From the high number of visits and comments on yesterday’s post, I know you have been anxiously waiting for new word on the developing situation with Blade Reed and the Wabash Valley Correctional Institution. Thanks to your interest and to the energetic efforts of some dedicated people, I am pleased to report there has been improvement.

Last night Stephen phoned me to say that Blade’s attorney spent four hours on the phone yesterday with officials at Wabash, who moved Blade from the “strip cell” to a normal (slightly more comfortable) cell in the solitary confinement unit. We surmise the prison officials got wind of our nascent petition campaign because the attorney told us “they were too agreeable. Getting Blade moved wasn’t all my doing,” she said.

If you have been out to the petition site, you will have seen that we already have more than 300 signatures, which is a respectable overnight result. (This is only the first day of the campaign.) You will have also seen that our campaign director Melissa Higgins has written a forceful argument invoking US and international law, which gives IDOC officials a sneak peek at the world of trouble they could create for themselves by setting in their heels and resisting a humanitarian resolution.

We didn’t plan it this way, but today the Indianapolis Star ran a front-page story about Paul Henry Gingerich and how well he is faring in IDOC’s Pendleton high-security youth prison.

(Check out Bobby King’s excellent article and more than 30 photographs at: http://www.indystar.com/article/20120226/NEWS02/202260353/What-life-like-14-year-old-killer-tried-an-adult?odyssey=tab|topnews|text|News.)

The contrast between Paul Henry Gingerich’s and Blade Reed’s situations could not be greater. It is stunning to consider the glaring differences between the circumstances of two of our boys, one placed in an abusive and shameworthy adult prison environment, and the other placed in a nurturing and praiseworthy youth prison environment—and this object lesson within the concentrated time period of a single weekend cannot be lost on IDOC officials.

I hope you will come to the same conclusions as I have: that first, adult prison is no place for a child, no matter how serious that child’s offense might be; and second, that IDOC does have it within its makeup and ability to do the right thing. Blade’s experience proves the first point and Paul Henry’s proves the second.

Blade’s condition has already improved since he was moved out of the “strip cell” last night. In a morning phone call to Stephen, Blade reported, “I’m tired, but I did sleep some last night. I’m still upset. I just wish they (the guards) would leave me alone. I just want to go back to D Unit (his original, non-solitary-confinement cell block).”

Stephen said he could hear some slight improvement in Blade’s tone of voice. “He sounded like he had a little more bounce in his step,” Stephen said. “I’m cautiously optimistic and keeping my fingers crossed.”

We want Blade to be transferred into the youth correction system so he will have access to the rehabilitation, mental health, and education services he needs to develop into a whole and complete person. If Blade stays at Wabash and continues to be treated as a throw-away kid, he will be transformed into a warped, damaged, and unredeemable beast.

I want to close out this post with a general admonishment to all of us. We have a tremendous battle ahead of us for Blade Reed’s redemption. It is likely to become very heated and, at times, even vicious. Last night and today I reviewed your comments, some of which were seething with righteous anger. But please let us not get carried away with emotion and disrespect those who would be our opponents.

We have law, morality, and ethics on our side, and I have no doubt that we will eventually prevail. But remember, we must appeal to the good which is within our opponents in order for them to freely change. We must always stand for What Is Right, not Who Is Right. If we want the prisons in Indiana and elsewhere to embrace a philosophy of rehabilitation and powerful new redemptive models, we must model that philosophy in how we wage our battles.

It is my profound privilege to be friends with a particular prisoner, Nathan Ybanez, who was incarcerated as a 16-year-old with a life-without-parole sentence in Colorado. He is 30 years old now and has lived nearly half his life in prison. Contrary to what one would normally expect, prison has transformed Nathan into a wise and holy young man.

In every letter he writes to me, he uses the Sanskrit greeting “Namaste,” which expresses the belief that there is a Divine spark within each of us in the heart chakra, an acknowledgment of the soul in one by the soul in another.

It is my hope that, even in the heat of conflict, we will follow Nathan’s example by looking for and appealing to that Divine spark which resides in the hearts of our adversaries. This is an attitude of strength, not weakness, which cannot be resisted.


Groove of the Day 

Listen to Little Peggy Marsh performing “I Will Follow Him”

19 Responses to “namaste”

  1. February 26, 2012 at 6:23 pm

    I’m so glad Blade is out of the strip cell but I will be more glad when I heard Blade is in the youth correction system so he will have access to the rehabilitation, mental health, and education services he needs. There are about 50 minors in that Place. Should be NONE. No child should be in an adult prison. Please keep signing and sharing.

    End the torture of autistic juvenile Blade Reed in the Wabash Prison


    A good head and a good heart are always a formidable combination.”
    Nelson Mandela

    “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.”
    Nelson Mandela

    “Safety and security don’t just happen, they are the result of collective consensus and public investment. We owe our children, the most vulnerable citizens in our society, a life free of violence and fear.”
    Nelson Mandela

  2. February 26, 2012 at 6:36 pm

    Dan, don’t fall back too deep into the “Namaste”. May I quote you?

