Let the music play!

October 15, 2019
Mr. J has been playing piano his whole life. He's 68, and has served over 40 years of a non-parolable life sentence in the MDOC. His keyboard is his lifeblood. So when he moved to a new facility, one that did not allow keyboards (it's up to the warden at each facility), he contacted HFP. We reached out to the warden with a plea to change this policy. It took almost 3 months, but Mr. J finally gave us a good update:
"Hello Matt, aside from an obvious blessing from God, I'd also like to think that "you" played an integral part in the "policy change." The warden has finally approved "keyboards" as acceptable musical instruments; so I just wanted to take the time to personally thank you for all your efforts. We need people and organizations like you. Please continue caring. Thanks again, and God be with you all."

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​Veterans giving back

October 8, 2019

An HFP client updates us on the Veterans group activities:
"We are (the V.V.A.) making Christmas stockings with wooden toys ( cars, boats, trucks and airplanes ) that we are making and I've got my crochet class making the Christmas stockings I also have some of my guys making necklaces and bracelets for the girls then we will fill the stockings up with candy and cookies what we don't have is someone that would like to receive them. In the past we had a kindergarten class that we donate to here in Jackson but that school has been closed would you find me a group or an organization that could find a good home for them please ask them how many they would like and how many need to be boy stockings an how many need to be girl ones."
If you have any ideas on where this group can give, please contact the HFP office (info@humanityforprisoners.org). 

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​A commentary on prison cuisine

October 3, 2019

A client shares his thoughts on the food served in prison:
"Garbage food comes to us from vendors that sell the cheapest and worst they got to the State! So how do we expect our health to get any better when the quality of food is so poor in the proper nutrients to sustain a body? Michigan's choice of a diet for prisoners is the worst in the nation, and for prisoners with life and long indeterminate sentences, their fate in prison is a death sentence! Whoever modeled this system done so in an effort to have it replace the death penalty after it was abolished in the early 1900's and replaced with a form of mercy killings."

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New hit series?

September 26, 2019

Mr. H, a long-time HFP client, has a idea for a new TV series:
"'Live C.O. Television.' Just like the program on A&E--'Live P.D.' Corrections in America should be televised round the clock, as we move toward rehabilitative institutions. This will show both where we are, and why we are going in a better direction. And, foreign countries with this working already (rehabilitative corrections) would be invited on the T.V. program with their own body cameras to show American taxpayers the difference, and why to fix a broken system. What better place to lead innovative prison and jail reform than right here in Michigan."   
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The shoe fits!

September 25, 2019
Ms. C had been waiting since May for a custom pair of shoes to help with some foot issues she's been having. Finally, after months of waiting with no action, she asked if HFP could help. We reached out to the facility, and days later this reply arrived from Mrs. C:
"Hi, well you did it again. I got the shoes but only with your help."

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A description of MDOC health care

September 24, 2019
A client shares his point of view on MDOC health care: 
"Health care at this facility waits until a prisoner is literally on the brink of death before they want to send them out to a hospital. Then, too, there is a level of incompetence at times that gets the ball dropped. And then it’s too late, a person be dead! The trend now in our system of health care seems to suggest that if you're getting old, there is no NEED to waste money on you."

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​An important re-connection
September 19, 2019
Ms. N has been waiting. Her late father paid for legal help back in 2011, and the brief still hadn't been filed! She reached out to HFP, who went to bat for her and contacted the attorney. Days later, this message arrived:
"Matt, yesterday at 2:45 I spoke to (my attorney)..he told me he and his wife are working on my brief..it should be ready to file in a week. Thank you for your care..I appreciate you."  
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On treating those with special needs

September 18, 2019

Mr. J was on suicide watch in Brooks CF. His wife describes the ordeal:
"My husband said that being in seg was torture. They left him handcuffed in a shower for two hours when they took him down to seg because there was no one to monitor him. They then stripped him, he was given no clothes, only a canvas sheet. He said that he didn't sleep at all. He called to tell me that a CO on second shift was giving him a hard time and saying things like: 'He is playing games because if he was going to kill himself he would have done it.'" 

HFP Blog: "Kindness is gladdening the hearts of those who are traveling the dark journey with us." ~ Henri-Frederic Amiel. See today’s entry
HERE.  

