Starting the Week with Integrity
March 18, 2019
"The supreme quality for leadership is unquestionably integrity. Without it, no real success is possible, no matter whether it is on a section gang, a football field, in an army, or in an office."
Dwight D. Eisenhower
March 17, 2019
"What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him? If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food, and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and filled,” without giving them the things needed for the body, what good] is that? So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead."
HFP is on the Move!
March 13, 2019
A message from Russell Bloem, the Chairman of the Board of Directors for Humanity for Prisoners:
March 7, 2019 was a milestone day for HFP. After years of struggling to get the job done from very
cramped quarters in a retro-fit closet / office in a converted house in Grand Haven, we closed the deal
on our very own “condo office” in Spring Lake!
The office is at an excellent location and in excellent condition. It will generously meet our current
needs and will enable us to accommodate (much needed) volunteers to help us respond to the
ever-increasing volume of requests. We will even have a room for small committee meetings on site.
Everything came together in an amazing way to make this possible! It turns out the sellers were
good friends of HFP and offered us a “sweetheart” land contract deal. A bunch of our Board
members pooled their funds to come up with the down payment. A couple other business friends
are donating the office furniture and computer network that we need. We have people lining up t
o help with painting and setting up. And, after the dust settles, our net operating costs will be about
the same as before.
Now, to be sure, we will continue to need be careful with each and every dollar you all provide – but we are better positioned than ever to make an impact for Michigan inmates. This move opens up a world of possibilities and we couldn’t be more excited.
Stay tuned for details on an open house and other ways you can help!
March 8, 2019
Our friends from the National Lifers of America have asked us to pass along a petition HERE. A note of explanation from our friend Timothy Murphy, who serves as the NLA's Legislative Committee Chairman:
Dear HFP friends,
The National Lifers of America, Inc., (NLA) is a nonprofit Michigan corporation formed on January 1, 1981 and is governed primarily by prisoner boards of directors, on both the national and local chapter levels.
The NLA works to bring about positive reforms for prisoners by advocating for meaningful amendments in Michigan Department of Corrections (MDOC) policies and Michigan laws amid at reforming our prison system. We seek to assist the underprivileged with academic development and self-determination that fosters a broader understanding of education in criminal justice and formulation of positive solutions towards reform and release of incarcerated persons.
It is our belief that the MDOC continues to hold far too many parole eligible lifer prisoners who can otherwise be safely released into our communities, saving the state nearly a quarter billion dollars annually. If you share this belief we encourage you to become involved by talking to others and individually you all letting your voices be heard through petition drives like the one accompanying this message.
It is extremely important, though, that you (members of the general public) realize how vitally important it is that you join us in efforts like this one. We need you, your family, and your friends to become the voices of the voiceless imprisoned men and women in our state's prisons. You pay (through your tax dollars) to house, feed, dress, and hopefully educate these imprisoned citizens until one day released. You should have a say in whether these men and women come out of prison better than when they entered. Believe me when I tell you there is power in numbers, and if enough of you speak up, though petitions like this one, you can and will be heard.
Please do not think your voice does not count. In reality it only takes one: one act to spark a movement, one tree to start a forest, one vote to change a nation, one star to guide a ship at sea, one laugh to conquer gloom, one sunbeam to light a room, one bird to herald spring, and one of your voices to change this system. Will you be that voice? Will you be one of the ones to help us make real change? Please sign and share our petition. Thank you and God bless.
Timothy Murphy CP/LA
NLA Legislative Committee Chairman
HFP Yarn Program gets early start in 2019!
March 6, 2019
HFP Board Member Judy VanderArk and her husband Pete picked up 725 pounds of yarn from a carpet factory this month. The company, which prefers to remain anonymous, donates unused spools of yarn to HFP for use by prisoners. In this project, thousands of pounds of yarn are collected each year by a team of volunteers, and delivered to various Michigan prisons where inmates knit and crochet items for charity. Pete and Judy have quietly coordinated this exceptional program for years.
HFP Blog: So are the bad guys the ones who are in prison? Doug and Fr Greg discuss the topic today: https://humanityforprisoners.blogspot.com/2019/03/no-bad-guys-really.html
Find the truth
March 4, 2019
"Truth is incontrovertible, malice may attack it and ignorance may deride it, but, in the end, there it is."
Sir Winston Churchill
March 3, 2019
"Those who consider themselves religious and yet do not keep a tight rein on their tongues deceive themselves, and their religion is worthless."
March 1, 2019
Michigan’s parole process has been given a grade of C-minus in a national rating. Doug thinks that’s being generous. In today’s post, he focuses on whether prosecutors should even have a part in the parole-granting decision process: https://humanityforprisoners.blogspot.com/2019/02/should-prosecutors-have-say-in-public.html
Another month, another record! HFP is off to a record-breaking start in 2019. After setting a new monthly record with 677 contacts in January, HFP broke that record with 710 in February! Thank you for your continued support as we touch more lives than ever!
Happy Anniversary, Bear!
