Showing posts from April, 2012

The beat goes on

Well, I tried to take a brief vacation for spring break...but prison issues don't take vacations. So, I took the computer with me, and had our son Matthew check in at the office each day. I'm pleased to report that HFP remained up and running with not even a hiccup. A mother of one prisoner and a sister of another were in touch with us regularly, as we continued our struggle against the problems of segregation. Prisoners get poor and unfair treatment in the hole, and it's so very counter-productive. The fiance' of another prisoner is battling the state...her friend is addicted to cocaine, and authorities believe that prison is the appropriate mathod of rehabilitation. A lifer contacted me to ask if I would be willing to stand at his side as he faces the Parole Board for a regular interview. I have never turned down such a request, and I won't start now. God willing, I'll be there. Another prisoner contacted us...something that happens quite often. An inmat

On friends and friendship

I'm humbled. I just received a message from prison yesterday: Doug is the only friend I've ever had. I don't know if there is any truth to that statement. I met Lee more than a decade ago. He was in prison for life on an assault with intent charge. If the truth were known, I think the charge was inaccurate and the sentence was far too severe, but Lee didn't have a very good reputation or a very good past. It was one of those situations, I think, where the system felt that he must have done something to deserve being in prison for the rest of his life. But the punishment was much more than a prison sentence. Some years after he was in prison, he was paired up with a mentally challenged inmate. He complained to authorities, because he was afraid, but his repeated pleas were ignored. And then one day his fears became reality...the prisoner bopped him over the head with a big lock. He suffered a closed head injury that was never treated properly. As a result, he no

No wonder he loved prisoners

It's the night before Easter Sunday. I should be thinking about my Savior, and what he did for me. But I'm hurting. I'm reading a letter from a prisoner. He's terminally ill. He has cancer. We've been trying to help him obtain a commutation of his sentence. There's no reason for him to be there anymore. It would cost the state a fortune to treat him properly. He's certainly no threat to society. So what's the point? The problem for Mr. C. is that he just can't get treatment. What the heck is wrong with us? Can't we give the guy the medicine he needs? His simple letter just explains how sick he has become, and that recent tests at a Michigan hospital showed that his tumors are growing. But then he complains about his chemo. First they gave him this. Then they gave him that. Than they decided to stop. He enclosed copies of his many grievances, because it appears that all kinds of steps have been taken by the system to block his treatm

The pals of Jesus

I was having lunch with the President of Crossroad Bible Institute. I had served on a committee with Dr. David Schuringa, and it seemed to me that we had a lot in common, and that we should get to know one another better. And so the luncheon meeting. We hadn't gotten far into the discussion while breaking bread before it became very apparent that we have a mutual love for prisoners. Granted, his organization emphasizes helping the prisoner with his spiritual issues, and our organization emphasizes helping the prisoner with his physical and mental issues, but we're both helping prisoners...and our interests overlap. Dr. Schuringa pointed out that, while his program centers on Bible studies for prisoners, he and his staff quickly learned that they could not, then, ignore other issues. And so Crossroad Bible Institute is expanding into the area of advocacy. With that, our conversation became animated. HFP advocates on the local level, down in the trenches...CBI is advocatin

A letter to Mr. Anon

Dear Mr. Anon, This will acknowledge receipt of your 5 dollar bill, a monthly contribution that has arrived without fail for years. How I wish that we knew more about you and your whereabouts. The only thing we have is the Saginaw, Michigan, postmark. Your crisp currency is always folded between a sheet of lined paper, always enclosed in a small envelope, but never comes to us with a return address. I'm assuming that you are a mister based on the penmanship. If you are a Ms., please forgive my error. I just want you to know just how important your monthly gift is. In the month of March, for example, the HFP office received 63 pleas for help from prisoners. That's way above average, but that's the way things have been going lately. Among those 63 requests were 18 appeals from new Michigan prisoners for assistance, to which we actually not only reply but take action. We had disappointments. One of our prisoners got involved in a fight, and seriously injured another inm