With compassion for Michigan’s imprisoned, Humanity for Prisoners provides, promotes and ensures—with strategic partnerships— personalized, problem-solving services for incarcerated persons in order to alleviate suffering beyond the just administration of their sentences.
Doug Tjapkes formed the organization in 2001 based on a dream of his best friend, Maurice Carter, who had been behind bars for 29 years for a crime he did not commit. He met the challenge of Carter, who stated that he wanted to convert this negative into a positive and help others who have been wrongly convicted and serve as an advocate for all prisoners with special needs. It was their dream that the two would work together upon his release from prison. That was not to happen
1. Conveying the availability of personalized services for inmates and their families.
2. Communicating with prison and state officials regarding inmate rights and necessities
3. Pursuing empathetic and effective care for prisoners in need of medical attention or facing imminent death
4. Overcoming barriers to fair and equal treatment of all incarcerated persons including those with intellectual, sensory, emotional, or physical impairments
5. Directing inmates to effective legal aid
6. Negotiating legitimate institutional issues that arise during confinement
7. Assisting the imprisoned in research considered weighty to their situation
8. Facilitating programs that provide inmates with opportunities for positive societal impact.
The courts rejected a four-year legal effort headed up by the Wisconsin Innocence Project. Meanwhile, while incarcerated, Maurice contracted Hepatitis C and a serious staph infection. Governor Jennifer Granholm commuted his sentence for medical reasons in July, 2004. He enjoyed only three months of freedom. He died at the age of 60 in October, 2004, before he could qualify for a liver transplant.
Tjapkes authored a book telling of his ten-year relationship with Maurice Carter and their battle for freedom entitled Sweet Freedom.