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.
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."
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.
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."
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!"
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."
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."
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"
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.
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?"
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!"
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!"
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
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"
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."
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."
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.
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?”
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."
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.
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."
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!"
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."
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"
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."
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."
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!"
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."
Why HFP support is so important to inmates
February 26, 2019
A client confides in HFP:
“I can't thank you enough for the inspiration. Many of us don't fight, because of the overwhelming odds, no belief in fairness, no confidence in self, and no confidence in others. The list can go into the depths of night, yet I stand now in hopes of gaining some form of relief!”
Limited cuisine options
February 21, 2019
A hungry client writes HFP:
"Ate a slice of bologna on two slices of dry bread for supper. That was it. No condiments. No cheese. There was a red bean and rice . . . substance being offered for chow, but of the twelve of us in the corner, only one very hungry kid chose to eat it."
A life changed for the better
February 20, 2019
A client who was ready to cut off communication with HFP 2 years ago checks back in:
"I want to thank you for changing my life Matt. You and the others that are involved with you that I have had the privilege to meet has changed me for the better and believe me that is hard to do since I know where I was 2 years ago mentally. Thanks Matt and I hope to one day meet you."
HFP Sets a New Record: Yesterday, the HFP office had 77 requests for assistance. It's the highest one-day total in the history of the organization!
Credit where credit is due
February 19, 2019
The MDOC and specifically the administration at WHV took a lot of heat for responding so slowly to a rash epidemic among Michigan’s women prisoners. But, one of our informers writes that the treatment was handled exceptionally well! Says Ms. S:
"I just wanted you to know that the lockdown and quarantine went excellent, thanks to the staff working their butts off! Special thanks goes to the Warden and Deputy Smith who worked tirelessly for 27 hours straight washing clothes and folding, side-by-side with staff. In every way the staff worked well with prisoners to stop all cross contamination and there were very few problems. All in all, the staff at WHV should have a big thanks from all of us!"
Cold and inhumane!
January 30. 2019
From a 77-year-old client with terminal cancer, who resides in the Cotton Correctional Facility in Jackson:
"THEY HAD US WAITING OUTSIDE IN ZERO TEMPS FOR OUR RESTRICTED MEDS. I GUESS THEY WANT ONE OF US TO KEEL OVER BEFORE THEY REALIZE THAT SOME OF US CAN'T WAIT OUT IN ZERO TEMPS. I HOPE THAT ISN'T ME THAT KEELS OVER."
Imagine something better
January 24, 2019
An editorial from one of our prison writers, Timothy Murphy:
Imagine Michigan prisons to be a place that provides offending citizens no-nonsense programs that actually invest in offender success and future public safety. Imagine that all correctional guards, and other prison staff, are trained to be interventionists and educators who hold offenders accountable for their behavior by providing real opportunities for change, rather than ruling with an "us verses them" vengeful mentality.
Offenders are monitored 24 hours a day 365 days a year by correctional staff who could have a very profound, positive impact on these men and women. If we were to reward our correctional guards for their humanity, role modeling, and meaningful contributions to offender success it would have perpetual public safety benefits by returning offenders back into the community more prepared to become pro-social, law-abiding reformed citizens.
It is high time we seek to bring social justice principles to a higher ground. Not just for the sake of offending citizens, but for the sake of those charged with helping to reform offenders so society will not be further victimized. This should give correctional staff a greater purpose as opposed to treating offenders like mere livestock, with no feelings, compassion, or concern for how this negative treatment of offenders will further hurt our communities by turning out embittered ex-convicts.
Imagine how we can actually use our prisons to make society safer by realigning the way we operate our prisons. If our prison system (commonly called "correctional facilities") really corrected behavior, we would all be winners. But it cannot happen without public support. Citizens need to let their legislators know that they demand dignity-based rehabilitation within our prison system they need to let these lawmakers know that they want legislation to reform our prison system which inevitably will lead to more public safety. Don't put this off till tomorrow or next week. Do it today. We have a new legislature and they are waiting to hear from you.
Able to breathe again!
January 23, 2019
Last August, HFP Medical Director Bob Bulten appealed to the MDOC Bureau of Healthcare Services. Darrell had fallen, had broken his nose, and was having a difficult time breathing. Surgery was necessary. It didn’t happen quickly, but recently we received this message:
"Hello DR. Bulten, just a short word to let you know that I just received my 'nose surgery,' and that all went well. It sure is great breathing through two nostrils again. I am doing much better now, and I hope that you are also doing well in your life. Thanks for your help. your friend, Darrell"
HFP Blog: Have you been reading about the skin rash problem at Michigan’s prison for women? HFP contends it’s a bigger problem than the rash. Overall medical care in Michigan prison’s needs attention! See the latest entry HERE.
