Thinker in Residence Blog

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Getting Recognized on the Street!

Posted by peggyhora on August 20, 2009

On Thursday, I was in a coffee shop early to search for the article in “The Advertiser,” one of Adelaide’s local papers. The day before I had given a one-hour interview with the reporter who covers the courts. Found it, got my “flat white decaf” (coffee with hot milk and low foam) and settled in to read it. The woman next to me tapped me on the arm, pointed to her copy of the paper open to the page with my artlcle and said, “Is this you?” We then chatted for a few minutes and I was on my way to the office. Later in the morning I went downstairs to the little coffee shop in the office building where the Thinkers work and I saw a woman looking at the article as I passed by. It was a bit like being Paris Hilton — or not. The first meeting of the morning was with the South Australian Police (SAPOL as they’re called) and they have a series of fascinating programs to reduce recidivism and address the Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal divide in custody statistics. Aboriginals are 1.5% of the population in South Australia and 22% of the jail inmates. Juveniles in custody are a shocking 60% Aboriginal. There are so many parallels between the Aboriginal people and American Indians and African Americans. It’s a challenge they are sincerely working on. They also have a number of domestic violence response centers and get special DV training. I’m thinking those centers and specially-trained officers need to be hooked up with DV Courts. The policy and projects division is headed up by a Deputy Commissioner who is a wonderful woman named Bronwyn. Great name. We then had a working lunch chomping on a chicken, chutney and satay sandwich while we recapped the week and wrote down “thoughts” about the contacts. The staff is so helpful and organized. I get a daily diary (read calendar) that tells me whom I’m meeting, how I’m getting there and who is going with me. It also includes briefing documents about the people I’ll be meeting and their programs. It’s like having five intelligent wives who are fun and likable. It’s probably not like really having five wives but it makes me the pampered Thinker. In the afternoon I met with Aboriginal Justice Officers who are located in three magistrates courts — Adelaide, Port Adelaide and Port Augusta. They also “ride circuit” to the country areas and staff the Nunga Courts, special interest courts where guilty pleas are handled in a culturally appropriate manner. They offer assistance on fines and fees, hearing dates, and court procedures. They also help conduct sentencing circles where the defendant, victim, elders and members of the parties’ family and friends can all have input as to sentencing. The final formal meeting of the day was at the Adelaide Drug Court. It felt very familiar and it was great. I dashed home for a little rest but truth be told, I caught up on email and Facebook. The final event of the evening was the annual dinner of Legal Studies teachers. It’s not a pre-law course but more like civics so far as I can tell. A judge was at each table and the dinner address was by a woman lawyer who had been there and done that including war crimes trials. She was very interesting. By the time dinner was served (8:30) I was ready to fall over in my swordfish. Got home, got to bed and, Hallejulah Hallelujah, I slept until 6:45! Now that’s what I’m talking about! Today is a “thinking day” and I’m going to take a trip to Central Market and think about fruit and cheese and sausages. I’m going to be in Melbourne on Mon. and Tues. and still have to finish up two of my three my Power Point presentations. I will not be taking my laptop so after reports on the dinner with the Chief Justice tonight and the Barosso Valley Gourmet Festival tomorrow, the blog will be silent until Tues. night

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