Some just don't get it

April 20, 2018
A client of HFP tries working with other inmates:
"Take Nico, for example. He was recently released from level-IV, got mixed in with one of the gangs, and is angry that the board has flopped him twice. His mom died from cancer last week and as I began to put my hand on his shoulder to comfort him, he said, "Now I've got no one to send me money." I didn't bother offering words of sympathy. I mean, your mom's not even in the ground and your only thought--voiced in an upset tone-is money? Selfish bugger caught me off guard sufficiently that I rudely interrupted his request for me to loan him some food to say he needed to get his priorities straight. A year's previous efforts at "schooling" this kid seem wasted. Sad, but at least I tried. He is risen, and that gives me the courage and faith to try to aid others in my own small way."

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A prisoner likes HFP

April 17, 2018
A prisoner shares his thoughts of HFP:
"You can liken HFP's mission to that of the story of those on the right and the left, in that, Jesus speaks about being hungry, thirsty, a stranger, naked, sick, and in prison. Those on the right tended to His needs while yet those on the left vicariously neglected Him. There is a comparison of these stories equating the humanitarian mission of those who are a part of this magnificent organization. Your work will always be cherished and remembered. Thanks to everyone at HFP: the Board of Directors, Members, Contributors, Supporters, and last but not least the thoughtful volunteers."

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CO Protests?

April 12, 2018
A client writes HFP:
"The JPay kiosks are either turned off most days or have been "out of service." I am surprised the phones are even operating. Do you think it is a coincidence, given that recently introduced legislation is looking to advance further reforms within MDOC? That could mean the "free ride" is coming to an end for a lot of state employees. Many of them here behave like petulant children, perhaps spoiled by years of entitlement-thinking and classic get-something-for-nothing-at-taxpayers' expense mentality. Could they be mounting a coordinated resistance? It sure feels that way! It is now time for real change, which is long overdue."

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Behind Bars - Crappy decision at Saginaw CF
April 11, 2018

An inmate with Crohn's Disease writes HFP:
"I have (due to a long fight that I won) a permanent "special accommodation" for: CONTINUOUS ACCESS TO TOILET, and 5 ROLLS OF TOILET PAPER PER WEEK. But now, I’m at a new facility, Saginaw CF, and the reason I'm contacting you is because the Physician’s Assistant today took away my "special accommodation"?!? What the…?  I explained to him that EVEN out in the world Crohn’s patients get a medical card that gives them the Federally protected right to not be turned down to use the bathroom at a public place that only has an employee restroom. He knows I go 5 to 7 times a day on a bad day, and 4 to 6 on good days, ever since my hemi-colectomy surgery to remove 2 feet of intestine. Help!"

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Prison food, from bad to worse

April 10, 2018

A hungry client writes HFP:
"By the time you receive his message, it would be two days since I or we have eaten a hot meal!!! There is no problem with any equipment or something to that effect ... they just had a big ride out and rode a lot of kitchen workers, and those that are left refuse to allow them to work them to death! The meat they are slicing is paper thin and you could see through it! The kitchen staff is punishing us on the strength of other prisoners refusing to be over worked! Plus the meals that they were preparing that was suppose to have been hot was garbage ... I mean so over cooked and burnt, until we didn't eat it for the most part! since Trinity is leaving in a few months, they are really dogging us!"

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WHV: No place to have cancer!

April 6, 2018

A client at Michigan's prison for women writes:
"I had surgery in November, and they said that the tumor came back, that I had type 2a cancer, and I was then referred to oncology for a treatment plan. The oncologist asked for them to send me out to have more testing, saying that the treatment plan would be more effective once the results are in. Then, healthcare cancelled all my appointments to see the oncologist and tried to do things here at the prison without my cancer team. There is some games being played and I'm the one at risk."

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Why a prisoner donated to HFP

April 5, 2018

A client sends this note with his donation:
"The $20.00 that I sent is nothing compared to what you've done for so many of us who are incarcerated. So many guys are forgotten from society, and in some cases their own family! So to have someone to speak and fight on our behalf, like you did for Bear, is humbling and a true blessing. In the 40 years I've been incarcerated we have never had anyone in our corner and genuinely wanting to help us without putting their hand out."

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Kind words from WHV

April 3, 2018
From Michigan’s only prison for women: 
"Thank you so much for your efforts. We all love and adore you all at HFP. God Bless!"

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A prisoner likes HFP!

March 30, 2018

A client sends his thanks to HFP:
"Your organization came into my life when all hope was gone and I was ready to give up completely. I thank you from the bottom. of my heart for the work you people are doing. I firmly believe you are saving lives. You have helped me."

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On spreading kindness

March 28, 2018
In this season of Lent, please be inspired by our friend Doug, who has every reason to be angry. We know of no inmate more deserving of a parole, and yet the system continues to deny freedom. He shares this story:
"My buddy Grizz asked how I could stay so positive after all the time I've served. He said he was asking because he's done a third of my time yet is already bitter and angry. I've gotten this query more here than in the last ten years combined. This place is a "real" prison compared to the kiddie coddle at  my last assignment, so often the attitudes are quite depressed. What I said to Grizzy is that the attitude is a daily choice, made before I swing my feet out of bed. It isn't that I don't feel the allure of despair and resentment, it is just that I refuse to drown in this muddy puddle I tossed myself into. I told him if he can find just one person a day to help, it will not simply give him a purpose, but will help improve his own attitude. He has taken it to heart as I've seen him go out of his way to be polite, clean, or give something to one of the indigents."

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Dropping the ball

March 23, 2018
A grieving client writes HFP::
"Just over the weekend I overheard a prisoner complain to the officer that he just got off the phone with his family, who just informed him of the burial of his sister. They said that they called up the facility to notify him, the prisoner, that his sister had died, and to call home. The officer just said, 'Somebody dropped that ball on that one.'"

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Unclean showers at Oaks CF

March 22, 2018
A client from Oaks Correctional Facility in Manistee writes HFP::
"The showers are still not being cleaned. Now, even worse, one of the showers is plugged, so while you shower you are standing in a puddle of nasty, dirty water. It kind of defeats the purpose of taking a shower."

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A Good Samaritan

March 21, 2018

A client reflects on the work of HFP:
"Humanity for Prisoners dedicates majority of its time, efforts and resources to help those who most of society deem to be marginalized, the cast-away if you will. HFP can be equated to the story of the Good Samaritan which is indicative as to how they view those of us on the inside. While many in society are turning their backs on incarcerated individuals by walking past them, HFP ,on the other hand, faces the men and women who sit by the road offering them a helping and caring hand to pull them up out of a broken and misguided way of life."

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Note from a prisoner

March 20, 2018
A client sends his support to HFP:
"Please be advised I am sending you a donation in the amount of $30.00 to help with stamps and whatever else you might need it for. Thank you for your diligence and hard work in making a difference in this world. In particular, for assisting people who cannot help themselves, and need the type of help HFP Provides."