February 28, 2019
One year ago yesterday, HFP President Doug Tjapkes was able to greet long-time HFP client Anthony "Bear" Johnson after his release. Bear had served over 40 years, and had the amazing record of no tickets his entire time in prison. Months earlier, HFP Executive Director Matt Tjapkes traveled to Jackson to testify at Bear's public hearing before the Michigan Parole Board.
Bear has moved to Maryland and started a new life, and we are so happy for him. Click this link to take a look at his thoughts from a year ago as he stepped out from behind bars: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PtoiioI9ktU
HFP Supports Pilot Program at MCF
February 27, 2019
Humanity for Prisoners has agreed to partner with the National Lifers of America chapter at Muskegon Correctional Facility on a pilot project that has a goal of advancing education and rehabilitation behind bars.
According to the NLA, the local chapter purchases educational literature from various publishers and makes it available to the population. As students complete assignments, NLA committee members will check the work and record the results. While these are not official classes, completion still results in a certificate or diploma.
Inmate Bruce Michaels, who chairs the Education Committee, explains that The Parole Board consistently asks how parole candidates have used their time, but many claim that they cannot get into classes. It is the committee’s hope, he says, that these independent studies might alleviate the programming disparity.
Michaels said he teaches classes 4-5 nights a week, and there is always a list of potential students wanting to participate in the program.
Approaching the Week with Humility
February 25, 2019
“Pride is concerned with who is right. Humility is concerned with what is right.”
Ezra Taft Benson
HFP Blog: How do we measure success in this prisoner advocacy business? It’s not all that easy. See today’s post HERE.
February 24, 2019
"The way of a fool is right in his own eyes, but a wise man listens to advice."
A Case For Restorative Justice in Michigan
February 22, 2019
A column from one of our prison writers, Timothy Murphy:
As a society, we are in dire need of a drastically different approach to the problems created by crime and social-injustice in our state---an approach that focuses on the future, not the past, an approach that begins with who's been hurt and what their needs are and finishes with giving offenders a way back to redemption rather than guaranteeing them a lifetime of hardship.
Restorative justice is an international movement that began in the 1970s. It emerged alongside the victims' rights movement, which argued for more involvement of crime victims in the criminal justice process, as well as the use of restitution as compensation for losses. The common restorative justice models are victim-offender mediation, family group conferencing, and victim-offender dialogue. All of these methods put the victims and the offenders in direct dialogue, nearly always face-to-face, about a specific offense, and always with one or more individuals who act as mediators/facilitators. The intended goal is the rejection of the ugly emotions of revenge, the healing of crime victims, reform and reintegration of offenders, reduction of our prison system, and diversion of funding to education, health care, and infrastructure.
From the late 1970s to the middle 1980s, a number of experimental restorative justice programs were initiated in select jurisdictions in North America and Europe. These initiatives, however, remained small and had little impact on a larger system. Then in 1994 the American Bar Association endorsed victim-offender mediation programs for minor crimes. Support for this movement also came from the National Organization for Victim Assistance, which published, "Restorative Community Justice: A call to Action," and from the United Nations, the Council of Europe, and the European Union. Currently, some states have limited forms of restorative justice principles in practice, but it's hardly enough to make any real difference.
Restorative justice supporters, like myself, believe that these innovative practices have immediate benefits and long-term potential. There is a lot to be said for the power of the healing process over punishment. It has the very likely potential to keep young people and especially young people of color out of the out-of-control prison-industrial complex, and productive members of their communities, while also providing solace to crime victims. Many of us believe it can also provide new ways of responding both to conflicts in general and the inherited oppressive structures of race and class.
One of the major hurdles for restorative justice, however, appears to be the lack of punishment---unless, when you have harmed someone, you consider listening to them express their pain to be punishment, rather than a chance to grow, develop empathy, see yourself in a different light, and learn to change in whatever way you now perceive is needed. Many people consider this process harder than enduring actual punishment. Others view it as being "soft on crime."
There's no question that restorative justice practices would be a boon for budget-cutting politicians and taxpayers. Some restorative justice elements do appeal to the Right, as well as the reformist liberals on the Left. And there are elements that both sides dislike. However, no one is resisting this movement more than the prison-industrial complex and the politicians in its pockets.
Many social conservatives, especially most Christians, support the idea and practice of bringing offenders to a point of remorse and genuine accountability, and then to redemption, a true change of heart. Many other conservatives who do believe in redemption may see it as entirely compatible with punishment. Anyone harmed by crime is likely to have much anger and so traditional notions of "an eye for an eye" will always have great appeal, especially if no mechanisms exist for satisfying the victim's needs for empathy, answers, or restoration.
The essence of restorative justice is the practice of listening and empathy that is by nature corrosive of ideology and self-righteousness. Thus, combining personal accountability with an understanding of the ways one's environment has molded him or her is surely a complex task, not easily assimilated into some conservatives' worldview. But we can change that! By calling on those who who are harmed, offenders, and the affected communities to share the responsibility of responding to violence, restorative justice promotes repair, reconciliation, and the rebuilding of relationships. By honoring the healing power of a story; teaching us to listen deeply to the woundedness within others and ourselves; and working with the energy of conflict and people's intense emotions, restorative justice principles do transform pain into forgiveness, hope and progression as a society.
