Friday, 27 December 2013

The Journey celebrated its 20. anniversary this year by doing an Indíana Journey of Hoe Tour and Conference.
The first Journey of Hope began at my house in Portage, Indiana in 1993.
we honored the World Coalition Against the Death Penalty and their Project," World Day Against the Death Penalty."
This was the 11. annual World Day Against the Death Penalty. 
We called this year`s Journey of Hope " World Day Against the Death Penalty Tour".
It began on October 4 and we journeyed around the state, sharing our stories until October 29. 

We did something this year we had never done before as part of the Journey. We organized a World Day Against the Death Penalty conference October 10-13 while we were in the Indianapolis, the state capital. We began with a press conference in the capitol rotunda on October 10 to commemorate World Day Against the Death Penalty. Nick Hess, Producer of WCTY channel 16 news in Indianapolis sent me a link of the entire conference. This is great to have for our archives.

The Journey of Hope web site link details the weekend long conference in depth.

It was a great conference. Many great people were involved and I had a lot of help with the organizing. Colleen Cunningham, Equal Justice USA was the chief organizer and the main reason the conference was so successful.

As I am sure you heard, Paula Cooper was released from prison in June after over 28 years in prison. I did interviews that were aired around the world. CNN, Democracy Now, ABC National News Australia, BBC, Red Letter Christians, a YouTube composite and CBS News Chicago were some of the better ones. Unfortunately I have not heard from Paula Cooper since she has been released. It is almost 6 months now and I am quite surprised and disappointed. I visited with her 15 times while she was in prison and for the last two years we exchanged mails every week.

I have heard rumors that she has been taken in by a support group and is doing well. I am happy about that because I was quite concerned about how she would do upon her release. I understand that she wants to further her education. I was told that she wants to avoid media and fears that associating with me would bring unwanted attention. I have been approached by the Piers Morgan Show, Travis Smiley and Cornel West Show, Restorative Justice Groups and many others who want to talk to both us so I understand her fears and concerns about the media.
I was in Madrid for the 5th World Congress Against the death penalty June and was able to talk about love and compassion there. I stopped in Indiana on my way back to Alaska. I had planned for years to meet her at the gates of the prison when she was released, but shortly before Paula got out she told me her mother was picking her up and her mother didn’t want me to be at the prison so I agreed not to go. I was hoping to hear from her as I visited with my children and grandchildren in Indiana the following week, but have not heard from her since.

I just finished a 12 day tour in NE Italy for the Community of Sant Egidio and their Cities For Life Project. I often spoke three time a day, cumulatively to more than two thousand high school students; I spoke at prayer services, a press conference, a home for the elderly, at a college, etc. Here are some links from my trip to Italy.,,,

My friend Delbert Tibbs passed away from cancer on November 23. Delbert was on the first Journey of Hope in Indiana in 1993. He was a member of Witness to Innocence. He will be missed.                                                     

Edward Mpagi and Ronald Katongole were able to come to the Indiana Journey of Hope thanks to the WCADP. After the Indiana Journey the three of us went to visit Kathy Chism of Dream One World. I am a Global Advisor for Dream One World and Edward’s school is one of their projects. Edward and Ron did not go back to Uganda empty handed.

I also had an opportunity to travel to Washington DC in November to attend the annual conference for the Campaign for the Fair Sentencing of Youth. I am also on their advisory board and it was a great highlight that closed the conference. There was a panel of 7 men that were sentenced to life without parole when they were juveniles. Each was released for one reason or another and each of them have become respectable citizens and are doing great things in their communities. It was great to hear each of them speak.

There was a lady there I had met before by the name of Mary Williams. She was with a man, Israel Oshea, who as a juvenile killed her son. Mary forgave him and they travel and speak together now. Their story is very powerful. I told Mary I was jealous.

If Paula Cooper would have been there with me, I don’t even know if I could have spoken. I think I would have cried every time I would open my mouth.

