Showing posts from December, 2018

What a year!

Breathtaking! That’s the only way I can describe 2018 here at the HFP office. The gate opened on January 1, and we were off and running! Our goal is to serve prisoners, and we did that in record numbers, responding to more than 50 contacts in one day, more than 600 in one month, and more than 6,800 for the year. To better equip them for the job, we took the entire gang to Lansing to interact with the MDOC. 2018 was the year we put on a new face: new logo and new letterhead. With professional services provided by Dr. David Schock, 3 new videos were produced featuring newly released inmates, and a fourth featuring Sister Helen Prejean. We brought renowned guest speakers to the community: nationally known peace activist Kit Cummins to Western Michigan Christian High School in Muskegon; nationally known capital punishment foe Sister Helen Prejean to Grand Haven. We were excited to add four prominent personalities to our Board of Directors: Rev. Rodney Gulley of Berrie

Thanks, Gov. Snyder! For shame, Gov Snyder!

Christmas Eve, a day when I love to tell warm stories. The problem is that reality keeps interfering. I have two short stories today, one of gladness…one of sadness. Both created by decisions of Michigan Governor Rick Snyder. Last Friday, December 21, he granted clemency to 61 prisoners before leaving office: 35 pardons and 26 commutations. Keep in mind that he received more than 4,000 requests for clemency from prisoners. No matter what he decided, there would be joy and sadness. And that was the case with two of our clients. James Hicks has been in prison since 1986, but he’s a rare breed. He decided that during his time of incarceration it was time to make things right with society. So, he worked with authorities at both the state and federal levels on case of case, getting conviction after conviction. In one scandal, a deputy warden was sent to prison. Through it all, the State of Michigan saved millions of dollars. HFP began actively assisting Jimmy in getting so

In this holiday season, look at the bright side!

As a radio newsman, I looked for good news. I wrote radio news copy from 1954 until 1983, but I never agreed with the concept “If it bleeds it leads.” Those who worked in my newsrooms knew that we loved human interest stories, especially those on the lighter side. We were sensitive to complaints from listeners that only bad news gets aired. That leads me to this short discussion in the holiday season of 2018. It seems that the only news we hear or read about prisoners is negative. We hear just how terrible these people have behaved, and we agree that they should be caged and forgotten. Just as I and my reporters did back in the old newsroom days, you gotta look for the good stories behind bars. There are plenty of them. We recently received an update on the Youth Detention Program, brainchild of a Michigan prisoner in 2008, and approved by the Governor. Prisoners took special training to counsel teenagers heading for trouble. Says our reporter from behind bars: “Over