutes later with the story about the prisoner causing the problem. " 10 officers came, handcuffed the inmate, then proceeded to beat him, then strapped him into a restraining bed where he remains." Commented my friend: "This is care for the mentally ill." Doug Tjapkes HUMANITY FOR PRISONERS 20 W. Muskegon Avenue Muskegon, MI 49440

Some Interesting Reads...

I recently came across a copy of an article by Kristyn Komarnicki entitled "In the Furnace of Affliction". After a brief conversation, she notified me she had a number of prison-related articles she would like to share. If you have a minute, here they are: Lost and Found  by Hans B. Hallundbaek Unique programs are equipping thousands of incarcerated individuals to use prison as a time to discover their gifts and their God rather than brood over what they have lost. Trading Knives for a Double-Edged Sword   by Mae Elise Cannon Once known for its violence, the Louisiana State Penitentiary is famous now for the gospel that is preached within its walls and spread to other prisons by inmate missionaries. The Correct Way   What would an ideal prison look like? Five people from within the criminal justice world share their goals and dreams. A Sacred Opportunity by Kristyn Komarnicki and Sharon Gramby-Sobukwe Joanna Flanders Thomas of the Centre for Hope and Transformation in Cape T

Looking in the mirror

SONG BY T BONE BURNETT I've seen a lot of criminals I've seen a lot of crimes Doing a lot of evil deeds Doing a lot of time. We speak of these men as aliens From some forbidden race We speak of these men as animals We will lock in a cage. But there's one man I must arrest I must interrogate One man that I must make confess Then rehabilitate. There is no other I can blame No other I can judge No other I can cast in shame Then require blood. There is no crime he cannot commit No murder too complex His heart is filled with larceny And violence and sex. His heart is filled with envy And revenge and greed His heart is filled with nothing His heart is filled with need. He's capable of anything Of any vicious act This criminal is dangerous The criminal under my own hat. Paul, Chief of Sinners " This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief .“ —I Tim. 1:15

Jesus: I was in prison and you visited ME

I had driven about 400 miles in one day…200 to the prison, 200 back home. I was still sorting through my emotions when I said to Marcia: “I’m not sure how to say this, but I think that I’m the privileged one to visit a prisoner.” She quickly responded. “When I worked for hospice, and sat with the family of a loved one at the actual time of death, I felt that I was standing on holy ground! There’s no doubt in my mind that that’s where you were.” I thought of the lyrics of that old gospel song: We are standing on holy ground, for I know that there are angels all around… Kevin is 16 years old, and has already served a year in a prison system where he doesn’t belong. He’s been diagnosed with Bipolar disorder. For a mentally challenged juvenile in an adult world, it has been anything but easy, as proven by the ugly scars on his arm. Failure to get proper medication, long hours in isolation, scorn and ridicule. His excellent condition and demeanor today are testament to his loving

Hey Mister, got a buck?

Dear Mr. Tjapkes I don't know if you heard about the state wide prison lockdown in Texas last September, when a death row inmate threatened Senator Whitmore and his family using a contraband cell phone. The Governor ordered a statewide shakedown, and as a result gave free reign for destruction and confiscation. The fan you helped me buy in August, 2006, was taken away as a retaliation for helping other prisoners to write legal documents, and my religious material was trampled. I and other prisoners went through the grievance process, claiming this is inhumane because of the Texas weather, and I have written to several people. I am indigent, and still contesting my conviction. No one has responded. I know that you are a 501c3 group, however because of the circumstances will you help me get another fan? You would have to fill out the Inmate Trust Fund form, and then provide a money order in the amount of $32.00. I hope my request will be well received and not be a burden on you.

at what price?

High and Low “ I pray to be like the ocean, with soft currents, maybe waves at times. More and more, I want the consistency rather than the highs and the lows. ” Drew Barrymore Wednesday’s High The telephone rang almost the moment I entered the office. 906 area code: the Upper Peninsula. I quickly grabbed the receiver. It was Ann and Bill on a speaker phone. He had been released on parole just one week ago, after serving 11 years on a wrongful conviction. The 60-year-olds sounded like newlyweds, laughing, giddy, excited. Bill was free. Their happiness was contagious. Our work seemed SO worth-while! Tuesday’s High The parking lot of this Michigan prison was very familiar. I had been visiting Pete in the same facility for the past several years. We pleaded our case before the parole board. We lamented the fact that he had spent 8 years behind bars for a crime that he did not commit. We prayed together, wept together, laughed together. This morning Pete walked out. He is of

Free at last!

It’s enough to make a grown man cry. I’ve personally watched only a few prisoners walk into freedom. I’ve seen more on film and video. But I must tell you something. I have watched the miracle of child-birth. I’m sure that most people can tell about a specific “mountain-top” experience. But I can truthfully state that watching a person step out of prison creates its own unique set of emotions. Two months ago I learned that a client, and dear friend, was to be released this morning. Marcia asked, “Are you going to get up early to be there?” “I wouldn’t miss it!” I was there. I drove to a Michigan prison. I watched as my friend stepped out onto the sidewalk, with a grin from ear to ear. As his brother loaded him into the car, and as they sped off for the first meeting with his parole officer, my feelings of elation were quickly replaced with angry thoughts. There could be no price tag on what this man lost. Here was a kind, civic-minded businessman, husband and father who had n

WANTED: Changes to Michigan Sex Offender List

Memo to the women and men who serve in the Michigan Legislature Re: MICHIGAN SEX OFFENDER REGISTRY Perhaps you read the short story in some of our newspapers last week that on Monday, January 26, a 52 year old man was found frozen to death on the streets of Grand Rapids. He was a registered sex offender, and couldn't find a place to stay. He had been turned away by at least two rescue missions because the state law prohibits him from staying, even for one night, within 1,000 feet of a school. Granted, our state has huge budget and unemployment issues, and granted your plate is more than full. But we have a problem. Creating strict, far-reaching rules does not necessarily reflect a tough position on crime. Doesn't a story like this tweak your conscience, perhaps just a little bit? Michigan's Sex Offender Registry is terribly unfair the way you designed it. True, a person who freezes to death on a Michigan street because he could not find a place to live may have been a