More later, Peace, Bill

Tuesday, 30 April 2013

Indiana Tour updates

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Join the Journey of Hope…from Violence to Healing in Indiana October 4-20, 2013

Monday, April 29, 2013
By: Bill Pelke
Join the Journey of Hope…from Violence to Healing in Indiana October 4-20, 2013 as we celebrate our 20 year reunion with the World Day Against the Death Penalty Tour!!!
October 10th is World Day Against the Death Penalty. The purpose of World Day Against the Death Penalty is to raise awareness on the inhumanity of the death penalty throughout the entire process, from sentence to execution.  World Day is a project of the World Coalition to Against the Death PenaltyThe Journey of Hope is proud to be affiliated with the WCADP whose mission is to mobilize for universal abolition.
The World Coalition Against the Death Penalty, is an alliance of more than 135 NGOs, bar associations, local authorities and unions. The WCADP was created in Rome on 13 May 2002. The aim of the World Coalition is to strengthen the international dimension of the fight against the death penalty. Its ultimate objective is to obtain the universal abolition of the death penalty. To achieve its goal, the World Coalition advocates for a definitive end to death sentences and executions in those countries where the death penalty is in force. In some countries, it is seeking to obtain a reduction in the use of capital punishment as a first step towards Abolition.
The Journey of Hope…from Violence to Healing will be returning to Indiana in commemoration of the 20th anniversary of our first Journey in 1993. It is with great honor we dedicate this Journey of Hope tour to the World Coalition Against the Death Penalty. 
The Indiana Journey of Hope tour is October 4-20. We will travel the state with powerful Journey story tellers.  The Journey tour will lead to Indianapolis, the state capital for an Oct 10-13 World Day Against the Death Penalty conference.  After the conference Journey speakers will resume their speaking tour throughout the state of Indiana.
The Journey of Hope is very grateful to the Indiana Abolition Coalition for hosting these events.  It is our goal to help strengthen the IAC, so that they will continue to grow after we have departed.  We will plant the seeds.  Everyone is invited to join us for this special World Day Against the Death Penalty Conference and you are also welcome to travel with as we tour.

Bill Babbitt, David Kaczynski, Bud Welch, Randy Steidl, Terri Steinberg, Randy Gardner, George White, SueZann Bosler, Therese Bartholomew, Shujaa Graham, Ruth Andrews, Rev. Walt Everett and his wife Nancy   along with many others have committed to joining this reunion tour.  Charlie King and Karen Brandow will grace us with song, love and compassion once again.  Charlie was with us on the first Journey back in 93 and has been on every major US Journey since then,

Murder Victim’s Families for Human Rights (MVFHR), Murder Victim’s Families for Reconciliation (MVFR), Witness to Innocence, People of Faith Against the Death Penalty(PFADP), Equal Justice USA, Project Hope to Abolish the Death Penalty (PHADP), and World Without Hate are co-sponsors of the Reunion Tour and Conference.  Let me know if you or your organization would like to be a co-sponsor or participant.
Conference highlights include a press conference in the rotunda of the state capitol on October 10, , plenary and workshop sessions, a festival of films, great speakers, good music, informational tables and an awards banquet on Saturday evening.  

The Journey of Hope…from Violence to Healing will use the World Coalition Against the Death Penalty’s “World Day Against the Death Penalty” as a highway to deliver our message of worldwide abolition to the state of Indiana. 
Our message is “Love and compassion for all of humanity”.  We show and tell that message with real people and real stories.  The Journey of Hope is led by murder victim family members who say in unison “N0 MORE KILLING IN OUR NAME”.
Forgiveness is the core of Journey members who share the loss of their loved ones. We will continue to promote forgiveness and its healing power. This time around we are going to restorative justice on a pedestal for all to see.  It is the alternative to retributive justice.
Hope to see you on the Journey.
Love and Peace, 

Bill Pelke,       President, Journey of Hope…from Violence to Healing  877-924-4483 Office     305-775-5823  Cell PO Box 0390, Anchorage, AK 99521-0390  

Thursday, 25 April 2013

The Indiana Tour, Oct. 2013

The Journey of Hope is going to Indiana Oct 4-20, 2013
Join us.

April 24, 2013

... Dear Mr. Pelke and Members of Journey of Hope…from Violence to Healing,

The Indiana Abolition Coalition is proud to welcome the Indiana Journey of Hope “World Day Against the Death Penalty Tour” October 4 – 20, 2013. We commend you and the Journey on this 20th Anniversary of the first Journey of Hope which took place in Indiana in 1993.

