Monday, March 31, 2008

"Walk 4 Life" Begins

Latallade, CAPITAL "X", began his “Walk 4 Life” on March 31, 2008 at 5AM at the state house in Trenton, NJ, the first state to abolish the death penalty in the last 40 years. He plans to walk 1700 miles through 10 of the highest executing states and arrive at Governor's mansion in Austin, Texas, "the busiest killing state in the country,” to await the Supreme Courts’ ruling on the constitutionality of capital punishment.

Latallade estimates it will take 54 days walking 8 hours/day at 3.5 mph. He will take a break to participate on a panel at the Hip Hop Association's HHEAL Festival in the Bronx, New York April 18-20.

This is one of the most exciting events of our time: a BRINGING TOGETHER of so many folk of all ages, countries, backgrounds and experiences. KEEP WATCHING--SEND YOUR PHOTOS AND RESPONSES FOR US TO PRINT. Try to find Capital "X" along his way for some mutual inspiration. Thanks so much for tuning in!

Bill Pelke on Capital "X" First Day

The Campaign 4 Life JOURNEY began TODAY! Please SUPPORT this VENTURE!

The following came from Bill Pelke Monday afternoon March 31st Updates on Capital X's walk can be found on this link.

I talked with Capital X today after his first day walking. He left the State Capital in Trenton this morning to start his 1700 mile walk to Austin, Texas to speak out against violence and capital punishment. Capital X walked 40 miles today. It was rather cold when he began the walk and then began to warm up some. In the afternoon it began to mist and before the day was over his clothes became heavy with moisture. He was very pumped up about the day's venture and enthusiastic about the entire journey ahead. I will be flying from Alaska on Thursday and joining up with Capital X on Friday to spend a week in support of his effort. I hope to be joined at some point with Abe Bonowitz and Shujaa Graham. Shujaa is a Journey of Hope board member and participant in The Witness to Innocence Program. Abe is a former Journey board member, founder of CUADP and newest member of the National Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty staff. More Soon... Bill

The following article ran in "The Trentonian" newspaper

Capital "X" Begins his "Walk 4 Life" Journey


Posted on Mon, Mar 31, 2008

Ex-con rapper walks from Trenton to Texas to protest capital punishment

TRENTON — How far would you go to protest against the death penalty? For Andre Latallade, he’ll walk 1,700 miles to advocate abolishing capital punishment. Latallade, a Newark native who raps under the stage name Capital-“X,” will start his “Walk 4 Life” journey about 5:30 this morning at the statehouse.

Over 54 days, Latallade will head south toward the nation’s capital then cut westward until he ends up at the governor’s mansion in Austin, Texas — the highest executing state in America.
“Being an ex-prisoner and being an ex-prisoner that changed,” Latallade said last week, “I just believe that prisoners can change. I think that we are incredible beings, and I think we should focus more on trying to preserve life instead of taking it away.”

Latallade served two stints in the slammer, the first time on drug charges and the second for resisting arrest. He said being in prison “is no joke” and that life imprisonment without parole is a sufficient replacement for the death penalty.

“Just being taken away from your existence, from your family, it’s just really tough,” Latallade said. “When you walk by and you see the prisoners playing checkers it looks like, ‘Oh, that’s nothing. They’re coddling the prisoners.’ But it’s an inner torment that these guys ain’t gonna show you out in the open.”

As Capital-“X,” Latallade kicks rhymes advocating changes to the American criminal justice system. He’ll be joined by an entourage that includes a diverse group of people. “I have families of murder victims walking with me also,” he said.

Latallade has researched capital punishment extensively over the years, even visiting several of the 27 European Union nations — the EU bloc has long prohibited capital punishment.
“I made numerous trips to Italy, Germany, Austria,” he said. “I went into the prisons there. They value life so much over there, and their communities are so much closer.”

Latallade said it’s unacceptable for the United States to have capital punishment on the books when most advanced democracies have already abolished it. “All of these other countries have abolished the death penalty, and they do just fine,” Latallade said. Latallade will travel through roadways in 10 states during his 54-day walking journey. There could be some delays, he admitted, but he said he hopes to make it to Austin, Texas, before the U.S. Supreme Court makes its ruling on the constitutionality of lethal injection.

“I just want to kind of do my part to stop the killing,” the prison rights activist said. “I want to let people know that these are human beings in there.”

