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Report from Morgantown, WV

By Susie Ricketts, TNC Regional Leader, Portsmouth, VA - 11/14/02

The Journey's stop in Morgantown, WV was, in my humble opinion, a success. Nora and Chuck arrived at the Ramada around 3pm. After a very short bit of "down-time", my phone was ringing and Nora was asking to meet in the lounge while Chuck rested a bit.

I met Nora for the first time - I can't begin to describe the feeling to finally meet someone that you have this "attachment" to, because we are ALL in this together. After a few hugs, we sat down and began to talk - talk about anything and everything - you know, the things that go unsaid until you are able to meet face to face.

I say that the Morgantown stop was a success because we had 7 of us there, and one of the participants was a "new recruit" - she had never heard of us before this particular afternoon. As the conversations continued, Chuck came down, and we were also joined by 3 other family members that followed Nora and Chuck from Alderson, WV.

During the course of the evening, we spoke and discussed many issues, but it always seems to have more meaning when you are among those that have the same ambition and drive to end this "war". We even talked and then laughed at how "strained" the day had been in the visiting room at the prison on Sunday. Everyone from the Warden on down in rank had to be there. They even stationed 6 guards in the visiting room instead of the usual 3. And the number of visitors on this day wasn't even close to filling the room to capacity. I have seen it when there was standing room only, and there was still only 3 guards taking care of it all. Do we, as activists, pose this great a threat?

The down-side to the visit was the fact that the Captain took advantage of the opportunity to single out individuals and threaten them with the termination of their visit and with placing the inmate in the "Hole" due to "inappropriate contact". The "inappropriate contact" was simply a matter of a hand on the shoulder for the most part. Other female family members were turned away because of jeans being "too tight" in the opinion of a female guard. I also heard tonite that pictures of my family and a letter that I sent to my husband before this weekend were being returned along with newspaper articles and magazines with the reason given as being inappropriate material for the institution. Because I chose to discuss the matter of "inappropriate contact" with the Captain, and chose to express the opinions of many fellow family members, we are now being singled out for continued harrassment. And to this I will tell you all, I will NOT give up without a fight.

The Coalition has come too far for me to turn my back, just because I hit a nerve with one single individual that was "in charge". If we allowed ourselves to be defeated under such circumstances, we would have never made the strides that we have thus far. My husband has even asked that I continue with this fight not only on his behalf, but on behalf of the next generation that will have actually grown to adulthood WITHOUT ever having either a mother or a father living with them in their home due to the "Drug War". At least one parent out of almost every household will have been "absent" due to incarceration. This is not right, this is not fair, and above all, must be stopped. It will take each and everyone of us to end this. I can honestly say that I, for one, will continue to stand with The November Coalition long after my husband has finally come home, and he, too, will join us in this Journey to end the suffering that we have all had to endure. The Journey that Nora and Chuck have started is only the beginning - we all need to continue until this "War" has ended.

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