If the restorative justice movement in Michigan is going to gain any traction, people need to get more excited about it and more involved with it by volunteering to make it routine reality. We, the citizens of Michigan, need mobilize in great numbers to individually express to our legislators that it's high time for a change in our criminal justice system. That we want to see more restorative justice initiatives implemented during this legislative session. This is not an issue we can put off until tomorrow. Please let your voice be heard.
See what you can accomplish this week
February 18, 2019
“It is amazing what you can accomplish if you do not care who gets the credit.”
Harry S. Truman
HFP Blog: The founder of HFP reflects on how people of color made a difference in his life. Black History Month reflections on the HFP Blog HERE.
February 17, 2019
"…what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God."
HFP Salutes 3 Walden Green Students & Teacher
February 13, 2019
In his Current Affairs class, Charles Freeman encourages his students to think “outside the box.” Three
of his 8th grade students at Walden Green Montessori in Ferrysburg, Michigan, went prowling on line
and discovered the plight of Michigan prisoner Lacino Hamilton. Hamilton, 44, is from Detroit and has
been in prison for twenty years for a crime he claims he did not commit.
The students read about his story on line and couldn’t drop the case. On their own, according to their
teacher, they found out what prison he was in and wrote him a letter. And, he responded. They’re
convinced of his innocence and want to help.
HFP President Doug Tjapkes was invited to chat about wrongful convictions with students in that class.
He explained that his fight to free Maurice Carter, who served 29 years for a crime he did not commit,
led him into this business of prisoner advocacy. Doug had high praise for the three students and their
teacher for not only understanding the seriousness of wrongful convictions, but doing something
“I gave the class suggestions as to how to move forward, as well as a list of suggested reading material. I explained to them that, too often, people express a temporary interest in a wrongful conviction, then move on to something else. Someone who cares. That’s what these people need! I encouraged them to keep on.”
(Pic, L to R---Doug Tjapkes, Chloe Westendorf, Katelyn Byrnes, Simone Dennison)
HFP Blog: Out of cash?
February 12, 2019
Have you heard? The state doesn’t have cash on hand to pay the wrongly convicted! See our thoughts in the latest entry on the HFP Blog HERE.
Starting the Week with Angela Davis
February 11, 2019
“Prisons do not disappear social problems, they disappear human beings. Homelessness, unemployment, drug addiction, mental illness, and illiteracy are only a few of the problems that disappear from public view when the human beings contending with them are relegated to cages.”
― Angela Davis
February 10, 2019
"Whoever has a bountiful eye will be blessed,
for he shares his bread with the poor."
HFP Blog: Too many people in prison in Michigan, and it’s costing us too many dollars! See today’s post HERE.
Suggested read for Black History Month
February 7, 2019
If you haven’t yet read Doug’s book Sweet Freedom, it’s the perfect choice for Black History Month. Published in 2006, Sweet Freedom is the true story of an unlikely friendship between a white, middle-class broadcast journalist and an indigent African American serving a life sentence for a crime he didn’t commit. Order your copy now HERE.
Starting the year with prisoner support!
February 6, 2019
The HFP team has received a vote of confidence to start 2019! Executive Director Matt Tjapkes reports that Humanity for Prisoners recently received a $500 donation from the Prisoner Benefit Fund at the Thumb Correctional Facility in Lapeer. PBF money comes primarily from vending machine and prison store profits. A committee comprised of specially chosen staff members and inmates decides how the money will be spent, usually on equipment and services that will benefit inmates. But they are also allowed to contribute funds to those agencies which they feel provide genuine assistance and support to Michigan prisoners. “We consider it an honor to receive such a contribution,” said Tjapkes.
Test your progress this week
February 2, 2019
"The test of our progress is not whether we add more to the abundance of those who have too much; it is whether we provide enough for those who have too little…"
Franklin D Roosevelt
February 3, 2019
"Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as elaborate hairstyles and the wearing of gold jewelry or fine clothes. Rather, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight."
I Peter 3:3-4
PPB Note Cards on Sale
February 1, 2019
The Prisoner’s Prayer Book announces that blank-inside note cards are now available! The sketches on the fronts of the
cards have been done by a prisoner. The backs of the cards include a box for name and number of the prisoner, along
with the address of the sender. They meet the current requirements set by the Michigan Department of Corrections.
Also available are cards without the “info” box on the back, so they may be sent to those outside prison. Our initial
selection includes: a bird, bear, deer, orangutan, moose, and wolf. 6 cards for $10, includes tax and shipping. Order at:
firstname.lastname@example.org, and specify with or without ID box.
Special! Order 1 set of cards and 1 Prisoner’s Prayer Book for a complete price of $20. Please send orders to the above
e-mail (no credit or debit cards accepted).
HFP Blog: Change needed for the mentally ill
January 29, 2019
One can never complain too much about our treatment of the mentally ill. Not until it’s adequate, that is. See today's entry on the HFP blogHERE.
Speak out this week
January 28, 2019
"Where you see wrong or inequality or injustice, speak out, because this is your country. This is your democracy. Make it. Protect it. Pass it on."
January 27, 2019
"Put on then, as God's chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive."