Go to for updates on Latallade’s anti-death-penalty walking tour and to listen to his music.

Stay tuned!

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Rapper Capital "X" in Italy with Shujaa Graham and Bill Pelke

In the Photo CAPITAL "X" with Shujaa Graham and his wife, Marina Bortolani, Bill Pelke, Katia Rbacchi.

RAPPER CAPITAL "X " was in Italy last March 6th with formerly- sentenced to death Shujia Graham and Bill Pelke--who's grandmother Ruth Pelke was murdered by 15 year-old Paula Cooper. (Paula was put on death row and then later was sentenced to life.) They spoke to an audience with many students.

REAL SOON CAPITAL "X" will be heading across the country on his WALK 4 LIFE campaign. Will our own BILL BE WALKING with him? Stay tuned.

(the following is a translation of a translation so may be corrected soon)

CAPITAL "X" recalled during the event in Italy that it was after hearing the testimony of Bill Pelke and Shujaa Graham he himself also began his commitment against the death penalty. He stressed then and now how important it is for students to know these realities and the direct testimony of those who livedand live in contact with the death penalty.

At 16 years Capital X said he was already part of a criminal gang. When he left prison, he said, he continued to lead the same lifestyle he had before entering. He lived on the street for awhile and then was again put in prison. It was the "electric shock" of faith and decision to radically change my own and others' lives around the world that finally brought him to his senses. He said he felt then and now to spread the message of peace and hope across the world.

When in Italy ( as he has in many other places) Capital X invited youth to look with greater depth at those labled "criminals": "These are often people who have not had the chance to live like you," Capital X said in Italy, "People are frightened when they see the dealers, thieves or criminals, but do you (hold the possibility that) these people can change and becoming better people?" Can they do it without the support of you, others and (some sense of) support from society? Always remember that the prisoners need to have compassion for the opportunity to change, Capital X added.

When Capital X spoke in Italy, Bill Pelke said: '...that was a very touching speech" and noted that several students were unable to hold back tears. Pelke then recalled the image of the grandfather of Paula Cooper alone and weeping while the judge declared the death sentence: "In those eyes of disapproval and condemnation for the pain inflicted on his grandchild, I saw the eyes of my own (murdered) grandmother". Bill explained to the Italian students --as he often doesa across the world--that his grandmother ( who had been a Bible teacher to young girls) would never have wanted Paula put to death or held on death row. After reminding the students how many innocents also have been condemned to die, Bill concluded, "If you ask 'Well, what can I do?'-- (here is my) reply :'Each of us can make a difference. Iif you see an injustice, stand up and denounce it. And always remember that revenge is not the right answer --only compassion."

During that event, Shujaa spoke after Bill and gave his history including his usual vivid description of death row--as if he had lived through the terrible experience the day before. He added "I can't believe it, I am here despite the American system and thanks to ... two boys and their American pressure on public opinion. " Shujia's story was very touching to the Italian students who applauded and embraced him as a brother.

Capital "X" also recited rap to the enthusiasm of allthe Italian students.


Saturday, March 29, 2008

Strange Fire the Silence in Shabbat

An interpretation of SILENCE as offering for the commemoration of SHABBAT

The traditional synagogue reading from the Torah for this Shabbat, the one that is coming close upon us, includes the passage in which two sons of the High Priest, Aaron, bring "strange fire" as an offering to God, and are consumed in an instant as if they had become the burnt offering. (Lev. 10)

I am sending you a brief note that casts an interesting light on this fiery tale. It comes from Rabbi Phyllis Berman, who is co-author with me of a couple of books (A Time for Every Purpose Under Heaven: The Jewish Life-Spiral as a Spiritual Path and Tales of Tikkun: New Jewish Stories to Heal the Wounded World and is also my life-partner. She writes:

Though most traditional commentators focus on what Nadav and Abihu did "wrong" in offering "strange fire" that caused them to be consumed, I go in a completely different direction.

I think about "strange", that which is unfamiliar or unknown, like a "stranger" or an idea before it's become popular. I think about how innovators -- in science, in spirituality, in music and art, in loving -- are ahead of their time, inspired by and absorbed by that which most others might consider "strange". I think about how, especially when one is creative, one can become totally consumed by the creative process.

I think about how each of us desires to live fully, well-used, and that some people are fortunate to live each moment in that way; though we pray that everyone has a "full" life, it may be that "full" has more to do with quality than with length of time.