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Health Care(less)
September 17, 2019

Mr. G had a recent visit to Duane Waters Health Center. When he arrived, the nurse struggled with both of his arms to find a vein for an IV. After trying unsuccessfully, the nurse called for help:
"A small amount of blood was transferred form my skin on both arms to her gloves. When she decided to have someone else connect my IV, she went to the next inmate to begin hooking up his IV. She used the same gloves on the next inmate."

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​New client likes what he sees!
A new client to HFP writes:
"Thanks for such a prompt rely. I heard nothing but good things about Humanity For Prisoners. Now i see why! It's truly a blessing to have someone taking my case serious for a change. This is a wonderful service your organization is providing for the less fortunate."

HFP Blog: Doug is still talking about the two Lester Holt TV specials over the weekend, and says it’s time to get our hands out of our pockets! Read more HERE

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Paying tribute to a fallen comrade
September 10, 2019

At a recent performance of Shakespeare Behind Bars in Brooks CF, actor James O’Neal presented this eulogy:
"Mr. L., Fallen, But Not Forgotten  Big ‘L’ I call you because when I watched you strut and fret your hour around the yard on your daily strolls, it gave me a pleasure to pass pleasantries with you; the gentleness in your voice was apart from the norm, a difference that made my days unique in the sense that brought me a joy and pleasure to be alive, especially when you speak of the difficulty with your memorization with Claudius' lines and Willis throwing the role on you. We chuckled, but when rehearsal time comes, your eloquence brighten yonder stars as you recite Claudius with a tenacious nature that give life to Claudius’ character. I felt proud and at the same time, your indomitable spirit feed the pertinacious character of my own will to learn my lines; I will always remember you, my thespian brother, as your spirit dwells along the route you made. Strutting and fretting your hour distinguished you from the whole with your proud head up, and your cane having a life of its own. We will miss your presence, but your spirit will always live on with us.”

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Dirty Duane Waters Health Center

September 5, 2019
A client who had a recent stay at Duane Waters Health Center, the MDOC's main medical facility, writes this to HFP:
"I looked at the top sheet I was to lie on, and it showed several large stains (coffee can size). I assumed the sheet had been washed, but it was still awful to look at. As I stood there, I glanced in the corner of the room. There was a pile of dust and dirt that appeared to have blown there by passing traffic. The room had not been swept in some time. Next to the bed was an IV pole. My eyes followed the pole down to the pole's four feet. The feet of the pole appeared to have been covered with baby powder. It had not been wiped off in a long time."

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Clean Water Needed!

September 3, 2019

HFP client Mr. D uses a CPAP machine at night to ensure proper breathing. The device requires distilled water to make sure that no bacteria is passed on to the wearer, causing risk for infection. Mr. D informed HFP that he was without the needed distilled water for 3 days, making him choose between not using his machine or using water from the sink. HFP contacted the facility, and got this reply the next business day:
"The issue regarding the distilled water has been rectified. Custody staff that work in health care and Mr. D have formulated a plan to have him placed on  call out every third Thursday to go to health care to get his water for the CPAP machine."

HFP Blog: Sometimes a kind word is all we can offer a prisoner. Some thoughts from Doug on the importance of soft words HERE

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Perspective
August 30, 2019

A client shared this with HFP: 
We were discussing Fixed-mindset verses Growth-mindset on Friday in Academic Transition class. This was a handout from our Professor, an eighth grade girl wrote this. I thought you would like to post it, and share it with others:

Today was the absolute worst day ever

And don't try and convince me that

There's something good in every day

Because, when you take a closer look,

This world is a pretty evil place.

Even if

Some goodness does shine through once in a while

Satisfaction and happiness don't last.

And it's not true that

It's all in the mind and heart

Because

True happiness can be obtained

Only if one's surroundings are good

It's not true that good exists

I'm sure you can agree that

The reality

Creates

My attitude

It's all beyond my control

And you'll never in a million years hear me say that

Today was a good day
-----------------------------------------------------
Now read it from bottom to top!
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Native Americans doing good things at Lakeland CF