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A prisoner tribute to HFP

March 16, 2018
SHIP: Showing humanity ignites purpose
By Ricardo Ferrell
"What prompts an 81 year old man to dedicate his time and energy may very well be connected to his embedded purpose. The humanity shown by Doug Tjapkes and son Matthew signifies the personification of selflessness. They've given of themselves in the spirit of kindness and have shown a concentrated effort to promote change for those currently incarcerated. Humanity for Prisoners' years of commitment shows an igniting of ones’ purpose to serve. The many Board Members and others who volunteer their time and resources at HFP further shows humanity efforts on behalf of this remarkable organization is paramount, and necessary to bring about a much needed shift in public opinion. The mission of Humanity for Prisoners continues to be inclusive of empowering those who wish to make a difference in Michigan's prison system and the community. Special thanks to: Doug, Matt, HFP members and volunteers for all you do to ignite and inspire humanity for all concerned. Please keep striving to fulfill your purpose."

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On cuisine: Screwed up!

March 15, 2018
A client writes HFP:
"I have a friend that I told you guys might be able to help him. The other day during lunch in the chow hall he swallowed a screw that was in his sloppy joe. He was then sent to health care & still keep trying to receive health care assistance, but keep being denied. The screw was no ordinary screw like a flathead, phillips or security screw. It was one that comes out of the utensils used in the chow hall used for serving. He feels as though the evidence (the screw)  is going to come up missing & he would like assistance in this process."

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Prison Behavior

March 8, 2018
A client shares a thought with HFP:
"I love the way the MDOC set this “high standard” for how we should conduct ourselves, but the staff engage in conduct unbecoming of an employee daily. I still remain professional, and I’m the inmate, the rejected and despised by society."

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HFP helping inmates!

March 7, 2018

A new client writes HFP:
"I had gotten a couple good reports from the men in my unit about how the crew at HFP has helped them. One guy told me how HFP helped him to get the address of some of his family members who had hadn’t had contact with in 15 years or more! He was excited about the possibility of renewing some lost relationships. I was excited that there are people like you who are so filled with the love of Christ that you do what you do. Thank you!"

HFP Blog: A Lenten gift - the story of a prisoner who was at the right place at the right time. Read HERE.

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Prisoner speaks at funeral service
March 6, 2018

A grieving client writes HFP:
"I lost my favorite aunt Gloria whose funeral is today. I will be hopefully speaking at the service myself by having the microphone placed right above the speaker phone when I call at a certain time. If not, we'll have someone else to read my words I wrote about my auntie and how she affected so many lives in such a positive way."

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The tithe of a prisoner
March 2, 2018
Note attached to a $10 check to HFP:
"Enclosed you should find a small tithe to help. I’m sorry that it’s not more, but at the moment I’m on a limited budget. I believe in what you are doing with/through HFP, so I will continue to support your ministry as best and as often as I can. I pray this small seed will multiply, that the good work that God has created you to do would prosper."

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A prisoner called to do what's right!
March 1, 2018
A client shares his thoughts with HFP:
"I often wonder why God chosen me for some of the things I encounter. I discovered a gang members stock pile of weapons (knives), so when nobody was around I turned them into my Unit officer. I have done this several times, and even had metal they were trying to dismantle and fashion into weapons taken from spots so they don't become weapons. Do this make me a snitch? Naw, I don't never say who. I am just tired of the violence and want my surroundings safe enough to breathe a sigh of relief sometime. Coupled with being a trained mediator too, I feel obligated to an extent in keeping the peace between these guys. They respect me enough to listen, so I guess that is an award in itself. "

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Prisoners financially support HFP
February 27, 2018
Our office has received two recent demonstrations of prisoner support for the work of HFP. A $25 donation was received from an inmate at Lakeland Correctional Facility in Coldwater. That’s more than his monthly salary! And a $400 contribution was received from the Prisoner Benefit Fund of the Thumb Correctional Facility in Lapeer! Decisions about how those vending machine and prison store funds are to be distributed are made by the Warden’s Forum, which consists of two inmates and two staff members. What a huge vote of confidence for our work!

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Appreciation for HFP
February 23, 2018
A client thanks HFP:
"I couldn’t do any of this without your help. You have helped me more in these last couple of months than my own family has in ten years. They treat me like I am already deceased. I don’t even have an emergency contact to give, and I really didn’t burn bridges. When my mom passed, they passed, too."

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On paroling lifers
February 22, 2018
Some thoughts from an inmate/editorial writer:
"Michigan's parole process needs reforming when it comes to parolable lifers. Why continue to cause a burden on the state's budget when it’s a proven fact these groups pose the lowest risk when it comes to reoffending - where less than 2% actually recidivate? According to statistical data between the years of 1900-2003, no parolable lifer has returned to prison for a similar violent crime to which they received the life sentence. Many of these lifers are now in their 50's, 60's, 70's and 80's. Whatever propensity towards violence they may have once had is dramatically diminished due in part their age and other factors shown to keep this particular group in the category of low risk of recidivism, low risk of violence and low risk of failure period."
Written by inmate Ricardo Ferrell

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Overdose
February 21, 2018
A client reports to HFP:
"My whole unit was locked down inside the gym for 4 hours straight because this brother never woke up out his sleep this morning. He was an alright guy. Rumor has it he was a heroin addict and has been using it in here lately. It's just sad that one would lose his life to something so senseless and avoidable. I seen him and his wife on a visit before too. So sad - it puts life back into perspective for me. My prayers are with him and his family."

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Talk about a light supper!
February 20, 2018
A hungry client writes HFP:
"They had emergency count at about 2:30 PM today. I guess they had some kind of a drill because we were fed snack bags for dinner. And when I say snack, I mean snack. The scheduled meal would have been 4 ounces of mac and cheese, a serving of beets, a serving of vegetables, a cookie, 2 slices of bread and a beverage. BUT, what we got a 2 oz cup of peanut butter not even half full, a 2 oz cup of jelly, 4 slices of bread, 1 cookie and a half pint of milk. That was supposed to last us until 6:30 the next morning! I has been a long time since I’ve been in elementary school, but I think the lunches we received then had more food than we got for dinner that day!"

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Another inmate praises HFP
February 16, 2018
A client takes a moment to thank HFP:
"The work you and your staff do is PRICELESS!!! And not to get all mushy on you, but just to know that someone actually CARES goes a LONG WAY in revitalizing our hearts and uplifting our spirits. Clearly, this is the kind of work that is associated with Jesus who was ALL about making a positive difference! So PLEASE, don't ever feel like the work you do is insignificant or futile, because nothing could be further from the truth!"

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Humanity for Prisoners is not a cliché
February 15, 2018
Our client Randal Lefevre shares his story:

My father died on July 31, 2017, and the prison violated policy by refusing to grant me a special visit with my sister who flew into Detroit from North Carolina. My pain was magnified dramatically because I'd been in prison since April 29, 1999, without a visit from anyone.

On August 27, 2017, I e-mailed Humanity For Prisoners and told them my dilemma. On August 28, 2017, Dr Bob, a semi-retired medical doctor/current HFP consultant, e-mailed me back. He said he was devastated to hear my story, and said he'd be to visit me in Oct/Nov. He also started emailing me a daily spiritual devotional.

On November 4, 2017, 1 day after my 46th birthday, Dr Bob came to see me, and I experienced my very first visit in the MDOC. We began and ended our visit with prayer. Conversation flowed freely, and he insisted on feeding me. Dr Bob didn't preach a message of fire and brimstone, instead he demonstrated compassion and love. 