Perhaps that's why Aaron was "silent" after the death of his sons: perhaps he felt that bittersweet mixture of grief for the loss of his sons and pride/satisfaction for the richness of their lives. They were "consumed", as so many of us are, when we are blessed with meaningful lives.
May our lives be full and our passions all-consuming, and may we live to experience that fullness over and over again in lives that are long as well. -

Shalom, salaam, peace.
Rabbi Arthur Waskow"


How can we begin to understand for ourselves and for others just how painful--how horrific is the unexpected death of a loved one--particularly to murder or the threat of murder? How can we begin to have the grace of silence? I've observed that often when speaking, murder victims family who are against the death penalty sometimes have the beautiful grace of silence with others bereaved due to a murder who are not yet "there". Lessons for us all!

When and how is silence as response to such rage best? When is speaking outloud best?

Let me know so that I can reprint your comment here.


Also see also...

Rabbi Mecklenberg, the author of the Ktav v-haKabbala,

Parashat Shemini/Shabbat Parah - D'var Torah
Aaron is unable to speak because the experience of the horrific death of his sons at such a peak moment in his life cannot be articulated in words. ...

URGENT ACTION: Urge US Congress to adopt the Vienna Convention as Domestic Law


NOTE: Please be aware that there may be some complications with this due to the duplicity and hidden nature generally of the present US administration & regime, ie, signing statements, ulterior motives in wanting to reduce any states rights. Watch for further items on this. Even so, the Vienna Convention and other rights protections may help the US and foreign visitors anywhere in the world if they are increased and established. Please send any further information you have on these matters to Connie L. Nash and watch often Bill of Rights Defense Committee at and Also of course, Amnesty International, Center for Constitutional Rights.

Text was edited by Mark Warren. For those of you who might not know him: Mark’s a legal researcher who specializes in the application of consular treaty rights to death penalty cases. He was a member of Mexico's legal team at the ICJ in the Avena case and helped to draft several of the amicus curiae briefs submitted to the Supreme Court in Medellin.
(edited 4/1/08)

Dear friends,

In its ruling on March 23, a majority of Justices of the U.S. Supreme Court decided in the case Medellin v. Texas that a binding decision of the International Court of Justice (ICJ) requiring judicial remedies for consular rights violations in the USA is not enforceable in the domestic courts. Although issued under the authority of the Optional Protocol to the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations, the ICJ Statute and the UN Charter, the ICJ decision in Avena and Other Mexican Nationals is not enforceable domestically because the authorizing treaties had not been transformed into domestic law by Congress (even though each treaty was signed by the US and ratified by the Senate).

As a result of this failure to enforce binding treaty obligations, U.S. citizens abroad may be deprived of access to consular assistance upon arrest. Read the Dallas Morning News editorial:

There is a solution: The US Congress needs to adopt the ICJ decision in the Avena Case as domestic law.

In order to achieve this we kindly ask you to join our appeal. We have drafted an open letter to the US Congress (see below.) Please copy this letter and also write letters yourselves. We are looking for support from both individuals and groups. Please spread this request for appeal widely.

The idea is for lots of letters to arrive within a relatively short period of time as opposed to never-ending chain letters on the internet. Therefore, we are setting an appeal time limit of April 20, 2008. Please do not send letters after that date.

Our goal is to really make it happen, and for the Congress (both the Senate and the House of Representatives) to take note of this appeal we seek for not only hundreds but thousands of letters to arrive within a short period of time. So please spread this appeal widely!

This issue is not restricted to capital punishment cases and therefore we are addressing all groups that may wish to support our goal, not only human rights activists but also NGOs, organizations and associations of all kinds such as religious communities, sports clubs etc.

Organizations please write to:

- the members of the House of Representatives, and the senators – in both cases you may send one letter to all members using the below addresses or even send a letter to each individual member, which of course is much more work but may be more effective, too.
- a copy to the Secretary of State or Minister of Foreign Affairs of your own country (for German groups the German foreign minister's address is given below)
- a copy to the ambassador of the United States in your country (address for Germany see below)
- a copy to the most important U.S. media
- a copy to the most important media in your respective countries.