August 28, 2019

A Native American client writes to HFP:
"I’ve been working on a DAY OF PEACE AND UNITY sponsored by the Native Americans Traditional Ways Group. We are requesting to have one speaker from each religious group at the Lakeland facility speak on what peace means to them. We have asked the warden to speak and talk about how positive behavior and involvement in positive programs at the facility would generate positive effects in our lives. We are doing this to show compassion and prayers towards the victims and families of the mass killings and senseless shootings as of late. We want to show that even as prisoners we are human and have a sense of humanity towards all our relatives and members of society. I am told that a pastor has taken my letter to the warden and used it as a format and sent letters out to 400 prison chaplains across the US. I am proud to have spurned this day of non-violence and peace, September 21st. -Your friend John"  

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Urgent Call

August 23, 2019
A quick profile of HFP assistance last week:
Tuesday AM: Mother of terminally ill client calls HFP, can't get a call back, doesn't know if he's OK or even where he is. 
Tuesday PM: HFP makes contact with the MDOC regarding the situation.
Wednesday AM: The warden replies to HFP: "Just wanted to let you know that we did make contact"
Thanks to your support, HFP is able to get results like these on a daily basis!

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Headed home!

August 22, 2019
A client shares good news with HFP:
"I got my parole this morning! Once again I want to thank you and your organization from the bottom of my heart. There is no doubt in my mind that your assistance was instrumental in my preparations for my last hearing. You can count on my ongoing support of your organization in the future Matt. God bless and thank you!!"

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Patient concerned about others

August 21, 2019
Reflections of a surgery patient at WHV, the Michigan women’s prison:
"I’m still here in the infirmary and it’s not a very kindly or clean place. There are a couple of gals here who will never leave this area. I hate to leave them behind, but will write them often to let them know they’ll never be forgotten. We lost a woman here 3 days ago. She took her oxygen off during the night, and left us by morning. There was no hope left in her. I’m so grateful for the joy our Lord fills me with, so that I may be able to bring a ray of sunshine for those around me."

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Grateful for a response

August 20, 2019
A client writes HFP:
"Humanity for Prisoners and you are the only ones who are stepping up for us inmates. I write other places who get paid to help, and they spin us. Thank you for your efforts"

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Ideas for parole reform

August 15, 2019

HFP friend Ricardo Ferrell, who has been behind bars for 38 years and is eligible for parole, is pleading for parole reform. Says Ricardo:
"The Parole Board is dispensing the equivalence of a death sentence upon lifers by continuously and arbitrarily denying us an opportunity for a meaningful chance at being released. In some instances we’re made to serve 35, 40, 45, 50 + years before eventually releasing us on a four year parole. This, in essence, is a form of incarceration because any violation, irrespective of how minor, means the parolee will be returned to prison for another 12, 18 or 24 months. That person could face the likelihood of never again being paroled. Ricardo goes on to say, These lifers often are the best candidates to grant parole, as they seem to successfully complete the 4-year paroles without committing new offenses. Since 2009, some 400 parolable lifers have been granted paroles, and none have reoffended with the same crime. And, this particular group is less than 1% of the recidivism rate. Hundreds of us parolable lifers have served 3, 4, & 5 decades and have become the elderly population, who's propensity towards violence and crime are long behind us. I speak for every parolable lifer: We want a second chance!"

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Another grateful inmate

August 13, 2019

A client writes HFP not asking for anything, but just to say this:
"I'm so proud of you and your organization. Tell your staff that the good work that they are doing is giving hope and courage to us who are daily dining on misery, abandonment, regret, and hopelessness. Thank you all for being a light in the darkness."
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Blessings on HFP!

August 8, 2019
After HFP wrote a letter of support to the Parole Board, a client writes back:
"Thank you so much for the quick response and the perfectly worded draft letter to the board. Again, I pray that God continues to bless you and your organization for the dedicated assistance you so generously provide to us who have nowhere else to turn for help. Your dedication is very much appreciated by not only myself, but the many others you provide assistance to. May God continue to bless you and yours." 

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Lots of ants, but no air!

August 1, 2019

Mr. S, Level V prisoner at Baraga Correctional Facility, was just released from solitary confinement for health reasons. He writes:
"They moved me to a cell contaminated with bio, infested with ants, and no air circulation. I’m tired of waking up in a bed full of ants chewing on me!  The doors are altered to block illegal messages, but this also blocks all air."

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Violence at Chippewa CF

July 25, 2019
A client at Chippewa Correctional Facility writes HFP:
"A guy talked a young kid into stabbing another guy to get into his gang the kid did it then got caught he is in seg. Now the guy that talked him into it just got beat up for doing it. I guess that is due process!"

