Sedley Alley is dead and forgotten. You do remember Sedley, don't you: the most recent casualty of the State of Tennessee's death apparatus at Riverbend Maximum Security Institution. But it seems that no matter how heinous a man is, he shouldn't just disappear un-remarked and, even, un-mourned. He was a child of God, after all, and a complex human being.
Well, there is an organization in town which tries to recognize death row inmates while they're alive and remember them after they're gone. It's called Visitors on Death Row (VODR), and it's sponsored by, among others, Riverbend itself. Only about 10% of death row inmates have any regular visitors, so VODR tries to match individual prisoners with volunteers from the community who will visit, or at least correspond with, as many of them as possible.
Some volunteers visit once a week, others far less frequently, and some simply write. But for everyone it is a way of remembering that an inmate is a human life and is entitled to basic respect and a sense, somewhere, of belonging. The visitors also are free to interface with the victim families.
There will be an informational session on Saturday, 7/29, from 9 to 12 at Riverbend for people interested in volunteering. It is not necessary to attend the meeting in order to volunteer, but the session should be very useful and will include a visit to death row itself.
For more information, contact Kathy Ingleson at HappyKPI@aol.com. As Kathy says, "For some VODR visitors, visits to the house of the condemned are rooted in the convictions that these, too, are children of God, our own brothers and sisters."