9th Jan ’06 Mon.
One of Diane’s daughters who lives in Austin drove over to visit her y’day afternoon.(Yes, visitation is Fri & Sun, not Wed.) Within a few minutes of arriving at the jail and handing her ID at the visitor check-in counter, she was informed that she would be arrested because she had an unpaid traffic ticket from 6 years ago! She was allowed to see Diane for five minutes before being taken into custody.
To say she was freaked out of her mind, is an understatement. She is the exact opposite of Diane. Always cautious about staying on the right side of the law. She’s so nervous about jails that she hadn’t even visited her mother in all this time.
While the family was outside trying to figure out what was going on, she was searched and detained in a cell all by herself but in the male section of the jail! When asked why she was being searched, the female guard said that they had to make sure that she wasn’t carrying anything to give to Diane!
There she was, scared out of her wits, and crying her eyes out when one of the male inmates who could look into her cell said, “Aren’t you here to see Sylvia Dianne Wilson? They don’t like her down here ‘cos she hates Bush.” She got so seriously distressed that the jailor on duty allowed her out of the cell to sit on a bench in his office if she promised not to move.
By the time the family could pay the supposedly overdue ticket and get her out, it was past 8pm. She headed straight back to her kids in Austin.
This is a long story short, pieced together after conversations with Diane’s sister and Alice Blackmer who spoke with Diane’s daughter this morning. I don’t think we have to get into the details to understand that this entire incident seems like a planned attempt to intimidate Diane’s friends and family. I think they want to isolate her from us because she’s asking too many questions about the conditions in the jail. By the way, her request for a copy of the jail standards which is every inmate’s right, was met with “What’s your concern?”
Tim Smith, the Port Lavaca jailor, had called me on 7th January to assure me that he would do everything possible to help her. He can’t get her an individual cell because there aren’t any but he said he would ask the jail staff to let her have the books we’ve been sending. (The only books she has received so far are from Jane Livingstone, Diana Claitor and the Prison Project.) He also said that he had taken off 40 days from her sentence, with approval from the Sheriff, so she could be out on March 18th. This however is incumbent upon good behaviour. After sunday’s incident, I wouldn’t be surprised if Diane decides to take some action. When she called late this evening, I suggested that if her daughter finds the traffic tkt receipt from 6 years, then she should consider filing a complaint against the Victoria jail. Diane requested that we do not let them get away with this.
When I asked Tim Smith about letting the media access Diane, he said it was a law across the State not to allow cameras or recorders into the jail. Diane is however free to make collect calls to radio stations and give as many interviews as she wants. She can also be interviewed (through the glass barrier & over the phone!), by reporters during normal visitation hours. They can take pads and pens and anything else they want except recorders and cameras.
Thank you all for your calls and emails.