Texas 2015, august/september 28

7.30 am

Just jumping on the train in Hoorn and heading for Schiphol to fly to Houston. Aim of my visit: visiting my friends Harvey Earvin  on deathrow and Nanon Mckewn Williams in the Ramsey-unit, meeting other people like for example Gloria Rubac and my friend Bryonn Bain who comes over from LA to visit Nanon with me and to prepare the Annual Prison Dialogue and Action Day 2015. I will be in the Prison Show and building on the network wich tries to give a voice to people who suffer the most severe consequences of systems which excludes, supresses, diiscriminates and/or tortures them. Incarcerated people, their families, people who experienced violence and are traumatized which also includes prison staff, volunteers, professionals and society as a whole. I believe that empowering those who suffer the most severe consequence is the strongest way to move things in a more human directeion.
As a preparation for this trip I spoke toa few people. Of course I wrote with Nanon and Harvey and had email-contact with a fewothers. Our visit to New York in juin (see former posts on this Blog) was part of the “US-thing” too. A few wardens from the US for example who told me that the average warden in the US is aganst the death penalty and the present excessive practice of solitairy confinement. Their association made some statements on that before. The Texas section threatened to leave the organisation because of that “political” position and since then the association does not speak out anymore. I  also had a long skype section with Doug Drettke. He has been a Texas warden for many years and is head of the faculty of the Dallas university which trains higher level staff of policeforce and prisonstaff. He was friendly but did not make me very happy. Talking about my experiences he said things like:”Of course it is not perfect in Texas prisons, but we made an incredible progress.” and:”The execution of the deatch penalty is just a tiny little part of our huge prisonsystem and it is a mistake to include it in your general view on what happens here” and, with great disbelieve in his voice: ‘you do not want to try to change anyting, do you?”.  He was friendly inviting me to meetings of wardens ‘to get to know and trust eachother”, before we could start with exchanging knowledge.  I also tried to contact James Mossbarger, warden of the Ramsey Unit. Nanon adviced me to do that in order to try to get more  convenient visiting-days. I spoke quite a few times to James his secretary, introduced myself as a Dutch warden. He was alwys in a meeting, she promised me that he would call me back: never happened. I actually do not have a visiting time for Nanon yet. He only could put me on his visiting list on august 26 and a lady from Ramsey told me to call back on monday. Bryonn and me bought tickets, counting on visiting Nanon on september 5 and 6. I realy hope it will work when I call on monday.  Due to this planning problem I had tot extend my stay in the US. Gives me time to do networking, visit groups and organizations, vistit some interesting sites (Alamo-ranch, poor neighbourhoods etc) and hopefully do some workshops and lectures. People are already planning things, but it works a little bit like in Russia and Eastern Europe: organize things when you are actually there and physically meet people.

Just to inspire and probably fresh your memory these two links to Youtube: about Nanon and Prison Action and Dialogue Day, which you have to copy in your explorer/safari to watch them:

http://www.no-offence.org/news-item/832-2014-international-award-winner-nanon-mckewn-williams/

I am realy looking forward to be in Texas again and meet all these people. I am in a rather interesting phase of my life. I will stop as a prison warden on december 1 2015 and leave the system after almost forty years. A great opportunity to be free to work as an independent consultant and I already commited myself to work for different organisations and people in my network on lecturing, innovative projects and international knowledge exchange. Already enough work untill 2018!  In the last ten years  became more and more an acticvist andand innovator abd I am realy happy to make this stap. A very important (and most important) developpeement is that I will become grand-dad next februari and that I will participate in the care for this new world-citizen! Fantastic. At the other hand I suffer from love-greeve. I was involved in my work within the prison system so passionate and personal that leaving also feels like loosing my home with loved ones in it. It is a mourning-process I have to take seriously and I am happy that I have the changee to already spent time on the activities which will occupy me after december 1. I gave colleges on Nyenrode this year, did working visits to New York and the Ukrain and will also work in Lithuania, Dniepropetrovsk and Manchester in the next few month. I am very glad there is enough time to think, write and walk (I have my hike boots with me) during this tri. And I will post content on this blog every day until 8 september!

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