We are also pleased that the Indiana Tour includes a World Day Conference in Indianapolis, Oct 10 – 13, which coincides with the World Day Against the Death Penalty, happening world-wide on October 10, 2013.

Together the listed co-sponsors, the speakers, the films, and workshops promise to offer a very powerful and strong “witness” to the national and international dimension in the fight against the death penalty.

The Indiana Abolition Coalition extends a warm welcome to you and to all who will be attending this critically important event in October.

Yours sincerely,

Doris Parlette, Acting President
Indiana Abolition Coalition

Friday, 8 February 2013

So, everything went just as expected?

February 5, 2013

So everything for Super Bowl Sunday everything went just as expected.
Yeah, Right!

Just as Kathy and I were leaving for church on Sunday morning the phone rang. It was Dirk. Something had come up and it needed his immediate attention and there was no way he and Barb would be able to come. Dirk is a neighborhood activist as well as a leading business man in Anchorage, AK. A neighborhood problem had arisen because of unwarranted cutting down of trees destroying the beautiful landscape that nature has provided for their neighborhood in Stuckagain Heights, one of the most gorgeous places in Anchorage, Alaska. Dirk will not rest until it is solved.

Since Dirk couldn’t come I decided to keep the Alaskan King crab legs for another time. We had plenty of food without them. Dirk loves crab legs. We will just have to have another party.

Okay, four for dinner, Dale and Joan, Kathy and I instead of six. I talked to Dale at church and we agreed to start at five thirty instead of five. Right at five the door-bell rang. I was still in my sweatpants. I thought Dale and Joan had come early. It was Rich.

He left the other party when the lights went out in the Super Dome. He figured that was a good time to leave, since he would not miss any of the game while they were waiting for the lights to come back on.

Dale and Joan came about 40 minutes later. We watched the rest of the game. It was a close game and the 49ers made a good comeback attempt. Congratulations Baltimore Ravens.

Reece came after the game was over with a delicious pastry fruit pie.

Reece and Dale were finally able to meet in person. I am so happy. What a joyous occasion it was to introduce these two wonderful people to each other and to be able to do it at my house, on behalf of the Journey of Hope.

It is now Tuesday evening and I leave tomorrow for South Carolina where I will be mom sitting while my sister takes her grandson to look at a college in Florida. And she needs a vacation. This was scheduled even before my father died last month. It has been years since Dottie and Frank have had a vacation where they could be away from responsibilities for a while. They both need it.

I arrive in South Carolina on Thursday, several days before they leave. As fate would have it, I will be in Columbia the same time as the final taping in production of a documentary called "There will be no stay" takes place her in Columbia. It is being produced by Patty Dillon and she has asked me to join them for an interview to talk about the Journey of Hope. Many members of the cast will be in Columbia for the final filming. There will be no stay is "A journey of compassion and consequence through a process shrouded in secrecy. Two executioners’ lives intersect on a path to discovering freedom from their own personal prisons." My interview takes place on Saturday, shortly before my sister Dottie is scheduled to leave for Florida.

It is exciting to me that the Journey of Hope will get some national exposure from this film.

Then after about 10 days with my mom, I will leave her once again in the hands of my sister Dottie.

I will be flying to Paris, France on behalf of the World Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty. The Journey of Hope is part of the program planning committee for the 5. Congress Against the Death Penalty conference in Madrid, Spain in June.
I will spend two days in planning sessions for the congress on behalf of the Journey of Hope.
The planning committee is led by Sandrine Ageorges Skinner of France, who has joined us in Texas for the 2010 Journey.
Her husband is on death row in Texas and we are fighting to save his life.

On Feb. 20 I leave Paris and head to Indiana in preparation for the Feb 22-March 10 Indiana Journey of Hope.

The Journey planner for these events should be fired.

Sometimes I wish I could fire myself but …the Journey of Hope must go on.

We have some really good events, but not as many as I had hope for yet. I have put out a desperate plea for help and know there will be some help in getting more events. There are many who believe in love and compassion for all of humanity and in the healing power of forgiveness and want to help us get the message out.

Our journey continues.