Stand up with love in your heart
January 21, 2019
“No, violence is not the way. Hate is not the way. Bitterness is not the way. We must stand up with love in our hearts, with a lack of bitterness and yet a determination to protest courageously for justice and freedom in this land.”
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr
MLK Sunday Verse
January 20, 2019
In preparation for Martin Luther King, Jr. Day:
"If anyone says, 'I love God,' and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen."
1 John 4:20
Locked in Solidarity Event February 9th
January 18, 2019
From our friends at the Fresh Coast Alliance:
Every year several thousand men and women return from jail and prison to Muskegon County. Fresh Coast Alliance is a reentry and recovery collaborative partnering with like-minded churches, business and agencies to serve the unmet needs in Muskegon.
Please join us on February 9th as we kick off CCDA's National Awareness & Action Week on Mass Incarceration.
We are gathering, as the church, to discuss prison social justice reform from a theological perspective and
raise awareness about some of the unique challenges returned citizens face. We invite you to come learn
where you can take action and connect to the conversation in service to men and women both behind bars
and returning home.
• Lunch is included in the ticket price. Advance tickets $20.00
• Ticket sales close at 5 pm on February 1st. Tickets at the door will be $35.00
• Tickets are available at Eventbrite www.eventbrite.com/e/locked-in-solidarity-tickets-54178388017
• Registration opens at 9:00 am. Conference begins at 10:00 am.
• Location: 1128 Roberts St, Muskegon, MI 49442
For an event flyer, click HERE.
Seminary Prof named to HFP Board
January 16, 2019
Dr. John Rottman, Professor of Preaching at Calvin Theological Seminary in Grand Rapids, has been
appointed to a three-year term on the Board of Directors of Humanity for Prisoners. The action was
taken by the board at its quarterly meeting in Grand Haven.
Dr. Rottman has had a keen interest in the plight of prisoners for many years. He has made
numerous visits, with and without seminary students, to the notorious Angola Prison in New
Orleans, and serves on the steering committee for the Calvin Prison Initiative. CPI offers credit
courses to inmates/students at the Richard A. Handlon Correctional Facility in Ionia.
He received his B.A. degree at Calvin College in 1977, his M.A. at the University of St. Michael’s
College in 1987, his M.Div at Calvin Theological Seminary in 1987, and his Th.D at the University
of Toronto and the Toronto School of Theology.
HFP is the only prisoner advocacy agency in Michigan that focuses solely on one-on-one
assistance to state prisoners for everyday needs. It was founded by Doug Tjapkes in 2001,
and responds to more than 500 contacts per month. It is based in Grand Haven.
“We’re excited to have Dr. Rottman on our team and look forward to working with him,” said Tjapkes.
HFP Blog: More compassion for women?
January 15, 2019
Now that a woman has assumed the highest office in the State of Michigan, we wonder whether women in prison will get more attention, more compassion? See today’s posting on the HFP blog HERE.
Get Ready to Forgive
January 14, 2019
“Let us not listen to those who think we ought to be angry with our enemies, and who believe this to be great and manly. Nothing is so praiseworthy, nothing so clearly shows a great and noble soul, as clemency and readiness to forgive.”
Marcus Tullius Cicero
January 13, 2019
"A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger. The tongue of the wise commends knowledge, but the mouth of the fool gushes folly."
Start doing the impossible
January 7, 2019
"Start by doing what’s necessary; then do what’s possible; and suddenly you are doing the impossible."
-Saint Francis of Assisi
HFP Blog: We love to read stories of changed lives, like that of the Apostle Paul in the New Testament. But are lives still being changed today? And do we like to read about them? See the latest entry HERE.
January 6, 2019
Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed,
for his compassions never fail.
They are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness.
January 4, 2019
The Governor has the right and the ability to grant clemency to prisoners, but in our opinion, more deserve consideration. See today’s blog HERE.
Starting the Week Looking Forward to 2019
December 31, 2018
“For last year's words belong to last year's language
And next year's words await another voice.”
December 30, 2018
"For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future."
A Christmas Poem, and an HFP Blog
December 26, 2018
"When the song of the angels is stilled,
when the star in the sky is gone,
when the kings and princes are home,
when the shepherds are back with their flocks,
the work of Christmas begins:
to find the lost,
to heal the broken,
to feed the hungry,
to release the prisoner,
to rebuild the nations,
to bring peace among the people,
to make music in the heart."
HFP Blog: Governor Snyder made Christmas bright for some, sad for others. Read the latest entry HERE.
Starting the Week on Christmas Eve
December 24, 2018
May you never be too grown up to search the skies on Christmas Eve.
Verse for the Fourth Sunday of Advent
December 23, 2018
"There shall come forth a shoot from the stump of Jesse, and a branch shall grow out of his roots. And the Spirit of the LORD shall rest upon him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and the fear of the LORD."
An update from Doug!
December 21, 2018
An update from Humanity for Prisoners President Doug Tjapkes:
"Thanks so much for the many queries about my recovery, and the overwhelming number of cards and messages! I am blessed by your friendship. A Thursday meeting with the surgeon was most encouraging. Recovery is excellent so far, rehab will be starting soon, and I should be able to resume some of my HFP duties in the near future. I have felt, and deeply appreciate, your prayers and expressions of concern. Doug"
On sale now!
