Friday, November 30, 2007

Journey of Hope 2007 Photos

Journey of Hope participant since its inception, Charlie King - singer/songwriter extraordinare, performs for a group of Journey participants and the Amnesty International school group at Rice University.

The Journey of Hope was honored to welcome to this year's event - Mr. Ko, who traveled to Texas all the way from Seoul, South Korea.

Mr. Ko is a murder victim family member whose his mother, wife, and children were murdered by a serial killer. Through prayer and struggle, Mr. Ko came to forgive the man who killed his family and has corresponded with him.

Accompanying Mr. Ko were a film crew from SBS (Seoul Broadcasting System), and several from a Catholic prison ministry group.

On the left-hand side of this paper is the phonetic translation of the lyrics for "We Shall Overcome", into the Korean language. The song is well-known throughout South Korea. Journey participants would sing the song with a verse in English and then a verse in Korean. The use of song and music was an effective and light-hearted way to bridge the language barrier between those who spoke English and those who spoke Korean.

On the right-hand side of this paper is the lyrics to Charlie King's song "Step by Step".

Sunday, November 25, 2007



© 2007, Charlie King, Pied Asp Music (BMI)

Saddam Hussein is falling through space

With a prayer on his lips and fear in his face

Deep in the Green Zone they savor sweet release

In mortal defiance he drops through the air

While soldiers like pit bulls baiting a bear

Make him by contrast the hero of the piece

The White House can claim one more mission complete

Iraqis in Michigan dance in the street

Shiites in Baghdad are lynched - eyes for an eye

The body count surges, the war blunders on

They look for a leader who’s ruthless and strong

Like the one they just hung, which begs the question “Why?”

Why do we never grow weary of this?

Condemned by the world or betrayed by a kiss

Guilty or innocent, hit or miss

And who will be next on the gallows?

From bunk beds and ceiling fans, rafters and shelves

Copycat children are hanging themselves

As if it’s a game. Watch what they do.

They do what they watch without judgment or hope

The heart of this world at the end of its rope

Twisting in circles, learning that it’s all true

[harp break - chorus]

Bridge: Idi Amin died at home in his bed

Pinochet passed away old and well fed

When Franco was buried a hero, Nixon sent flowers.

Yeah, Saddam is guilty but please keep in mind

We paid for his sins till he stepped out of line

We’ll support any son of a bitch, but he’s got to be ours

And when will we ever grow weary of this?

The extravagant hand or the merciless fist

You play by our rules or you cease to exist

And who will be next on the gallows?


Quadaffi, Lozada, Uribe

Mugabe, Kissinger, Duvalier

Cheney, Gonzales, Negroponte

Who will be next on the gallows?


NOTE: Charlie was with us on the Texas Journey of Hope 2007 -- our faithful, funny and challenging troubadour -- not to mention a song-writing genius in my opinion. I think he said this JOH was the premiere for this song? In light of all the killing --plenty in the name of Americans -- and plenty to be batted around at various conferences, events and political/congressional gatherings and perhaps decided this coming week -- we at JOH have a few things to say -- especially Charlie with this particular abolition song.

Thanks, Charlie!

Thanks for tuning in...look for more of Charlie's lyrics and how to buy his CDs here.

Also, look soon for a report by Bill Pelke from Italy!

Connie L. Nash

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

The Common Thread

Sent by Lisa Rhea, President and Founder of
The Justice & Reconciliation Project (JRP) who was with us on the Texas 2007 JOH

Greetings. I wanted to share with you an experience I had in Houston, Texas some days ago. I was honored to join with a victims-led group called the Journey of Hope. The Journey is (partly) comprised of victims of violent crime opposed to the death penalty. Each victim has a story to tell---stemming from their own personal pain of living through violent crime in America. Each has had a loved one murdered. Extraordinary stories. The Journey of Hope takes its message of hope to one state each year. They bring victims, and other activists, into the state for a 2-3 week period to tell their stories.

No matter your personal opinion of the death penalty in the U.S. you are compelled to listen to these stories. There are many organizations around the U.S. that speak out against the death penalty but organizations like Journey of Hope, Murder Victims for Reconciliation and Murder Victims for Human Rights stand alone as they represent those most directly impacted by violent crime: the victims' families.

I also learned (again) something that I believe I have known for some time -- that these victims of violent crime support restorative justice as a means to bring forth systemic reform in the U.S. Some of victims of violent crime I met on the Journey included Marietta Jaeger Lane of Montana, Bud Welch of Oklahoma, Bill Pelke of Alaska, Renny Cushing of Massachusetts, and Bill Lucero of Kansas. (Each)cruelly injured by violent crime but somehow coming out the other side experiencing some kind of peace, some kind of healing. Each agreeing with the other that no one should take a life "for them" in the name of their murdered loved one.

