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Thank you, Harmon Wray

We're sad this week at Texas Prison Bid'ness at the departure of Harmon Wray, noted activist and a leader in the restorative justice movement. Harmon was also an early leader in the fight against private prisons, as you can see by this article he wrote in 1986, when Corrections Corporation of America (CCA) was just beginning to eye the prison industry and see dollar signs. Harmon correctly foresaw that mixing prisons and profits was a recipe for mistreatment, abuse and disaster. From his paper:

Perhaps the most critical flaw in the privatization move is that it is inherently expansionist. A corporation paid per prisoner and per diem will look to lock up more and more people for longer and longer stretches.

Harmon bought a small amount of stock in CCA in the 1990s (as Prison Realty Trust) so that he could vote and protest at shareholder meetings.

Fighting prison privatization was one of many parts of Harmon's work. Harmon frequently visited prisons and also traveled the country to spread his gospel that we expect more from our criminal justice system. We could see the humanity of every person, we could demand that programs exist to really prepare people to return to the community, we could have a world in which we all were cared for after acts of violence. Harmon saw this future and made it his business to create this future. Many people in the movement saw him as a resource and an inspiration, and many called him friend.

Among the many tributes to Harmon on the web:

http://tennessean.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20070725/OBITS/70725032

http://tcask.blogspot.com/2007/07/passing-of-abolitionist.html

http://www.flickr.com/photos/rugdesigner/875532639/in/photostream/

http://www.interfaithalliance.org/site/pp.asp?c=8dJIIWMCE&b=3034025

http://realcostofprisons.org/blog/archives/2007/07/in_memory_of_ha.html

Our thoughts are with his surviving family members and his many allies, mentees, and friends.

Nicole, Bob, Judy and Kathleen