I am so thankful to Dr Bob and Humanity For Prisoners. I was hungry, and they fed me. I was thirsty, and they gave me drink. I was a stranger, and they took me in. I was naked, and they clothed me. I was sick, and they visited me. I was in prison, and they came unto me. All praise be to our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ!

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Keeping oldtimers in prison
February 14, 2018
Thoughts from a prisoner’s common-sense editorial:
"Elderly prisoners who have served many decades behind bars and are too frail to walk on their own continues to be a financial nightmare due to the enormous cost of their health coverage (although Medicaid now incurs some of the cost for some prisoners). The rising amount of dollars spent on this particular group is staggering and seems to be a terrible waste of taxpayers monies, especially, if the state's own assessment mechanism indicates the prisoner having a low risk of reoffending and no longer posing any danger to public safety. What penological sense does it make to hold even geriatric prisoners who don't have the capacity to bring harm to anyone, not even themselves?"
Written by inmate Ricardo Ferrell

HFP Blog: HFP - an important and integral cog in the prisoner advocacy gearbox: click HERE

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Another grateful client
February 13, 2018
A client thanks HFP:
"Thank you again for your ongoing support of all of us in state's custody. I cannot tell you how reassuring it is to have advocates on the outside. Although we are paying our debt to society for whatever wrongs we have done, many of us pay in ways neither appropriate nor lawful to the crime we committed, or to the sentence we were given. In all the ways your ministry is assisting those in prison I thank you and pray for your continued success and blessings."

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More complaints about mail policy
February 9, 2018
Another client writes HFP about the MDOC mail policy:
"Three years ago I started receiving a daily devotional from the STILL WATERS MINISTRIES. This devotional played a major role in my conversion to Christ and changed my life. Last night I received a letter from Still Waters Ministries informing me that MDOC contacted them and told them they could no longer send the devotionals to Michigan prisoners due to restrictions on colored ink. Myself and many others are devastated!"

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More on the new mail policy
February 8, 2018
A frustrated client writes HFP:
"I was just now given a package rejection for a letter that a jail-house preacher in Ohio wrote to me on a yellow legal pad. Now I cannot even read an uplifting letter from an ordained preacher! Where is this insanity going to end?"

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An inmate's thoughts on the mail policy
February 7, 2018
HFP continues to receive daily complaints about the new and highly restrictive mail policy imposed by the Michigan Department of Corrections. This morning we share a state prisoner’s editorial comments, which reflect the feelings of many behind bars.
"Gone are the glitter, sparkles and vibrant colors on those letters and cards that would brighten the grey, black and white dismal surroundings that engulf me.  Black and white letters now arrive in plain, white, generic envelopes provided by MDOC, stripped from the sender’s envelopes.  For me, the sender’s envelope was as cherished as the contents as it reflected the personality of the sender with those cute stickers, quotes, and the beautiful sweep of the sender’s handwriting.  The Parole Board emphasizes the importance of maintaining a strong network of support with family, friends and the community as an integral component in the rehabilitative process, but then MDOC imposes mail restrictions which impede a prisoner’s ability to establish and maintain those relationships.
"Many prisoners participate in Bible study programs via the mail, but because some mailings contain Scripture passages printed in red or other colored ink, those mailings are now being rejected. Even a prisoner’s access to the Word of God is restricted!
"The administrators who created these mail restrictions to thwart the influx of drugs smuggled into this prison are misguided.  Drug use still flourishes in this prison because incoming mail was not the primary source for this contraband.
"Correspondence with family/friends/church help keep prisoners grounded and hopeful.  It encourages prisoners to do the right thing and stay focused on returning home to those loved ones.  Family photos, crayon drawings from the children, and those classic school photos that mark the milestones in their children’s lives were cherished reminders that there was someone at home anxiously awaiting their return, but these mailed items are now banned.  Prisoners who feel cut off from the outside world turn instead to unhealthy relationships with other prisoners and as a result, the number of assaults, fights, and misconducts have increased.
"Friends, family members and interested citizens who wish to file comments about this new policy are encouraged to contact their state legislators."

HFP Blog: Think prison is a safe place? Think again! See today’s HFP blog
 HERE.

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A cold night at Oaks CF, Manistee!
February 6, 2018 
A chilly client writes HFP:
"Last night about 8 PM the heat went completely out. The staff did not think it was an emergency so maintenance did not start working on it until this morning, despite the fact that temps were below 0. We spent the night with no heat at all. This morning there was an icicle stuck to the inside of my window. Not the outside, but in the cell! So, I’m no longer living in a refrigerator. I am now living in a freezer!"

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Women waiting for meds in the cold

February 2, 2018
A client in Michigan's prison for women writes to HFP:
"MDOC staff here are making us stand OUTSIDE in sub-zero temps to get our medications. I waited 15 minutes in the wind 2 days ago to get my meds, the wind chill was 22 below zero.
"Is MDOC ALLOWED to make us stand outside in these temps to receive meds we need? We have a way to receive them inside, they just choose not to use it. Could you please look into this for us?"

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A good guy tries to reform a gang-banger!

February 1, 2018
A client focusing on giving back writes to HFP:
"I spent $22 to make twenty bags with little things, like assorted candies, Chick-O-Stick, and an oatmeal creme pie, for the PAWS handlers and alternates. I cut out and decorated name tags that were easily tied to each bag. While lined up on my bed before being passed out, the bright colors caught the eye of one of the older gangbangers who has bragged of having 180 tickets (I've had three with twice the time served), and he wanted to know why I'd do such a thing. As our chat progressed, it was obvious he thought there had to be an angle I was working. I told him what we'd done at my last prison and he was blown away. He admitted to being overly cynical, overly jaded, when it comes to anyone who seems "too nice," but happily a few of my friends were present to confirm the act is really altruistic. It led to a productive talk, and now I know his birthday is tomorrow, so I have gathered items from some of his friends, and with a card, we'll give it to him. Not as satisfying as changing a teenager's self-destructive thought process, but I'll take a victory where I can get it."

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Corrections Officer problem?
January 31, 2018

As a veteran inmate at Cotton Correctional Facility sees it:
"A serious problem exists. According to the MDOC employee handbook guards are supposed to set themselves out as examples for offenders. But the examples set by most guards are appalling.
"Prison policy and procedures exist in name only as the guards routinely flout them and hold themselves out as the final authority. Supervisory staff, as a matter of course, turn a blind eye if not actually acquiescing. Seldom, if ever, is a guard held accountable for actions involving an offender; unless those actions also violate the law and then only when those actions become a matter of public knowledge and media scrutiny.
"For all the talk of offender reentry and rehabilitation how can the MDOC expect true success if they are turning out embittered ex-offenders? If the MDOC is not willing to make changes at the very core of the problem (how the guards treat offenders) then they are just talking the talk, and not serious about the walking the walk."
Thank you: HFP would like to extend our thanks to all who visited Porto Bello for dinner last night for HFP's "Charity Night." Our sincere thanks to Porto Bello owners Scott and Nancy Ten Hagen and their staff for making the night possible as well!

