Showing posts from February, 2024

Three lives, connected by a divine thread

My kids say it should be a book! The Doug, Pat and Mark story is a doozie!   About 25 years ago, while fighting to free Maurice Carter from prison, I read a newspaper column written by Pat Shellenbarger of the Grand Rapids Press on the topic of eyewitness identification. I contacted Pat re that story. That led to a friendship between Doug and Pat that continues to this day.   In subsequent months, Pat would go on to assist me in an investigation into the Maurice Carter case that eventually led to solving the crime.  That particular episode became a chapter in my book about the Carter case, SWEET FREEDOM, published in 2006.   Fast forward to 2009, A New York businessman claims wrongful conviction, and while serving time in a Michigan prison is handed a copy of my book. Mark Hartman, who was also convicted in Berrien County, was amazed at the similarity of these two stories and tried to reach out to me. His letters bounced.   Persisting in his efforts to contact the author, Mark

What a way to start the day! What a way to start the week!

I’m not sure exactly when I rented Box 687 in the United States Post Office of Grand Haven, Michigan…but it was early in our 23-year history. Those were the days before we communicated with prisoners via email, so the US Mail was our main method of conveying messages.   What I do recall, though, is that the daily visit to that post office box was a part of my prayer life. HFP was a one-man show back then. Each day, when I dropped off my packet of letters to prisoners and to those persons who supported the work of HUMANITY FOR PRISONERS, I said a prayer over the outgoing mail. Then I would take a couple steps over to the PO box, and pray that something good (preferably financial contributions) would be in the stack of incoming mail that day.   Those memories are all coming back to me this week. HFP is no longer a one-man show, and I am no longer the one who makes the post office visits each morning. But, our Office Manager Suzie has caught the fever! Now she looks forward to seeing

It’s no way to treat kids!

Michigan’s deadliest school shooting in history is still in the headlines, and it’s forcing us to do some serious thinking.   Ethan Crumbley, now 17 years of age, is serving life in prison for killing four classmates at Oxford High School in November, 2021.   The news that made headlines in recent days was that Jennifer Crumbley, 45, is now the first US parent convicted of manslaughter over a mass shooting carried out by their child. Prosecutors accused her of being negligent in allowing her son to have a gun, and ignoring warnings signs.   I don’t have any problem with the way our justice system is treating Mrs. Crumbley. I have a problem with the way we’re treating her son.   While Michigan legislators consider bills that would ban life sentences without the possibility of parole for children, we contin u e to support such a sentence when the crime is something that really makes us angry. Like the Oxford tragedy. Ethan Crumbley was sentenced to life without the possibility o

John Lewis: “….get in good trouble, necessary trouble."

Marcia loved to sing this prayer of St. Francis of Assisi…both for the melody and the lyrics, and I loved to hear her sing it!   Lord, make me an instrument of your peace: where there is hatred, let me sow love; where there is injury, pardon; where there is doubt, faith; where there is despair, hope; where there is darkness, light; where there is sadness, joy.   O divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console, to be understood as to understand, to be loved as to love. For it is in giving that we receive, it is in pardoning that we are pardoned, and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.   Then along came the famous author Anon., who penned a flip side to that beautiful prayer.   It sort of follows the thinking of John Lewis, and, I’m liking it!   The Reverse Prayer of St. Francis   Dear Lord, make me a channel of disturbance. Where there is apathy, let me provoke. Where there is compliance, let me bring