Texas Incarceration september 4, 2015

Dr1 Dr2 Dr3 DR4 DR5

Out of bed at 5.30 this morning. For the second time! I set my alarm last night and when the telephone ran I thougt it was time to get out of bed. After a shower, dressing up and packing my bag I found out it was 3.15 am. The phone just rang because my colleague Eric Nyman had tried to call me….:-)

I forgot to write about Dana, a friend of Cathys who joined is for dinner last night. A modern American story…. Diana is a nice lady from about my age, with four happily married daughters and a lot of children. She works at one of the 240 offices of a company which loans money to people. “when you lend 300 dollars, you will pay 150 dollar interest!”. Diana has been unemployd for two years before and could not get a job because of her age and finally got this one. But it was her last day today: all the shops close down and Diana stands on the street with a to-week salary. The organization tried to fires much people as possible in the last few weeks to avoid paying this two weeks. And Diana tries to call the people to pay their whole loan off te same day or else…..which means that they sent people in to repossess their cars, house or other stuff. They already sent people to the ones who did not pick up their phones! A social drama! On top of that Diana’s husband has a form of aggressive cancer and is sick at home. Diana was insured because of het job and within a few month she has to pay a lot more to stay insured and pay the costs of her husbands treatment. Happily his family promised to pay for that, but there Diana is: a hard working, loyal lady with no chance to get another job and a deadly sick husband at home. Long live the US!

I tried to persuade the lady of the Motel to let me leave my luggage in the motel. You cannot take anything with you into Polunski but a passport and nickel coins and I could not leave the stuff in Cathy’s car, because she would be in Polunski when I had to step into the car with Gloria. No chance: “if something happens to it you will blame me, and i am not allowed”. I said that I trust her and her colleagues and offered the lady to write a note that I consider myself responsible, with signature and passport number. No way, Jose! I said I did not blame her, but that I met this way of thinking all the time in Texas: always count on the worst case scenario, have fear for what can go wrong, do not trust anybody, do not take any responsibility and just follow rules and regulations. She did not like the conversation and she ended up not liking me very much either. I apologized when I lef, told her not to take it personal and asked her if these statements made any difference for her. She really thought about it for a moment and then decides to nod: yes. Felt like I fell through a brick wall.

Cathy has another favorite subject too: bloody cruel car-accidents. She described all kinds of them, mostly with more than two casualties. She points at the places where these events occurred. This morning she went slowly through a corner, pointing at the exact place where a guy drove his car off the road, was thrown out of it and ended up sitting with his back against a tree. Dead. They found him and his car five days later.

We have breakfast at MacDonalds: “great food, the best breakfast in the whole State”, Cathy says. She really knows her way, after 72 years of experience visiting Deathrow. I actually have a nice roll with egg and a good cup of coffee. And I look at all those people who get their breakfast here: guards from prison, other people before work and whole families! When I tell Gloria later, she says: “I do not know why people over here eat outside all the time!”

Takes a lot of time entering the prison. They have a shortage of staff, Harvey explains later. Then the warden enters the facility: a giant of a guy stepping out of a giant SUV, wearing a giant stetson, called Todd Harris. Visitors told me earlier that he is a nice guy, doing his best. And he does today, at least. He shakes hands with me, telling me that he is interested in the situation in Holland, takes a lady apart who has complains about her visit and is irritated about the delay for the visitors. He even goes to the visiting-department and Harvey later says he never saw a warden before in this part of the building. And he also notices very quickly that they closed other parts of the building to get enough start to transfer the people to the visiting-department.

My 4-hour visit with Harvey seems to go by in two seconds. Our conversation is intens and inspiring and I see him charging up, brome enthusiastic and hopeful. Which he confirms: “Our conversation gives me hope and energy, my friend. I feel like I am going to do a lot of writing and painting again!” And we make plans about exchanging letters and support each other in the writing-process. And he wants to send me pictures and writing to put on internet to make this easily available for people outside, like his family. When I make a wordpress-and gmail-account for him I think it will be do-able.

And after a wonderful drive back to Houston with Gloria I am in my hotelroom again. Getting tired, I have to admit but about to go to the Prison Show again, meeting Bryonn after that and going to visit Nanon tomorrow! Really looking forward!

It’s The Prison Show International Edition! Tune in as we hear News from Holland, New York and Texas! Guests this week are Ms. Vivian Nixon and Warden Frans Douw. We’ll hear reports about Prison Reform, Pell Grants, Tifa Events, Parole Changes, Death Penalty, and YOU!

***8:15 pm – The Prison Show Weekly Staff Meeting – 8:55 pm***
Let’s discuss fundraising

9 pm – Opening – 5 min – 9:05 pm
9:05 pm – Ms. Vivian – 15 min – 9:20 pm
9:20 pm – Tifa – 10 min – 9:30 pm
9:40 pm – Dave – 10 min – 9:40 pm
9:40 pm – Frans – 15 min – 9:55 pm
9:55 pm – Callers – 50 min – 10:45 pm
10:45 pm – No more callers placed on hold – 10 min – 10:55 pm
10:55 pm – Closing – 3 min – 10:58 pm
10:58 PM – PSAs – 2 min – 11 pm
11 pm – Radioactive/Rhonda


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