HFP Blog: Facing medical issues in prison is a different ball game. See today's entry
 HERE

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A touchy roommate
A client writes to HFP:
"One night I was choking in my sleep, and I woke my bunkey up. He was angry, and I explained it was my fault...told him I suffer from an injury. I got up and sat down so I wouldn’t wake him again. The next thing I knew I was being assaulted...all I remember is waking up on my back, and two officers came in to escort me to the control center. The injuries I suffered were a broken nose, my eye was closed, fracture of the jaw bone and serious bleeding. After going to the hospital I was taken to the eye doctor. That injury still lingers, and my breathing is worse. The guy that hit me is 6’4” and pure muscle, 230 lbs and a weight lifter!"

HFP Blog: How the Dr Larry Nassar story hurts the cause of prisoner advocacy. Read Doug's latest entry HERE

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Wheelchair problems at Parnall CF in Jackson

January 25, 2018

A client in Jackson writes to HFP:
"Many of the wheelchairs here are in serious need of repair. Wheelchairs are unable to enter the shower without having to go over a step about 6 inches high. Even the handicapped who are able to walk must step over this. Roadways, sidewalks, and entryways are not being kept up  properly---large holes, cracks, missing concrete/asphalt.  Snow doesn’t get removed so the handicapped can get through."
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Northern Michigan Cuisine

January 23, 2018
A client in a prison in the UP writes to HFP:
"We are having big problems with our food service. For example, this morning we were supposed to have waffles, and instead they sent us plain bread with syrup. Then, just a minute ago for lunch, we were supposed to have burritos. They gave us 4 slices of bread, 2 slices of cheese, 1 pack of jelly and 1 pack of peanut butter. Grievances and kites haven’t helped."
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Man's Best Friend

January 19, 2018
A client training dogs writes to HFP:
IT'S A GIRL!!!
As a Leader Dogs For The Blind Puppy Raiser, I'm proud and happy to announce the arrival of FANCY, my Golden Retriever puppy! She is 7 weeks old and weighs only 9 pounds.
When Tammy, the Leader Dogs Trainer was here this afternoon for our monthly 3-hour Training Session, FANCY participated as much as she could. After awhile, though, she fell asleep and slept through to the end. So cute!
FANCY loves me, wags her tail whenever she sees me, and gives me wet, puppy-dog kisses. Oh, and she's ADORABLE!
I'm thankful to God for this new blessing in my life!

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The Friend Tree
January 17, 2018

For prisoners, it’s not a “family tree,” it’s a “friend tree!”
 
by Inmate Joseph Gill:
 
Some people who call themselves
friend are like LEAVES: They ONLY last 
for a season.

Another type of friend is like BRANCHES:
They are not sure how much
they can take. Some branches, weighted
down, will bend and snap off. In other
words, they will break away from you;
from the tree itself.

The final parts are the ROOTS which
go down deep. These are people who
want to see you succeed and achieve the
best in life. They want to help in anyway 
they can. They are there to instruct and 
guide you. They are people who DO NOT 
want recognition. Their desire is to help you get
to where you need to be.
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Getting chastised for following policy

January 16, 2018

A client writes to HFP:
"Trusting God, while it is crazy here. I'm in a 6 man cell and 3 of my bunkies have seizures. Yesterday an officer tried to write us tickets for getting them outside the unit when the fire alarm went off, saying we were out of place for not asking. If we don’t do this, every one of these women has seizures before we get them out. We followed regular routines and still get yelled at. No ticket came, but we think the staff must be going thru too much."
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No place to be when you pass out

January 11, 2018

A client writes to HFP:
"My neighbor fell out and was unconscious on his floor. The nurse didn't come to check on him, several guards came with a wheelchair, no NURSE at all ever showed up! Its sad that we are at the mercy of people that treat us like they have an axe to grind ... it’s just a few that make the whole look bad."
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Prison Doctor's Bedside Manner

January 5, 2018
A client writes to HFP:
"I talked to the prison doctor when I got back from the hospital, and he told me the reason he didn't send me to a urologist was because they had me stable when I was brought up. If I was stable why were my bun and creatinine levels fluctuating. He quickly said I was a ****ing moron and told me to get out of his office"

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How productive and positive inmates stay busy

January 4, 2018
A busy client stops to update HFP:
"My schedule hasn’t changed much. I work five days a week, plus assist the chaplain on weekends; music practice on Monday, Tuesday and Friday nights; general library on Wednesday nights; Christian activities/services on Saturdays and Sundays; and law library on Sunday nights. I study my Bible college courses every evening from 5:30-7:00. I like to spend a little time with one of the 12 dogs every week...the PAWS program is still up and running strong."

HFP Blog: We love doing what we’re doing! See today’s entry - http://bit.ly/2CQ9ZRs
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Slow mail at WHV

January 3, 2018
The new mail policy of the Michigan Department of Corrections has resulted in a delay of mail received by state prisoners. The situation seems the worst at Women’s Huron Valley Correctional Facility, where we continue to receive reports of mail arriving 4-6 weeks late. Typical is this recent message from an inmate:  It is the 10th of December, and I just received a Halloween card!
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Season's greetings

December 29, 2017

A holiday message from a client:
"Thanks to you and all who contribute to the cause of humanity. You are your organization cannot be thanked enough. You represent what God asks of each of us. Know that all of your efforts by all of you are greatly appreciated!"
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Typical holiday greeting

December 26, 2017
From another of our friends in the state prison system:
"JUST A NOTE TO THANK YOU FOR ALL YOU AND YOUR ASSOCIATES DO FOR ALL OF US IN HERE. MAY GOD'S BLESSING BE UPON EACH AND EVERY ONE OF YOU. YOU’RE THE TOP. MERRY CHRISTMAS TO ALL!!"

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Lonely Christmas

December 22, 2017
Statistics show that only 12% of Michigan prisoners receive visits! Says Bob:  
"WELL I GOT A LITTLE BIT OF BAD NEWS TODAY.  MY FAMILY THAT WAS COMING TO VISIT FOR CHRISTMAS ISN'T GOING TO BE ABLE TO MAKE IT.  SEEMS THAT THEY GOT SOME SNOW DOWN IN TEXAS . BUT AT LEAST I'LL TALK TO THEM ON THE PHONE."
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​Holiday Message from a prisoner

December 21, 2017
A recent message to the HFP office:
"Thanks to you and all who contribute to the cause of humanity. You are your organization cannot be thanked enough. You represent what God asks of each of us. Know that all of your efforts by all of you are greatly appreciated!"

HFP Blog: Some thoughts on prison visits, during holidays, or anytime -
 http://bit.ly/2BeeNyD
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Growing and Giving Back

December 19, 2017

A client tells HFP how he's giving back:
"This past season we planted, grew, and harvested, and then donated 9 1/2 tons of fresh produce to the Branch Area Food Pantry! We also work along with other outside organizations, such as Habitat for Humanity. We grow certain flowers for their organization during the winter months. And, we grew pumpkins that were donated to local schools for Halloween.  The name of our organization is Grower’s Row, we have elected officers, and we hope to change the public perception of prisoners."
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WHV: No place for the handicapped!