I still want to blog about the 20th annual fast and vigil coming up in June, the 5th World Congress in Madrid, the upcoming Indiana Journey and Paula Cooper’s release in July and about my dreams and hopes for her.
Stay tuned, we have a chance to win the $25,000 Fetzer Award

Judging for best video ($5000) prize takes place Feb 14-28. We should know by the first of March what nonprofit group win both the $25,000 for the Tell us world award and the most loved video.

Say a prayer and keep your fingers crossed.

Peace, Bill

Wednesday, 6 February 2013

Life goes on for the living...

February 2, 2013

And life goes on for the living.

It is not really a Super Bowl Party, but friends are coming over tomorrow during the Super Bowl game. In fact when they come the game will be halfway over, the set will be on and but I am not so sure about the volume. I don’t most of my friends coming over even care about the game. The two who do care about the game will start out watching it at other venues. They both have traditions of going somewhere else on Super Bowl Sunday and watching the game. Journey of Hope board member Reece Roberts will be watching the game with friends and is coming over after the game and meal with desert. We wanted her husband Michael to come to but he with his son in Arizona this weekend. Rich Curtner, Federal Public Defender for the State of Alaska will be here too. He is also coming a little late because he watches the game with a group of friends each year at another friend’s house.

I know that Reece is a long time San Francisco 49er fan and is really pulling for them.

When the 1985 Chicago Bears won the Super Bowl I knew that it would probably be the greatest sports thrill of my life. I continue to cheer for the Bears even though my heart has been broke a few times. Again this year I had high hopes for the Bears and as the season progressed my hopes got higher. I was in California when the Bears played the 49ers on a Monday night football game. I was able to watch it on a huge movie screen for free in the theater room of our timeshare. When I went into the room, the game was about to start. There were less than ten people in the room so I had a great choice of seats. This was the first time I ever watched a football game on a movie screen. It was beautiful, the game was so much clearer than the small screen I am used to. I felt like I was in football heaven.

Heaven did not last long that Monday night. The Bear’s let me down again. Not only did they lose to a new and inexperienced quarterback; they lost in a horrible fashion. At that point the Bears went from a shoe in for the playoffs, to not even getting there. When the Bears missed getting into the playoffs on the last day of the season, head coach Lovie Smith was fired.

I liked him. He was a popular coach. He was a good coach and well respected. He had a winning record, and even took them to the Super Bowl once.

So right now football is not all that important to me but I would like to see San Francisco win. I actually picked the 49ers at the start of the season to win the Super Bowl. Then the Bears came on strong, oh well, we have been through that.

Another thing the 1985 Bears have been and will always be: Healers

So why would I have a Super Bowl Part on Sunday?

I want Reece Roberts and Dale Kelley to meet. Dale is one of our newest board members. She recently retired as a pastor of a neighboring church here in Anchorage minister and moved to the Seattle, Washington. I think she spent about 17 years in various cities here in Alaska as a pastor. She was the director of Alaskans Against the Death Penalty before I moved here. In my 13 years here I have only known her as a preacher.

Dale is failing her retirement. She was called by the Alaskan United Methodist Church Conference to come back to Alaska for 3-4 month to fill the pulpit as interim pastor at First United Methodist Church of Anchorage, AK.

That is my church.

Dale Kelley is coming to my city and to my church. What an opportunity this is for the Journey of Hope. From the moment I heard Dale was coming I have been overjoyed. I pray a lot a lot over the years and I think Dale is an answer to many of those prayers.

What is one man’s blessing can be another man’s pain.

Our pastor, Ron Myers was in a horrible car accident a few weeks before Christmas. It happened on the second Sunday of Advent.

I will always remember that because Ron had asked Kathy and me to light the candles and do a reading during the morning service. After the service Ron gave two homeless people who had been hanging around the church, a ride to Girdwood, a beautiful 45 minute drive from Anchorage. They asked Ron for a ride, where they claimed would be on the way to a new start.

Ron, who is a Good Samaritan, tried to help the people, gave them a ride and as a result was involved in a horrific head-on collision. Ron is lucky to have survived. It took a long time to extricate Ron from the totaled car. He broke his right hip in two places and crushed the bones in his right leg. I didn’t know about the accident for about four days.

It was mentioned in the paper but no names were given. . I went to see Ron the next day the hospital and he was a real mess. I called Kathy as soon as I walked into the hospital lobby. Telling her what I had just seen brought tears to my eyes. But each time I see him now he looks much, much better. More about Ron later.

