First day of the convention

---- Original Message ----- 
From: Taoss - Sherry Swiney 
To: PATRICK Crusade 
Cc: IBF List ; Prison Action List 
Sent: Saturday, April 26, 2003 1:33 AM
Subject: [patrickcrusade] First day of the convention 04-25-03

Hi Everyone,

Just wanted to let all of you know how the first day of the Families of Inmates First Annual Convention went.  In a word: it went beautifully.  We'll have a complete run-down on our website, along with photos and hopefully a video tape from the TV news stations that was there....etc.  But I wanted to give you all a sneak preview. 

The convention room was about 1/2 full in the morning (most people had to work today).  During that period, we showed a video on private prisons while everyone ate the brunch provided (buffet style).  The film generated a LOT of interest because the information in that film was new information for the majority of the audience.  The focus of the film was on prison as big business with human beings as the commodity. 

After the film, the workshops began and by then many more people had arrived, so the workshops were a complete success.

After the workshops, we showed the video on the "Last Graduation" which many PC members have seen.  The focus of this film was on how beneficial prisoner education is to reducing recidivism and crime in general.  Of course, that was before the Pell Grants were taken away.

We received a number of requests from groups and individuals who wanted to know where to get copies of these films, which I will provide to them as soon as I get back to my Kentucky location next week.

Next was the 6:00 p.m. round-table question and answer session where the audience was able to ask questions of the panel.  The Alabama Prison Commissioner, Donal Campbell, was there too.  Stan Bailey of the Birmingham News was there to report on thecommissioner.  The first thing the commissioner said was that he  wasn't going to be taking any audience questions, which disappointed everyone.  However, he was obliged to take questions from the State Representative who just stood up anyway and asked is pointed question.  The commissioner stayed about an hour and then had to leave, but the questions from the audience
continued with the rest of the panel.

The panel consisted of:

Lisa Kung, Southern Center for Human Rights
Cynthia Dillard, Executive Chairman of the Parole Board
Gladys Riddle, Parole Board Member 
Dr. Beverly Love, Prison Medical Board
Reverend James Jemisone, over Manor Homes (for inmates who are EOS'd or paroled)
Mark Gilmore, former Councilman (22 years as councilman)
Senator Quniton Ross
John Muhammud, local Muslim minister
Representative Alvin Holmes
Doris Baker, from Decatur Freedom Marches
Wilson Myers, attorney

PC member, Pam Thrasher, did an excellent job with her question to the panel, and so did many others in the audience, many of whom had not heard of the Patrick Crusade before the convention but who will be working with us in the near future :-).  We've made the Family Members of Inmates a division of the PC and hope to have some of the other organizations decide to become divisions of PC as well.  This will enable them to keep their autonomy while at the same time giving us a better "working together" tool - because the power is in the numbers, etc., as you all know. 

Many of our new or new-to-be members were anxious to take advantage of the special deal PC has on ordering PC business cards and mailing labels to be used on letter campaigns.  A lot of them bought PC pens and pendants to wear to their churches and other family meeting functions and were quite taken about them being such "first class".  If this keeps up, I may just break even one of these days :-).

The press was there, and they seemed to pay special photo attention to the large spread of beautiful inmate hand-crafted leather works and other artwork that was on display.  These items will be auctioned or raffled off tomorrow (they were donated by the inmates to help us pay for the convention).  Some will be given away as door prizes.

The owner/operator of the Ramada Inn was extraordinary.  He's only 19 years old and just graduated from high school last year. We invited him to say a few words to the audience.  While the workshops were going on, he spent time reading all of our exhibits and because of that, he's been transformed into an avid activist for human rights.  His speech was awesome :-).

Today's session closed about 9:00 p.m.  Tomorrow we begin at 8:00 a.m. with breakfast and then workshops, one more film, and general discussions (everyone plans to wear their PC T-shirts and/or Convention T-shirts then change later for the banquet), so T-shirt sales were terrific.  Curtis Lockett, who discovered the treatment for sickle cell anemia, which we find also works on HIV/AIDS patients, will be presenting his story (see his story in our HORROR STORIES section on our website).  He and his group have been successful in getting his treatment into the prisons in Mississippi so now we want to get his treatment into Alabama prisons.

The banquet will begin at 6:00 p.m.  The evening will end with the entertainment we've scheduled (live music several kinds, contemporary, jazz, etc.).  Tomorrow should prove to be even more exciting and successful than today - and that's saying something.

Blessings to all,
Sherry Swiney
"We can't solve problems by using the same kind of thinking 
we used when we created them." - Albert Einstein