December 15, 2017

A client from Michigan's prison for women writes:
"Wheelchairs are a huge issue in our unit. We only have 3 operating, for 186 people in this unit...when at times we have 7-8 handicapped individuals who need to be pushed several times a day. I’m sure the ADA would not be pleased. Would they help?"
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Tragedy and Truth

December 14, 2017
The Tragedy of it:
An elderly inmate here asked me to help her as she is unable to hold her bowels through "count time.” She requested a "frequent bathroom detail" but was told the MDOC no longer honors or gives these out. This women has served 23 years, and they merely handed her a box of diapers to use. Think of it. How would you like to sit in crap inside a 60-square-foot room with another person? Inhumane! Will you help?
The reality of it:
Please erase my earlier message. If we complain, they will put that girl on the west side and she is too old to take that chaos. It is gladiator school over there. She will just have to wear the diaper. I am sorry for her, but I can't help her.

HFP Blog: Helping those at the bottom with the “small stuff” - http://bit.ly/2AGHQ1H
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Thanks from a veteran

December 13, 2017
A US veteran behind bars thanks HFP’s Executive Director:
"I don't know if anyone has told you lately "Thank You" for being you. For doing everything you do for people, for people that are incarcerated also and for everything and all you had done and are doing to help me! I know not how to repay your kindness. Matt this place I'm in is so very cruel and drains the life, emotions and feelings out of a guy. In combat I had to shut down all emotion all thoughts on feelings. Point is, I'm not used to such kindness and kindness that there isn't any other motive behind, am I making sense?
"So Thank You!"
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Man's best friend

December 12, 2017
A client working with dogs writes to HFP:
"We just received 20 new Greyhounds from a racetrack in Montgomery, Ala., so we have our hands full right now. I have Leslie, a timid 60 pounder, but she is a sweetheart. Unfortunately I had to pull at least 40 ticks off her on the first day. Things are going well for me these days and I stay busy."
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More mail policy problems

December 8, 2017
As a part of the new MDOC mail policy, inmates no longer receive their envelopes...the contents are removed and delivered to the inmate. Says one woman:
"I receive much mail from people who are writing to me for the first time and I have no way of knowing what their return address is because this place discards our envelopes. I can't respond to their letters. This mail policy is having a detrimental effect on a prisoner's support network...something the Parole Board claims is so important to maintain. It's a very helpless feeling. It is not an unreasonable request to ask for a photocopy of the envelope. Other prisons do that and this place most recently photocopied the envelopes of our legal mail instead of giving us the envelope, so I know it can be done. I wouldn't care if they just tore off the return address and put it in the replacement envelope."
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Seasonal thanks

December 6, 2017
When Jimmy met with the Parole Board, HFP was there with him in the absence of a family member. When his Public Hearing was held, HFP was there because he deserved a parole. When the Parole Board denied him his freedom, HFP was there to hold his hand and help him explore alternatives.  Says Jimmy:  "...at this season of the year, I count my blessings for having you bring a most needed cheer to my heart and soul. Often your generosity causes my eyes to tear up as the pain in my soul becomes cleansed with your merciful acts and deeds. Thanksgiving has been you in my most needed and trying time, may God always bless you with the human kindness to see the need for more people like yourselves in this world with nurturing hearts  that have been fortified by the ability to give love to those less fortune in life."
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​Prisoners like HFP commutations workshop

December 5, 2017
Earlier this fall, Humanity for Prisoners was able to present a workshop inside a prison helping inmates prepare their application for commutation. HFP received a lot of feedback like this:
"Heartfelt appreciation and a mountain of gratitude! You gave participants a vivid and thought-provoking understanding of the commutation process. All in attendance were impressed, inspired and encouraged by the remarks, advice and recommendations you conveyed. Well done! Thank you very much!"
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WHV Infirmary: No place to be!

November 16, 2017
A client from Women's Huron Valley Correctional Facility writes:
"Staff put me in a room with a bunky who screams and hollers all night. I am so stressed out. I just do not know what to do. This place just does not care. They just throw you in a bed and that is about the extent of it. This infirmary is a big joke! They do not even put clean sheets on the bed. You just have to do everything for your self. Everything in here stinks. I can't even remember the last time they mopped the room."

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Scene of much hopelessness!

November 15, 2017

Tom has been in prison 11 years. His summary:
"I've lost everything from being in here so long and every time I do come up with something, the Parole Board messes it up, so as of now, the woman I've been with is now gone, place to live, gone!!! Job, gone!!! People that were helping me think I'm in here just messing up and not doing what I'm supposed to, and there's no way to make them understand."

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Cuisine at Lakeland CF, Coldwater

November 14, 2017

A client from Lakeland Correctional Facility writes:
"We as representatives have spoke to the warden a few times about the chow hall not being sanitary. Two months in a row we brought this up and well the other day even after the complaints there were maggots found on the serving line in the cart that holds out breads, spoons and fruits. They had to take the cart out and off the compound, and replaced it a day later. But all in all, why were these things there on the line we are served food from after so many complaints? It’s sad. I would hope that one day this changes."

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Outside the Bars - A wife's perspective

November 10, 2017
The Marshall Project recent published an essay written by the spouse of an inmate, shedding some light on what it's like to live on the outside with someone you love on the inside. An insightful Friday read: "What to Never Ask a Prison Wife" - https://www.themarshallproject.org/2017/11/02/what-to-never-ask-a-prison-wife

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A prisoner making a difference

November 9, 2017
A client trying to make a difference writes HFP:
"I am in the middle of organizing a restorative justice club, and our first meeting is Nov. 4th. Once we get that going and everyone involved, we hope to work on and have a newsletter completed and ready to go by December so that we can distribute our first quarterly issue in January. I will write again soon with any updates. Take care and God bless."

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Thanks from a cancer patient
November 8, 2017

HFP is blessed to have an oncologist on our advisory board who will review records and, on occasion, contact the facility about the care of the inmate. One such client writes back to us:
"Since the letter from your oncologist to the warden here on my behalf, I have been seen by a urologist for the possible bladder/urothelial cancer I tested positive for back in 2015. I have also received a CT scan and a PET scan. The MDOC seemed to be content to do the bare minimum despite my complaints of pain for over a year now, until your intervention. I believe your assistance made this happen and I wanted to thank you. I know that God's hand is in all things, but He uses people like you and your fine physician! Thank You and God Bless"


HFP Blog: Think you could prepare three meals a day for under four dollars? That’s exactly what is happening in Michigan prisons! See today’s entry: http://bit.ly/2zGcXJC

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New Glasses, thanks to HFP assistance

November 7, 2017
Recently, an anonymous supporter of an inmate contacted HFP wanting to send that inmate a new pair of glasses. HFP got the information from the inmate and thanks to the generous support of the donor, a new pair of glasses arrived a few weeks later:
"I want to inform you that I received my glasses from the optical company this week. I also want to thank you ever so much for your help. I can see and read a whole lot better now!"
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​Man's best friend!

November 3, 2017
A client with a new job writes HFP:
"I was hired as a dog handler in the PAWS For A Cause program. I've been given the most wonderful puppy on the planet, Coral, a yellow Labrador. I can't believe they pay me for this! How does that saying go? If you do what you love it isn't work? Something like that. Anyway, after 32 years of not caring for a dog (from a family that was never without a dog), this has been wonderful, unlocking all sorts of feelings I worried might have been burned out from being in prison so long."

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Prisoners giving back to the community

November 1, 2017

HFP continues to donate yarn to various Michigan prisoners for their hobby-craft programs. The guys who crochet at Parnall Correctional Facility in Jackson recently sent us this report:
"Our next shipment is going to Homeless Veterans in the area. Thanks for all you have done for this program. To date, we have donated approximately 400 lap blankets and full size Afghans. This is all due to the generosity of organizations like yourselves that care enough to do things like this."