December 19, 2018
Humanity for Prisoners is happy to announce the release of Doug Tjapkes' new book, "Humanity for Prisoners?"
The book, published by our friends at DPZ Technology, is a collection of challenging and sometimes outspoken
perspectives from the blog of the HFP founder, a proven champion of the humane treatment of the incarcerated.
Hard copies of the book are available to order online for $14.95. An eBook will also be released in the coming weeks.
To purchase your copy, click HERE. Proceeds from the sale of Doug's book will go back to the work of Humanity for
Prisoners. Orders are normally shipped within a day or two, so this could still be a last-minute (or belated) holiday
gift as well!
Find your deep gladness this week
December 17, 2018
“The place God calls you to is the place where your deep gladness and the world's deep hunger meet."
Verse for the Third Sunday of Advent
December 16, 2018
“Behold, the virgin shall be with child and bear a son, and they shall name him Emmanuel.”
HFP Blog: All prisoner news isn’t bad. Some positive notes during this holiday season. Read Doug's latest entry HERE.
Starting the Week with a Clean Mind
December 10, 2018
"I will not let anyone walk through my mind with their dirty feet."
Verse for the Second Sunday of Advent
December 9, 2018"Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves."
A chance for you to touch a life
December 7, 2018
As we approach Christmas, many inmates are left with nobody to correspond and share holiday greetings with. Our friends at Cards for Prisoners are out to change that, one inmate at a time.
Cards for Prisoners offers a chance for people on the outside to anonymously correspond, by email or letter, with an inmate in the MDOC. If you've been looking for a way to get more involved and think letter writing might be right for you, or you have more questions about how the program works, please contact Paula Creswell from Cards for Prisoners at email@example.com.
It's December Double Time!
December 5, 2018
For the first time in history, thanks to two generous grants, December contributions will be matched, dollar for dollar, up to a cap of $50,000!
It's been a record-setting year at HFP, with already 1,000 more contacts for assistance than we received in 2017. With new staff and higher demands for our help, your gift is touching more lives than ever before. We'll provide updates on our daily messages and our website as the match progresses. As HFP President Doug Tjapkes continues to heal from heart surgery, we only found it fitting to fill up a heart this month!
For more information on this fantastic opportunity, please read our year-end letter HERE.
Finally, as you consider your year-end gift, please take a moment to hear this year-end message from Doug HERE.
Honoring George H.W. Bush to start the week
December 3, 2018
"In crucial things, unity. In important things, diversity. In all things, generosity."
George H.W. Bush
First Sunday of Advent Verse
"But as for you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, too little to be among the clans of Judah, from you One will go forth for Me to be ruler in Israel. His goings forth are from long ago, from the days of eternity."
Doug's doing well!
November 28, 2018
A note from Matt Tjapkes, Executive Director:
Good morning, everyone! On behalf of Humanity for Prisoners and the Tjapkes family, I want to thank you all for your kind words, support and prayers for Doug over the last week as we've gone through this unexpected adventure. With so many inquiring, it's easiest for me to just send this out (please don't be offended if I don't reply personally to every message).
Doug had triple bypass surgery on Monday and it went very well. Yesterday, he was able to leave the Intensive Care Unit and is back in a regular hospital room. He was up, eating, drinking and walking already yesterday, less than 24 hours after the surgery. The staff is carefully monitoring his pain right now to keep it in check, and they hope to have him return home by the end of the week.
Doug is going to need several weeks before any visitors can come, but you are more than welcome to email him (firstname.lastname@example.org) to communicate in the meantime. All operations of HFP will go on uninterrupted thanks to the hard work of our staff, board and volunteers.
There are many things to be thankful for this holiday season, and Doug's health and your support are right at the top of HFP's list! Thank you so much for caring.
November 27, 2018
Today is Giving Tuesday, an international day of charitable giving at the beginning of the Christmas and holiday season. We at Humanity for Prisoners would ask that you please consider tax-deductible donation as we continue to set records for the numbers of inmates we assist.
To understand just what HFP means to these inmates, click on this link and take a few minutes to listen to our friend Bear:
As always, we thank you for your support of HFP!
Starting the Week with Love, Hope and Optimism
November 26, 2018
"My friends, love is better than anger. Hope is better than fear. Optimism is better than despair. So let us be loving, hopeful and optimistic. And we'll change the world."
November 25, 2018
"Yet the Lord longs to be gracious to you; therefore he will rise up to show you compassion. For the Lord is a God of justice. Blessed are all who wait for him!"
An update on Doug
November 23, 2018
Good morning, this is Matt Tjapkes. I wanted to give you all an update on my dad, Doug, the president of HFP.
Doug had a heart attack on Wednesday. The good news is that it wasn't major (I don't feel right calling any heart attack "minor"), and he's doing fine. I visited him yesterday and you wouldn't be able to tell anything happened just by looking at him or talking with him. He's in good spirits and the doctors are taking good care of him.
