Time to Recommit

This past week has been spent attempting to refocus and prepare for what the fall will bring. As most of you know, last week was a tough one. On Saturday, Alex, Isaac, and I attended Harmon Wray’s Memorial Service which was difficult but truly a gift. The worship experience allowed us to celebrate, to grieve, and to recommit to serving our brothers and sisters who are in prison and on death row, regardless of how difficult such a call may be.

Following the service, we came back to the TCASK office to train several of our activists to become speakers in our new Murder Victims’ Family Speaker’s Bureau. This program pairs a murder victims’ family member with an activist to make presentations in the community. The family member shares his/her story and reasons for opposing the death penalty while the activist talks about the failure of the death penalty system to serve our state as a public policy. Though we wondered if we should attempt such a training on Saturday given our emotional state, we ultimately decided that we should carry on, as a tribute to Harmon’s life which was devoted to the whole idea of restorative justice. On Sunday, Alex headed out to Chicago, via a stop in New York City, to begin a new chapter in his life.

So, this week has been one of reflecting and regrouping. Isaac has been to both Jackson and Memphis to work with and encourage our chapters there. I have been doing a lot of work on fundraising and planning for what’s next.
And, there is a lot coming up next.

We are waiting for a District Court Judge to hear the Paul House case on the merits which may finally secure Paul’s release. We also are eagerly anticipating the appointment of the study commission and are preparing for the commission’s meetings which will begin in the fall. Both securing Paul’s freedom and seeing this study commission come into being are goals toward which we have been working for a long time. Such positive things are happening in our state to set the stage for moratorium and abolition, and we believe more good is to come, and yet…

Though the Tennessee legislature has acknowledge there are terrible problems with our current death penalty system and though Paul House, who was wrongfully convicted, may finally receive the justice that is way overdue, Tennessee is still planning two executions in September: Daryl Holton, whose execution is set for September 12th, and E.J. Harbison, whose date is September 26th. We must also prepare for difficult days ahead.

If you are in an area with a TCASK chapter–Memphis, Nashville, Jackson, Knoxville, Murfreesboro, or Chattanooga–and would like to attend a meeting or get more involved, please email us at tcask@tcask.org and we can give you any information you need. We have so much to celebrate as we enter the fall, but we face many hurdles yet…lives are at stake. As we begin a new chapter in TCASK’s life, let’s all recommit to the work of abolition, ready to achieve even more in the months ahead.

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