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Where sadness knows no bounds

October 27, 2017

A grieving client writes HFP:
"My family was devastated by the drowning death of my 16-year-old son. The day after my son’s death my mother began making phone calls to the staff at WHV to arrange for paperwork so my family could pay for me to come to the funeral. No one returned messages. In desperation she called the Governor’s office, who gave her MDOC names, starting with the director. My mother called each one, and again no return calls. I have missed saying goodbye to my youngster child."

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Why we’re here

October 26, 2017

A grateful client writes HFP:
"Thank you again for your ongoing support of all of us in state's custody. I cannot tell you how reassuring it is to have advocates on the outside. Although we are paying our debt to society for whatever wrongs we have done, many of us pay in ways neither appropriate nor lawful to the crime we committed, or to the sentence we were given. In all the ways your ministry is assisting those in prison I thank you and pray for your continued success and blessings."

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Not an easy life for sex offenders

October 24, 217

An inmate considers filing a commutation:
"I do not think that I will make a commutation. They will not look favorable\y on me as a candidate for one. Besides that, just think how hard it would be for me to support myself on the outside as a sex offender. It is bad enough in here...no one helps you, you cannot get a job that pays you anything but scraps. I cannot even get a dog handlers job cause I have this stigma on me.  I am at the lowest end on the pond, and very few people want to talk or be associated with me."

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Story about a good guy!

October 20, 2017

A thoughtful client writes to HFP:
"Back in April I was watching the local news and saw a story that really made me think, "I need to do something more important with my time". The story was about a woman  who was looking for a partial liver donor. I just happen to meet the 3 most basic requirements to be a donor for her: under 55, in good health and blood type O+ or O-.  My thinking was that I could get whatever testing needed to be done while I'm locked up then go through the surgery when I get out this coming January. I didn't think that I could be an organ donor while incarcerated. My counselor checked the MDOC policies and found that not only could I get the testing done but if a recipient was found before my release, I could go through with the surgery. The policy was changed just this year. Some people are convinced I have too much time on my hands. But, I look at it like this: If I can do this while locked up, I won't have to take time off work to recover. And maybe I can raise awareness about prison conditions. Or show the outside world that there are caring, compassionate human beings in here."

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Call in the feds!

October 19, 2017
A handicapped client writes to HFP:
"I am a permanent wheelchair-bound person. This particular facility knowingly and purposely lacks accessible restroom accommodations for wheelchairs. I have asked the U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Civil Rights, to open an investigation."

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Finding Dad!

October 18, 2017
A client searching for family writes to HFP:
"I'd like to thank you all. There was a guy that I thought was my dad, and you guys got me his address. I wrote him and once I got in contact with him we did a DNA test,and I found he was in fact my dad! Thank you!"

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​Pony Express would be faster!

October 17, 2017

A client writes about the mail service:
"My legal mail is blocked here for 10 to 30 days. At times it takes a month or two to get local mail. It's prison and they do what they want to do."

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​HFP: Helping women behind bars!

October 12, 2017
A client from Michigan's prison for women writes to HFP:
"I woke up today thinking about all you do for the women here at Huron Valley. I look around and see the changes that one letter to you has done. Yesterday I looked back to 2014, my first letter from you and to you. There was so much going on at that time, so so much. I decided to keep going and look through the years we have been writing. The changes are small at first, but when you look at that span of three years they are HUGE. 
"HFP has made its impact on our little society here in the most wonderful way. From our clothes, to cleaning supplies, to medication, to health care, food, segregation, one on one, the list just continues. But when you put it all together you really can see just how much we mean to HFP. We love you!"

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Buy Michigan?

October 10, 2017
An HFP client makes an interesting point:
"Can you recall Michigan governors making a big deal about “Buy Michigan?” Yet, MDOC buys bed sheets, many clothing items, etc., for us from Indonesia, Pakistan, etc. MDOC forces us to buy store goods from Missouri, shoes from California, meds from Colorado, our finances are handled from Florida, our screwed up satellite TV from Texas. Oops, no Michigan?"

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Another thankful prisoner

October 6, 2017

A grateful client writes to HFP:
"From the bottom of my heart I THANK YOU!!!!!!!! My biggest Prayer is that God blesses you with all of His Goodness!!!!!! You didn't have to do for me what you've done and for that I'm eternally grateful to you."

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Family deaths complicated for prisoners

October 5, 2017

A struggling client writes to HFP:
"The Resident Unit Manager told me that my dad died. She put a call thru to my sis who I hadn't heard from in aprx 18 years. My sis said she was flying in from NC and she wanted to visit with me. She wasn't on my visiting list but the RUM said the warden would grant a special one time visit due to the nature of the visit and the distance my sis was traveling. Long story short, they didn't let her see me but instead sent her a visiting form. My sis e-mailed it back immediately but it wasn't approved until after she flew back to NC. The warden later apologized but said no one told him about my situation. I've been in prison since April 1999, and haven't had one single visit. I'm devastated to say the least. Both my mom and pops are dead."

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On elimination of typewriters

October 3, 2017
Inmates in Michigan who try to put a formal look on their legal paperwork normally use a typewriter if they can access one. This note recently came to HFP:
"Word is, typewriters will be removed from the law libraries! As ink runs out and/or break, they will be removed and NOT replaced. What the heck Doug? People go to the Law Library to research and TYPE legal documents for court filings. I know, I am a law library clerk here. Yes, we both know that legal forms, motions, etc you can print. However the SCAO forms instructions and court rules state MUST be typed or printed very legibly - or they can be refused. So very many men here cannot print well. Can't you just see so many court rejections due to being illegible?"

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Striving for good!
September 29, 2017
The National Lifers Association chapter at the Handlon Correctional Facility in Ionia continues with positive and exciting goals, as outlined in this note to HFP:


- Contacted American Cancer Society about having some activities here to raise funds and solicit matching funds from some local businesses for Breast Cancer Awareness Month and Prostate Cancer Awareness Month
- Contacted DeVos Children's Hospital in Grand Rapids and Hobby Lobby of Lansing to collaborate on prisoners making necklaces and wrist bobbles for children
- Contacted NPR Michigan Radio about recording a show here dealing with various aspects of prison life.


HFP Blog: Think you could ever wind up in prison? Better think again!  See today’s entry:   http://bit.ly/2fVOSTG
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More on prison cuisine

September 26, 2017

A client writes about food service:
"The menu sounds nice, but that’s not even close to what we receive on most days. We never receive the proper portion of the meat product/ingredient. Poultry stew, no poultry; poultry teriyaki, no poultry; meat sauce/spaghetti, no meat; poultry tetrazzini, no poultry. They act like we’re dumb 5-year-olds who won’t notice."

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HFP friend behind bars receives national award!

September 22, 2017
Eric Boldiszar, resident of the R.A. Handlon Correctional Facility in Ionia, has received the 2017 Bert Thompson Pioneer Award for Faith-Based Community and Restorative Justice from the National Association of Community and Restorative Justice. Bolddiszar, a sophomore in the Calvin Prison Initiative project, was recognized for his efforts in organizing a conference held on the campus of Hope College last march, called St. Benedict Institute’s Hope for Restoration: Radical Hospitality and Prison Reform Conference. CPI program assistant and coordinator Julie Bylsma accepted the award on Boldiszar’s behalf at the NACRJ conference in California. Congratulations to Eric from the entire HFP gang!