On Monday, Doug is going to need surgery. After taking a look at his heart, they found a couple of arteries that are clogged up, and they're going to need to do bypass surgery. They'll be doing extra tests over the weekend to make sure everything goes smoothly, but the doctors are very optimistic that Doug will be feeling better than he has in quite a while once he's recovered.
If you'd like to send Doug well-wishes, the best way to reach out to him is by email at email@example.com. The work of HFP will continue on with no interruption while Doug is recovering, and we look forward to having him back in the office in a few months!
Please keep Doug, the family, and the medical staff caring for him in your thoughts and prayers!
Sister Helen on HFP
November 21, 2018
After Sister Helen Prejean's visit last month, Doug took some time to review her speech and pull out some key points about the work HFP does. Please click this link and take a few minutes to enjoy this video presented by HFP: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qCJscB4DQho&t=
Starting the Week with Honesty
November 19, 2018
"Honesty is the cornerstone of all success, without which confidence and ability to perform shall cease to exist. Mary Kay Ash
November 18, 2018
"For kingship belongs to the Lord, and he rules over the nations."
Did you miss Sister Helen?
November 14, 2018
Humanity for Prisoners was honored to welcome Sister Helen Prejean to Michigan last month to speak about her work, and bout people everywhere who work with prisoners, including HFP.
If you missed Sister Helen's appearance, or you just want to hear her again, you can watch it any time you want to right HERE.
Our many thanks again to the sponsors who helped us bring Sister Helen to Grand Haven, to all those who attended, and to Sister Helen for sharing her story with us.
HFP Blog - Going for the two-pointer
November 13, 2018
HFP President Doug Tjapkes ties a link between a touching 30-second video and the powerful work of HFP. Read the latest entry HERE.
Honoring Veterans to Start the Week
November 12, 2018
"To us in America, the reflections of Armistice Day will be filled with lots of pride in the heroism of those who died in the country's service and with gratitude for the victory, both because of the thing from which it has freed us and because of the opportunity it has given America to show her sympathy with peace and justice in the councils of the nations."
- Woodrow Wilson
November 11, 2018
"Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends."
HFP Blog: New posting, old message: Too many people in prison for too long! Our thoughts in the latest entry HERE.
HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO HFP FOUNDER DOUG TJAPKES!
Starting the Week as Leaders
November 5, 2018
"We need leaders not in love with money but in love with justice, not in love with publicity but in love with humanity."
Martin Luther King, Jr.
November 4, 2018
"But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ"
HFP Blog: Forgiveness - Something prisoners find very elusive! True but sad stories in our posting today, read HERE.
Something Missing in Political Ads?
November 2, 2018
Have you noticed that some topics are avoided in the flood of political ads? Doug has! Take a look at his latest entry on the HFP Blog HERE.
HFP Goes to Lansing!
October 31, 2018
The entire Humanity for Prisoners team went to the Michigan Department of Corrections headquarters in
Lansing recently for an informal meeting with Kyle Kaminski, who has a dual role in the department. He serves
as Legislative Liaison, and is also in charge of Reentry Administration. Executive Director Matt Tjapkes said the
meeting was arranged so that Kaminski could meet our team, but also to discuss ways in which we can better
work together as we seek humane treatment of and care for Michigan prisoners.
Pictured left to right are Matt Tjapkes, Russ Bloem (HFP Board member), Kyle Kaminski, Susan Greenbauer
(HFP Client Services Specialist), Holly Honig-Josephson (HFP Vice President) and Doug Tjapkes (HFP President).
Starting Reformation day Week with Martin Luther
October 29, 2018
"Next to the Word of God, the noble art of music is the greatest treasure in the world."
- Martin Luther
October 28, 2018
"For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind."
2 Timothy 1:7
HFP Blog: Some Sunday morning thoughts about punishment of prisoners - read the latest entry HERE.
Another Vote of Confidence from Behind Bars!
October 26, 2018
Prisoners in another Michigan facility have again shown their appreciation for the services provided by Humanity for Prisoners. A donation of $500 has been received from the Prisoners Benefit Fund at the Lakeland Correctional Facility in Coldwater.
Prisoner Benefit Funds are established at each state prison, and a state police directs that this money may be used to fund services, equipment, and supplies which have a direct benefit to prisoners. Primary sources of revenue are the prison vending machines and the prison store. The funds are administered by a select committee made of inmates and staff members, and distribution must be approved by the warden. In special cases, at the recommendation of prisoners, some of the money may be donated to charitable organizations.
HFP has received similar gifts from other PBFs in the past. “We consider it the highest compliment,” said President Doug Tjapkes.
Maurice Carter Day
October 25, 2018
October 25 is observed as Maurice Carter Day here in the HFP Office. And, in the wake of Sister Helen Prejean’s powerful presentation in Grand Haven Tuesday evening, we ask: Did Maurice Carter receive a death sentence? See today’s post on our blog HERE.
Starting the Week by Taking Responsibility
October 15, 2018
"Let us not seek the Republican answer or the Democratic answer, but the right answer. Let us not seek to fix the blame for the past. Let us accept our own responsibility for the future."
