All writing is a form of prayer - John Keats

Wednesday, November 3, 2021

Like father, like son

Readers will remember that I have been railing about Michigan Parole Board public hearings for years. Yesterday, son Matt’s pen erupted. 

It doesn’t have to be this way

By Matt Tjapkes, HFP CEO, 11/2/21 

Even the good parole hearings are bad. 

In 10 years, I've sat through a bunch. While I always walk out with hope for our clients, I also walk out with a bad feeling in my gut. Today as I sat and watched, a parole board member and a member of the Attorney General's office badgered HFP client Mr. D about how he left his kids behind. He had openly said the same thing several times, saying how remorseful he was, but they just had to keep talking over each other, beating him up about it until he finally broke down in tears. Once he broke down, they seemed satisfied. 

A student who had helped the client called me afterward. At that point, she, too, was in tears. She, like I, was not satisfied with the hearing. 

It doesn't have to be like this. 

For an hour and fifteen minutes, Mr. D. was forced to go over every detail of his crimes. Not just the ones he's serving time for. Your actions of 20+ years ago? It doesn't matter, you better remember the details. His previous prison sentence? Had to go over all of that, too. His juvenile record? You bet, we need to make you feel bad about what you did then, too. In fact, as the client went through his story, both the board member and the AG representative pointed out what could have been even MORE charges against him. 

With a smile on their faces. 

For the last 20 years, our client's been locked up. He's stayed in touch with his family. He's done his best to stay in contact with his kids, and managed to keep the relationships intact to the point that his kids brought their newborn baby to prison, just so grandpa could see his grandbaby. He's reflected daily on what brought him to prison, and vowed to conquer those addictions and contribute to society. 

On top of that, he's worked his butt off! Great job reports everywhere he goes and the list was long. Even though he's ineligible for most programming because of MDOC technicalities, he still found his way to participate in some classes and find fellowship with other inmates. 

Best of all, he's been well behaved. His one ticket in the last 10 years - that was for having a bottle of superglue so he can fix headphones for fellow inmates when they need a hand. He's left positive impressions everywhere. 

The total amount of time the Parole Board and AG's office spent on all the work done the last 20 years - SIX MINUTES! 

In the end, I'm hopeful for our client. He had the grace to thank everyone participating after the hearing was complete. But the behavior of the Parole Board and AG's office ruined the day for many others in attendance. 

Mr. D's trial was 20 years ago. It should have stopped then.


Wflower2001 said...

This is not acceptable behavior.
Abolish the parole board!

Louise Reichert said...

For whom does the Parole Board work? In far too many cases, it certainly does not reward prisoners for improving. The Department of CORRECTIONS should be applauded for incorporating vocational villages (although they need many more!) that should be preparing prisoners for release, and the success of their programs should be reflected in the Parole Board’s decisions. I would think. One could wonder if they believe they march to a different drummer? If so, I do not see value in over and over again beating someone down for errors they made years ago. I would like to know what value THE PAROLE BOARD has in this mix?

Unknown said...

If this is an example of an apple landing near the father tree, I'd wish for more of these trees. :-)