Showing posts from August, 2015

You can bet on it: We'll be there!

Supporters of HFP have every reason to join with the followers of Jesus who, in Matthew 25, said, “’When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?” I bring up the issue because for one of the few times in history, we made budget this month thanks to the kindness and generosity of people who believe in what we do. I want to assure them, and assure you— We’ll be there for the woman whose colostomy bag must be replaced, but who has been told she may have new supplies on September 6. We’ll be there for he mother who has been denied access to her son, and hasn’t spoken to him in over a year. We’ll be there for the guy whose wheelchair broke and the prison wouldn’t give him a replacement. We’ll be there for the blind woman who is taunted by guards singing “Three Blind Mice.” We’ll be there for the woman dying of cancer, who simply wants to spend her final hours surrounded by loved ones. We’ll be there for the lifer who will not be granted surgery

How the Parole Board could make a major turn

I’m upset with the Parole Board all over again. I was at the side of another prisoner whose turn it was to appear before a member of the Michigan Parole Board to make a convincing case for parole.  The man is in his 70s, in terrible health, and has served 47 years for a horrendous crime.  An alcoholic prior to his arrest, the man hasn’t touched a drop while in prison, even though homemade hooch is readily available in all of our facilities.  Instead, he remained sober and decided to re-manufacture his life.  He went to school, got his GED, then got a college degree, then received training for employment skills, then became a paralegal.  With that certification, he began helping indigent inmates who could not afford attorneys.  He became a man of faith and decided to follow Jesus.  I found out about his plight from the prison warden, who asked if I might be able to help him find freedom in his waning years.  He died once in prison but they revived him.  He’s had 5 heart bypasses. 

Are they really working for us?

Long waits for Michigan prisoners and their visitors is taking on a new dimension with recent complaints from WHV.  Women’s Huron Valley Correctional Facility is located in Ypsilanti, and actually consists of two sprawling units.  All female prisoners of the state are housed there, more than 2,000 of them.  Overcrowding is a serious issue, and because of the overcrowding visitation problems are legion.  Here at the HFP office, we’ve been receiving more and more complaints over the past year, from inmates and from visitors.  It all came to a head a few days ago with this complaint from a prisoner: “Last Thursday in the visiting room, 2 inmates were refused to use the restroom resulting in them urinating on themselves. There is several hours in between the inmates’ visitors leaving and the inmates being searched before they can return to their housing units. The officers are refusing to let them use the restroom. This is so sad.  Any ideas?" When we posted that message

HFP's quiet tool

Many years ago, when I was the regular choir director in my church, I selected an anthem that made a powerful impact.  The title was SOMEBODY’S PRAYING ME THROUGH.  Here’s a sample of the lyrics: Pressing over me like a big blue sky I know someone has me on their heart tonight That's why I know it's gonna be alright 'Cause somebody's praying me through. The song came to mind this morning when I woke up, because my son Matt was already in the city of Adrian, waiting his turn to be at the side of an inmate who was scheduled to meet with a member of the Michigan Parole Board.  We sometimes do this for deserving inmates who may not have a friend or family member as their representative for this rather traumatic confrontation.  Saying a silent prayer for him and the prisoner, I was reminded just how much prayer is a part of our work.  It’s not something we talk about, but it’s there all the time. One more quick musical story before I develop this theme.  I’m