Dale Kelley, new Journey of Hope board member gets a call from headquarters, and now she is my interim pastor. I have been trying to get Dale and Reece together for the last month. For one reason or another each of the three previous attempts always found someone not being able to make it, usually last minute stuff.

I leave Alaska for 5 weeks on Wednesday and I wanted them to meet before I left. I asked my great friends Barb Hood and Dirk Sisson to join us too. They are the greatest. They are the greatest Journey of Hope supporters in recent years. We are going to have great company and great food. Since I will be gone from Alaska for so long I am making it also a bit of a bon voyage gathering. Chilled Jumbo Shrimp, Alaskan king crab legs, filet mignon, deviled eggs, smoked salmon and other culinary delights, not to mention my famous macaroni and cheese.

It will be a royal meal for royal people. I love them all.

Super Bowl night highlight will be when Reece meets Dale. Two wonderful people, who are Journey board members, will meet each for the very first time. I want that moment to be memorable occasion for all of us.

The Journey of Hope is getting ready to spring forward and we have in place the board we need to keep us on course. Dale and Reece are part of that team.

I can’t wait till tomorrow, not for the game, but for the Journey.

Thursday, 31 January 2013

Fetzer Awards to NGO`s Furthering Love and Forgiveness

Friends, in the last blog I mentioned exiting days ahead for the Journey of Hope.

One of the most exciting things about the Journey of Hope for me began when I came across an article called:

Fetzer Awards to NGOs Furthering Love, Forgiveness

Anybody that knows me or the Journey knows that would get my attention. The article can be found at: and I have copied it here.

The Fetzer Institute is creating a tangible incentive and recognition for non-governmental organizations whose work furthers love and forgiveness--a pair of $25,000 awards and exposure via a global, web-based competition. Asking, "What in the world are YOU doing?" the program will honor an NGO within the United States and one from elsewhere in the world.

The purpose of the activity is much broader than just identifying a pair of recipients, said Fetzer Board Chairman Rob Lehman. "There’s a whole invisible community that’s already doing the work," Lehman said, "and part of our role is to make that community visible."

Philanthropy defined means "love for humanity," so there’s certainly no shortage of worthy candidates. The event seeks nonprofits who demonstrate "the joyful giving of oneself to transform other people’s lives."

Information on the international, web-based awards is available at

The competition is part of the Fetzer Institute’s broader effort to build awareness of the power of love and forgiveness in the emerging global community. As such, organizers hope submissions will demonstrate the connection between love and action by these groups, and the fostering of forgiveness by the work itself. Entries will be displayed online in a Global Gallery of videos, photos, and other information for the perusal of web visitors and judges.

Deadline for submission is Jan. 31, 2013, with public voting open from Feb. 1 until Valentine’s Day, Feb. 14. A panel of judges from the Fetzer Institute and its NGO Advisory Council will select the winners of the $25,000 awards to be announced in March 2013. A third prize of $5,000 will go to the entry that receives the most love from the online voting process.

"I think they can help us round out our understanding of love and forgiveness in ways that we could not dream in a million years," added Fetzer CEO Lawrence E. Sullivan.

This is a project of the Fetzer Advisory Council on Non-Govermmental Organizations.

Additional External Resources & Multimedia

Tell Us World web site

Journey of Hope board member Anne Feczko wrote the application explaining the Journey philosophy of love, compassion and forgiveness for all of humanity. Emmy award winning Micki Dickoff produced an excellent 5 minute video with the concept of love, compassion and forgiveness cleverly woven throughout.


I would like for the Journey of Hope win the award of $25,000 dollars and I think we have a chance, but you could help us win the third prize $5000 for the entry that receives the most love from the online voting process.

Could you share this with your network friends? $5,000 would be such a wonderful blessing.

Info on the upcoming Indiana Journey of Hope Feb 22-March 10, the 5 th World Congress in Madrid, June 12 - 15, the annual Fast and Vigil, June 29 -July 2 in front of the US Supreme Court and so much more, hopefully soon.

