Friday, 27 December 2013

The Journey celebrated its 20. anniversary this year by doing an Indíana Journey of Hoe Tour and Conference.
The first Journey of Hope began at my house in Portage, Indiana in 1993.
we honored the World Coalition Against the Death Penalty and their Project," World Day Against the Death Penalty."
This was the 11. annual World Day Against the Death Penalty. 
We called this year`s Journey of Hope " World Day Against the Death Penalty Tour".
It began on October 4 and we journeyed around the state, sharing our stories until October 29. 

We did something this year we had never done before as part of the Journey. We organized a World Day Against the Death Penalty conference October 10-13 while we were in the Indianapolis, the state capital. We began with a press conference in the capitol rotunda on October 10 to commemorate World Day Against the Death Penalty. Nick Hess, Producer of WCTY channel 16 news in Indianapolis sent me a link of the entire conference. This is great to have for our archives.

The Journey of Hope web site link details the weekend long conference in depth.

It was a great conference. Many great people were involved and I had a lot of help with the organizing. Colleen Cunningham, Equal Justice USA was the chief organizer and the main reason the conference was so successful.

As I am sure you heard, Paula Cooper was released from prison in June after over 28 years in prison. I did interviews that were aired around the world. CNN, Democracy Now, ABC National News Australia, BBC, Red Letter Christians, a YouTube composite and CBS News Chicago were some of the better ones. Unfortunately I have not heard from Paula Cooper since she has been released. It is almost 6 months now and I am quite surprised and disappointed. I visited with her 15 times while she was in prison and for the last two years we exchanged mails every week.

I have heard rumors that she has been taken in by a support group and is doing well. I am happy about that because I was quite concerned about how she would do upon her release. I understand that she wants to further her education. I was told that she wants to avoid media and fears that associating with me would bring unwanted attention. I have been approached by the Piers Morgan Show, Travis Smiley and Cornel West Show, Restorative Justice Groups and many others who want to talk to both us so I understand her fears and concerns about the media.
I was in Madrid for the 5th World Congress Against the death penalty June and was able to talk about love and compassion there. I stopped in Indiana on my way back to Alaska. I had planned for years to meet her at the gates of the prison when she was released, but shortly before Paula got out she told me her mother was picking her up and her mother didn’t want me to be at the prison so I agreed not to go. I was hoping to hear from her as I visited with my children and grandchildren in Indiana the following week, but have not heard from her since.

I just finished a 12 day tour in NE Italy for the Community of Sant Egidio and their Cities For Life Project. I often spoke three time a day, cumulatively to more than two thousand high school students; I spoke at prayer services, a press conference, a home for the elderly, at a college, etc. Here are some links from my trip to Italy.,,,

My friend Delbert Tibbs passed away from cancer on November 23. Delbert was on the first Journey of Hope in Indiana in 1993. He was a member of Witness to Innocence. He will be missed.                                                     

Edward Mpagi and Ronald Katongole were able to come to the Indiana Journey of Hope thanks to the WCADP. After the Indiana Journey the three of us went to visit Kathy Chism of Dream One World. I am a Global Advisor for Dream One World and Edward’s school is one of their projects. Edward and Ron did not go back to Uganda empty handed.

I also had an opportunity to travel to Washington DC in November to attend the annual conference for the Campaign for the Fair Sentencing of Youth. I am also on their advisory board and it was a great highlight that closed the conference. There was a panel of 7 men that were sentenced to life without parole when they were juveniles. Each was released for one reason or another and each of them have become respectable citizens and are doing great things in their communities. It was great to hear each of them speak.

There was a lady there I had met before by the name of Mary Williams. She was with a man, Israel Oshea, who as a juvenile killed her son. Mary forgave him and they travel and speak together now. Their story is very powerful. I told Mary I was jealous.

If Paula Cooper would have been there with me, I don’t even know if I could have spoken. I think I would have cried every time I would open my mouth.

More later, Peace, Bill