Showing posts from October, 2017

This October, 13 years after he died, Maurice would be pleased! He'd be proud!

Hey, Big Bro, someday I can just see us sitting around a table, reviewing cases of prisoners, and deciding which ones we want to help. The words of the late Maurice Carter---my friend and my soul brother for nearly 10 years---words that led to the formation of what is now HUMANITY FOR PRISONERS. I was a leader of the charge to free this dear, wrongly convicted human being, who spent 29 years behind bars for a crime he knew nothing about. Maurice Henry Carter died exactly 13 years ago, exactly three months after he was freed. We never did get an exoneration. He died from Hepatitis C complications, a disease he caught while in prison. The diagnosis had actually been made 8 years earlier, but he was never informed, probably because then the state would have had to treat him. Today, on the anniversary of his death, Maurice would be proud. No, we really don’t have time to sit around and discuss cases. Our office gets about 400 emails, phone calls or letters from prisone

Does it have to be this way?

I’m always pleased to read about positive advances in the Michigan prison system. I see that Director Heidi Washington is providing leadership into exciting expansions of education opportunities, as well as vocational training. And news that the recidivism rate is going down and the population is being reduced is welcome, indeed. I’m concerned, however, about some other issues…perhaps considered, at the top, to be smaller items or less important. It’s on my mind this week, because, right now - We’re scrambling to get an appointment for a prisoner with a corneal transplant , because it appears his body may be rejecting the new piece in his eye! The U of M physicians who performed the operation gave strict instructions, but they apparently were not followed appropriately. Our medical consultant and the eye doc that provides his invaluable insight to HFP are incensed. Does it have to be this way? - We’re doing our best to persuade a warden and his health-care staff to ge

A Matthew 25 refresher course for the Douger

It may not be the blind leading the blind, but at best it’s one crooked stick trying to help a bunch of other crooked sticks. God uses every prison experience to teach me another lesson. Even though I refuse to admit it, I suspect that down deep I harbor a certain smugness when I walk through the prison gates. The inmates will welcome me, they’ll applaud when they hear that I’m nearly 81 and still carrying on, and they’ll listen politely as I impart my wisdom and explain the fine work of HFP. Well, the first parts are true. Last Saturday I received a warm welcome from nearly 200 men at the Thumb Correctional Facility. How nice to renew an old friendship! And I think they were pleased to hear that this old man is still plugging along. But then my learning began. I thought I had clearly explained that, even though I am a follower of Jesus, we’ll help any inmate with any problem. I am not a US citizen…I’m from Turkey. All I want is to serve my time in my homeland. But

Are we the criminals for ignoring their gifts?

In my quiet moments this morning, I’m thinking: What are we missing by not tapping the vast resources behind bars? This thought came to the surface as I glanced through materials about Nelson Mandela, who was South Africa’s first black president. Prior to that he served 27 years in prison! Here’s my thinking. The longer I work in this prison business, and the more I associate with and communicate with this vast population behind bars, the more I realize that we’re treating these people like cast-offs, and not taking advantage of their productive minds and abilities. I’m serious about this. My life is immeasurably richer because of my daily association with this mostly ignored segment of society. There are highly skilled musicians, gifted artists, well-educated scholars and professionals in our prisons. Just because they are on the wrong side of the bars doesn’t mean that their expressions should be suppressed. Just because they erred doesn’t mean they have nothing to c

On Wrongful Conviction Day, 2000 innocent people sit behind bars in Michigan! Do you care?

The second of October marks the fourth observance of International Wrongful Conviction Day. I contend that it should be declared a holiday in this country. Not a fun holiday like Christmas, New Year’s Day, Fourth of July or Thanksgiving Day. No, this would be a sad observance, like Memorial Day. Yes, there should be a nationwide effort calling attention to this dreadful infection in the body of what we call the judicial system. Wrongful Conviction Day was organized to raise awareness of the causes and remedies of wrongful conviction and to recognize the tremendous personal, social, and emotional costs of wrongful conviction for innocent people and their families. I'd like to call your attention to the Innocence Network , an affiliation of organizations dedicated to providing free legal and investigative services to individuals seeking to prove innocence of crimes for which they have been convicted, working to redress the causes of wrongful convictions, and supporting the e