I would like to give a public thank you to Micki Dickoff and Probono Productions for presenting the Journey of Hope when we were at our best. We are at our best when we are talking about love, compassion and forgiveness. Micki, YOU are the Greatest, and I know that you are most loved. I hope your film is too. NESHOBA is one of Micki’s works

And friends, please help us win the most loved award.

Please share this with your friends.

Till next time,

Love and Peace,


Sunday, 27 January 2013

         January 22, 2013

Hello again,

I had a goal of doing a lot more writing for the blog this year but it has been some days since I have written.

My father, Robert C. Pelke joined his personal Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ on January 10th .

He is now a part of that great host of witnesses in Heaven above.
I offered an eulogy at his funeral. I have copied it here.

I am on an airplane headed from Alaska to South Carolina. My father is dying. He had a major stroke about 12 hours ago and is in a coma and they say he will not come out of it. He is 93 years old. I hope I get to South Carolina and see him before he dies. But it is more than likely he will be in Heaven with his creator by the time I arrive. I want to see mom and I want to see my sister. Dottie has been the perfect sister in my eyes, helping take care of mom and dad these many years. I am so grateful for everything that Dottie and her family have done for them.

I always knew that someday I would get that call, but I wasn’t ready for it. When I saw my niece Kim had called I was hoping it was about my scheduled upcoming trip to Prosperity, SC next month when I was to parent sit for mom and dad because Dottie and her daughter Kim are taking Sean, Kim’s son to Florida to look at a college he is likely to attend next year. I often expected bad news when I would see Kim’s number, esp. if it was unexpected call. Kim is the one who always passes on to me medical news about mom and dad.

The message was that dad had a stroke.

Kim’s brother Scott is a family doctor in the Columbia area. I talked to my nephew about six hours ago and he told me that it was just a matter of time.

So, I have been thinking a lot about my dad the last few hours. My dad has been good man. He loves his family and he loves his God. He will soon be in God’s presence. I will soon be saying Father, into thy hands I commend my father’s spirit

I was so looking forward to parent sitting. I have so enjoyed the visits I have taken to see my mom and dad. The added bonus is that they live with my sister Dottie and her husband Frank and all her kids and grandkids live nearby, except Andy who lives in California.

My dad loved to listen to books that were on tape. He especially loved mysteries and Parry Mason was one of his favorites. I used to just sit on the couch and listen to them with him for hours at a time.

He could not see well. He only has peripheral vision. He would tell people that he could see everything but what he was looking at. For football games he would sit in a wheel chair that sat ride to the side of the TV. He could see the different colors of uniforms and see them moving. He really loved to see the movement and hear the announcers describe the plays.

My dad was a faithful man. I don’t know for sure but would bet my dad was at church last Sunday. He was always there. I am sure that whenever his pastor saw dad wasn’t there, he knew that something was wrong. My dad has been extremely faithful to every church he has attended.

I was so proud to post on facebook back in September how my parents had celebrated their 71st wedding anniversary. I didn’t think or want it to be their last. I have had so many thoughts of my dad today it would be impossible to recall them all.

But he is a good man, and his father Oscar was a good man before him. Both men were highly respected at work, church, community and in the family. Granddad and my dad were two excellent examples that God placed in my life. I thank Him for that.

On a terrible day in 1985 my father found my grandmothers body the day after she had been brutally stabbed to death. I watched my father during the wake and the funeral. He greeted people, talked with them and prayed with them. He was the son that my granddad raised him to be. I don’t know how he was able to do it but I was never so proud watching how he carried himself during that horrible time.

I do know the last thing I said to my dad was "I love you dad." That is how I ended every phone conversation. On this occasion it was on Christmas day. He responded by saying "I love you honey".

There is so much I want to say to him. I had planned on filming conversations with my dad on my I-phone and spending hours talking about his life history. I mostly was looking forward to hearing stories from him, but there were a few things I had wanted to talk about for years and thought I would get that chance next month.

When I arrived to the hospital in Columbia my father was still alive. I was able to spend the last two and one half hours of his life with him. I am so grateful to have made it there before he died.

I did find out that my dad had attended church the Sunday before he died. In fact he attended the morning and evening services. Yes, that was my dad, a faithful at the age of 93.

