Thinker in Residence Blog

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Off to the Capital

Posted by peggyhora on September 16, 2009

Monday was a catch up day going over emails, organizing materials, deciding what comes back to California and what stays in Adelaide until my next visit.  I also had time to consult with office mates on the last two weeks’ schedules and projects that must be completed before I leave.  I’m going to be writing more think pieces, posting more academic pieces on the Thinker website, and posing questions for a “public poll” on the local newspaper’s website.  Monday evening I went to the airport with Ingrid Haythorpe from the Attorney Gnereal’s Department to fly to Canberra for all day meetings on Tuesday.  We stayed in a hotel overlooking the lake and started our day at 9:00 with the first round of meetings.  I then made a presentation to the AG staff and then met privately with the AG’s chief of staff, Roger Wilkins.  He was very enthusiastic about some of my ideas for collaboration between the Federal and South Australia’s courts.  More to come on this subject when it’s public.  The afternoon included some more meetings then we were off to the airport for Adelaide.  Wed. started early with an appearance before the Senior Management Council of the state government.  These are all the top staff of 15 or so departments.  They seemed interested in my observations and pleased with my progress so far.  One of the most interesting parts of the day was a tour of the women’s prison for the state.  There are 125 or so women and the warden thought that was a lot.   I told her there were more women in custody in California than in the rest of the world and she was shocked.  She was even more horrified when I described Pelican Bay, our state’s “super max” prison and the SHU (Special Housing Unit) where prisoners may be kept in solitary confinement for months.  This often results in psychosis.  The prison was not pretty or particularly comfortable but the women are treated humanely, have social services, programming, psychologists, have started a garden, and have access to computers.  I was quite impressed with the humanity of the facility.  Sue and I then went to James Nash House, a forensic psychiatric facility.  In one of the dorms I was shown around by one of the “guests.”  David had been on site for six years.  I don’t know what his crime was but he was highly functional and quite social.  We then went to a Thai restaurant for a quick bite and although the menu spelled things differently, I did find my favorite chicken coconut soup (tom gai).  The final event of the day was a roundtable seminar on “multi door courthouses” promoting ADR (appropriate dispute resolution rather than alternative dispute resolution).  It’s been a wild couple of days and I can’t believe I’ll be home in less than two weeks.  It will be with mixed emotions that I leave since I feel like I could understand so much more.  On the other hand, I’m anxious to see my family and friends and sleep in my own bed even though my friend Gloria who is house sitting tells me there’s a 25 kilo dog that’s barking in the wee hours the past couple of days.  Maybe it will be gone by the time I arrive.  As Scarlett O’Hara said, “Tomorrow is another day” which includes a seminar sponsored by Flinders Law School.  They originally expected 30-40 participants but the latest number is 123.  Wow.

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