Showing posts from August, 2023

22 years?

I’m quietly sitting here on the eve of HFP’s birthday. My wife Marcia, the wind beneath my wings through this project, is gone. Maurice Carter, the kind, gentle human being who insisted prisoners deserved humane treatment, is gone. I’m 86 and still here, but undeniably in my sunset years. And yet, as I reflect on it, HFP flourishes!   I signed all the proper legal documents on August 29, 2001, but that didn’t mean much. The fledgling organization called INNOCENT was now legal, but its impact and its future were uncertain.   Doug Tjapkes, church organ salesman who founded the agency, had to continue working in his day job. Marcia had groceries to buy and kids to feed. At a borrowed desk and a borrowed computer, I put up two web sites explaining our mission, and waited for reaction.   It came in a heartbeat, and it took only minutes to learn that advocating for prisoners was an uphill climb. Friends and family wondered if I was goofy. Early board members nodded kindly, but quietly

Are things getting better in Michigan? Another sad tale!

It was a sad day in 2013 when Michigan’s largest city filed for bankruptcy.   Today, we’re told, it’s a different story in Detroit. A new bridge is being built. New buildings are being erected. Historic buildings are being restored. According to numerous financial experts, a strong comeback is in the works.   Perhaps that is the case downtown. I can tell you this: We’re not seeing it in the criminal justice system!   A dear friend telephoned me from Detroit. I’ve known her for many years…her husband is a client of HFP, and we had a mutual friend named Maurice Carter. She called to say that her best friend’s husband was in prison and had been treated unfairly by the system in Detroit. She wondered if we could help.   Those of you who are aware of the work of Humanity for Prisoners also know that we are not attorneys, and we do not operate an Innocence Project. We cannot help, we can only steer. These two Black women realized that, also. But, as the bald guy says in the TV ad, “W

Judge Gary Giguere: A hero, indeed!

It’s no secret that an action film inspired by the story of Doug Tjapkes helping a wrongly convicted prisoner named Maurice Carter is in the works. I became Maurice’s partner in the late 1990s under some providential circumstances, and that decision changed my life. I fought at his side for nearly a decade, hoping to clear his name and gain his freedom.   The story became a book, then a stage play, and now a movie, and the names of numerous heroes are listed. However, there was a critical player in this story whose name was seldom mentioned. As my Maurice Carter memories get rekindled during the making of this movie, I’m compelled to set the record straight.   The person I’m talking about is Hon. Gary C. Giguere, Jr., Kalamazoo County Chief Judge Circuit/Probate Court. At that time, we knew him as Gary Giguere, a young criminal defense attorney with the prestigious Kalamazoo law firm of Levine and Levine.   The powerful legal forces that we were able to mobilize behind the Carter