On Monday night he watched the National Championship Bowl game when Alabama Crimson Tide beat his long time Purdue rivalry Notre Dame. He enjoyed the game immensely, went to sleep that night after the game and never woke up again.
Dad was greeted by the words of his Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, "Well done thou good and faithful servant:" Enter you into the joy of your Lord."

I thank God for the hundreds of prayers and best wishes that were sent my way. I felt your tremendous support and gathered strength that was needed to get through those extremely difficult days.

I will end this with full intention of writing much more soon about the Journey of Hope and what we are trying to accomplish in the near future. It is very exciting. At this moment I am very encouraged and I will be sharing with you why.

Peace, Bill

Sunday, 6 January 2013

Cruel and Unusual

Cruel and Unusual

I met Terri Steinberg in front of the US Supreme Court during the 9 th Annual Fast and Vigil against the death penalty in 2002. Terri’s 20 year old son Justin had just been sentenced to death by the state of Virginia. Terri was beside herself. She did not know what to do.She read about a group of people protesting the death penalty at the US Supreme Court and came to us looking for help.

We are doing all we can to help her, and Terri has become a valuable member of the Journey family.

Terri joined us for her first Journey of Hope tour in Ohio in 2003. She has participated in Journeys in Texas, Montana, Kentucky, Virginia and even Germany.

She has become a leading spokesperson for abolition of the death penalty. Virginians for Alternatives to the Death Penalty (VAADP) has taken on Justin’s case and is working with Terri in her efforts to save Justin’s life.

Could you imagine having a son on death row even if he were guilty? We are convinced that Justin is innocent.

Justin was convicted of murder for hire. A young man named Owen Barber admitted that he had committed the murder, but was told he could escape the death penalty if he testified that Justin hired him to commit the murder. To save his own life, Owen testified against Justin. Owen was sentenced to 33 years in prison and Justin was sentenced to death. Justin has always maintained his innocence.

Cruel and Unusual

It has been a terrifying roller coaster ride for Terri. Ups and downs and ups and downs!!! A few years back Owen Barber admitted he lied in court against Justin but they could not get a court hearing to get the new evidence introduced. These were dark days.

I was with Terri in Germany on the day she saw a full ray of sunshine that brought her out of the depths of darkness. She received a phone call from Justin’s lawyers saying Justin’s appeals would be heard in court.

The hope I saw in Terri that day was more than wonderful. It was such a high for her. She cried and laughed and shook for about a half an hour. I am glad I was there to hold her. It had been so dark but she was seeing things in a much clearer light. Ray Krone, Terri and I were doing an 18 day tour in Germany in 2008 for Susanne Cardona and the German Coalition Against the Death Penalty.

On Christmas Eve a Federal Judge ordered that Justin be released by 5:00 pm on January 3, 2013 and banned prosecutors from trying him again. Terri’s response when asked how she felt about that news, said "the best Christmas present ever".


On Wednesday the 2nd the Chantilly Patch headline was "Judge: Justin Wolfe to be released Thursday" When a reporter asked Terri what would she do first with Justin? She said "feed him". Go mom.

I have never met, written or talked to Justin but I am aware that he loves the Washington Redskins. One of the few joys he has had on death row is when the Redskins win. I have come to find myself cheering for the Redskins so Justin can have some joy. The Skins have had a good year.

Terri was ready to have Justin come home. At about 3:00 PM on Thursday I saw this message sent out by VAADP.

UPDATE: Justin Wolfe Expected to Be Released Thursday at 5 p.m.

Once sentenced to death row, Chantilly man may soon be freed from custody.

The U.S. District Court and the U.S. 4th Circuit Court of Appeals have denied the Commonwealth's appeals regarding Justin Wolfe.

Without intervention from the U.S. Supreme Court, Wolfe is expected to be released at 5 p.m. today By Dusty Smith Chantilly Patch 2:40 p.m. Jan. 3

What wonderful news this had to be for Terri. She always has maintained that she will not get too excited until she walks away from the prison arm in arm with Justin. She knows the system has let her down before.

Two hours to go. When I received this news I was very happy for Terri. I began to check on Google for a link on this story to copy for our facebook page. Then I saw this headline.

Justin Wolf’s release halted after appeals court intervenes.

Terri was 2 hours away from holding Justin in her arms. You can read more about it here.

