How is it possible? A positive ending to the outrageous Maurice Carter Story!

I hate to visit the city of Benton Harbor, Michigan. I have friends there. I have done business there. I have worshiped there. But the tragic memories of the shameful Maurice Carter case come alive every time my car reaches the city limits. 

That was the case just the other day. Award-winning film maker Nathan Roels wanted to shoot some footage at the scene of the crime for which Maurice was wrongly convicted. Roels is producing a short documentary about the Carter story, having been commissioned by Humanity for Prisoners. The focus on that story is especially significant this year. For one thing, 2024 marks the 20th anniversary of Maurice’s release from prison. And, a group of University of Michigan law students hope to file an appeal for a posthumous pardon by Governor Whitmer soon. 

I reluctantly agreed to the Benton Harbor visit. 

I find it amazing that God can take this list of shameful facts to create beauty:

-Maurice was arrested for shooting and injuring an off-duty police officer 2 years after the crime occurred, based on a signed statement by a jailhouse snitch

-The snitch recanted during the Carter trial, admitting that police had paid him to lie, but, despite the fact that he was then charged with perjury, an all-white jury found Maurice guilty anyway…no motive, no fingerprints, no weapon

-The only witness to the crime was the store clerk, who insisted that police had arrested the wrong man

-An alleged witness, who claimed to have seen Maurice run from the scene of the crime through the window of an office building 150 feet away, was hired by the County Prosecutor following the trial

-Even though eligible for parole he never had a chance because the shooting victim was later retained as chief investigator for the prosecutor’s office, and the former Sheriff of Berrien County was named chairman of the Parole Board

-Maurice Carter served 29 years for a crime he did not commit

-He was finally released in 2004 for medical reasons, due to a diagnosis of end-stage Hepatitis C, a disease prison doctors failed to treat

-His release was too late for a liver transplant, and he survived in freedom for only three months! 

How could good come from that evil? Thank God, a couple big things happened. 

First, after being introduced to Maurice in the mid-1990s, he and I became best of friends, working side-by-side for the next 9 years in a pursuit for freedom. I’m proud to say that he became a part of my family. 

Second, thanks to a dream of Maurice, I formed an organization that later became known as HUMANITY FOR PRISONERS, which has become a powerhouse in the State of Michigan as it seeks humane treatment for ALL occupants of our state prisons. 

Today, HFP has touched the lives of approximately one-third of all men and women incarcerated in Michigan’s 28 years. 

Today, HFP’s kindness and compassion reach into the darkest corner of the dankest cell. 




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