Showing posts from March, 2015

Holy Week, not all that nice for many prisoners

I live in a broken world.  Many of my friends are behind bars, and for many of them life isn’t all that great.  While visiting in a Muskegon prison last night, one guy came to me to thank me for trying to help, even though I had done absolutely no good.  He has torn something in his leg, and so he hobbles along in pain.  Not only can he not get adequate pain medication, he can’t persuade anyone to approve the necessary surgery to repair this injury.  God knows we tried, all the way to the regional prison doctor and the warden of the facility.  I don’t know what else to do for the guy but to pray. During the prison service last night I sat next to a man I’ve been trying to help for years.  Other than finding him an attorney who cares and who is now working on his case, I have done very little for him.  His conscience has dictated some activity in prison that has been very beneficial to law enforcement.  In fact, he was promised that if he testified in a court case, efforts woul

The judicial system still has flaws, Maurice!

71 years ago a child was born to a poor, African American family in Gary, Indiana, who was destined to change my life. Things didn’t go all that well for Maurice Henry Carter.  As a young man he made the mistake of being in the wrong place at the wrong time, right here in Michigan.  Two years later he was arrested for a crime that had occurred while he was in Benton Harbor, based on the testimony of a lying jail-house snitch.  It was a crime he knew nothing about, certainly had not committed.  And from there, things continued to go downhill.  -An eyewitness who later was hired to be a secretary in the Prosecutor’s office testified that she saw him running from the scene of the crime. -The victim of the crime, who couldn’t identify his picture for two years, suddenly remembered that Maurice was the perp  after seeing his arrest picture in the newspaper. -The Berrien County Prosecutor was hell-bent to put a black man in prison, because a white cop and been shot and injur

When our prisoner emails get blocked, do we turn the other cheek?

Jesus was such a radical!  In my devotions this week he was saying, Love your enemies…pray for those who mistreat you.  If someone strikes you on one cheek, turn to him the other also.          I’m really struggling with that today. As the leader of an agency trying to follow the Matthew 25 admonition to show compassion to prisoners, I honestly believe that some officials on the state payroll are doing what they can to thwart our efforts.  Witness this: On February 5, our email service to some 500 prisoners gets blocked without warning or explanation for 12 days. On March 13, it happens all over again…no email communications allowed between 500 prisoners in the State of Michigan and me.  As of today, still not fixed! Since the first of February, almost all email communications between Michigan’s prison for women in Ypsilanti grinds to a halt. Messages started resuming in recent days, but they had been sent nearly a month ago. And that prompts me to ask:  Should

On saving animals, caring for prisoners

This is Albert Schweitzer’s premise, and I agree with it: Compassion, in which all ethics must take root, can only attain its full breadth and depth if it embraces all living creatures and does not limit itself to mankind . And I have no problem with wanting to rescue dogs, or to save whales and elephants.  There appears to be a huge majority of people who not only care about our wildlife, but who are willing to put their money where their mouth is.  Click on these worthy causes, and you’ll find big agencies with wide appeal and fat checkbooks. HUMANITY FOR PRISONERS, on the other hand, focuses on disenfranchised people , and that subject isn’t nearly as popular. Witness the discussion at our Board of Directors meeting yesterday.  “Maybe we’ll have to just level with our supporters and explain that a lack of funds will mean a severe reduction in our services to inmates.”  “Our appeals are getting stale.”  “How can we put a new spin on our work, to touch the heartstri

On the importance of humble pie

I don’t eat it very often.   Perhaps I should word that differently:   I don’t eat humble pie often enough! I was giving a speech to a group of senior citizens at Aquinas College, telling of some of the horrors that go on behind bars in the Michigan prison system.  When she got the opportunity, a very pleasant woman raised her hand and explained that she has a son who is a corrections officer.  She went on to say that he has a college degree, is a beautiful Christian person, takes his job seriously, and does his very best to take care of prisoners in a proper and appropriate fashion.  It was a message I needed to hear.  In our work, we deal with numerous inmates who have suffered from cruel and abusive treatment.  There’s no excuse for it, and those state employees engaged in such behavior deserve strong reprimand.  But they do not represent all Michigan prison staffers, many of whom are doing their very best every day in a very thankless position. I must strive to make this c

Looking for answers

Since we began offering assistance to prisoners in 2001, HUMANITY FOR PRISONERS has made remarkable strides right here in the State of Michigan! Now with two full-time staffers and an advisory panel of 50 attorneys, doctors, ministers and other professionals, HFP is providing services such as these at a rate of 150-200 times a month---            Obtaining legal and medical opinions           Finding long-lost relatives and loved ones           Assisting in preparation for Parole Board visits or Public Hearings           Helping to properly fill out commutation application forms           Vetting names of attorneys under consideration           Placing inmates in touch with the correct agency for further assistance. In recent years we have expanded on these unique services by           Conducting in-prison seminars on the above subjects plus anger management           Offering gospel concerts by our SWEET FREEDOM music team. Our work, extending ACTION W