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Appreciating Susie's touch

July 23, 2019
A client thanks HFP's Client Services Specialist Susie Greenbauer:
"I want to first thank you and your organization for your services…it's been a "Huge" help to me , and to so many more of us like me , whose voices lots of time go unnoticed. Thank you for not getting offended when I called you in regards to another inmate here. When I commented that it was nice to hear a woman’s laugh, you took it as a compliment, so here’s a card thanks (Smile). Arthur." 

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Handicap Issues

July 18, 2019
A wheelchair-bound client shares these issues with HFP:
"I don't have the proper space to transfer. I don't have the proper space to put on clothing . I have needed assistance from my current bunky several times because I'm not strong enough to pick myself up off the flow and get back in the chair. I cannot bend over with out falling out the chair so its limits me from doing normal day to day activities normal people take for granted like sweeping, mopping, and making up the bed and using the bathroom. I even have to use a special commode that fits over the toilet because I do not have the core muscle to hold myself up from falling in the toilet. I need help just to pick it up and move to and from the toilet."
HFP is working hard to make sure this client's needs are served.   

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Our amazing support from behind bars

July 17, 2019
HFP doesn’t expect contributions equaling one month’s wages of a donor. Yet, that’s exactly what happened recently. President Matt Tjapkes reports that we received a $50 donation from a Michigan inmate. Prisoners in our state, who have jobs, can earn as little as 75 cents a day. And that contribution wasn’t an isolated incident. So far this year, HFP has received cash donations from 8 different Michigan inmates, as well as a grant from the Prisoner Benefit Fund account in one state prison! Why do they support our work? One prisoner said, "I donate to HFP because I know firsthand, that what you’re doing is having a profound effect, by spreading joy…"

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​Giving Hope

July 16, 2019
A client struggling through legal issues writes HFP:
"Thank you for sending a letter to the Attorney General, and most of all for continuing to fight for my freedom. You have just given me the strength I needed to hold on. Bless you for that!"

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​New client impressed with HFP

July 11, 2019
A new client reacts to his early dealings with HFP:
"First, let me say that I'm very surprised, as well as honored to have receive this much consideration on my behalf. We as prisoners has always been regarded as sub-class individuals who deserve little to no respect. Again, you need to know how much you are appreciated."

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Prisoner ingenuity

July 3, 2019

Professional sculptors have wonderful materials at their disposal to create their masterpieces. But, what

can you use when you’re locked up in prison? Calvin Prison Initiative student David Mozingo was

graduating with an Associate’s Degree, but his real skills are with his hands…and his real love is

motorcycles. So, he decided to create a miniature motorcycle that he could present as a gift during

the graduation exercises. When asked about materials he used, he replied: “I used rolled up paper

for the frame, cardboard for the structural parts (rims) and Q-tips for the spokes in the wheels, glue

and baby powder for the sculpted parts (fenders, engine parts, and gas tanks, etc.), latex gloves (for

the tires), and acrylic paints. I also incorporate small things that I find along the way if it looks like a

motorcycle part.” Here’s the finished product, which we show with our congratulations!

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Thankful client gives back

July 2, 2019

When HFP provided Mr. D with some information he couldn't locate, he sent this response:
"As soon as state draw rolls around I will send $20.00 to the organization. I wish I was able to do more. But you know how, or I'm sure you'e heard about how these prison jobs pay. I wanted to thank you for the information that you sent me in regards to the other places that I could have my mother write. I know that the information that your offices provides is helpful. Again, thank you for all of the assistance that you all provide. Not only to me but to all of us who are incarcerated. Thank you for helping us have a voice."

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Wanting to do more

June 27, 2019

A client's note of thanks to HFP:
"I genuinely wish I could I could do more to help Humanity For Prisoners, but when I get my money straightened out, I will try, but in the mean time I will let everyone know you guys are the greatest, because you guys really are."

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Disabled Vet can't work!
June 26, 2019

Mr. D is a disabled Veteran who served in the U.S. Army. Recently, the MDOC had required him to take a plumbing class so he had vocational training when he's released. He contacted HFP asking for help, saying not only can't he work, but he'll have disability benefits when he's released, so he won't have to! HFP made contact with MDOC officials, and a few days later this note arrived:
"I just wanted to let you know that I just with the principals secretary and she told me that they made an error and that I have been removed from the class that I didn't want to take so I will not need your help with this matter and thanks again for all that you have done for me."​

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Snack time!

