Diana Claitor: Stories from Texas county jails

Diana Claitor of the Texas Jail Project participated in the fall workshop series, “Listen for a Change: Oral History and Social Justice” presented by ADAPT of Texas and Wire Cutter. Layla Fry and Shannon Elizondo, other workshop participants, conducted this short interview of Diana as part of the training. Read Diana’s interview for ideas on how you, too, might want to use oral history for social change.

Virginia Raymond transcribed this interview and shared it with Diana, who made some corrections and clarifications. These corrections are not marked within this transcript. (At a future workshop, we can discuss under what conditions, why, and how you might decide to mark or not mark narrator post-interview changes.)

By the way, check out Diana’s recent cover story for The Texas Observer, “Babysteps: Can Texas’ new approach to prisoners with newborns help keep families together?” Read the story in the actual paper Observer (!), at the Observer website, or at the website of the Texas Jail Project. Congratulations, Diana, and thank you for your ongoing work on behalf of all inmates, especially pregnant inmates and inmates in need of medical attention.

Thank you Diana, Layla, and Shannon, for this interview! Maybe it was “just a training exercise” to you, but I learned a lot!

Copyright Diana Claitor 2011 Used with permission

Read the entire Diana Claitor interview here.

Attention: Participants in Listen for a Change: Oral History & Social Justice

Hello everyone,

A reminder that we will gather for workshop session #4 tonight again at ADAPT. We will look at the brief videotaped interviews from last week (those that people did not ask us to delete, of course), reflect together on the process and what might be more effective practices, and discuss the suggestions for effective oral history practices on this website (under “Listen”). Depending on time and people’s preferences, we also may look at some additional oral history videos.

Next week, we will interrupt our own workshop series to listen to men who were once sentenced to death, but later exonerated and are now free and working with Witness to Innocence. The following announcement of the event comes from the Texas Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty.

“On Tuesday, October 18, 2011 at 7:00 PM, the First United Methodist Church’s Family Life Center (1201 Lavaca Street) will host death row exonorees Ron Keine, Greg Wilhoit, Dan Bright, and Albert Burrell from Witness to Innocence. Witness to Innocence is the nation’s only organization composed of, by and for exonerated death row survivors and their loved ones.

“This event is sponsored by the UMC General Board of Church and Society, the Austin District, and local Methodist churches. It is part of the ‘Texas Witness to Innocence Freedom Ride.’ For more information, please contact Kathy Barrett at kbarretttx@aol.com.”

Thank you to “Listen for a Change: Oral History and Social Justice” participant Ayla Pintchovski for reminding me of this potential conflict and suggesting that workshop participants attend the Witness to Innocence presentations.

Taking the time for Witness to Innocence means that we will extend the workshop series for a week. Just to be clear:

Tuesday, October 11 – at ADAPT, 5:30
Tuesday, October 18 – First United Methodist Church for Witness to Innocence, 7 pm
Tuesday, October 25 through Tuesday, November 22 at ADAPT again, 5:30 pm