January 22, 2019
A client working with dogs sends us his accidental surprise:
"Quite by accident I found a spot where I can see the night sky without the security lights' glare ruining my view of the heavens. For the first time in the better part of a decade I could see the multitude of stars, including what I think is the Big Dipper. It's been so long since I last saw stars so clearly it was literally breathtaking. With zero cloud cover it made sky watching fun. I'll gladly let my dog pull me to this section of her potty area if it means a few precious moments of peaceful awe."
Poetry Behind Bars
January 17, 2019
An update from Ricardo Ferrell, one of our writers behind bars:
From the Cell to the Stage
'Delivering Our Poetic Expressions'
Michigan State University host poetry slam at the Michigan Reformatory in Ionia, which makes the second this year. The idea to offer a poetry class from MSU came from this writer three years ago when a letter was written asking the Creative Writing Department to consider offering a class to prisoners at the Richard A. Handlon Correctional Facility, the letter was forwarded to RCAH's Poetry Center, where Instructor Guillermo Delgado immediately became interested because he had long wanted to go into an adult facility to offer poetry & art classes, similar to what he was already doing at the Youth Detention Center near Lansing. Since the first MSU poetry class at the Handlon facility, the program has been expanded to four adult facilities; Parnell, Bellamy Creek, I-Max, and Michigan Reformatory.
Many prisoners who have participated in the poetry classes have been able to openly express themselves through poetry for the first time and seem to have found an outlet by which to therapeutically deal with the day-to-day stresses of being incarcerated and away from family and loved ones. At least one class participant revealed to this writer throughout the 4 week class, how he was unsure whether he would be able to fully participate due to his problems with severe anxiety. I suggested he try utilizing breathing techniques and concentrating more on the prospect of believing in himself and coming face-to-face with his embedded fear of speaking in the presence of an audience. Shockingly, even to himself, he delivered a profound and awakening performance with his poem called, "PAIN Fully."
The Poetry Slam winners: 1st place; Salathiel Brown; 2nd place; Sherman Wagner, and tied for 3rd place; Robert Whittenberg/Elijah Morris, each of these winners gave dynamic performances during the contest with the other slammers. Again, all class participants came to the stage for all to see and hear them deliver their poetic expressions. Being coop up in a cell 23 hours a day, one has ample time to challenge themselves in composing poems and other written work, which reveals the creative genius that lies within all of us. The RCAH poets who traveled weekly to participate, extended their help to assure everyone had the best experience possible. Prof. Guillermo Delgado has continuously shown his dedication to the program over the years, by orchestrating the MSU Free Verse Arts Poetry Classes for the RCAH Center and Correctional Facilities to jointly take part and share in a superb experience.
Myself, along with Dean Stephen Esquith, Prof. Guillermo Delgado, and Dr. Kevin Brooks have been in discussions about the possibility of formulating other Michigan State University classes, programs for incarcerated individuals in an effort to help us grow beyond our current circumstances. In other state's like California, New York, Nebreska, and Louisiana, universities and colleges are leading the charge with prison reform by offering meaningful programming to prepare those incarcerated with gearing up for their eventual reintegration into the free world. We here in Michigan can also move toward transforming our prison system to be reflective of the change needed to place folks in the best light possible to return to society better prepared than how they entered.
The MSU Poetry slam held on Tuesday, December 4th, 2018, which showcased both RCAH poets and Main Street poets, was an astounding success. The RCAH poets consisting of 11 Michigan State University students, came to the stage and delivered some thoughtful expressions. The Main Street poets comprised of 15 residents at the Reformatory each gave some dynamic thought provoking demonstrations of their creativity. Both groups of poets worked together for 4 weeks helping each other learn the essentials in writing poetry.
The participants in the second poetry class/slam are: Katie Harger; Cloe Faris; Jessenia Almanza; Anna Backman; Miranda Blankenship; Cecilia Galvan; Jori Griffith; Shelby Merlino; Fallyn Richmond; Alexis Stark; David Mychowski; Sherman Wagner; Anthony Bush; Michael Stevenson; Jason Cumming; Robert Whittenberg; Donte Bailey; Arthur Shelton; Corey Godfrey; Elijah Morris; Salathiel Brown; Robert Vinson; William Watters; Rodney Scott; Jesse Sweeney; and Ricardo Ferrell. Thanks to the Emcees; Adam Davis; Tarik Scott - the Musicians; Corey Fenderson; Raymond Kyle; and Dwight Taylor - the Judges; Dr. Kevin Brooks; Elizabeth Sauter; Anna Backman; Dan Schafer; Robert Miller; and Antonio Lay.