I also had the great privilege of meeting Sister Helen Prejean who perhaps is best known as the ministering nun in -Dead Man Walking- the book she wrote
as the spiritual advisor to Patrick Sonnier, a death row inmate in Louisiana. The book later became a film starring Sean Penn and Susan Sarandon.

Again, the encouraging news for me, apart from meeting these victims and Sister Helen, is that there is a common thread that runs through the experiences
of the victims on the Journey and the work that we do with victims at JRP. That thread is the need for reform that acknowledges that the U.S. criminal justice system is broken. I have said that often over my years of working in this field. And surprising to me, many do not like to hear that fact. But those who are victims of violent crime know better. Those who are the family members of offenders know that the system is broken as well. Often these two groups of affected "camps" do not work together. But on the Journey they often do.

Others I met during this brief period with the Journey included three men who had been on death row but had been exonerated. Greg Wilhoit of California, Ron Keine of Pennsylvania, and Shujaa Graham of Maryland had their stories to tell as well. Each convicted of murder and each innocent. Astounding stories. They had come together with the victims of violent crime to talk about justice. Their stories like those of the victims are based on what has occurred in their lives--- not their opinions, not data, and not polling numbers. But the fact is there are wrongful convictions. There are so many cases of exonerated inmates that it is easy to lose count. There have been 208 people exonerated, to date, by DNA alone, according to the Innocence Project, 15 on death row. A more stunning fact is knowing that all three of these men were on death row. Perhaps it is easy to read newspaper articles on this reality but it is another thing to meet such individuals in person.

I am more convinced than ever that something is changing in our American justice system. It is through the voices of the victims that change will occur. We must listen. To learn more about the Journey of Hope and to read the stories of the victims, go to

Best regards,

Lisa M. Rea
President and Founder

The Justice & Reconciliation Project (JRP)
telephone: 530-368-2026
mailing address: P.O. Box 2051, Loomis, CA 95650 U.S.A.

Quick note from Connie (whom Sister Helen nicknamed "scribe" for this time's Texas Journey) We suddenly have lots of photos to work with, so look for pictures to flesh out these blogs soon. Now we are looking for more stories...I just heard from Uganda--Our JOH Edward, "vindicated" from Uganda Death Row. (To use a term I learned on this JOH from the released). Edward says he's weak but recovering and thankful for our care.)

Monday, November 19, 2007

BILL and the Vatican Monday November 19, 2007

Sending this from Bill--so appropos right now with the Global work against the Death Penalty and at least one of us-- if not several of our Journey of Hope (JOH) folk-abolition-moratorium folk-- in Italy right now! Hope we all hear more on that trip soon. Soon we should have some old and new photos to post related to the Vatican and also plenty more from Texas "Journey" 2007... Please send me your items, photos, etc.

Edward - Mgagi- Edmary of Uganda will have more to say about these events/issues as well whether or not he was able to make these events in Italy.

Connie L. Nash


Bill Pelke

One cold December day in 1998 I received a call from Sergio D’Elia. Sergio was the director of Hands off Cain in Italy, an organization working for worldwide abolition of the death penalty. He had been on the Texas Journey a few months earlier when we marched to the State Capital in Austin behind our 24-foot Journey of Hope banner.

Sergio wanted some members of the Journey of Hope to come to Italy with our banner and lead a march to the Vatican on Christmas morning when the Pope would deliver his annual worldwide address. The purpose of the march was to ask the Pope to make a statement about the death penalty.

Kathy Harris and I flew to Rome with the Journey banner about a week before Christmas. Kathy and I did numerous interviews encouraging people to join the march. The Paula Cooper case was still very familiar on the minds of many Italians.

It was quite impressive to walk down the streets of Rome and see posters all over advertising the march to the Vatican.

Christmas day was quite an affair, beginning early in the morning as thousands gathered at a square called DA Campo Dei Fiori a San Pietro. Gordano Bruno, a philosopher, was burned at the stake in 1600 as a heretic at this square.

Several people spoke and a quartet of women sang. Kathy and Barbara Bacci, one of the organizers read the names of the one hundred and fifty men on the Texas death row who had written the Pope, asking to be remembered in prayers. I spoke about the death penalty and the importance of the international community in helping to bring about the worldwide abolition of it. Sam Reese Sheppard and Rev. Melodee Smith were to arrive before the march, but a flight delay made them miss the rally and march.

As the march toward Vatican began, the twenty-four-foot Journey of Hope…from Violence to Healing banner led the march. Behind us were people carrying the flags of over one hundred cities. The mayor of Rome marched with us. According to the evening news there were as many as seven thousand people on our march to the Vatican.

