Post Visit NEWS!!!
Tales from death row: Justice for Rodney Reed
Tuesday was visit day. This week's visit was with Rodney's long-time friend, Julie, affectionately known as “Wildflower Jewels”. We had a wonderful, blessed, fun (which still always astounds me in that place) joyous two hours together.
There's a "post visit" drill I follow every visit, no matter how tired I am, no matter how late it is when I get home. I usually have what I affectionately call "assignments" from Rodney for when I get home. This day's assignments were to email his attorney Bryce Benjet and send Rodney a Jpay, letting him know we arrived home safe and sound. I wrote Bryce's email, and then I got busy writing Rodney's Jpay.
In the middle of writing the Jpay, Rodney's mom, Sandra, calls sounding very upbeat. She asks how the visit was and lets me know Wildflower Jewels is there visiting with Rodney's brother, Rodrick. Then in a voice bursting with joy, relief, unbounded hope, she tells me she had spoken to Bryce very briefly and she says, "Bayardo had a change of heart." I'm speechless and Sandra is bubbling over. Bryce was only able to speak to her for a short time as he is busy moving to NYC to work in the main office of the Innocence Project (cool, huh?). After a few stunned moments of speechlessness, my powers of speech returned—well, somewhat anyway—and I say, "He what, huh, when, oh my God, really..." So we chat for a few more minutes before we say our goodnights, just as hope-filled as it is possible to be.
When I send Bryce a "post visit" email, he's really great about responding quickly. After I hang up with Sandra, my next move is to check my email. Yep, a response from Bryce—a very typical Bryce response as well: short, sweet and to the point, "I got it. (in reference to my question about a letter Rodney sent) Moving to NYC. See Chronicle." Mad dash—virtual mad dash, that is—to the Austin Chronicle website and there it was: "Bayardo's Change of Heart", skillfully rendered by Jordan Smith!
Of course, I'm back on the phone calling Sandra, "Get Robert (Rodney's oldest brother) to pull up the Austin Chronicle on the web." Sandra: "There's an article already? What's it say? ROBERT, pull up the Chronicle page!!" Smiles, tears, another good night—a night when Rodney's family and friends would go to sleep with a true, true hope that justice might really, finally be served.
At that point, I am copying the article to send to Rodney in a Jpay; posting it on Facebook and Twitter; sending out emails; finishing my Jpay to Rodney, wanting with all my heart to be able to see his face when he reads the news—oh, that smile! I'm WIDE AWAKE and it's almost midnight—what a glorious reason to be "sleepless in Bastrop"!
Oh, by the way, six months after Rodney's belongings were confiscated by TDCJ, they are safely in his mom's care; we brought them—all six bags—home yesterday—praise be and hallelujah!