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Lament of a vet

September 21, 2017
A veteran behind bars writes to HFP:
"I need help with the prison system acknowledging my military medical records. I fought and shed blood and left a lot of myself In Iraq. I'm in pain every day, I run into gun fire and head first into danger and am no punk. Yet I am treated worse then one. Sometimes I do wish that I died in Iraq, and I should not ever wish that. So what do I do?"

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Death notification

September 20, 2017
A client searching for family writes to HFP:
"I just got a letter back from my father,. But the thing is, it came back unopened, with big red letters saying DECEASED. Yeah, it hurt like heck. Well, I’m broken big time."

HFP Blog: Divine intervention? Happens all the time here at HFP. See today's entry: 
http://bit.ly/2fzJZzk

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WHV visits require patience

September 19, 2017
A female client writes HFP:
"Re our visits: Our families are waiting anywhere from one to two hours before they are processed in. I've sat there that long waiting for my family to come in. I ask for shift command and no one comes. They make up excuses why no one comes."

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Not easy for transgender inmate
September 14, 2017

A transgender client writes HFP:
"As for support, I have none because of me being a transgender girl. All my family has disowned me as well as what "friends" I have had. I don't understand it myself because it's 2017."

HFP Blog: Yes, the continued prison health care problems raise our level of anger. See today’s blog: 
http://bit.ly/2f8xDBc

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Another empty bed

September 13, 2017
A grieving client writes:
"At about 4:50 AM my friend John went to the guard and said he thought he was having a heart attack. He then laid down on the floor and the guard called health care, who came and got him. About 5:30 John came back from health care with some Tums and he apparently told his roommate they gave him some sort of shot. By 6:30 AM John had gone into what appears to be cardiac arrest. Guards and health care performed CPR until the ambulance arrived but it was too little too late. John died. He was only in his 30s and was supposed to go home this past July but they moved his parole date to January. John did not do any drugs and worked on the maintenance crew the whole time he was here. But these people here automatically assumed he must have taken something and that he was not actually having a heart attack. So they never sent him to the hospital when he first reported he was having heart trouble. Two State police detectives came in and I hope their investigation reveals the truth. My prayers are with his family. This is a truly horrible place to become ill, and even more so to die!"

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Prisoners care about officers
September 8, 2017

A client at the women's prison writes to HFP:
"I am writing regarding a serious issue with staffing here at WHV. On Thursday, August 24, 2017, I personally witnessed one of our officers being ordered to stay past  sixteen hours. This officer had worked first shift and second shift and at 2230, still had not been relieved of her shift so she could go home. Once her relief arrived, she was relegated to yard duty since there were no available yard officers. I spoke with her the next day and asked how late she'd had to work.  “I worked seventeen hours straight before I was able to get out of here." was her response. Isn't it illegal to work more than sixteen hours at a time? Aren't employers required to give at least eight hours between shifts? I understand the need to work more in cases of emergency but this is a regular occurrence. These officers here at WHV are working sixteen plus hours daily on a regular basis and they are getting burned out. This affects us prisoners because the officers are short tempered, are too tired to properly manage the housing units they are assigned to, and occasionally they are falling asleep on the job. I don't blame them; they are completely exhausted and wiped out. My concern is not only for their safety (driving while exhausted, etc.) but for our safety as well. How well can we be protected when their response time to a crisis is diminished? How can the drug abuse be monitored properly when officers are too tired to care? Please let the public know how bad conditions are here not only for us prisoners but for the corrections staff as well."

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Finally getting out, and no place to go!
A client writes to HFP:
"I am from Flint. However, since my fiance’ passed away last year, I really don’t have a place to parole to. She was the only one I had. My little brother is in prison down south somewhere. My mother hasn’t been in contact with me for years. And my other family have died over the past 15 years that I’ve been  prison. I have no one and nowhere to go."

HFP Blog: Despite all the bad news on your TV, Doug claims love wins. See today’s entry: 
http://bit.ly/2wK6nPL

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Gift from a kind inmate

September 6, 2017

From a prisoner who sends HFP a $7 check quarterly
"I’m sorry that my donation is not larger. Right now, $7.00 represents approximately 15% of my monthly provision. I support three ministries. I will continue to donate to HFP because the Lord has put it on my heart to do so."

HFP Blog: Some rays of sunshine through the dark autumn clouds. See today’s entry: 
http://bit.ly/2xahQt5

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Giving back to the community

September 5, 2017

A client writes to HFP:
"I facilitated another youth deterrent program session this month. I received some good news that has me feeling good. I deal with the juvenile probation officers from this area. They bring in all of their troubled youth. Well one teen in particular had been to the program a few times. I received the news from his probation officer, that he has a job and he is back in school. She said that it is a direct result of hearing the remorse, empathy and consequences of my story. I feel good because I am able to give back to the community from here."

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No relief in sight!

September 1, 2017

The wife of an inmate writes HFP:
"My husband called me late today, having "just" gotten off of lock down that began at 10 a.m.  That was bad enough, being locked down all day, but some were not allowed to go to the bathroom in all that time.  Apparently the guard in his unit had himself a grand time teasing and making fun of those who were desperate to relieve themselves, adding insult to the cruelty of keeping people from the bathroom for 6-7 hours.  Isn't there policy against that?"

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​Words from a grateful inmate

August 31, 2017
A long-time client of HFP reconnects:
"You helped me out significantly long ago, simply because you exercised your humanity by caring for those of us in here. Thoughts have helped me to make it from day to day, and when it seemed the darkness would overwhelm me. Words cannot express our gratitude for your efforts. The number of lives you have affected over the years is awesome."

HFP Blog: HFP: Not just talking about prison healthcare problems - 
http://bit.ly/2wkFq4E

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Where friends watch out for each other!

August 24, 2017
A client of HFP writes to us about a fellow inmate:
"I have another person who really needs some help. I've known Mr. R. for a couple years I guess. He has always been in a wheelchair. Recently I noticed he dropped about 30 pounds. He now has difficulty standing and is falling down quite a bit. Health care is doing virtually nothing. His feet are purple and swollen. He has some sort of vein or artery problems and it is very painful. They have literally told him they cannot and will not do anything, not even for the pain. They keep calling him out, and they give him a very hard time because he doesn't have his shoes on.. his feet are too swollen. And they don't do anything. Most days he is slumped over in his chair, and seems kind of out of it. Please see if you can do anything."

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Thievery doesn't stop in prison
August 22, 2017

A client reports on criminal activity inside the prison:
"Thefts are crazy here. The gangs are running wild and the officers stay in there shacks. Then you have the theft out of the kitchen...the officers only shake down the ones they know do not have anything. The meals that are suppose to have meat in them don't, because the cooks steal it and sell it on the yard."
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Assaults!
August 17, 2017
A friend of HPF, in a recent message to our office:
"Well another interesting weekend 2 guys were stabbed, one went to the hospital the other went to the inmate doctor in his unit. Then another was beaten down. The guy in c-5 was the worst, they had a sub officer on he was in the office on the computer playing some game and guys from the pole barn come and stabbed him. The CO's say they have a hard job. If they would stay off the computers or not sleep in the office things would not be so bad. You only see them on the yard about 15 minutes before they go home."

