October 2023 Edition Click here for a PDF version


Be a Sponsor! 

You and/or your company can be a sponsor for HFP’s brand new autumn gala, Voices of Humanity! The film festival will be held on Friday, October 27, 2023, at 7 p.m. at Central Park Place (421 Columbus, Grand Haven, MI). The program will feature a showing of Grand Rapids filmmaker Nathan Roels’ award-winning 45-minute documentary Behind Our Walls. The film that tells the powerful stories of eight prisoners residing in Michigan’s Handlon Correctional Facility and the educational program through Calvin University and Calvin Theological Seminary that brought them together.


Individual theater tickets are now on sale for $20. But, if you choose to be a sponsor, you’ll receive even more!


  • Star Sponsor: $100-200, 1 theater ticket, 1 dinner & reception reservation
  • Headliner Sponsor: $200-499, 2 theater tickets, 2 dinner & reception reservations
  • Director Sponsor: $500-999, 6 theater tickets, 6 dinner & reception reservations
  • Producer Sponsor: $1,000-4,999, 8 theater tickets, 8 dinner & reception reservations
  • Executive Producer: $5,000+, 12 theater tickets, 12 dinner & reception reservations


This is an event you won't want to miss! Purchase your tickets and/or sponsorship today by clicking here or by mailing a check to Humanity for Prisoners, P.O. Box 687, Grand Haven, MI 49417.

From the Desk of Doug

HFP Retreat

Smiling, frowning, dreaming!

HFP learned many years ago that for continuous success and growth an organization needs a solid strategy plan. It was good advice, and it worked! HFP is doing amazing things, providing amazing services, and touching an amazing number of lives! But, this year it was time for reassessment.


It would be impossible to hold productive meetings in our office building. Messages arrive non-stop throughout the day, and interruptions would be frequent. That’s why our planners chose Calvin University’s Prince Conference Center for an all-day event last month. The venue was perfect and the event was a smashing success!


We smiled as we heard the stories from people behind bars who were helped by HFP, and whose actions and attitudes were impacted by the compassionate response of our team.


We frowned as we learned of the huge backlog of email requests arriving in our office, much of this due to a staff shortage. We take pride in prompt response, and incarcerated people take this for granted. Our reputation is important, so we will be accelerating our efforts to beef up staff and get caught up.


We loved to dream about the future. Some ideas can and may be quickly implemented Others are still in the possibility stage.


Thanks to facilitators Marla Mitchell-Cichon and Aaron Yore-Van Oosterhout, HFP will have a new and impressive Strategic Plan, and an exciting future!

Michigan Legislative Updates

Help for returning citizens

House Bill 4534 would require the Michigan Department of Corrections to provide both identification and information about voter registration to people who have been convicted of felonies upon their release from prison. An estimated 6,500 people incarcerated in Michigan’s prison system are expected to be released this year, according to the Department of Corrections, and 95 percent of them will be released on parole. If passed by the state Legislature, the bill would help newly released people by equipping them with identification and preparing them to vote at the ballot box.


Controversial idea on hold


Michigan Democrats are pausing a controversial plan that would have allowed prisoners to shave time off their sentences by obtaining degrees. Inner-party divisions and legal questions dogged the proposal, but sponsors say it will return. 

Bridge Magazine

Sad, but Typical

HFP client, Douglas Burges, relates a shameful tale, typical of the kind we often hear, and underscoring the reason why we try to assure every prisoner that he or she matters!


It's nearly impossible in here to be seen as anything other than a sub-human. A perfect example is when I graduated with my master's degree. The Warden and the Principal arranged to have me receive my diploma during a GED/Trade School graduation. It was the first degree where I got to wear my robe and shake hands. I was also asked to give an exhortation speech to the graduates before the keynote address by the MDOC's deputy director at the time. Heady stuff! However, as we were leaving, the Annex officer who was returning passes to us stopped me, and in a loud voice so everyone could hear, said, "Burgess, I don't care how many degrees you get, you'll always be the fuzz stuck to the gum stuck to the bottom of my shoe." Talk about trying to deflate one of my greatest moments. But that's the label that gets stuck to people in here, and while I know such attitudes exist, it still stings knowing that no matter what I do all some people will ever see is a convict. Thankfully, as I've gotten older, the opinions of others are not what I allow to define who I've become.

"Someone is sitting in the shade today because someone planted a tree a long time ago."

– Warren Buffett

Doug Tjapkes planted the HFP tree 22 years ago. Our Policy and Planning Committee held an all-day retreat for the staff and directors in September, to discuss where we’ve been, what we’ve done right, what we could do better, and where we’re going!

Panel Discussion

To discuss our roots and our services, facilitators, Marla Mitchell-Cichon and Aaron Yore-Van Oosterhout, orchestrated an outstanding panel featuring HFP's Founder, Doug Tjapkes, and former HFP clients, Heather Moore, Gilbert Poole, and Mark Hartman. Heather’s husband had been locked up for 16 years, Gil was in a cage for 32 years for a crime he did not commit, and Mark, who also claimed wrongful conviction, spent 12 years in prison; 61 years of incarceration represented on that panel! All related personal experience with tHFP’s “action with compassion.”

Small Groups: Our strengths, our weaknesses, our needs

Board members were instructed to sit at tables with a staff member for these frank discussions regarding the our work and our mission.

Our Future!

All ideas were welcome, nothing too big, too crazy, too outlandish! Hang onto your hats!

Alternative Names for the Justice System

Make Lawyers Rich System

Slow as Hell System

Feed and House Criminals for Life System

Courtesy of Dustin Stevens, Novelist

First Great Grandbaby for Doug!

HFP welcomes Boston Maxwell Stone to the world and congratulates our Founder, Doug Tjapkes, on becoming a great grandfather!

Humanity for Prisoners

Humanity for Prisoners is a 501C3 non-profit organization that works one-on-one with prisoners in the Michigan Department of Corrections to help resolve any non-legal issues our clients face.

Click here to support our work today!