    “We’ve had it, and we will remain quiet no longer. This treatment of Blade Reed by the state of Indiana is in violation of Federal laws and international conventions, and we intend to bring appropriate pressure to bear to end this outrage. But more immediately, we believe that Blade’s life is at risk and we will be organizing a campaign and publicity to get someone in authority in Indiana to intervene before it is too late.”

    Don’t give away that momentum you and those who are with you gathered and unleashed at present!

    I have been talking to you about petitions a long while ago already, remember? You finally caught up on that now, and I was the second person to sign the petition for Blade, only seconds after I I received message about your blog on the horrible situation Blade was (and is) in. I then immediately shared the petition online on every Social Network I have access to, and I now continue doing so by addressing friends in offline life personally here at my place – and as I live in Germany, I have some explaining to do first, but you should see how violently these friends, who have their hearts in the right spot, shake their heads in disbelief and dismay about the horrible things the USA have going on when it comes to putting kids at court! And then, they go signing the petition, and share the news on their Facebook walls or on Google+.

    The outrage has been overlooked, the ignorance of judges and prosecutors endured for way too long, and the potential malevolent power of jail officials has been a sword of Damocles over the heads of way too many kids, teens and young adults, for way too long, making you keep a low profile. Dan, had it been only one kid suffering like Paul, Jordan, Blkade and all the others do – it would have been one too many already, and those responsible for all those horrible injustices should have been held accountable to the fullest a long time agvo!

    The article about Paul is excellent (except for the fact that they also write about his “25 year prison sentence ” – heck, it’s 30 years, the last five of which on probation! Don’t allow the outrage being diffused and dimmed down by such incorrect details!)

    And the petition is great, and needs to spread like wildfire, by all means possible. And the Twitter account on Blade’s cause is great, too.

    You need surgical lights here. Powerful headlights. Headlights and headlines! The Namaste … add that ingredient later, Dan.

    If the cause loses it’s impact again now, it will sink back into oblivion!

    The public eye is needed. National media. Unicef. Amnesty International. Ellen and Rosie and Oprah, Anderson Cooper and Keith Olberman.

    You made excellent first steps now. Some of them planned / prepared / scheduled, some of them born out of a desperate turn of events. Anyways: The article and the petition were really good. And now, more steps are needed. In rapid succession, and carefully aimed at persons and institutions who have the power to be multiplicators of ths first wave.

    Stop worrying that officials might let it backfire on the kids we care about, by harshening their circumstances. Dan – they do so anyhow, if they feel like it!

    Instead – let’s give it to them. Make the cases so pressing that a snooty judge Rex Reed does not get away any more with not giving statements, answering to calls or replying to voicemails.

    Gather the troops, and take it to the next level. And the next. Repeat as needed. And don’t stop before the struggle is won. Headlights and headlines, Dan. Now.

    http://truedantalion.blogspot.com/2012/02/paul-henry-gingerich.html (in German)

    • February 26, 2012 at 7:12 pm

      Michael, I would like you to consider the possibility that my views as you have presented them are not mutually exclusive. I would rather go into a fight with a cool head, not as a hothead. Successful competitive strategy requires empathy and respect for one’s opponent, otherwise one cannot leverage the opponent’s strengths, weaknesses, motives, and desires to achieve the desired outcomes. We have no intention whatsoever to turn down the pressure or back off on our efforts. If anything, they will intensify.

      • February 26, 2012 at 7:56 pm

        ” I would rather go into a fight with a cool head, not as a hothead.”
        Agreed on that completely – I did not want to express that I want you to go berserk now.

        “We have no intention whatsoever to turn down the pressure or back off on our efforts. If anything, they will intensify.”
        This is all I asked. Because this is what is needed.

        Thanks, Dan.

  3. 5 Jeffrey
    February 26, 2012 at 7:33 pm

    I am pleased Blade has been moved to a better cell and hope this is the start of better things for him. Anger won’t help him from us but only rational thought. Visit the site Ask Mitch.com and leave a civil message for Governor Mitch Daniels. My problem with the Paul Henry story is they continue to refer to him as a killer. No where did they mention that forensic evidence proved that Colt Lundy fired the fatal shots not Paul, therefore Paul kiled no one. The rest of the story did show Paul to be worth saving and that’s why continue to help him. Remember if you want change things you have to take the fight to the politicians. A letter to each of Indiana’s Senators may help also

    • February 26, 2012 at 7:58 pm

      “My problem with the Paul Henry story is they continue to refer to him as a killer. No where did they mention that forensic evidence proved that Colt Lundy fired the fatal shots not Paul, therefore Paul kiled no one.”
      Very much agreed on that!

  4. 7 Frank Manning
    February 27, 2012 at 12:40 am

    I am one of those seething angry commentors. My rage at Blade’s despicable treatment is downright Strombolian. Once I’ve erupted, though, I then do what my hometown’s unofficial motto admonishes us to do in situations like this: “Don’t get mad, get even!” So how best to do that in a legal way? Bring the full righteous might of the federal government down upon them!