Individuals please write to:

- one letter each to (I) the members of the House of Representatives to (II) the members of the Senate (addresses see below)
- - a copy to the Secretary of State or Minister of Foreign Affairs of your own country (for Germans the German foreign minister's address is given below)
- a copy to the ambassador of the United States in your country (For Germans the address for Germany see below)
- the following applies to US citizens: a copy to your Congressman (link for names and addresses see below)

You will find addresses and an example for your letter below. Please feel free to write a letter in your own words.

Thank you for your participation!

Susanne Cardona
Initiative gegen die Todesstrafe e.V.
German Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty

Text of the open letter of the German Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty:

Dear Members of Congress,

The U.S. Supreme Court's recent disposition of the case of Medellin v. Texas raises serious concerns, both for foreign nationals in the United States and for the treatment of U.S. citizens abroad. The Court has declared that the decision of the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in Avena and Other Mexican Nationals (Mexico v. United States) is not binding under domestic law, despite the U.S. Senate's full ratification of the treaties conferring jurisdiction on the ICJ in that case, and despite an order by President Bush urging state court compliance with the Avena Judgment.

Addressing claims brought by Mexico under a compulsory dispute settlement mechanism agreed to by the United States, the ICJ found that the U.S. had violated its obligations under the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations in the cases of 51 death-sentenced Mexican nationals by failing to advise them of their consular notification rights after their arrests. The ICJ held that the necessary remedy is for the domestic courts to provide "review and reconsideration" in each case, in order to determine if the lack of prompt access to consular assistance was harmful to any of the defendants. State rules of procedure may not be applied to prevent the "review and reconsideration" of these convictions and sentences, since the Vienna Convention requires that local laws and regulations must give "full effect" to the consular rights that the treaty confers. As the Supreme Court recognized, U.S. compliance with the Avena Judgment is a binding obligation under international law.

However, by concluding that the ICJ Judgment is not enforceable domestically, the Medellin decision leaves the United States in violation of its binding treaty obligations but without any prospect of remedies from the judicial or the executive branches. This unacceptable situation may prompt police departments nationwide to ignore the Vienna Convention's consular information and notification requirements for foreign detainees, as happened in the cases of José Ernesto Medellín and the fifty other Mexican nationals whose Avena claims were disposed of in the Medellin decision. Foreign nationals arrested on serious charges must be able to count on the prompt access to consular notification and assistance that the Vienna Convention guarantees, a protection that in many cases is as essential to a fair trial as the right to counsel.

In addition, as the dissenting Justices observed, failing to comply with the United States' binding treaty commitments runs the risk of "precipitating actions by other nations putting at risk American citizens who have the misfortune to be arrested while traveling abroad, or of diminishing our Nation’s reputation abroad as a result of our failure to follow the ‘rule of law’ principles that we preach.”

The Medellin decision's pick-and-choose approach to treaty compliance raises a serious question for the international community: is the United States bound by its word, or not? Are the nations of the world expected to retain constitutional scholars to determine if and when a proposed treaty will bind the United States? Or can other nations presume that when the United States of America signs a treaty through its authorized representative, and ratifies it through the U.S. Senate, that treaty will be worth the paper on which it is printed?

There is a solution. The Supreme Court has laid the responsibility for America's credibility in the world squarely on the shoulders of the Congress of the United States. The U.S. Congress has the power -- and the moral obligation -- to adopt the ICJ judgment on Vienna Convention remedies as domestic law.

We urge Congress to implement the limited and reasonable remedies required under the ICJ Judgment in Avena and Other Mexican Nationals, thus assuring the world that a promise made by the United States is a promise kept.

The undersigned,

Addresses of the US Congress (two separate letters will have to be sent):

Members of the United States Senate
Senate Office Building
United States Senate
Washington, DC 20510


Members of the House of Representatives
House Office Building
United States House of Representatives
Washington, DC 20510

The names of the senators and members of the House of Representatives can be found at:


Thursday, March 20, 2008

UGANDA: over 400 condemned challenge death penalty

INTERLUDE while we catch up with important news and reports. This one is especially apt since The Journey of Hope family was privileged to have with us on our Texas journey a Ugandan man who spent years on Uganda's death row for a crime he didn't commit. (He remained on death row even AFTER the man who did the crime was found!) Edward is active in prison and prisoners' family ministry and in speaking out against the death penalty worldwide. Find more information by and about him in our JOH archives and watch for more items to come in the COMMENT section below.

UGANDA: Court to hear death sentence appeal

THE hearing of the appeal, in which over 400 condemned inmates are seeking to quash the death sentence, has been set for May 22.

