Showing posts from March, 2024

Forgiveness doesn’t come easy for the wrongly convicted!

Maurice Carter was a dear and gentle soul, and he carried no anger with him when released from prison after serving 29 years for a crime he did not commit. But he struggled with this idea of forgiveness.   He had a problem trying to forgive Wilbur Gillespie, who lied to police telling them that Maurice was the perp, in order to avoid major prison time for a drug arrest.   He had a problem trying to forgive off-duty police officer Tom Shadler, victim of the crime, who could not identify Maurice as the perp until two years later when his photo appeared with the notice of his arrest on the front page of the newspaper.   And I know he would struggle to forgive the crooked cops who framed him, an inept defense attorney who could have won, and the prosecutor who not only got a guilty verdict, but helped keep him behind bars for 29 years.   Years later, when I formed an organization called INNOCENT, which later became HUMANITY FOR PRISONERS, Marcia asked me how many people I knew who

March 25: The day on which we honor a little-known prisoner!

To Roman Catholics and to Doug Tjapkes, March 25 is a special day. To most protestants, it’s just another day.   In the RC Church, today is considered the Feast Day of St. Dismas . And it’s based on a neat story in the Gospel according to Luke.   Dr. Luke explains that when Jesus was wrongfully convicted and executed on an old, rugged cross, there were two other guys on crosses, flanking him on each side. One of these thugs kept harassing Jesus: “ Are you not the Messiah?   Save yourself and us.”     The other criminal, however, was having second thoughts. He had words for his companion and a request to Jesus: “Have you no fear of God, for you are subject to the same condemnation? And indeed, we have been condemned justly, for the sentence we received corresponds to our crimes, but this man has done nothing criminal.”   Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.”   Our Lord was touched by that request, and promptly responded: “Amen, I say to you, today

Those who can afford it get necessary legal assistance; those who can’t get potluck!

 Kudos to  the Detroit Free Press for broaching a topic that has long been a concern of ours: Those persons without financial means don’t get the legal assistance they deserve.   Former TV newsman and now private investigator Bill Proctor, in an op-ed piece, pointed out that former President Donald Trump has spent $50 million in legal fees on just one losing civil case so far. He went on to draw attention to the “stark contrast between Trump and those who are struggling, and must accept whatever the justice system throws at them.”   On a more local basis, MLive carried a feature story this week, pointing out that the new law firm for Ottawa County, in which I reside, made nearly $750,000 last year in providing legal services for the county!   And, on a personal level, I can report that HFP needed specialized legal services to prepare a document last year. The attorney that we retained did an excellent job, and provided the exact service that we needed. But, she billed $750 an hou

7 Muslims? You bet we’ll help!

While it’s the season of Lent for Christians, it’s Ramadan for the Muslim community.   There are about 2,000 Muslims living in Michigan’s 28 correctional facilities, but only 7 of them reside in the Upper Peninsula’s Marquette Branch Prison.   First an explanation of Ramadan, provided by Britannica.   Ramadan, in Islam..the ninth month of the Muslim calendar and the holy month of fasting. It begins and ends with the appearance of the crescent moon. For Muslims, Ramadan is a period of introspection, communal prayer ( ṣ alāt) in the mosque, and reading of the Qur ʾ ā n. God forgives the past sins of those who observe the holy month with fasting, prayer, and faithful intention.   This week, an HFP client emailed the HFP office from Marquette with an urgent request.   “Since the beginning of Ramadan the staff have been less than co-operative with regards to providing their Ramadan food packs and meals in a timely manner. They are receiving their meals and packs sometimes several

Does killing alleged criminals really make sense to you? Is it even ethical? Is it even moral?

I'm a rare bread of cat. I still read newspapers. Recently, Will Weissert, in an article about candidates for President in the Detroit News, wrote:   In a speech announcing his 2024 campaign, (Donald) Trump called for those “caught selling drug to receive the death penalty for their heinous acts.” More recently, he’s promised to execute drug and human smugglers.   That planted the seed for this post.   I’m one of those rare individuals to have witnessed an execution. I became friends with a young man on death row in Texas, early in my work with prisoners. He asked me to be his spiritual advisor at the time of his execution. But, before I go on, let me ask you. Did you see or hear this story in the news last week? I’m quoting here from the Associated Press.   Idaho halted the execution of serial killer Thomas Eugene Creech on Wednesday after medical team members repeatedly failed to find a vein where they could establish an intravenous line to carry out the lethal injection.