John F. Kennedy
HFP Blog: It might seem strange, but we think a lot of guys in the Michigan prison system identify with those women in the #MeToo Movement. See our new post HERE.
October 14, 2018
Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him;
fret not yourself over the one who prospers in his way,
over the man who carries out evil devices!
Starting the Week with Love
October 8, 2018
"To love means loving the unlovable. To forgive means pardoning the unpardonable. Faith means believing the unbelievable. Hope means hoping when everything seems hopeless."
HFP Blog: Maybe it wasn’t all that big of a deal, how we helped Penny…or maybe it was! See our weekend post HERE.
October 7, 2018
"Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen."
Welcome Susie to HFP!
October 3, 2018
Susan Greenbauer of Grand Haven is the newest member of the HFP team.
As our new Client Services Specialist, she’ll be assuming many of the day-to-day duties of President Doug Tjapkes, including
tracking all client contacts, triaging all those contacts and distributing them to the proper HFP employee, creating and
maintaining client records, and working directly with clients to help them resolve issues when they don’t know where to turn.
Susie, who has a BA in Secondary Education and an MA in Industrial Psychology, has chosen not to return to the
corporate world. “I’m going to follow my heart, instead,” she explains. Doug’s role will be expanded to include more public
Starting the Week with John Quincy Adams
October 1, 2018
"Facts are stubborn things; and whatever may be our wishes, our inclinations, or the dictates of our passions, they cannot alter the state of facts and evidence."
John Quincy Adams
September 30, 2018
"Whoever walks in integrity walks securely, but whoever takes crooked paths will be found out."
HFP Blog: It’s time to act like those two women in the elevator! See today’s blog HERE.
Congratulations to Holly!
September 26, 2018
HFP pays tribute to our VP Holly Honig-Josephson, who was recognized this week as a Molly H. Dobson Scholar at the University of Michigan. In 2016 Holly began volunteering her services to HFP as our Commutations Coordinator. She then made the choice to leave the corporate world, join forces with HFP, and at the same time, pursue additional education as a means of following this new and meaningful path. Our new Vice President received this message of notification:
"After earning her associate’s degree from a community college in 2017, Holly is now earning her bachelor’s degree at the University of Michigan College of Literature, Science and the Arts. Upon graduation, Holly intends to impact policy and systems, working on behalf of incarcerated individuals. In the long term, Holly hopes to pursue a graduate degree with the goal of further alleviating suffering for those in and transitioning out of the prison system. Recognizing mass incarceration as a “real and solvable issue,” Holly aims to serve as an advocate for restoration, love, and justice. The Center for the Education of Women is proud of Holly’s commitment for helping individuals as they set out to make better lives for themselves, and names her a Molly H. Dobson Scholar."
Starting the Week with Bryan Stevenson
September 24, 2018
“Sometimes you have to stand up, even when people say, ‘sit down.’ Sometimes you have to speak, even when people say 'be quiet.'"
- Bryan Stevenson
September 23, 2018
"Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer."
September 21, 2018
Many people of faith believe in the mission of HFP. Some aren’t sure. See Doug’s post on the HFP blog HERE.
HFP Blog - Elephant in the room
September 19, 2018
For years many observers have been complaining about the strong role the Assistant Attorney General plays in Michigan Parole Board Public Hearings. A prominent prisoner advocate in Michigan finally states that “enough is enough.” We agree. See today’s post on the HFP blog HERE.
Starting the Week with Alexander MacLaren
September 17, 2018
"Kindness does not require us to be blind to facts or to live in fancies, but it does require us to cherish a habit of goodwill, ready to show pity if sorrow appears, and slow to turn away even if hostility appears."
- Alexander MacLaren
September 16, 2018
“Thus says the Lord of hosts, Render true judgments, show kindness and mercy to one another,"
The word is out: somebody cares!
September 14, 2018
HFP is no longer the best-kept secret. Executive Director Matt Tjapkes reports that all records were broken last month. In August, our team responded to 644 calls, emails and letters from Michigan prisoners or their families and friends! Of that number, 80 were new names, to be added to the list of more than 2,000 being served by HFP!
Starting the Week with Aesop
September 10, 2018
"We hang petty thieves and appoint the great ones to public office."
HFP Blog: Is help for women in Michigan prisons on the way? See today's post HERE.
September 9, 2018
"Don’t be surprised if you see a poor person being oppressed by the powerful and if justice is being miscarried throughout the land. For every official is under orders from higher up, and matters of justice get lost in red tape and bureaucracy."
Starting the week on Labor Day
"A hundred times every day, I remind myself that my inner and outer life depend on the labors of other men, living and dead, and that I must exert myself in order to give in the same measure as I have received and am still receiving.”
– Albert Einstein
"Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters."
HFP Blog - It's time to replace the seats!
August 30, 2018
A candidate for Governor of Michigan wants to fix the d*** roads. Doug wants to fix the seats at the prison health clinic! See today’s post on the HFP blog HERE.
Thank you and good luck!
