Tuesday, March 27, 2007

When I dropped my Rescue Remedy on the floor this morning before class started I was kind of worried. I'd have to find a way to stay calm without a homeopathic remedy. But things went well and I wasn't nervous as the panelists arrived early and the room filled with people I knew and more whom I didn't. I was really happy to see people from the community and students.

The event today at the College of Alameda: "California's Incarcerated Women, Who Are They and Why We Should Care," touched people on a lot of levels, especially since we began with the film: Charisse Sumate's "Fighting for Our Lives." It placed the issue straight where it needed to be: some people are not treated as human beings and that's wrong.

Visibly absent were the deans, president and VPs. I wonder why? Absent also was the POI Shirleen whom I thought would take photos for the archives.

All of the panelists gave outstanding insight on the prison system and thematic ties to their lives whether that was employment like Francine West, who is a retired state parole officer to the service providers who spoke of how this work grew out of a need they themselves recognized while inside like Yolanda Beene who plans to open a home for women parolees and their children.

What I found most enlightening was the need for peer support from people with similar history when one is released. All of Us or None is such a support group, one of our panelists, Hamdiyah Cook co-founded.

The need for volunteers was stressed as most of these agencies: CCWP, Ida McCRay Robinson's Families with a Future, and Marlene Sanchez and ED of Center for Young Women's Development.

Everyone agreed that though internal repair was neccessary to fix a penal system where the guard make $100,000s of dollars with no more than a high school education--what Francine called "paycheck people," until Kiilu Nyasha's call for a revolution took place. This is a fight college students need to get behind because it is their peers who are most effected.

Though we didn't get to write letters we have plans to reconvene after Spring Recess and write letters of introduction. I think a follow-up activity could be to show a series of films on the prison system and have discussion sessions afterwards.

I put all the extra information in the Student Services Office and Ms. Camille Hopkins can put interested students in touch with providers and/or me for more information.


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