When we arrived at the Vatican, there were already about thirty thousand gathered to hear the Pope’s annual Christmas address. We joined in with the crowd. Thousands more arrived before Pope John Paul II began to read his prepared speech. He suddenly stopped his reading and made mention of those who had marched to the Vatican protesting the death penalty. He thanked the organizers of the march and those who participated in it.

The purpose of the march was to ask the Pope to make a statement about the death penalty and John Paul II did just that. For the first time publicly, he called for worldwide abolition of the death penalty. He said that is was cruel and unnecessary. The crowd applauded his words.


PS Bill and others (Sister Helen too!)have some more old and newer notes on this experience and on the phrase that the death penalty "is/was cruel and unnecessary" which we hope to get to this blog soon.


For any who may not have seen mine, David's or others on the Global Moratorium, here's some great news & a wise comment:

And the sky did not fall November 15, 2007
This just popped up in my email box from Renny Cushing, executive director of Murder Victims' Families for Human Rights.

The United Nations General Assembly just passed a resolution calling for a worldwide moratorium on executions! The vote was 99 in Favor, 52 Against and 33 Abstentions. Another step toward a world without the death penalty!

Of course, we shouldn't abolish the death penalty because the U.N. says we should or France or Germany or Canada say we should. We should abolish it because it is flawed public policy.

(Posted by David Elliot on NCADP Blog...well worth reading often!

Coming--more items from or related to issues, people active in the Journey of Hope and their exeriences.

Thanks for tuning in--tell others about this blog, will you? Send them the url.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

This 'n that after the Journey

Hello, glad you tuned in. Here is the first blog we're submitting since the Journey of Hope, Texas, 2007, ended recently. David's name may come up each time for awhile because of the technical set-up. Please bear with me as I get used to doing these blogs. The first may be a bit rough. Also, I'm not yet adept at how to do some of the photos, attachments. Connie L. Nash

First, here's a wonderful collection of photos with an article. All who were with us will love this reminder & for others, it's quite a bird's eye view into this recent Journey:

Here's a brief note from Jim (of Carter and Jim--steadfast friends who were with us on the Journey).

Carter and Lilly Flores have a son, Charles, on death row in Texas. Charles under the Law of Parties, a Texas law. An elder at the Edgefield Iglesia de Cristo Church in Dallas. Carter is active with the Texas Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty and the Dallas Chapter of Amnesty International USA. See the indymedia url above for a photo of Carter.

Jim and his wife Susan--the Ulrichs--have been long-time friends of several death row inmates and close friends of the Flores. Jim helped the Flores son, Charles, in the writing of his book -Warrior Within- a personal account of his story and of life on Texas death row.

This short piece is from Jim:

I attached a picture of a headstone I found on our visit to Huntsville.

Carter was with me. I knew the man through my wife who was his penpal. I read his letters and have his artwork. He didn't have an execution date when Sue went down to visit charlie and calvin. when she got there she was told calvin wasn't in the unit. come to find out he'd died of an anurism the week before. Sue contacted his sister, who was also in prison, and went to visit her. Within a year, his sister died of the same thing! Calvin was in the midst of making the illustrations for a children's story book.

Carter noticed I was reflecting on Calvin's grave, so I joined with him in prayer for calvin. He held my hand. It had to be difficult for Carter to console me in my grief for Calvin and for Sue in the very place where he wants least to be reminded of what is likely to happen to his own son. But he thanked me for telling the story of Calvin. Through my friendship with Carter and the family I've gotten just a little bit of the experience of the victims in the circle of the condemned. Pray that I don't get a lot more of that experience.

jim ulrich

See Jim's attached photo

There is more on Carter & his son's case below:

More on Charles Flores book (written with Jim):

Great news on Edward--who's full name is Mpagi Edward Edmary. Edward's now finally in full health--having suffered an unexpected and quite serious ailment as soon as arriving with us at the JOH in Texas. This continued to be problematic for him throughout the Journey. Right after the Journey ended, he had outpatient surgery and then shortly afterwards another hospital procedure. He's also now happily back home in Uganda where he works with inmates, their families and their children--especially in the areas of education and forgiveness.

For any who don't know about Edward, he spent 18 years on Uganda's death row although the man he allegedly murdered showed up alive three years before he was finally released. More on Edward and the Global Moratorium Campaign soon. Or if you are interested, email me for more information.

Look for a Bill Pelke's piece next. Bill is our founder-visionary, director and ongoing inspiration. He's not bad at stories either.

Send your items, comments or questions to Connie Nash