The Constitutional Court maintained the death penalty, saying it was constitutional and the hanging was a lawful means of carrying out the sentence.

However, it annulled the mandatory death sentence as unconstitutional.

At least 417 inmates led by Susan Kigula, condemned for murder, challenged the constitutionality of the death penalty, saying it was cruel, inhuman and degrading and asked the court to abolish it .

The Attorney General also cross-appealed the inmates' appeal, saying he was not satisfied with the June 2005 ruling in which the Constitutional Court upheld the death sentence.

The court ruled that the inmates, who may have been on death row for over 3 years, could seek a redress including a revision of their sentence.

The court added that the redress would be postponed for 2 years to enable the President to exercise his prerogative of mercy under the Constitution.

The court, with a 3-2 majority judgment, also declared that the death sentence was no longer mandatory, but it would be in the discretion of the trial judge depending on the circumstances of the case.

The inmates, who are represented by Katende, Ssempebwa & Co.--Advocates, insisting that the death sentence should be abolished.

(source: New Vision, submitted March 20 08 by Rick Halperin)


"Loved ones, wrenched from our lives by violent crime, deserve more beautiful, noble and honorable memorials than pre-meditated, state-sanctioned killings. The death penalty only creates more victims and more grieving families. By becoming that which we deplore -- people who kill people -- we insult the sacred memory of all our precious victims." Marietta

For those who may not know and for others who may want a refresher:
Marietta Jaeger-Lane has been involved in many ways with The Journey of Hope as well as active with many aspects of the national and international Abolition movement. While the following information and snippets are easy to find elsewhere, we are making it easy for you. Several of us in The Journey of Hope wanted to use this opportunity to highlight Marietta's witness and inspirational life at this time above the report she sent on her time in Europe.

Marietta's Story in Brief:

Marietta Jaeger-Lane's daughter Susie was abducted at the age of seven during a family camping trip in Montana. For over a year afterwards, the family knew nothing of Susie's whereabouts. Shortly before the one-year anniversary of Susie's disappearance, Marietta stated to the press that she wanted to speak with the person who had taken her child. On the anniversary date, she received a call from a young man who taunted her by asking, "So what do you want to talk to me about?"

During the year following Susie's disappearance, Marietta had struggled to balance her rage against her belief in the need for forgiveness. Her immediate response to the young man was to ask how he was feeling, since his actions must have placed a heavy burden on his soul. Her caring words disarmed him, and he broke down in tears on the phone. He subsequently spoke with Marietta for over an hour, revealing details about himself and the crime that ultimately allowed the FBI to solve the case.

Marietta was to learn that Susie had been killed on a remote Montana ranch a week after she disappeared. Despite her family's tragedy, she remains committed to forgiveness and has been an ardent opponent of the death penalty for the over 25 years since Susie's death.

Reprinted with permission from Not in our Name: Murder Victims Families Speak Out Against the Death Penalty, a publication of Murder Victims Families For Reconciliation. (Barbara Hood & Rachel King, Editors; MVFR)

Several years ago Marietta married Bob Lane and left the intercity of Detroit and moved to his sprawling ranch in Three Forks, Montana. Marietta continues to travel around the world with her Christian message of forgiveness.

Keep watching for more photos and snippets from and about Marietta...

Friday, March 07, 2008


First a message from Magdaleno "Leno" Rose-Avila

Marietta is one of the most important voices in our movement and one that enjoys a good joke and laugh... even if the joke is on her. She is a rare gem amongst the many stars in the heavens. Leno


Here's my "report" re our experience speaking against the death penalty in Italy the end of November - beginning of December 2007...


At the end of last November, I was honored to be one of the participants in the CITIES FOR LIFE CAMPAIGN sponsored by the Community of Sant’Egidio, whose base is in Rome, Italy. The purpose of this campaign was to garner support from Italy and some other European countries for the United Nations’ resolution calling for a world-wide moratorium on the death penalty. Other Journeyers also invited were Bill Pelke, Art Laffin, Bud Welch, SueZann Bosler, Shujja Graham and Eduard (Edward) from Uganda. If I’ve left anyone out, please forgive me – I just didn’t know you were there. As Eduard says in his piece, we were scattered all over Italy and I think Bud was in Spain.

