Sunday, January 07, 2007

AVP = period ended 1.15.2006

AVP/Prison Reform/Parole//GETTING OUT When justice and politics collide/San Francisco Chronicle/San Francisco/CA/USA/11-Dec-2005//BEYOND THE debate about the death penalty consuming Californians is the less-noticed issue of hundreds of inmates who have met the requirements for parole, but are being kept behind bars on a governor's orders.

Phillip Jay Seiler, locked up in San Quentin State Prison, is an example of an inmate whose bid for freedom has been quashed by the politics of caution.

Convicted of second-degree murder, and sentenced to a term of 17 years to life for a crime of passion on a Sacramento street, he was twice recommended for release by a hardened Board of Parole Hearings, whose commissioners are appointed by the governor. They examined every aspect of his case, and questioned Seiler directly. Yet both former Gov. Gray Davis and Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger have chosen to overrule the board's recommendations. ........Seiler's search for redemption began almost immediately. He expressed remorse for his victim and apologized for his crime. He embarked on an almost frenzied quest for self-improvement. He earned his high-school diploma, and has participated in dozens of courses, group activities and volunteer projects. He is working toward getting his Associate of Arts degree from Patten University, a Christian college based in Oakland, which offers courses in San Quentin. A range of therapeutic activities, offered by groups such as the Alternatives to Violence Project and the Insight Prison Project, has helped him work through the psychological issues that fueled his solitary act of violence.

AVP/Murder/Redemption/Slaying serves as inspiration/Salt Lake Tribune/Salt Lake City/UT/USA/3-Jan-2006//... Unlike many other parents of crime victims, they have not sought harsher penalties for offenders. In fact, Karen Watkins said she was relieved to hear Morales would not get the death penalty.

Seeking redemption: Morales praises the Watkinses' efforts.
He, too, works in gang-prevention programs, coordinating workshops for the Alternatives to Violence Project, which teaches nonviolence and conflict resolution to inmates.
Eligible for parole in 10 years, Morales said if he ever gets out of prison, he wants to start a gang-prevention program for New York youth. He keeps in his cell a book called How to Start a Non-Profit Organization.
Morales said that if he can play some small part in preventing the kind of tragedy he brought upon the Watkinses, then his life in prison will have value.
"I'm working on myself," he said. "I'm not here to waste time."
For that reason, Morales does not play cards with other inmates. He prepares his own meals on the honors ward, a unit reserved for well-behaved inmates where he has cooking privileges.
He regularly reads the Bible, a book he never touched on the outside. He says he has devoted his life to God and is seeking some measure of redemption.
For his work as a porter and an aide in the prison's law library, Morales makes about $1 a day. He says he has sent every dollar to a boy in Guatemala whom he sponsors through a Catholic charity.
A photograph of the boy hangs next to that of Brian Watkins. ...

AVP/International Conflict/Law//Rwanda: Gift for Life/… This AfricaFocus Bulletin contains a short summary of this ongoing program, and excerpts from a 2004 report by African Rights based on interviews with over 200 rape survivors. The report, published on the web site of the UK-based SURF Survivors Fund

( also contains background on Rwandan women's organizations working on this and related issues. Another Bulletin sent out today contains excerpts from a report from the Alternatives to Violence Project, which is working with judges in Rwanda involved in the local Gacaca process of genocide cases.….

AVP/International Conflict/Law/Rwanda Friends Peace House/Rwanda: "Peace Cannot Stay in Small Places"/…"Peace cannot stay in small places," said Ndagijimama Abdon, an elder Gacaca judge in Gisenyi, "it is good when peace reaches everywhere." The Alternatives to Violence project of the Rwanda Friends Peace House focuses on workshops for judges in the local Gacaca process dealing with lower-level genocide perpetrators.

One key issue, as this participant told evaluators, is how such small-scale projects can have a wider impact.

This AfricaFocus Bulletin contains excerpts from an evaluation report from the project, published on the web site of the African Great Lakes Initiative, one of the co-sponsors ( ….


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