June 25, 2019
Mr. J was relaying some issues and other questions he has via email to HFP, when his message abruptly ended with this:
"Anyway, I gotta go. I've got a date with a honeybun. Sweet bliss."

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HFP to the rescue

June 20, 2019
Nick has served 17 years behind bars, and is about to be paroled. But, reentry planners were dragging their heels, and his release date was threatened by a lack of assurance that housing and employment plans were in place. He appealed to HFP, and later sent us this message:
"The next week, I had the requisite letters attesting to housing and employment assistance, which gave both me and the MDOC what was needed, and granted me the opportunity to finish my education in Ministry Leadership. I look forward to thanking the HFP staff in person!"

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​Another Father's Day tribute

June 19, 2019
James is a 63-year-old black man who knew Maurice Carter, and who is serving a life sentence in the Michigan prison system. Doug Tjapkes is an 82-year-old white man who befriended “Ba’ Boy” many years ago, and as the founder of HFP has been trying to help him get the parole that he deserves. On behalf of himself and other inmates, James sent this Father’s Day tribute to Doug, who he warmly refers to as his “dad:”

My Dad ... (Doug)
As I think about your generosity toward humanity and how I began to love you for the caring and being there in the hours of our needs, we cannot help but be affected by your tenacious charm to save the world.
Wherein, we exist as helpless victims to the incessant neglect in a system that fends off the weak and “unabled,” we found a place in your heart that gave us refuge and hope to shield us from the hurt and pain that is visited upon our powerlessness to adequately fight our own battles.
Being fatherless in this world, we find a surrogacy in your caring, a vitality in your strength and presence in always being there for US as our repented souls struggle to keep humanity out front. We mirror your soul's intent for us to be fair and just, as we struggle in this sometimes merciless system for an ear or helping hand. You share your soul and shoulder for US to lean and cry on as we get our feet back under us to carry on, WE thank you from the bottom of our HEARTS for being more than a friend, but a caring FATHER figure that has opened his HEART to shackled souls, and have freed doves.
We would always cherish your being as my FATHER ... Happy Father's Day!

Love,
James

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​Behind Bars - Father's Day greeting
A message that arrived yesterday:
"To: Matt And All the Father's @ Humanity For Prisoners; H A P P Y F A T H E R ' S D A Y ! All year long you guys seek out to help others and ask nothing in return other than that we not abuse the support. I truly appreciate all ya'll do! Thank's for caring..."

HFP Blog: Since our beginning, we’ve been giving speeches about prison problems, prisoner issues, and HFP’s work. Doug says it’s time to say more! Read HERE

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Man's best friend

June 13, 2019
HFP client Jessie Bowman & his dog “Hawk,” a St. Miguel Cattle Dog, at the Saginaw Correctional Facility. Jess reports that

the 12-month-old pet weighs 62 pounds, and is being trained to be a service dog for veterans suffering from PTSD or

similar maladies. He has been amazed at the dog’s ability to learn.

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Innovative drug smuggling at WHV

June 12, 2019

A client at Michigan's only prison for women updates HFP:
"We are having drug issues really bad. Two drones this past month dropped stuff in our back yard. So for now, our yard and gardening will be shut down! We’re only allowed to go out and site, so bird feeding is still a go."

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Another grateful inmate

June 11, 2019

A long-time client writes to HFP:
"I have never forgotten how you used to write me when I was in administrative segregation after the Kinross riot back in September of 2016. Yours and other organizations’ letters kept me strong during that time of adversity. Even though I was railroaded and set up with a FAKE misconduct, I prevailed on judicial review and the truth finally came out."

HFP Blog: So do we need more people like Doug, Matt, Susie, Holly and Melissa? No, we need YOU! See today’s entry
HERE

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Drugs in WHV

May 30, 2019
A client at Michigan's lone prison for women writes:
"There is SO much dope and pot coming in! And, it’s a lot of the older gals who selling to the kids. It makes me so sad. I pray things can improve in here for the sake of us all."

