Showing posts from January, 2018

Be it cancer or constipation,'tain't the same in prison!

We old folks love to talk about our physical ailments and shortcomings. Just sit in when old codgers are gathered at your small town coffee shop in the morning, or eavesdrop at the local senior citizens center. Health issues and physical problems are sure to be part of the conversation, and not just aches and pains. You’ll hear about leg cramps, vertigo, blood pressure, cholesterol, constipation and/or its opposite malady. And it won’t stop there. There’ll be interesting discussions about pills and salves, cough syrups, tonics, laxatives and suppositories. You’ll also do some chuckling as you listen, because the conversation will be laced with graphic descriptions and mispronunciations! But the deal is that most of us old folks are able to get adequate medical care, and have access to medical care practitioners. We gripe and complain, but many services and treatments are available to us. I’m so mindful of that as I listen to 20-25 medical messages a week from prisoners

How Dr. Larry Nassar hurts our cause

We hear the news that Dr. Larry Nassar will spend the rest of his life in prison, and we breathe a sigh of gratitude. Once a world-renowned sports physician, the nasty little pervert---it turns out---has been abusing young women for decades. Perhaps hundreds of them. Especially for those of us who are parents of daughters, the sentiment is sure to be, “Throw away the key!” Also in the news is the story of Louise and David Turpin. These mean-spirited parents abused, starved and tortured all 13 kids in their home for years. They’ll never see freedom again, either. Especially for those of us with kids and grandkids, our sentiment may very well be, “Throw away the key!” But here’s the rub. Some prison employees will then contend that nothing is too cruel for these inmates. Beaten, tortured and abused by fellow inmates? So what…look the other way! Necessary to provide adequate medical and dental care, especially in time of pain or crisis? Hell, no…they didn’t care about others

What we are called. Does it matter?

Last year a member of a fine, protestant church responded to my request for support of the work of HUMANITY FOR PRISONERS. That would not be happening, he explained, because his church opted to spend mission funds on those agencies actually teaching the Word of God. Also last year, as I sought the support and assistance of a highly capable agnostic, she stubbornly insisted that unless HFP become more secularized, it was doomed to failure. Granted, the topic is a touchy one. When we appeal to churches for support, we refer to this as a ministry. When we appeal to secular foundations that want to avoid religion, we call it an advocacy agency. And all this gets me to thinking. Somehow, we’re missing the point. If we focus on the prisoner and his or her needs and problems, those issues fade in importance. I’ll give you a couple examples. Thursday, Matt got up early in the morning to make the drive to Jackson so that he could be at the side of an ailing prisoner for hi

Headliner or Heart-Warmer?

When a big story breaks, the adrenaline kicks in! As a veteran writer in the newsroom, I’ll be the first to admit this. But those who know me best will tell you that, even more than that the breaking bombshell, I loved the human interest story. The major headlines will always be there, but finding and writing the heart-warming stories…that’s where the fun and the satisfaction join hands. So it is here in the prisoner advocacy business as well. A big story is about to break. A prisoner is going to see freedom after decades of incarceration, and God saw fit to place HFP right in the middle of the behind-the-scenes engineering. We may not get the public credit, but our adrenaline is pumping! We know how it began, and we’re excited about how it will end. But to me, here are the real stories. Sonny has serious, serious eye problems. Getting appropriate glasses or contact lenses while in prison was an up-hill fight. That was only half the problem, however. Even with the new

The deafening sound of silence

Author’s note: I’m standing with many of our African American, Asian American and Latin American friends behind bars today, along with a handful of foreigners, to celebrate this national holiday. Here's my blog. A lot of replays of MLK’s I HAVE A DREAM speech yesterday in church services, and today in holiday gatherings across our land. How we love to hear these words: "I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: ‘We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal.’" Among the bigger questions that we must honestly face, however, are these: Do we really believe that? And, if so, what are we going to do about it? Let’s face it. King got very specific in his speech. He wasn’t just pontificating. He was giving examples: I have a dream that one day the state of Alabama, whose governor's lips are presently dripping with the words of interposition and nullification … . Does that soun

The Widow's Might!

Having trouble making ends meet? Not uncommon these days, no matter what the pols in Washington think or say. Many people in the low and even middle-income brackets are struggling. If you dig a little deeper into the numbers, you’ll see that while the stock market is breaking all records, wage increases are not. Those of us whose parents and forefathers lived through the depression can tell major stories about how to get by with very little. But that’s not my focus today. I’m asking, once again, that you take a look at a prisoner situation. A very nice woman in Huron Valley emailed me a few days ago: The store list changed recently, and the prices of everything keep going up. For example, tuna was 2.25 now its 2.70! The pay rate for prisoner jobs hasn’t increased, so how can the cost of essentials and healthy food options continue to rise? And if you haven’t had pay raises to match inflation over the years, imagine the plight of Michigan prisoners who’ve had no pa

And the award goes to...

I have such misgivings about awards. As I viewed bits and pieces of the Golden Globe Awards last night, I was reminded of those days when I coveted an award so much. I was a young radio News Director, I had pride in my news operation, and I just wanted to be able boast about our “Award-Winning News Department.” It took years for me to realize the reason we didn’t win high profile citations was because we didn’t have the time to try. We were too busy serving our community. Actually, there were many small-market radio news departments back in those days that were doing a great job in their home town. They weren’t seeking, nor did they receive, recognition and awards. They were doing their very best to serve. And isn’t that true in many situations? We don’t often hear or read about awards for good cops, county snow plow operators, caring providers in nursing homes, minimum wage personnel in service businesses, mail carriers…people who make our lives more pleasant on a

Douger: They don't know what they're missing!

I was taken aback a couple of years ago when a consultant for HFP said, no one is doing what you do. And then he went on to say, No one wants to do what you do! In retrospect, I don’t know why that surprised me. One time I was doing a review of my book SWEET FREEDOM with members of a Christian book club, and a couple of the people actually became hostile. I’m still not quite sure why that happened. Perhaps they just didn’t like to hear about a white man trying to help a wrongly convicted black man. I was invited to tell about our ministry to an adult class of a Christian Church one time, and only a handful showed up. Little to no interest in helping the “least of these,” from those who, in my opinion, should have had the most interest. Matt and I traveled to a lily-white city one day to speak to a group of businessmen in that city’s major service club. Polite applause. Everyone made a quick exit. No words of thanks. We recently put out an appeal hoping to find hou