Doug Tjapkes, who runs the non-profit organization known as INNOCENT and Humanity For Prisoners, has worked tirelessly to support individual prisoners and to promote enlightened reform in our criminal justice system. The goals of his organization are clear. The organization is:
- Seeking rightful resolutions to wrongful convictions;
- Advocating appropriate release for inmates who have served prescribed time;
- Defending the constitutional right to receive adequate prison medical care;
- Pursuing compassionate action on behalf of prisoners facing imminent death;
- Considering assistance for other prisoners with critical needs;
- Facilitating reentry, when possible, for freed prisoners; and
- Mentoring understudies so that our mission may continue!
Doug, in a recent statement provided this amplification:
- Seeking rightful resolutions to wrongful convictions
WE DO NOT believe that all prisoners are innocent. Prisons are there for a very important reason: many criminals are not fit to roam freely among society.
WE DO believe that there are many innocent people in prison. Some estimates range as high as 15%, while a New York Times article placed the figure more like 3%. Only someone wearing blinders could think that a judicial system is right 100% of the time. Among Michigan's 50,000 prisoners, 1,500 innocent inmates, in our opinion, is an unacceptable figure!
- Advocating appropriate release for inmates who have served prescribed time
WE DO NOT believe that every prisoner eligible for parole deserves parole. Many more factors must be considered in order to protect society.
WE DO believe that if approximately 20% of Michigan's prisoners are eligible for parole, there must be some in that group who deserve to be released.
- Defending the constitutional right to receive adequate prison medical care
WE DO NOT believe that prisoners deserve regular treatment at the Mayo Clinic.
WE DO believe that if a prisoner has broken a tooth and is suffering the excruciating pain of an exposed nerve, he should not have to wait three months for a dental appointment.
- Pursuing compassionate action on behalf of prisoners facing imminent death
WE DO NOT believe that just because a vicious criminal is dying, he deserves freedom.
WE DO believe that even the most vicious criminal, at the time of death, is not a threat to society, and perhaps arrangements could be made for him/her to spend final hours in a hospice with immediate family members nearby.
- Considering assistance for other prisoners with critical needs
WE DO NOT believe that a prisoner deserves all of the luxuries and benefits of the free. That defeats the reason for incarceration.
WE DO believe that if, for example, a prisoner's wife who is not an American citizen faces deportation because of a technical glitch, we should try to help if we can.
- Facilitating reentry, when possible, for freed prisoners
WE DO NOT believe that all freed prisoners are saints.
WE DO believe that if the freed prisoner can be assisted in learning how to reenter society, in finding a job, and in finding a decent place to live, there is a better chance that he/she will not return to prison.
To learn more visit http://HumanityForPrisoners.org. And read Doug Tjapkes's book Sweet Freedom, an inspiring story about how Maurice Carter was freed after serving 28 years for an armed assault he'd had nothing to do with.
If you have 10 minutes to give, take a look at the following video from an address Doug Tjapkes gave in Toronto:
To further Doug Tjapkes's work, consider supporting his organization by going to the fundraising page at http://www.change.org/innocent/projects/fundraising/humanity_for_prisoners.