Special thanks to: Dean Stephen Esquith; Prof. Guillermo Delgado; Warden Gregory Skipper; Deputy Warden Fredeane Artis; ADW Jim Dunigan; Rec. Director Dan Schafer; and RMI staff.
Another yarn delivery!
January 11, 2019
HFP board member Judy VanderArk and husband Pete made another delivery of yarn to prison in December. One of the quiet, but highly successful, projects of HFP is to collecting unused spools of yarn from a carpet manufacturer, and deliver these spools to various Michigan prisons for hobby-craft programs. The long trek to Gus Harrison Correctional Facility in Adrian meant that inmates were knitting and crocheting special Christmas gifts and blankets for the homeless and needy!
Youth Deterrent Program is 10 years old!
January 10, 2018
Inmate Ricardo Ferrell, one of HFP’s writers behind bars, gives us an update on the Youth Deterrent Program:
"A dream child of Inmate Darryl Woods, Sr., the program was approved by Governor Granholm and the MDOC in 2008. Given the green light to move forward with their initiative to deter at-risk youth from going down the path of destruction, death or prison, participating inmates received specialized training in effective communication and active listening skills.
“The excitement and enthusiasm was evident by how hard we all continued working to see the program become a success. The first group consisted of teens ages 14-18 from Detroit, Saginaw and Port Huron. Most, if not all, already had experienced brushes with the juvenile justice system, in that, they were either facing charges ranging from theft, selling drugs, carrying guns, or attempted murder. Some were on probation.
“Over the past ten years the Youth Deterrent Program has helped hundreds, if not well over a thousand troubled at-risk teens avoid the pitfalls associated with indulging in criminal thinking and/or activities. We took on the motto of No Youth Left Behind and vigorously worked in saving the lives of so-called at-risk youth by providing them with viable alternatives rather than the indulgence in criminality.
“The men who have participated over the last decade in this remarkable life-changing program need to continuously be recognized and commended for their efforts in making a difference in the lives of our kids. The Youth Deterrent Committee vows to keep being their brothers’ keeper by deterring teens from destructive paths and lifestyles.”
A tip of the HFP hat to those prisoners determined to make a difference!
Man's best Friend!
January 8, 2018
A client working with dogs shares their bad day:
"Love my dog Naya, but the girl split my lip and chipped a bottom front tooth early this morning as I was drying her off. The room was dark, too, so I didn't see her flip her head back until it crunched into my face. Naya, I think, actually felt bad as I tried getting the bleeding stopped. She would not leave my side, ears and head down, until I gave her a good rubbing and whispered 'It's OK, girl.'"
January 2, 2019
A lifer who has served more than 40 years responds to Doug’s open heart surgery:
"Hello Doug, So glad to hear you are fine. In God, all things are possible, he is the best surgeon and healer I know, and I know you have strong faith in HIM!!!!!! The love many of us have for you is PRICELESS. You could never imagine how much you are thought of inside these prison walls. You have been family to many of us. So many have no one in the streets to get paperwork for them or to just check things out for them, and you and Matt are always there. Doug, we appreciate you sir, and the love I speak of is UNCONDITIONAL and UNEXPLAINABLE. I will close for now, but I just want you to know that we care!!!!! Your friend in the struggle, George."
Another holiday greeting
December 28, 2018
One of many holiday greetings received at the HFP office:
Thank you for everything you do for prisoners who have been mistreated in Michigan. Your standard of excellence is appreciated as well as your vision. May God bless your Christmas and New Year!!!!!! JESUS is the reason for the season!
December Double: We're just days away from 2019 and almost 80% to our goal of $50,000. If you haven't given yet, please consider having your gift doubled and helping get HFP off on the right foot for the New Year! Click on the link in the upper right hand corner to send your gift online today!
Christmas thoughts from inside
December 27, 2018
A long-time client of HFP shares his thoughts on Christmas:
As a child I was fascinated with the Dr. Seuss character the Grinch Who Stole Christmas. There was just something about the eerie, green, curmudgeonous character that seemed to captivate me.