Cruel and Unusual

What Terri and her family are going through is cruel and unusual punishment. If any member of the US Supreme Court had a mother in the same situation the death penalty would be declared no longer legal. They would recognize that it is cruel and unusual punishment for the family. What did Terri do wrong? Does she love her son too much?

When will this barbaric act come to an end?

The eighth amendment to the constitution PROHIBITS the federal government from imposing cruel and unusual punishment. Someone should take this case to the US Supreme Court in Terri’s Steinberg’s name. To put a mother through this can only be described as cruel and unusual.

Terri has become a leading spokesperson for the Journey of Hope. She is pictured at a Journey of Hope event in Virginia last year hosted by VAADP and emceed by their ED Steve Northrup.

Today, January 5th is Terri’s birthday. She did not get the birthday gift she dreams of, Justin’s freedom. The state of Virginia is still trying to kill her son. Happy birthday Terri, we wish Justin could have celebrated it with you.


Tuesday, 1 January 2013

Happy New Year

January 1, 2013

Happy New Year,

Most of my waking moments are spent thinking about the Journey Of Hope.
This year I am making a resolution to write more about the Journey of Hope.

The Journey of Hope…from Violence to Healing will have an interesting year.
We are applying for a prize from the Fetzer Foundation that I think we have a good chance to win. There will be one twenty five thousand prize grant given to a nonprofit in the USA. If we win that the
Journey will go to places we have never been before.

In December the Journey of Hope expanded its board to eleven members.
Prior to 2012 we had 7 members. With our board election the Journey now has in place the most powerful board of directors in our history.
Ans speaking of History, 2013, is the twentieth anniversary of the Journey of Hope.
In 1993 the Journey of Hope traveled through the state for 17 days on its inaugural events.
The Journey isreturning to Indiana, February 22 to March 10. We are looking to returning to Indiana again in October with even more speakers and events.

For me, my work began in Indiana in 1985, when my grandmother was killed by high schools in Gary, Indiana.
Paula Cooper, who was 15 years old at the time of the crime, was sentenced to death becoming the youngest female on death row in this country.

On the night of November 2, 1986, my life was transformed.
I went from supporting the death penalty sentence to campaigning to have her death sentence overturned.
It was commuted in 1989 on the automatic appeal that is given to all death row sentences.
I learned the lesson of the healing power of forgiveness. It became my mission to spread the seeds of love and compassion.

I have spread the seeds of love and compassion in 15 countries and about 40 states.
2013, will be different for me, in that Paula Cooper gets out of prison on July 17. I intend to be at the gates of the prison when she gets out.
I believe in restorative justice. I want to help restore Paula to her place in society.
I have friends that want to help.It will be a very interesting year.
I have been told in places I have spoken the last few years like Germany, Belgium and Italy that they want Paula an I to come to their countries and organizations.
It will be interesting to see what Paula wants to do when she gets out.
Paula is not the same person who committed that terrible crime in 1985 and I want people to see that she has changed.
The people in Europe worked hard to save Paula`s life.
It would be so cool to be able to go with her and let the people who worded so hard, see what their work has accomplished.

The Journey of Hope has been asked to be one of the organizations on the working committe for the 5th World Congress Against the death penalty.
The conference will be in Madrid, June 18 -20. Just yesterday I was asked by a friend and Journey supporter if I needed help to get to Madrid.
When I said yes, he offered to fly me to Spain. Happy New Year!!!

2013 also brings us the 20th annual Fast and Vigil June 29 - July 2. If we get the grant I mentioned earlier I hope that all of our board members can attend a face to face board meeting in DC and do some work stategizing on how the Journey can be an even bigger impact on worldwide abolition of the death penalty.
This would be fantastic and much needed.
The grant is Fetzer Compation for NGO`s working on Love and Forgiveness, Call for Entries ( Win 25,000 dollars, open to orgs around the world)
I think we have a good chance.

We are about love and forgiveness.
We will know on February 14, who the winner is. We have a five minute video prepared for this and we are working on a 500 word synopsis. We would appreciate your prayers.
Award winning producer Micki Dickoff prepared the video and Anne Feczko, one of our new board members is working on the written part.

In January I will head to Omaha, Nebraska for an interview on a documentary called:
"There Will Be No Stay"

It looks to become an exciting year.

Bill Pelke