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Showing posts from April, 2009

Health care in Michigan prisons (or lack of!)

The MDOC claims that health care is improving in Michigan prisons. We received these requests for help, from three different facilities, so far this week! 1. ...for at least 3 weeks his blood pressure has been running very high. The facility apparently has no pharmacist to dispense the drugs...he says he has not had some medications he was supposed to have had 3 weeks ago. There is no nephrologist available to see him. The doctor doesn't want to deal with him. He is retaining water, finding it hard to breathe and has a headache. Nurses pass him from one person to another as he tries to find out when to go to dialysis, etc. 2. ...he has many health problems, he just had a biopsy done on his breast, waited years and many written messages and telephone calls before anyone did anything about it. He thinks it is infected, and is in pain. He has been vomiting blood for a long time. 3. ...this prisoner was found lying naked in the shower, moaning because he could not get

She's a winner!

HUMANITY FOR PRISONERS is proud to announce that a friend, co-worker, and mother of a client, has been chosen for the MOTHER OF DISTINCTION AWARD 2009 given by the National Juvenile Justice Network and the Campaign for Youth Justice! Please join us in congratulating Lois DeMott of Battle Creek. She was recognized for her incredibly intense advocacy for a juvenile son who, while struggling with mental issues, was placed in the Michigan prison system. Doug Tjapkes, President of HFP, was listed as one of the references for contact by the judges. Doug had personally visited her son, who has now been paroled, while he was in prison. Meanwhile, Lois joins HFP and other advocacy agencies in helping other juveniles who remain in prison. HUMANITY FOR PRISONERS 20 W. Muskegon Avenue Muskegon, MI 49440

on helping

Thanks to many who have asked about Marcia. My bride of 52 years had major foot reconstruction surgery a week ago, and must remain down for 7 more weeks! The reason for very few email messages from HFP in the past week is a simple one: Marcia requires almost constant care, because she may not put any weight on her left foot. Unfortunately, a reduction in the number of email updates invariably results in a reduction of contributions. I have some exciting stories to tell, but very little time to tell them right now. But I must tell you that we are in serious need of your assistance ! I promise to be at Marcia's side during her time of need. May I ask you to be at ours? Thank you, in advance. Doug Tjapkes, President HUMANITY FOR PRISONERS 20 W. Muskegon Avenue Muskegon, MI 49440

Freedom is a mouthful!

Five years ago I had my first experiences with a freed prisoner. I still remember taking my friend Maurice Carter to visit his Parole Officer in Holland, Michigan. As we exited the building I spotted a Burger King across the street. "Hey Maurice," I said, "You want a hamburger?" The Angus Burger was being introduced those days. Maurice, in his newfound freedom, bought one for each of us. His moans of delight with each bite turned heads in the restaurant. Fast forward to April 13, 2009. We didn't do any moaning last night, but I had a similar experience with Ron Ross, now observing his third week of freedom, thanks in part to the efforts of HUMANITY FOR PRISONERS . Ron had his first steak in 11 years! It wasn't an expensive porterhouse or a choice tenderloin. It was a Delmonico ribeye, on sale, and he bought one for me, too, with his own money. I tossed both of them onto the grille. Steak and a head of lettuce made up our gourmet dinner. We sto

Mac: in a better place!

Kim McNier 1953-2009 "He's not getting visitors, and he's not getting the medical attention he needs. Call Doug!" The prisoner, frantically speaking with his mother by telephone in November, 2007, was referring to Kim McNier. Within days, I visited with Mac at one of the Muskegon prisons. Everything that I had heard was true. Mac was surviving in the end-stage of Hepatitis C, but was also suffering from at least one hernia, kidney problems and pancreatitis. He wasn't getting enough pain medication, and gritted his teeth so badly while sleeping that he broke some of them. From that day on, HFP got involved in Mac's case. The story was sad, in so many ways. Mac was not wrongly accused...he was guilty as sin. And his list of indiscretions didn't stop there. It extended to family and friends. He burned just about every bridge that could be torched. Now, crippled and sick, he was alone. And lonely. During that time in prison came a change in l

The Attorney General's friendly reps

We hear this all the time ! Assistant Michigan Attorney General Thomas Kulick, with a smirk on his face, in the spotlight at a public hearing this week. Prisoners are always trying to convince us that they are feeling remorse . Kulick was responding to the whispered words of a dying inmate, cringing in a wheelchair before him, seeking permission to spend his final days outside of prison . The inmate merely had stated that he was sorry about his earlier life, and he wished he could do it all over again. Do you know why you hear those words all the time, Mr. Kulick? It's because the Parole Board from your own state makes that demand! I speak from experience. If prisoners, especially those accused of a sex offense, ever hope to get a parole, they must confess to the crime, and they must show remorse. This comes from the mouths of Parole Board members. And so, Mr. Kulick, you should be able to predict the results, but I'll explain them anyway. 1. People, falsely accus

It's never easy

Two significant events for HFP yesterday! And two frustrating stories about how Michigan treats prisoners, young and old. FIRST, we are pleased to report that a mentally challenged juvenile has been released from the Michigan prison system, so that he can get proper treatment and care: something that was not happening in prison! This came about because of the determination of a mother who worked around the clock on behalf of her son! But, just three days before he was released, his mother learned that MDOC healthcare people were trying to administer this lad a psychotropic drug THREE TIMES A DAY...a drug that he hasn't taken in about a year! He wisely refused to take it. His mother informs us the young man is now free of MDOC health care! SECOND , I testified in a Michigan Parole Board public hearing yesterday on behalf of a critically ill, 55 year old prisoner who is dying. He now weighs 85 pounds, is losing weight at the rate of one pound per week, and suffered pain sp

On praying over a car

MARCH 26, 2009 I don't know of anybody who has ever said a prayer over a car. I did this morning. I had to drive to Jackson to pick up a prisoner who planned to walk free at 8 AM, after serving 11 years for two crimes he did not commit. My mode of transportation would be a 2000 Avalon with 211,000 miles on the odometer. There could be no more fitting way for this fine car to end its prison career! It was pitch dark when I walked up to Sir Avalon at 5:30 AM, placed both elbows on the roof, folded my hands and prayed that this wonderful vehicle, now almost ten years old and starting to feel its age, being carried along on balding tires, would make one more prison trip without problems. If you've read my book SWEET FREEDOM, you'll remember that this was the car that carried me into the inner city of Benton Harbor, looking for the shooter who allowed Maurice Carter to serve time in his place. The Avalon heard me weep when the court refused to grant a new trial to Mauric