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Good medical care
May 28, 2019

We have posted numerous messages from prisoners complaining about lack of appropriate medical care. It’s only fair that we post good news, also, when we receive it:

"The outside doctor sent the test back TODAY and he was so excited, he switched seeing me himself, and it was negative of any cancerous type! But, he wants me to return for an upper scope to determine if I may have a bleeding ulcer! I am scheduled to go out again soon for that. I am amazed that they're doing so much for me in order to detect anything that they can get an early handle on. God is GREAT!"

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Giving Back

May 23, 2019

A client responds after receiving help from HFP:
"As soon as state draw rolls around I will send $20.00 to the organization. I wish I was able to do more. But you know how, or I'm sure you'e heard about how these prison jobs pay. I wanted to thank you for the information that you sent me in regards to the other places that I could have my mother write. I know that the information that your offices provides is helpful. Again, thank you for all of the assistance that you all provide. Not only to me but to all of us who are incarcerated. Thank you for helping us have a voice."

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Free prisoner phone calls?

May 22, 2019

Kay Perry, who heads up the Michigan office of Citizens United for Rehabilitation of Errants (MI-CURE), makes an interesting suggestion in her May newsletter:
"We hope the MDOC will consider offering free phone calls to incarcerated individuals. This is particularly appropriate because the department continues to charge for medical visits and over-the-counter medications; while providing inadequate food services; while withdrawing money from inmate accounts to pay for restitution, fines and fees; while failing to provide jobs for all who wish to work; and while failing to pay living wages to many incarcerated individuals who do have jobs."

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Kind words from a Michigan inmate

May 21, 2019

Some thoughts about Doug’s new book "Humanity for Prisoners?"
"Your book is very important in highlighting the many issues and indignities that prisoners still face. Your book also offers hope as it shows that you and the rest of the Humanity for Prisoners staff will continue to fight for and give a voice to the dignity, respect, and humanity that all prisoners deserve. I am also writing a research paper for my pastoral care class about grief, loss, and trauma in prison and your book is a valuable resource. So thank you again for being a voice for those whose voices are too often silenced.  Eric"

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The Michigan Department of Correction receives kickbacks. Where does that money go?

May 17, 2019
Reports Tim Requarth, in The Nation magazine:
The department receives 5 cents for every e-mail sent, $10 for every tablet computer sold, and 50 percent of printing fees if prisoners choose to save e-mails on paper. For each $100 care package, the department receives $19. If someone purchases $100 worth of commissary goods, that’s another $19.
Chris Gautz, a spokesman for the department, said that all commissions are deposited into its Prisoner Benefit Fund, which may be used to pay only for items that serve prisoners, like cable TV and exercise equipment. “Michigan has never looked at [commissions] as a revenue generator,” he said. 

Read Tim's full story
HERE
Our note:  PBFs seem to have little oversight, and distribution seems to vary by facility.

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Small Victories

May 16, 2019
A client follows up on help he received from HFP:
"Small victories are nearly as sweet as the big ones. Today I received a letter from the parole board admitting their pre-screen was incorrect, the changes have been made to the summary report, and that both it and my letter have been added to my central office file. This is only the second time in 34 years the board has responded to a letter I've sent. I feel like tacking it to my bulletin board. So, thank you yet again for your help. Had HFP not gotten my summary, who knows how these small errors may have turned into big denials in the future?"

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From the wife of an ex-offender

May 14, 2019

The wife of a former HFP client writes:
"The parole process is complicated. Since my husband's homecoming I am more convinced of the importance of having a caring hand in the life of a prisoner. Thank you to HFP for filling this need!"

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HFP appreciation

May 9, 2019
The wife of an HFP client writes:
"My husband came home a month ago. I am so grateful to HFP for helping us along this journey. Their care will not be forgotten!"

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​HFP Yarn - Most like it, some hate it!

May 8, 2019
For many years, HFP has been donating unused spools of yarn from a local area carpet factory to Michigan prisons. We distribute thousands of pounds, thousands of dollars’ worth of yarn to these hobby craft programs so that inmates can knit and crochet goods for charity.

