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Showing posts from May, 2009

A nice way to end the week!

Former Michigan Governor William Milliken : I am so supportive of your program. I completely believe in what you are doing! Barbara S. Sampson , Chair, Michigan Parole & Commutation Board: Best wishes to you for achievement and fulfillment in your ongoing work with prisoners! Tim Moore , Program Coordinator, Ionia Maximum Correctional Facility: The prisoners have invited you to be a guest speaker at an assembly here! "Preach the gospel everyday. Use words if necessary," said St. Francis of Assisi. We'll keep on keepin' on, with your help! HUMANITY FOR PRISONERS 20 W. Muskegon Avenue Muskegon, MI 49440

A letter from Marcia Tjapkes

It was Sunday morning, I was late for church, the Hour of Power was on the TV screen, and Bill Hybels, of Willow Creek Church, was just starting to speak. He was talking about Moses, and God’s instructions to him for helping the hurting Israelites. Now listen to me very closely. If you get nothing else from what I say in this service, please get this. I think what’s really happening is that God is saying to Moses, “What you saw...in…physical violence that made you so unbelievably frustrated and angry, what you saw on earth, I saw all of that in heaven, I heard that suffering, I heard the cries and I can’t stand it in heaven, either. I’m stirred in my spirit and I’m going to intervene and clean up this mess on planet earth, but I’m going to use you to do it, in part, because I see passion in your life. I see your emotion. I see someone who can’t stand idly by when his people are being beaten and oppressed. I see your capacity for activism and I’ve been looking for someone like y

Finale to the Mevludin Hidanovic case

Doug, I have resigned from my work today. My last day will be June 5th. I am leaving for Bosnia June 6th. I hope we can keep in touch. I thank you for everything. Chanda Thanks to so many HFP partners for the prayers and support of this family, shattered by a wrongful conviction. Heartbreaking! doug

List of those NOT free

On this Memorial Day weekend, let me begin a list of those persons who are NOT free. Please add your own contributions to keep the list going! Persons NOT free this weekend: -the wrongly convicted who are in prison -innocent prisoners who are refused parole for failing to show remorse -the wrongly convicted who have been freed, but not accepted by the public -the mentally ill in prison -juveniles in an adult prison system -dying prisoners who are not allowed to be with family for their final days -well-meaning citizens who believe the system works, and all prisoners belong there

Give thanks!

I'm blessed to be working with some of the prisoners we have helped to find freedom. In one of my most recent discussions, a newly released citizen said to me: The first night I turned out all the lights in my apartment. This was the first time in 11 years that I was alone, that it was silent, and that I was in the dark! Today join me in remembering the thousands of people who cannot enjoy those precious gifts. Never take them for granted! There but for the grace of God....

YOU can make a difference!

As most of you know, a very large amount of our financial support is at the grass-roots level. We receive numerous gifts of $1, $5, $10, $20, etc. Many gifts come from those who are touched by our services, especially families of prisoners. People experienced in charitable contributions are amazed at the number of gifts we receive in response to our regular monthly mailer…far higher than the average! But, these are not normal times, and again this month we're getting farther and farther behind. I would like to ask a special favor only from those whose giving ability has not been seriously affected by the economy. I would like 4 or 5 of our most loyal supporters, who have the means, to offer matching contributions to the end of May . If we have 5 persons who would be willing to match all of these small gifts that we receive, up to a given number, such as $1,000 (we promise it won’t go over that!), we could be in the black by the 31st! YOU PICK THE AMOUNT YOU WILL MATCH. S

On DOUGBOARDING!

As a retired newsman, I have always believed that people should hear opinions from both sides of an issue. Recently the Grand Haven Tribune published this article as a letter to the editor: MDOC TORTURE: PAROLEBOARDING by Doug Tjapkes Here’s how it works. The Michigan Parole and Commutation Board must conduct a public hearing for many prisoners being considered for parole or commutation. These public hearings are held at several prisons around the state. Prior to the hearings, judges, prosecutors and victims of the alleged crime are all invited to express their opinions. The public hearing is conducted by a member of the Parole Board, and other members may be present. In addition, a delegate from the Michigan Attorney General’s office is there to represent the victims and the people of the state. All are seated behind a long table. The prisoner is there in person, and must appear on the other side of the table, sitting in a chair, wheelchair, or resting on a gurney. Perso

Continuing to extend God's love,

thanks to you, and your urgently needed prayers and support! It's people like you who provide light and hope in a time when they're needed most. What you do for those behind bars is admirable, noble, and one of the most heart-warming and sincere gestures any fellow being could perform. You are indeed a precious treasure to those of us who need a voice, yet cannot be heard from behind these prison walls! Barbara Bush : Giving frees us from the familiar territory of our own needs by opening our mind to the unexplained worlds occupied by the needs of others. HUMANITY FOR PRISONERS 20 W. Muskegon Ave. Muskegon, MI 49440

