Showing posts from July, 2021

Kudos for Prosecutors? Maybe pigs do fly!

Our readers know that we’ve been critical of prosecutors over the years. But, a couple of Michigan prosecutors are rocking the boat, and it feels so good!   Ingham County Prosecutor Carol Siemon, perhaps the greatest maverick of them all, announced the other day that her office will no longer pursue certain criminal charges resulting from traffic stops that are not related to public safety. Hallelujah!   What happens is this. Police officers will stop a suspicious motorist for tinted windows, or a defective tail light, or an air freshener hanging from the rearview mirror. You get the picture. But what the cops are really looking for is something more serious. Prosecutor Siemon’s office found, for example, that Black and Hispanic people are significantly more likely to be searched for contraband in situations like this.   So, guess what? While the Black and Hispanic population in Ingham County stands at about 12%, they make up a whopping 41% of those arrested for misdemeanors. It’

July 24: M&M Day!

Matthew Douglas Tjapkes was born on this day in 1978, 11 years after Marcia and I were convinced that we were finished with child-raising. Wrong! That means that Matt was still living at home in the 90s, when I got started trying to help Maurice Carter, a poor black prisoner who claimed he was wrongly convicted. As I recall, Matt received an A on a college speech he gave about Maurice. And it was Matt, who as a young reporter for the Grand Haven Tribune, snapped the picture of Maurice holding his walking papers that graces the cover of my book SWEET FREEDOM. That photo was taken on another historic July 24---2004.   Matt would hear bits and pieces of Maurice Carter stories, the highs and lows of that amazing journey, every time he came home.   The prosecutor battling our efforts all the way. The court system refusing to listen. Maurice getting dangerously ill. A stubborn governor refusing to budge. Welterweight Champ Rubin Hurricane Carter joining our fight. Parole Boar

Unfair sentences----simple or complicated?

I’m simple-minded. That was the inference, in a recent discussion with a well-educated friend.   She insists that things just aren’t that simple...issues aren’t just black and white.   And that’s where I get into trouble, especially when we talk about things like Black Lives Matter.   See, I take a look at the recent sentencing of Paul Hodgins, 38-year-old white guy from Florida, who pleaded guilty last month to obstructing congressional proceedings --- which he helped delay on January 6. He was among those hell-raisers inside the Senate chamber, wearing a Donald Trump shirt and carrying a Trump flag. As a result, he rightfully got arrested and charged.   That was a sad day in American History. As writers Dan Zak and Karen Heller put it, in the Washington Post : Some defendants seemed bent on bloodshed and were charged with felonies including conspiracy. One group dressed in combat attire, used walkie-talkies, adopted code names such as “Gator 1” and “Gator 6” and, once inside

The Douger: Still a crusader!

  “Get in good trouble, necessary trouble...” John Lewis   I’m thinking a lot about editorials these days. Perhaps because a new book is being published as we speak.   As a radio journalist, I wrote hundreds of editorials about local community issues and problems. One thing my listeners knew for certain: Doug stood for the “little guy.”   I couldn’t begin to list all of the events and all of the people who influenced my passion for helping the underdog. I can’t remember anything as a youngster that started me on that path. The neat thing is, I’m still walking on it!   I’m proud to announce the publication of a brand-new book: Tri-Cities---One Grand Community! It’s a book of radio editorials that I wrote and aired between 1964 and 1978. A fellow broadcaster had saved several hundred of them, unbeknownst to me. Upon discovering them, I was assisted by Julie Bunke of the Tri-Cities Historical Museum and Jeanette Weiden of the Loutit District Library in getting them sorted out, r

Just another empty bed

The story is so sad, so frustrating, so anger-inducing, in so many ways.   Kevin, a resident in one of Michigan’s 29 prisons, was only 61, but he wasn’t in good health. Three times last week he was taken to Health-care in his wheelchair with chest pains. Each time the nurse sent him back to his cell. The third time he reclined on his bunk and died of a massive heart attack.   That’s the upsetting part. Now here’s the sad chapter. The man had no known friends or relatives. The body was cremated, and the cremains taken to the state’s Cherry Hill Cemetery, on prison property.   Since the cemetery opened in 1932, more than 1,000 prisoners have been interred there.   Even our veterans without home or family are remembered by vet’s organizations when they die. But nothing like that for prisoners. Nada. Gone and forgotten.   Well, I’m not forgetting them, and today I’m going to dedicate one of my favorite readings to those incarcerated men and women---created in the image of God---w

The Bible and the Constitution. Two great documents. Both misused!

Sunday, July 4...anniversary of that important day in history when the United States formally declared its independence. Seems to me that it’s also the perfect day to make some observations about two incredible documents: God’s Holy Word and the United States Constitution.   I am amused how religious zealots paw through the Bible to find some isolated verse to justify their extreme positions. They’ll find a few words tucked away in some passage to prove their point, but totally ignore other passages that might disagree with their opinions.   People do the same thing with the Constitution.   If there is disagreement in categories such as illegal search and seizure, civil rights, free speech, or (gasp) even a hint that some controls are necessary on weapons, the favorite line of defense is to fall back on the Constitution. Other guarantees for other citizens are not so readily recognized.   The thing is, you can’t just pick and choose. You either take all of God’s word, or none o