In almost all cases, Program Coordinator Judy VanderArk receives response like this:

"Thanks again for the yarn delivery last week. Please know how appreciative I am that you took so much time out of your day to drive so far. I want you to know I definitely plan on sending some bears to you as soon as I can get them out of the prison. I will make sure to send something for the new HFP office also. God bless."
Ellen Pach, Operation Teddy Bear, Macomb Correctional Facility

The exception is Michigan’s prison for women:

"When we received yarn previously it was primarily wool, the prisoners were saying they were allergic to it and was breaking out from it, as well as their cell mates.  The class who received the yarn said they would prefer not to work with this type of yarn again, most of them couldn’t work with it. We’ve decided not to use the yarn this time.  I’ve been in this position close to three years now and remember receiving the yarn only once; afterwards I was inundated with complaints from the prisoners."
Donna Butler, Coordinator, WHV

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A woman inmate making gains!
May 7, 2019

A client at Women's Huron Valley writes HFP:
"This to let all know that I just passed the State of Michigan Peer Recovery Coach training. I was told today, and I can’t wait to start my work. I am so happy! I know this is my vision from God and He has showed me the path for the rest of my life. Thank you all for your support and prayers. With love, Ms. C"

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Yarn Update

May 1, 2019
HFP Board Member Judy VanderArk, along with husband Pete, recently delivered two giant carts full of yarn to the G. Robert Cotton Correctional Facility in Jackson. The unused spools of yarn, collected from an area carpet factory, will go to the prison hobby craft program. Inmates knit and crochet items for various charitable organizations. Each year HFP donates thousands of pounds of yarn to Michigan prisons. Earlier this year, 450 pounds of yarn was delivered for the hobby-craft programs at Earnest C. Brooks CF and Muskegon Correctional Facility, and hundreds of pounds of yarn went to Parnall CF in Jackson as well. After one delivery, we received this response from Ron:
"Thank you for supplying us with the yarn. I am the craft clerk here at PCF and I and others have been working to build the program to something that people will be proud of. We started with 6 and are now up to 55 participants. I want to be able to make hats, scarves, and mittens for The Back Pack for Kids program. As well as scarves for the Special Olympics. I think that everything that the crochet program does and gives back to the community is a positive reinforcement, so that the public can see that we are not all animals as we are thought to be."

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On picking your friends
A client sends an update to HFP:
April 19, 2019

"I am distancing myself from Alec to ensure he doesn't get a second chance to get me in trouble with his smart mouth. The kid--23 is a kid to me--has a life bit ahead of him, yet seems oblivious to how difficult his time is going to be if he keeps mouthing off to staff and other convicts. He has only been at this facility, so I worry about him when he is eventually transferred. He's actually a likeable guy, and intelligent, but he's equally self-absorbed and deserves everything given to him on a silver plate. Bad combination. Worse, he hasn't learned a thing from a near disaster: not an hour later he was trading racial insults with Sam X, a leader of the Nation of Islam. Okay, I said "smart," so let me clarify: He is book learned and not wise."

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Lifer places his future in God's hands

April 18, 2019

A client serving a life sentence writes HFP:
"Anyway, regardless of how any of this turns out, I am going to simply settle into the acceptance of five more years to further contemplate the errors of my ways, find another Bible study to take, and improve my dog training skills."

HFP Blog: Restoration of the Notre Dame cathedral is important, no doubt about it. But many more needs and issues demand our attention and concern. See Doug’s comments
HERE

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Cuisine at EC Brooks CF
April 16, 2019

A client housed at EC Brooks Correctional Facility in Muskegon writes:
“The food is poorly prepared and edible. Potatoes, potatoes, and more potatoes (very dirty). A cheap rice, plenty of cold cut meats, and processed chicken and fish, both breaded! Vegetables are always the same, mixed string beans with carrots and corn (always overcooked). The meat is always some undescriptive road kill that they use for everything! Often red sauce meals are cooked with too much puree and give you heartburn all night long! Breakfast gravy meals should be called flour chunky gravy and road kill, because there are always more uncooked flour dough chunks that are not properly blended that take up everything. Pancake bake is a sheet of plain flour that is half cooked! Breakfast hash is cold-cuts cut up in dirty and gritty potatoes with the eyes and peels still on them. My point is my choices of salvaging something worthwhile to eat off of the mainline is very slim pickin’s, so what do I eat?”
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Success

April 11, 2019
Message to HFP from an a Michigan inmate who is not a citizen of the USA:
"Great news, I received my parole to my immigration detainer. I will never forget your help and support over these 31 years of incarceration. I want you to know that have contacts on the other side of these bars. They helped me keep my mind sound and looking to a very promising future. I will always be grateful to our most merciful Lord for the good people during my incarceration. If we should never see or hear from each other again, you know I will be in Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, know that I will never forget you. With true happiness and sadness, Mr. A."