Judge visiting prisoner: a fantasy

I made a prison visit yesterday. I believe God calls me to do that, and I believe that your financial support and prayers affirm my action. Yesterday was unique because the prisoner was 15 years of age, with the mind of a 9 year old. He was arrested at age 13 for being involved in sexual activity with a 6 year old cousin, charged by an aggressive prosecutor, and sentenced to 9 to 15 years in prison by a judge who must have thought this child would be a threat to society. What other reason could there be? He certainly cannot get appropriate treatment for mental illness there; he cannot be rehabilitated there. My mind was busy during the six hours spent on the highway. I wondered what it would be like if I could take that very judge to the prison to visit the boy whom he had sentenced. Thank you, Your Honor, for agreeing to make a prison visit with me. With grand-children of your own, this should be meaningful. I'd like you to meet this young man. You chose to send him to prison,

He's a winner!

Spencer Hassevoort, 11, son of Mr. and Mrs. Scott Hassevoort of Spring Lake, was awarded a plaque by HUMANITY FOR PRISONERS for assisting the prisoner advocacy agency in fund raising this past winter. It wasn’t the only award the young Hassevoort received Saturday night, at the annual awards banquet of BEVRA (Big Extreme Vintage Racing Association). The association presents oval snowmobile racing on Tamarack Lake at Lakeview, Michigan, most Saturday afternoons during snowmobile weather. All of the other drivers are adults, but they have learned to give a lot of respect to the 11-year-old driver. He races in two events each Saturday with his 1978 Yamaha 300 Enticer. This past season, he won first or second place in every event! Spencer and his father Scott, who also races and who also serves as his son’s mechanic, gave HUMANITY FOR PRISONERS the opportunity to accept pledges for each of his races from would-be contributors. HFP President Doug Tjapkes, in presenting the award Satu

Pray for the mom of a prisoner

When I sit in prison waiting rooms, hoping to visit an inmate, I am regularly touched by the pain I see in the eyes of moms there to see their offspring. This Sunday, as you pay tribute to your own precious mother, remember that we have some 50,000 people in prison right here in Michigan, and many of them still have living mothers. Say a prayer for moms of prisoners. A mother's love for her child is like nothing else in the world. It knows no law, no pity, it dares all things and crushes down remorselessly all that stands in its path ."-- Agatha Christie

Who's to blame?

Doug Tjapkes, HFP President, was invited to participate in an awards ceremony at the Michigan Capitol today honoring Lois DeMott, who fought for the past year to release her mentally-challenged juvenile son from the Michigan Prison System. HUMANITY FOR PRISONERS participated in that case. Doug’s comments: If I were to be arrested, charged with a crime, and brought to court, the documents would have these words on the top: Plaintiff, the People of the State of Michigan. Defendant, Douglas J. Tjapkes. Think about that: They’re talking about you and me! We are the people of the State of Michigan! If that’s the case, then it’s time that we started assuming some of the blame for the very conditions that we condemn. Let’s start at the bottom of the ladder. When juveniles are arrested on questionable charges, we blame the police. Who hires the cops? The Chief of Police. Who appoints the Chief of police? Our elected officials. If it’s a county sheriff’s department, we elect the sheriff. I

A Mother's Day gift that keeps giving!

There's a meaningful way that you can show love to mothers other than your own. From our files, listen to the plight of these moms. We find a mom who Fears for her son’s safety in prison Mourns the loss of her son before he could be released Is begging the PB to free her son before he dies Worries about a son claiming innocence as he faces a Parole Board interview Fights for her own freedom, after being wrongly imprisoned in the death of a daughter Doesn’t know how to free a mentally ill juvenile son in an adult prison system Is frightened because her son suffering bi-polar disorder has never been in prison before Worries because her imprisoned son is threatening suicide Cries because her son is crippled, and prison doctors don’t seem to want to help. And the list goes on. This Mother’s Day, you can make a contribution to HFP in honor

MDOC form of torture: PAROLEBOARDING!

Here’s how it works. The Michigan Parole and Commutation Board must conduct a public hearing for many prisoners being considered for parole or commutation. These public hearings are held at several prisons around the state. Prior to the hearings, judges, prosecutors and victims of the alleged crime are all invited to express their opinions. The public hearing is conducted by a member of the Parole Board, and other members may be present. In addition, a delegate from the Michigan Attorney General’s office is there to represent the victims and the people of the state. All are seated behind a long table. The prisoner is there in person, and must appear on the other side of the table, sitting in a chair, wheelchair, or resting on a gurney. Persons supporting or opposing the parole or commutation are invited to attend, and are given an opportunity to comment before the end of the session, which means there is an audience. As the public hearing gets underway, the attorney from the A