Anyhow, my husband Bob and I were flown to Venice where we were picked up by members of the Community and taken to our hotel in Trieste. This very hilly, northeastern Italian city is quite interesting in that, at one point in history it belonged to Austria, another time to Slovenia and now to Italy. Consequently, the culture and architecture, etc., is not quite the same as other Italian cities. Very interesting – I’d go back in a minute!

Since we’d been in the air for twenty-four hours, we were really worn out. So the Trieste Community members fed us lavishly and then sent us to our hotel to get some sleep. I think we slept straight through for fourteen hours!

But the next day, we were up and running – a high school presentation in the morning, then a relaxed lunch followed by a university class in the afternoon, and then, usually at another town’s gathering, an evening talk – which didn’t start till 9PM!. If we started anything at 9PM over here, no one would come – they’d all be home, getting ready for bed! But the Italians take a break in the afternoon and then don’t eat till 9:30PM or so.

Most evenings after such a late presentation, dinner didn’t happen till 10:30 or so! However, then, when we finally did sit down to eat, it was always an EVENT – leisurely enjoying each and every course, lots of wine and delightful conversations with Community members and new people from each different town and city we spoke in. The Community of Sant’Egidio folks are absolutely wonderful, gracious and generous hosts!

All our audiences, teens and adults, were respectful and very attentive with intelligent questions during the Q&A sessions re the practice of the death penalty and my own experience. Every presentation had to be tailored to fit the time limits, given that it took twice as long as normal because of the need for an interpreter, who had to repeat everything that was said. For all my presentations, there was only one in which I did not need an interpreter. That was at the United World College in Udio, where all the students spoke English. (One of these students was from the state of Washington, just west of Montana where we live.) There are 14 of these colleges throughout the world (only one in the US, in Montezuma, NM).

The premise of these very special universities is to bring students together from all over the world to each school, with 35% of the enrollment from each host country, where they will live, study, work and socialize with each other, learning to understand and respect all the other faiths, cultures, customs, etc.. The anticipation is that these young people will be participants in preparing for a peaceful world, with all peoples living in harmony. A wonderful, hopeful concept – I pray that it works!

The last night we stayed in Trieste, we were part of a special program in the City Hall of Udine. There we met Idanna Pucci, the author of a book entitled -The Trials of Maria Barbella-. This book, to my surprise, was about an Italian immigrant living in New York City in the mid-1880’s who was the first woman on OUR country’s death row scheduled to be executed by the electric chair. The author, a delightful woman, was the great-grand-daughter of Cora Slocumb, a courageous Italian-American citizen, born in N’Orleans but living in Italy, who was largely responsible for saving Maria Barbella’s life. The book is the story about how all that happens.

I’ve been speaking on and working for the abolition of the death penalty here in our country and in many places around the world for thirty-plus years, but I’d never, ever heard about Maria Barbella or her experience of many years on New York State’s death row! It’s an amazing, tragic but heroic story and I enthusiastically encourage everyone to read Idanna Pucci’s very well-written book, -The Trials of Maria Barbella-, about a little-known, shameful facet of our country’s death penalty history.

Moving on, Bob and I spent the last half of our Italian sojourn in Padova, outside of Venice, continuing to give presentations there and in cities all around the area, in the very good care of yet more members of the Communio di Sant'Egidio. On the evening of November 30th, all the cities across Italy which were involved with the Cities for Life Campaign each lit up (all night) their special monuments or towers as a sign of their support for the UN’s resolution – a very moving moment of our time there!

The following week, the resolution was indeed passed. Not too difficult to guess on which side the US voted! Unfortunately, the resolution is not mandatory but hopefully, it will put pressure on the US to re-think their policy and practice of capital punishment.

Our last day was a “free” day and we spent it wandering in awe and wonder through the lovely island-city of Venice, where not even bicycles are allowed – only boats of all kinds and walkers like us. We had to pass on the opportunity to ride in a gondola – to do so would have almost required coming home and re-mortgaging our ranch! But it was fun to walk around, gawk at everything and window-shop. Bob saw a beautiful man’s suit in one store that only cost $3000! So, if you’re traveling to Venice, take lots of Euros with you!! But don’t miss it either, if you have the chance to go!

We continue to be ever so grateful for Bill Pelke for suggesting our names to the Community of Sant’Egidio for this work in Italy, and to all the kind, fun-loving, generous members of that Community for their gracious care and goodness to us. Would that there be more folks with the zeal and concern they have for the poor and for genuine social justice!