August 29, 2018
This summer, the Humanity for Prisoners office was blessed to have the full-time services of our Vice President, Holly Honig-Josephson, while she enjoyed her summer break from taking classes at the University of Michigan. The timing could not have been better, as the demand
for HFP's services is at an all-time high. Holly was thrown right into the mix, helping on calls for assistance while continuing to help
with commutations, HFP's informational documents, and helping us plan for the future. She saw firsthand the happiness and
heartache that our work can bring, and it did nothing but increase her passion for our work!
Unfortunately for us, school is about to be back in session at U-M, and Holly will head back to Ann Arbor for a full schedule of
classes starting next week, meaning her hours in the office will be cut back to part-time while she focuses on her degree. Her
daily presence will not only be missed by us at HFP, but by the clients Holly has quickly developed relationships with as well.
Doug, Matt and the entire HFP Board of Directors would like to extend our sincere thank you to Holly for the help she's provided and the vision she's helped us develop, and to wish her all the best in the future school year. She has about a year and a half left of school, then we get her back for good. We can't wait!
Starting the Week honoring John McCain
August 27, 2018
"Respect for the God-given dignity of every human being, no matter their race, ethnicity or other circumstances of their birth, is the essence of American patriotism. To believe otherwise is to oppose the very idea of America."
John McCain (1936-2018)
August 26, 2018
"Those who consider themselves religious and yet do not keep a tight rein on their tongues deceive themselves, and their religion is worthless."
HFP Blog: With all the big stuff being reported in the news each day, we sometimes forget about things that are happening to “the little guy.” That’s something we don’t forget. Or ignore. See today’s post HERE.
HFP honors Ferrysburg Community Church
August 22, 2018
HUMANITY FOR PRISONERS has presented its Matthew 25 Award to the Ferrysburg Community Church, of Ferrysburg,
Michigan. HFP Board Chair Cindy Anderson made the presentation to Pastor Nate Visker during the August 19 worship
John Aslin, a Native-American prisoner in Michigan, had been commissioned by HFP to create the framed leather plaque
that was presented to the church. It thanks the FCC congregation for outstanding prayer and financial support in the year
2017. Said Cindy Anderson: You have been there for our organization when we felt alone—when others turned away from
helping those in prison and forgot that prisoners are, like all of us, children of God. You have stood by us in prayer. You
saved us a few times when we weren’t sure we could go on.
Pastor Visker pointed out that the church has a long history with HFP, in that founder Doug Tjapkes attends FCC.
The wrongly convicted prisoner who inspired the founding of HFP, Maurice Carter, made his only public appearance
in that church upon his release in 2004.
Starting the Week with Integrity
August 20, 2018
“The supreme quality for leadership is unquestionably integrity. Without it, no real success is possible, no matter whether it is on a section gang, a football field, in an army, or in an office.”
- Dwight D. Eisenhower
HFP Blog: Treatment of mentally ill in prison isn’t getting any better, and it’s time to do something about it. Read the latest entry HERE.
August 19, 2018
This Sunday, August 19th, has been designated Annual Day of Justice by the Christian Reformed Church of North America. We offer this verse:
"But let justice roll on like a river, righteousness like a never-failing stream!"
Starting the Week with Richard Hofstadter
August 13, 2018
"One of the primary tests of the mood of a society at any given time is whether its comfortable people tend to identify, psychologically, with the power and achievements of the very successful, or with the needs and sufferings of the underprivileged."
- Richard Hofstadter
HFP Blog: If you like what we say, what are you going to do about it? See today's entry HERE.
August 12, 2018
"Put on then, as God's chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony."
Interested in writing a prisoner?
August 7, 2018
Our friends at Cards for Prisoners need your help:
The average prisoner stops receiving cards, letters, emails, visitors and phone communication 3 years into their incarceration.
The goal at Cards for Prisoners is to give them hope and encouragement through cards. If you are willing to be a pen pal through Cards For Prisoners, email Tangiblehopeenterprise@gmail.com and they will give you the details. It’s a safe and anonymous way to encourage a prisoner. They currently have close to 100 men waiting to be matched with a pen pal.
Cards for Prisoners hopes to make sure no inmate ever feels forgotten – there are many people on the “outside” that want to be there for the incarcerated but don’t know how. Cards For Prisoners is here to help bridge that gap.
If you have questions you may email or call Paula at 616/466-4391.
Starting the Week with Mahatma Gandhi
August 6, 2018
"Silence becomes cowardice when occasion demands speaking out the whole truth and acting accordingly."
"Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap."
HFP Blog: Unfair and inappropriate treatment of mentally ill inmates is the subject of a short post on our blog, read it HERE.
Join us next week!
August 1, 2018
Humanity for Prisoners and Artworks Cultural Center in Big Rapids invite you to join us next week for the opening of "and I am an artist," a month-long exhibit of artwork all done by clients of Humanity for Prisoners.
The exhibit will be open from August 8 to September 22 (please note the opening date change) at Artworks Cultural Center, 106 N. Michigan Ave in Big Rapids, with a public reception being held August 9 (next week Thursday) from 5:30 to 7 p.m. It will feature 30 pieces from 21 different artists, and will also include a small bit of information on each artist participating. Most items will be for sale (pick-up after the exhibit is done) with the benefits going to the work of HFP.
We look forward to seeing you there!