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Making the best of it
August 10, 2017
A client writes to HFP:
"I just celebrated my 66 birthday on July 5th. Never thought in 1973, at 21 years old, that I would have survived 40-plus years in one of the cruelest creations mankind has been able to devised for itself: the American Prison System. But God has been so good to me during those decades and blessed me in so many ways... most importantly of which enabling me to defeat the environmental influence that surrounds me."

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When oldtimers see the Parole Board
August 9, 2017
There are times when HFP volunteers to attend a Parole Board review with an oldtimer, especially when family and friends fade away:
"I take it that no one from my family has bothered to contact you yet? It sadden me but the truth of the matter is that they don't really know me after all of these years, and the best way I was able to do this bit was have less contact with them as possible, otherwise I would have worried myself to death thinking about them. I had received visits before most of them got old and start raising their own families.I got to figure out how to reconcile with their pain and ask them to forgive me too!"
HFP Blog: For the alleged sex offender, not an easy life before, during and after prison. See today’s blog   
http://humanityforprisoners.blogspot.com/

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​​No place for the handicapped
August 8, 2017
Note from a prisoner in a wheelchair
"My personal wheelchair has been threatened to be taken away, and I would be left without proper walking assistance devices.  My cell is too small to allow the use of a wheelchair.  The door to my cell is too small for me to enter in the wheelchair...I have to get out of it, collapse it, then leave it in front of the entrance as there is no room for it inside.  The showers, although named “Handicap,” have a 12-14” tall by 6-8” wide barrier, separating the changing area from the actual showers.  I cannot use them without crawling over this wall.  Then there is the med center in the First Aid building.  Their policy is that we must leave our walkers and wheelchairs outside, and hobble or crawl inside for our visits and exams."

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Not much to eat!
August 3, 2017
A hungry client writes to HFP:
"The vending machine situation here is terrible. There are 6 machines in the Visiting Room:  2 pop machines, 1 with sandwiches, and 3 with chips, candy bars, etc. But at EVERY visit, at least 50% are completely empty, have “Out of Order” signs taped to them, or when items are chosen, the machine says, “Make another selection.” Frustrating!"

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Reentry not all that easy or exciting
August 1, 2017
A client who is a sex offender writes about his upcoming parole:
"I'm just not sure how many, or if anyone, would rent to a person admitting they have a sex crime record. I'm happy to be leaving, but not excited. I fear it will be much more difficult and cruel out there. Luckily, I have supportive friends."

HFP Blog: When our friends behind bars hurt, we hurt! See today’s HFP blog:  
www.humanityforprisoners.blogspot.com

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Prayer of an 81-year-old prisoner
July 28, 2017
An elderly inmate writes:
"I ask God to keep me strong, and healthy...keep me on the right path, keep my family healthy and in the best of strength, let nothing harm me, and forgive me for all of my sins."

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Difficult place for transgender people
July 27, 2017
A transgender inmate writes HFP:
"I am pushing hard for a transfer to Huron Valley Women’s Facility, or to be treated, as much as possible, like a female housed in a male facility.  If not, perhaps even get my commutation and release, because the MDOC no longer wants to deal with me as a prisoner.  All I know is that the sexual abuse and sexual harassment that I experience by male inmates and alike must end."

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No bus when you need it!
July 26, 2017
A client of HFP with medical issues shares this story:
"I went to the hospital for my chemo treatment...my appointment was at 10:30 AM. I was done at 13:30. The police had to take another prisoner to another hospital for surgery. After they were done, they were supposed to come back and pick me up. They forgot, and left me at the hospital until 10:22 PM.  I arrived back at my facility at 11:37. What a day!"

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Angry over bad spaghetti!
July 25, 2017
A client writes to HFP:
"Just got out of the hole. Spent 2 days there in protective custody. Staff got a reliable verbal report that there was a hit out on me for not fighting hard enough about a spaghetti dinner that was really messed up. I think somebody was just trying to get me out of the way. Off the warden's forum most likely."

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Another day in prison health care
July 18, 2017
No question about it.  When getting medical treatment in prison, you gotta have a sense of humor.  Take Ryan, for instance.  He’s dealing with cancer, and it hasn’t been fun.  The other day, he was informed that he’s due for surgery in a few days:  radical robotic prostatectomy.  Problem is, they removed his prostate in May!  Meanwhile, the staff wasn’t pleased about his resistance, and advised him to take this seriously.  Said Ryan:  “I’ll go in if you demand it, but if they find a prostate in me something is really screwed up!”  The medical staffer told him that was downright rude, and shouldn’t presume to know what the doctors did.  But, cooler heads prevailed.  No surgery.  A chagrined nurse apologized and said records will get properly updated.

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​Kind words for HFP
July 14, 2017
"WHAT YOU’RE DOING TO HELP THE GUYS IN HERE IS WONDERFUL! WE'RE NOT GARBAGE IN HERE. WE MATTER IN GOD’S EYES. I STILL HOLD ON TO HAVING A LOVELY, BEAUTIFUL LIFE ONCE I'M RELEASED, THAT'S WHAT I WANT FOR ME. :)"

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Unclean food trays at WHV
July 13, 2017
A note from a client at Michigan's only prison for women:
"I am writing to inform you of the deplorable way Trinity has been allowing their workers to run the WHV kitchen. Recently, food trays were not washed and sanitized properly. the dish-tank was broke down, and the trays were being washed improperly in the pot tank. In addition to that, other trays were only being sprayed off from eaten food and sent out to be reused. I am concerned about my health and the risk of communicable diseases due to the improper sanitation and sterilization of food trays and the cavalier attitude of the Trinity supervisors."

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​A Prisoner Thanks HFP
July 7, 2017
"I am so grateful for all that you do for the entire prison culture.  You help in ways that can’t even be expressed.  Just knowing that there is someone out in the world who will read our letters and have compassion for whatever issue that we may have is amazing!"

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Typical prisoner message
July 6, 2017
A client of HFP provides a typical message the office receives:
"I started a job in the kitchen here last Monday (washing dishes) for 23.5 cent an hour Mon thru Fri 5:45 AM to 11:15 AM. It's not the most lucrative job in the world but at least my days are more structured.  It took me a little while to adjust to this facility but that was mostly because before I got a job I just had a lot of idle time on my hands and that was getting kind of frustrating. I lost an Aunt a few weeks ago but I've been gone from my family for so long that it's hard to even mourn properly. I feel like I don't even know how to."

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Nasty food at Duane Waters!
July 5, 2017
A friend of HFP was transferred from Coldwater to the Duane Waters prison medical clinic for treatment of a staph infection.  He lost weight during his one-week stay.  Here’s his reason:
"The food in Duane Waters is horrible.  I thought the food here in Lakeland was bad, and rest assured it is bad. But the food they gave me in Waters, just looking at some of those dishes they tried to feed me, turned my stomach. So, I surely wasn't going to try and eat it no matter how hungry I was. Rest assured believe me  I was hungry. I ate an apple, or a couple slices of bread, with a lot of ice water and called it a day. Hence the seven pound weight loss."

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