Sunday, March 02, 2008

Another Death Will Not Serve Me

Robert Kerr with his niece and sister Judy Kerr

"Revenge will not bring my brother back and it will not bring me peace. I honor my brother’s life and my memory of him by standing against the practice of delivering justice through execution." (Excerpt from article just below)

BY Judy Kerr

NOTE: This article has also been posted March 1, 2008 on Death Penalty Focus (or earlier). Please go OFTEN to this wonderfully rich and wholistic partner site!
See our new links to the right.

My brother, Robert James Kerr, was found lifeless, shirtless, barefoot, and without identification on July 12, 2003 in Everett, Washington. It took weeks for investigators to identify him. I spent that time becoming increasingly worried and finally alarmed when he did not arrive for a scheduled visit and when my calls to his cell phone were answered by a stranger.

Bob was brutally beaten and strangled. His financial accounts were used for weeks after his murder. Bob had given up his PIN number and other personal information on the night of the crime. The coroner’s report confirmed the horrible circumstances under which the information was obtained.

In the days and weeks that followed my brother’s murder I was immobilized by the trauma. I craved information about who killed him. I wanted this person, this criminal, brought to justice. I wanted to be able to tell my daughter that society would find a just way to respond to this merciless act.

I am still waiting, four years later, for a suspect to be named and for justice to take its course. It has been agonizing for me to go through the pain and grief of Bob’s violent death. But the possibility of the death penalty for the murderer is an additional burden and a cruel twist that adds to my sense of victimization.

I have never and will never support the death penalty. I know now, more than ever, that killing is wrong. Revenge will not bring my brother back and it will not bring me peace. I honor my brother’s life and my memory of him by standing against the practice of delivering justice through execution.

— Judy Kerr, Robert’s sister

Judy is the Victim Outreach Liaison/Spokesperson for CCV. To reach her, please email

End of Post

NOTE from a JOH Blogger:
Also find this article on Death Penalty Focus. See the new links we have added to The Journey Of Hope Blog to the Right. Scroll down if needed for some browsers until we work out kinks. PLEASE LET US KNOW if you continue to have any difficulty accessing items and links you may need and/or have any other concerns, suggestions, tips or reports for us. THIS ARTICLE TO BE FOLLOWED QUICKLY BY MARIETTA'S REPORT--than TERRI'S REPORT. SO PLEASE FILE/NOTE THIS ONE AND KEEP WATCHING JOH BLOG! And scroll down for other especially unique items below by Ron K. before you miss them.


Thanks, Connie

Saturday, March 01, 2008

Dan Booth Cohen and Arnie King

A Broken Heart Can Heal - Sometimes in One Beat.

Dan Booth Cohen uses a creative European approach for fostering peace and reconciliation in difficult relationships among prisoners and others. Best known as a Systemic Constellation, this gentle, nearly-silent group process transforms emotional, physical or relationship problems. A Constellation circle is neither psychotherapy nor a spiritual practice. It is the missing tool in the peacemaker's toolkit. See more here on Cohen's group solutions to healing relationships.

And be sure to read the forgiveness section here on prisoners and their discoveries

Cohen's Friend Arnie King

(Be Sure to see 'ODE to Bill' by Ron Just Below)

Arnie King's Freedom (posting due to JOH theme: the call for forgiveness)

"Harmful forgiveness is a form of vengeance thinly disguised as an act of virtue. It occurs when the forgiver adopts a superior position, as in the 'good one' absolving the 'bad one' of guilt.

Healing forgiveness is based, not on judgments about virtue and sin, but on deep compassion and humility."
The Boston Globe published a front page story recently about Arnie King, a member of the Growing Together group at Bay State prison. This message summarizes the article, followed by Dan Booth Cohen's comment.

In 1971, when Arnie was 18, high on drugs and alcohol, he murdered a complete stranger, 26 year-old John Labanara.

Arnie King now, after 36 years, is asking for a second chance. He is the first inmate whose plea to be set free has made it to the desk of Governor Deval Patrick, and his attempt has met with the unanimous approval of the state Pardons Board. King's supporters include the Massachusetts Black Legislative Caucus, academics, ministers, and community leaders...

READ rest of the story here (Dan Booth Cohen's version)

WRITE a letter in support of Arnie King!

See the recent article in The Boston Globe

Cohen's group solutions to healing relationships