Showing posts from May, 2015


I first saw a poster bearing those words in the office of a woman employed by a Christian college.  I believe she either had a special needs child, or worked with special needs children.  The words were scrawled on a plain white sheet with crayon.  That was 45 years ago, but the message stuck with me…especially in this work with prisoners…especially this week. Before I tell my story, however, let me quickly summarize a familiar one told by the apostle John.  A group of religious leaders brought a woman of ill repute to our Lord.  She had been caught in the act, and based on their opinion of Old Testament laws, she had to be stoned to death.  Jesus turned the matter around and advised her accusers that the guy who was free of sin should throw the first rock.  One by one, the trouble-makers walked away.  Then these beautiful words:  “Woman, where are they?  Has no one condemned you?”  “No one, sir,” she said. “Then neither do I condemn you.” Now my story. Mr. C, an elderly w

Trauma---all in a day's work

Preachers joke about the parishioner who points out that they work only one day a week.  When I was a newscaster, listeners would hear me on the noon news, then again at 5 PM, and wonder what I did in between time.  Here in the HFP office, you hear from us is when we need money…but what happens the rest of the time? Well, let me give you a sample of items that demanded our attention in recent days. I am a mother.   I am crying out to you for help for my son. He is being denied proper medical care and his rights as a human being. I have not seen him in two years.  The last time I saw my son I was told I could never see him again because his visitation rights have been stripped away from him because he had not taken his medication, even though he informed me that the medication renders him vulnerable and incapacitated. My son is not allowed phone calls and has been in the hole for over almost a year. The only contact I have with my son is by mail. He has requested to have his vi

What I wish I had said

For me, hindsight is always 20/20.  Always! I was up early in the morning yesterday to make the two-hour drive to Jackson, Michigan.  The Michigan Parole Board had scheduled a Public Hearing for one of our friends on the campus of the G. Robert Cotton Correctional Facility…one of several prisons in Jackson.  I would be there to speak up on her behalf.  The hearing would be held to determine if this woman deserved parole. The Small room in what is called the Training Center is difficult to find on the prison grounds, and the signage is terrible.  The room is drafty, with a single noisy restroom right on the edge of the main space.  The hand-cuffed prisoner faces a panel of two Parole Board members, a court reporter, and an assistant from the Michigan Attorney General’s office. His/her back is to the audience, and it's difficult to hear the answer to questions. Public hearings are granted only in rare circumstances, and there’s a window of hope that the inmate might actually

Remembering prison moms today

Mothers of prisoners There are 43,000 people housed in the Michigan prison system this morning.  All of them had a mom at one time…many of them still have a mother today.  To these precious and hurting souls, we pay tribute on Mother’s Day. Many of the mothers will not see their offspring today, for various reasons (fewer than 15% of prisoners get any visits at all!).  - The state has placed many of the prisoners in facilities too far away to make visits possible. -Many of the mothers are elderly and/or incapacitated, preventing travel and visits. -Some are estranged---the kids have no desire to see them, or they now have no use for their kids. -Some have gone home to glory, not living long enough to see their child in a free society again. And among those who are fortunate and able to make a visit today--- -Many are struggling with guilt:  “If only I had been a better mother,” or “If only I had paid attention to the early signs of mental illness,” or “If onl

One little starfish at a time

Really?  Support still another prison ministry?  Naw, can’t do it.  Already helping Forgotten Man Ministries, Crossroad Bible Institute, Prison Fellowship.  Enough is enough. HUMANITY FOR PRISONERS?  Do we really need another prison ministry?  What are they doing that the others aren’t? Another prisoner advocacy agency?  There’s a bunch of them in Michigan already.  Aren’t they all doing pretty much the same thing? Be assured:  The last thing we would ever do is bad-mouth another prison ministry or another prisoner advocacy organization.  God bless EVERYONE and EVERY PROGRAM doing things to help people behind bars.  But also be assured:  The first thing we will do in a discussion like this is demonstrate not only our usefulness but our importance! Let me give you two examples of pleas for help that crossed my desk in the past few days. Anna is a 77 year old grandmother who shouldn’t be in prison any longer.  She has already served 27 years.  But now she’s in a whe

Does it matter where the cry for help comes from?

This message to HFP was urgent! A request for help from a prisoner…help for a friend of his, a 68-year-old Viet Nam vet whose lungs had been damaged by Agent Orange.  Here’s what he had to say about Mr. A:            His skin reacting adversely to his mattress, cannot sleep           Bunkies not treating him well for two reasons:                    Convicted of a sex crime                    Can’t stop coughing           Situation so bad he believes he might not last the week. HFP did what it does best, pushing buttons and pulling strings behind the scenes. Six hours later:                         Prisoner A is doing OK and not complaining            He has a new air mattress                    Will get an allergy-free pad if any further skin problems                     He has a new Bunkie, and apparently he likes him.           He seemed pleased for the assistance.           He is in fairly good condition for his diagnosis. Let me be c