Even at my then young age I was quite taken by the power of the love displayed by little Cindy Loo Who and its effect on the heart of the mean ol' Mr. Grinch. Even now as an adult I am still quit fond of the Christmas classic, and equally as moved by it, though for reasons other than those I harbored as a child.
You see, having been in prison now for 33 years, I can rather relate to the Grinch character. As someone who, like the Grinch, is completely removed from society I feel like a complete outsider when it comes to the Christmas season. Someone forced to watch from afar all the season's festivities; family and friends spending time together, sharing gifts, eating holiday meals, and so on.
So, just as it was for the Grinch, high atop that mountain staring down into Whoville, it, too, gets very lonely in here----even more so during the Christmas season. I do my very best to keep it all in perspective, but deep down in my heart I still wait each year for a Christmas miracle. Perhaps there is still a bit of that child left in me after all these years.
Merry Christmas to the entire HFP family and readers.
Typical holiday greeting from a prisoner
December 20, 2018
A holiday message to HFP:
"Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, and Seasons Greetings. Thank you all for helping and for your love and concern. We appreciate everyone’s work and relentlessly fighting. God bless all of you. As we celebrate Christ's birth and thank Him for His accomplishments on the cross for all of us, we are thankful for the gifts of your organization and its purposes."
No more growing?
December 18, 2018
Grower's Row was a popular class at Lakeland Correctional Facility where inmates were able to farm fresh vegetables and fruits. Our friend Bill recently gave us this update:
"Growers Row is dead. Growing produce for the local community has been discontinued by the administration. So far in 2018 we have produced over 8 tons of produce. We still have some cabbage, carrots, beets, turnips, and radishes in the ground, though. I don't think there's a better way to gain acceptance than to go straight from prison to helping the community. Although we get paid the scraps that we get, we bust our asses growing tons of food. And everything is done without the use of any motorized equipment. All the digging and cultivating is hand done. From planting, to weeding, cultivating, and harvesting…all done by man power, not machines. And we only have 6 guys that maintain a one-acre garden, plus a greenhouse and a cold frame. It’s a shame to stop it."
HFP Contacted Legislative Liaison Kyle Kaminski re the program, and he quickly followed up with an explanation:
"The instructor retired, so the formal program was wound down as horticulture isn't a high demand employment field. The facility has indicated they intend to still support growing there, but not as a vocational class. We left the equipment down there to support their volunteer efforts."
Some thoughts on the Michigan prison system
A long-time client writes HFP:
"The tax payers are being hoodwinked. You got officers that come in here daily harassing guys because they have a misconception that it is what their job entails. But, as soon as one of the guys hurts one of them, we suffer the consequences. Why? When some things can be avoided before it come to that. But what the state do, they sacrifice their clowns and plea to the public for more restraints---prisons and officers. I laugh to keep myself from worrying myself sick."
We have time to help
December 12, 2018
When John reached out from his prison cell to HFP, asking if we had time to help, Susie was quick to reply. John’s response:
"I received your message and you said 'Of course we have time for you.' Those seven words cordially touched me and made me realize that God, our Lord still fills the world with beautiful, spirited and wonderful human-beings...and you are one of them. Your statement, your kind words have rejuvenated my hope."
Missing the older generation
December 11, 2018
An older HFP client writes:
"The mentality of staying in the struggle for change is not in this generation any more. Their priorities are twisted! If someone else isn’t fighting their battles for them, there is no fight. They lie down and accept the injustices and misdirect their energy against the wrong people, e.g., each other! This generation is messed up. How do you help someone who is not willing to put in the equal work and energy into their problem as you are putting in it? I really miss all the older guys who were fighters and challenged the injustices that robbed our souls."
December 6, 2018
When an HFP client asked a question about his vision, HFP went to our friend Dr. Tom, an ophthalmologist, for the answer. When we relayed the answer back to Mr. R, this was the response:
"I RECD YOUR AWESOME ANSWER TO MY REQUEST. IN THE PAST 10. YRS I HAVE NEVER BEEN MADE PRIVY TO THE INFO THAT DR TOM RELAYED TO ME VIA YOU GUYS. NOW I UNDERSTAND! AS ALWAYS, DR TOMS DIAGNOSIS WAS RIGHT ON!! THANKS VERY MUCH TO ALL."
Man's best friend
December 4, 2018
A client working with dogs celebrates his puppy's accomplishment:
"The best news is my all-time baby boy, Sully, is now an emergency response dog! His empathetic tendency made him perfect as an emotional support animal (ESA). True, he was bred to become a service dog, but our instructor said sometimes the puppy picks the career, not PAWS."