Showing posts from February, 2023

We agreed that prisoners mattered, but we didn’t know what the heck we were doing!

  God uses those with limited abilities to further his kingdom.   Bill Gaither   Bill was chatting with the Booth Brothers, fine gospel music group, in one of his TV videos. His response, as shown above, came after Michael Booth, the group’s tenor, shared that he was unable to reach some rather high notes.   I found Gaither’s comment meaningful because of the HFP story.   I started this organization 22 years ago at the urging Maurice Carter, who at that time had served 26  years in prison for a crime he did not commit. There were many more people behind bars, he insisted, who needed outside help. Well, I didn’t know much about the justice system, but I knew about helping prisoners. I had been fighting at Maurice’s side for 8 years.   It’s fair to say that, when my good friend and lawyer John Carlyle offered to help set up this unique organization, we had no idea what we were doing. Talk about limited abilities!   1.       Maurice was still behind bars, and had no legal or bus

Intestinal issues, mental illness, wrongful conviction...all in a day's work. Even on Sunday!

  O day of rest and gladness, O day of joy and light   I love this old hymn, composed by Christopher Wordsworth back in 1862, but it doesn’t really describe typical Sundays of this octogenarian. I look forward to being busy on Sunday! I’m a church musician, and the older I get the more it feels like music soothes my soul. Sunday the 19 th was particularly busy, because I was the only keyboard musician on duty that day. I played both organ and piano during the service. When I finally returned home, it was time to crash. I mixed up a Bloody Mary, grabbed the Sunday newspaper, and plopped on the couch.   Within the hour a telephone call. It was my friend Brad, in a Michigan prison. Could I find some help for a fellow inmate? David, who lives in a cell right across from him, has been experiencing physical problems for the past couple of years. When he goes to the bathroom, a part of his bowel actually comes out, and so each time he is forced to put his body back together again. It

Inflation behind bars. Do we give a damn?

I’m reading about the crazy battles in Lansing, as lawmakers fight over which tax breaks they’ll approve. Let’s face it. Inflation is real, we all feel it, and we’d like relief.   “Inflation has driven the cost up on everyday goods, which is squeezing household budgets and forcing families to forego necessities,” Governor Whitmer, Senate Majority Leader Winnie Brinks of Grand Rapids and House Speaker Joe Tate of Detroit said in a joint statement. “That’s why they sent us to Lansing…”   I read through Lansing accounts in Bridge Magazine, the Detroit News, and the Detroit Free Press. I scoured all reports to see if there was anything about how inflation affects Michigan prisoners. Nary a word!   Inflation behind bars is especially crippling, because as store prices continue to rise, wages remain stagnant.   Check out these messages on my desk, just received.   Doug at Saginaw CF : “Lunch today is pseudo Bologna, so my bunkie is making a simple bowl cook-up. ‘Simple’ is going to

Transgender persons. Finding little dignity among us. Even less behind bars!

So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them” Jesus   A ll prisoners shall be treated with the respect due to their inherent dignity and value as human beings. UN General Assembly Resolution   It’s exceptionally difficult to find even a hint of dignity behind bars. Incarcerated people are known by their prison ID number, not by their name. When speaking to an inmate, corrections officers don’t use the words Mr. or Mrs., Rev. or Dr. They call them by their last name. They shout it out. There’s no respect or dignity involved.   I guess that’s why I go overboard in trying to give the incarcerated a little hint of dignity. From the day I started this business, with every piece of mail I sent to every person living behind bars, I never included the name of the prison facility in the address. I give the inmate’s name, ID#, street address, city, state and zip. That has been, and still is, the policy of Humanity for Prisoners. It may not seem like much, but it’s our li