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GIFT: Give It Forward Today

April 5, 2019
A short essay from one of our writers in prison, Ricardo Ferrell: 
The law of giving is applied when we give of ourselves to others selflessly without looking for anything in return - only then do we do a good thing. Our giving should not be done grudgingly, with hidden motives nor shady intentions. And, the best way to get what you want in life is to try helping someone else get what they want. Try to apply the GIFT principle daily with one or more of the following:

1) Give a warm and kind greeting
2) Give a hug and kiss
3) Give a flower
4) Give a compliment
5) Give a short note on jpay
6) Give encouragement and inspiration
7) Give positive energy
8) Give your word and keep it
9) Give food, water, cloths and tithes
10) Give a helping hand and advice
11) Give your heart and prayer
12) Give support, comfort and love 


Writer's note: The folks over at HFP are prime examples of those who consistently give of themselves, and not look for anything in return. Doug, Matt, Holly, Susie, and board members extend the GIFT principle daily, and it comes directly from their hearts. Thank you all ever so much for giving us on the inside HOPE!!!  

HFP Blog: Harass, harangue, or bully the hungry, the homeless, the unfortunate? Come on! See the latest entry
HERE

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Gaining on the drug problem at WHV
April 4, 2019

A client from Michigan's prison for women writes: 
"They have had several drug busts in the visiting room as well as our unit. So they are finally doing something about the drugs in here, which is great. I am under no illusions that they will stop it all. However they are hitting the biggest ones, which is awesome. Some of us are certainly sick of it, and it seems more than one person is speaking up."  

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When time counts

April 3, 2019

Jim had been without his heart medicine for three days when he placed his call to HFP from a prison telephone station. He was in a panic. Our team responded in haste, as we do with all crisis issues. Later came this email message:  
"I got my medications and I feel excellent!!! There are so many problems with the system until I am forced somewhat to sympathize, but some things you can't ignore. Thank you so very much!"

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​Happy client thanks HFP!

April 2, 2019
Jeff was just granted a parole. He writes:
"I'll stay in touch so you know what happens with me. Praise the Lord that His perfect plan for me is carrying the message on the outside. And thank you for all the inspiration and encouragement over the past few years, not to mention going out of your way to do things for me. It was greatly appreciated and I admire you're work and dedication very much."

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​Prisoner appreciates HFP’s succession planning

March 28, 2019

A client shares his thoughts on HFP:
"Doug came to our rescue. He is our torch bearer, and personally, I have a lot of love in my heart for him and I will always, always remember him! He is truly a solid brother. I know Doug don't do it all, and that a host of other people put in countless hours of work, and I want to thank everyone at HFP. I really, really appreciate you guys and I'm grateful for all the hard work you do, thank you! Matt, will you please post this where everyone can see it? Simply because people like to know that they're appreciated. Thank you, Ralph"

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HFP: a voice for the voiceless
March 19, 2019

A client writes HFP:
"Thank you for continuing to advocate on our behalf. Without you, we would have no voice."

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HFP sticking with its friends

March 14, 2019
A client thanks HFP:
"Thank you for believing in me, where there are those that don't ... and want to see my corpse buried among the ashes of the many thousands that have been FORGOTTEN. I labor on as my body fight and hurt to defeat the elements of gravity that has been set in motion against me."

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Just a prisoner trying to make a difference!

March 7, 2019

A client trying to do the right thing confides in HFP:
"Everything is going alright with me. Just taking it day by day, trying to make a positive difference in an environment that’s in dire need. It’s a struggle, because the more you try to do good, others try to bring you down. But, I refuse to let it hinder me from the mission!"

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Lifer takes a jab at Parole Board
March 5, 2019

A client serving a life sentence writes HFP:
"This policy of theirs mandating we have home placement, jobs, and such, and that they prove it by sending letters of support, is horribly cruel as it gets their hopes up, all the while the board has no intention of honestly pursuing a release. Why waste their time, energy, and emotions? Fine, they want to toy with me for what I've done, so be it, but watching the tears roll down the cheeks of my 75-year-old mother is shameful on their parts. I mean, really, if they have no intention, why the scheduled interview, COMPAS and such? This process makes less and less sense the longer I'm in."    

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