    I will be writing letters tomorrow to U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder and to Thomas Perez, the assistant attorney general for civil rights, asking that they open an investgation into Blade’s situation at Wabash Valley, with an eye toward prosecuting those officials and armed goons who have been egregiously violating the various federal statutes and regulations governing the treatment of incarcerated juveniles. Yes, there are federal regulations that even stipulate their minimum cell size and caloric intake. A few years ago the feds shut down a juvenile prison in Louisiana where they starved the kids and made them fight for shoes. Heavily armed marshals stormed in, arrested the goons, and shut the place down tight, giving the kids over to child welfare authorities. Just the threat of federal armed intervention and long prison sentences ought to move our “opponents” to unharden their hearts. Whether they change freely, as you hope, or change at the point of a bayonet doesn’t really matter, so long as they do change.

  5. 8 Jeffrey
    February 27, 2012 at 9:53 am

    Having just read the readers comments in the Indianapolis Star on the Paul Gingerich story it is easy to see why Blade Reed is treated as he is. The majority of the feedback resembled a lynch mob in a old TV western. Most of these 98 and counting comments had no pity for this boy calling him evil. Paul I’m afraid is going to have a hard time in a state where the electorate is made up of so many illiterate morons. The dialogue of these people seemed like something from WWE Wrestling and there may in lie the reason for their vulgar incivility and lack of human decency. I am feeling nothing but dispair for the future of our country.

    • 9 matt
      February 27, 2012 at 11:03 am

      Not just a Hoosier thing! Similar to what was seen last year, when Alex King was arrested on the misdemeanor traffic charge, or the vile comments about Jordan Brown and pretty much all of the others.

      • February 27, 2012 at 11:14 am

        This is precisely why I am saying we must reach out to the Divine spark in others. The anger is so widespread throughout our culture, the epidemic of hate is so effective at blocking out reason, it seems the only way to break through is to aim at that spark.

    • 11 Frank Manning
      February 27, 2012 at 2:37 pm

      I avoided reading the reader comments on Paul’s story precisely for that reason. Not long ago there was a story about Cristian Fernandez in the Jacksonville paper, and the reader comments sounded like the mob yelling Crucify Him! in the gospel. It made my blood run cold! There is at least one state, though, where decency and compassion toward children who get into serious trouble prevail over the neanderthal lynch mob mentality of most of America. Observe the community reaction, and even the prosecutor’s comments, in the Bremerton, WA, shooting case that just happened. I am grateful I live in the Evergreen State! People here really are more civilized. One observation: Republicans are in very short supply here!

  6. February 27, 2012 at 10:39 am

    Ok thanks for about emotional situation, jut when i hear and see kids like blade being mistreated by guards and men inmates gets to me and here he is autism, i can realate to his learning disability, cause i have that. heart cries out to him. I WANNA BE POSITIVE WE WILL PREVAIL AND GET HIM OUT PRISON nowwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwww.

  7. 13 Maryam
    February 27, 2012 at 11:06 am

    Ha, I knew this title looked familiar… 🙂 Nathan shows so much wisdow, it never ceases to amaze me.

    Thanks for the daily articles Dan, you constantly help me understand what’s going on with youth incercaceration…

  8. 14 D.P.
    February 27, 2012 at 1:29 pm

    Great story about Paul Henry. The exercise where he was asked to write a letter of advice to his future children sounds like a good one and like he had good insight. But I had to think: he will have to find a woman to have children with first. As his sentence is now, even with parole he will be incarcerated through the years that a boy normally learns how to talk to and interact with girls and young women. He may not even see a girl his own age until his mid twenties. What will make up for this lost social skill development (many of us never get very good at it even when we aren’t incarcerated)? This is just one small example of how he will have lost more by the time he is 18 or so than an adult would lose in 25 or more years in prison.

    Also interesting to note was that Colt’s father would not grant the reporter access to Colt at Wabash. Colt can be sentenced and incarcerated as an adult, but his dad can still block access to him? Why this inconsistency? Is the justice system schizophrenic?

    Concerning the contrast between Blade and Paul Henry’s conditions: IDOC was aware of what Blade was going through before Paul Henry was sentenced. Could this knowledge have played a role in how they knew they could never send a small 12-year-old boy to the same place? In other words, has Blade served as a sort of sacrificial lamb whose suffering has helped other boys be spared the same fate as him? This is in no way comforting, but I couldn’t help but wonder.

  9. 15 Jeffrey
    February 27, 2012 at 2:36 pm

    D.P. is correct about happened to Blade and that it may have saved Paul. Mike Dempsey even said Paul would have been victimized relatively quickly at Wabash. IDOC knew the publicity of a small 12 year old beaten and raped in an adult prison would have been national news. I still can’t figure this sadistic judge Rex Reed and how he could look at that small boy and send him to Wabash, and be assured he knew what would happen to Paul there. It says something about the people who elected him also. Colt’s silence is odd unless he’s protecting the possibility that his father was the one that motivated him to kill Danner. Did the incompetent detectives ever check Colt’s phone to see who he spoke to the days before the shooting. I think some of this wil come out during Paul’s appeal.

  10. February 27, 2012 at 9:30 pm

    Nice read. Your efforts are laudable.

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