*NEW* Journals - Randy Halprin

Randy Halprin
"You can't go back and change the beginning, but you can start where you are and change the ending" C.S. Lewis
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February 4th, 2024

It's been another average week in my life here on death row. We did have two days of rec. which was a relief and on Thursday I was able to get some fresh air by going outside. I think these days with the staff shortages we average about one day of outside recreation per month. I've not played basketball since last summer which really stinks. That really is the best exercise there is in my opinion and I took pride in the fact that at my age I could run better and play better than most guys younger than me. I fear the less I play, the more age will eventually catch up with me. Not that I feel old or even appear old unless it is when I first roll out of bed. THAT I definitely feel. Getting up early in the morning is becoming increasingly harder!

We were expecting classes to begin last week with our first class called ' Authentic Manhood ' but instead on Friday morning at about 7:30am Gary and Troop came rolling in with several huge TVs... They told us that class would start on Wednesday the following week and wanted to spend an hour that Friday morning asking each of us what we thought being a man meant. It was interesting listening to everyone's definition and almost no one said anything about being held accountable or being responsible etc. They were all comments about not being a sissy, being tough, protecting loved ones etc. Gary said we were all wrong and would learn why in the class.

After that they hooked up the TVs and showed us two movies...the first movie was a new romcom called Tourist Guide To Love...it was so so. It wasn't very original in my opinion. They were going through the menu of saved movies and I saw a couple of Star Wars titles flash across the screen and I yelled out, " Star Wars!" and the response was a collective " No Randy!" and then everyone laughed because they know what a big Star Wars geek I am. I joked, " But we've not see them on the big screens!" In the end Gary settled on the movie, " 7 Pounds " which must be one of the most depressing movies ever made! Its not bad, but Geeze...there is nothing happy at all in that movie.

Friday night I listened to my show on the radio...Yep, I've got my own radio program at 9pm on the prison radio station, The Tank called The Co Producer Spotlight. I basically compile the songs for that hour, send them in and they get played. I'm pretty proud of the accomplishment and the DJ,Megamind said I earned and deserved the slot which meant a lot to me. I'd like to start recording an encouraging message for each show, but we've got to figure out the logistics of that. It has always been a dream of mine and another one fulfilled.

Saturday was pretty boring other than a couple of movies and a Cure concert played that evening on the Tank. I was in bed at midnight and back up early for a shower after three days without. Then Gary and Troop came by again to talk and inform us that on Monday Troop would begin another class on Anger Management. So, we'll have two classes each week on top of another class. That'll be three classes each week! I'm looking forward to the challenge. It's nice to do something opposed to nothing. I'm sure the days will go by even faster now.

Well, here's to looking at another week and maybe a positive ruling! It has to come one of these weeks.

Courage. Strength. Hope and Faith.

Peace.

January 28th, 2024

Another week has passed and it is almost the end to another Sunday. I've not done much but my chores and I've done my best to keep busy and positive. Been watching a lot movies this weekend. We just watched an animated movie from Adam Sandler that was pretty funny called Leo. I'm still blown away at the level of computer animation these days.

Last night we watched Oppenheimer which was excellent. I really liked how it juxtaposed the creation of the atomic bomb with Robert Oppenheimer being accused of being a communist after he vocalised restraint on the use of the bomb. The acting was phenomenal from everyone in that movie. We also watched Everything And Everywhere All At Once which was another fantastic movie. So, I slept pretty good last night. Oppenheimer ended around ten and I'd already seen the last movie for the night so I crawled into bed earlier than I normally do for Saturday nights. I'd hoped to wake up to a shower but this is now day six without. It's like no one is coming to work for them to do anything. It's been the worst it's been in a while. It can get exhausting dealing with this broken system.

The inmate field minister Troop showed up to show movies on the big screens for the other side of the pod. Now that they have more TVs they can knock out two sections in one go but I don't know that Troop will have trucked four big screen TVs all the way over from A pod unless Gary came with him. I hope he stops by to chat because I wanted to ask if classes actually start this week on Feb 1st or the following week. We were told our first class is something called Authentic Manhood which will teach people how to be mature responsible adults...it explores how to deal with aggression, taking responsibility and growing up, because many of us are trapped in a state of arrested development. It should be interesting. I hope I'm not here for 18 months but the overall program is 18 months long so it will be quite intensive and I'll do it all for as long as I'm here. Gary did tell me that if I got some time and came back here I could complete it, though so that was nice to hear.

My path to becoming a life coach begins this week! Gary just came by earlier and he said classes WILL begin on Thursday or Friday...well, it's more of an opening ceremony to officially kick the new program off. He also said that he and Troop are trying to move onto the building where there are open cells on A pod. That way they're always around. They currently live out in the dormitories which is an open living situation and they wouldn't mind some privacy and living amongst us. That'll be cool if that happens. They'll be more accessible if that gets approved.

Now we just finished watching an early 90's movie called Menace 2 Society about '90s street gangs in Los Angeles. We'll be doing foot ball time for the last two teams that decide who goes to the Superbowl. Next week there are no games so it'll be all movies Saturday and Sunday. For the Superbowl Troop and Gary are going to roll in 4 big screens for B and C sections to watch the game so that should be cool to see. I love the commercials the most for that particular game so I'll definitely check it out especially since it'll be on the big screen. I can't believe we've had the day room TVs for a year now though.

That's really been it for the weekend and the week wasn't much different with no recreation and no showers. We'll see what a new week brings. Geeze, it almost February!

Courage. Strength. Hope and Faith

Peace

January 19th, 2024

This week has been an interesting one and not really in a bad way. Sure, there's the disappointment of going yet another week without a ruling from the CCA, but a conversation with a guy that used to be on death row years ago, and would routinely whoop my butt at basketball, stopped by to catch up with the guys around he knew when his sentence was modified from death to life. Over the years he became a driving force for the peer mentor programs and is one of the most valued and trusted Life Coaches in TDCJ. I expressed my frustration with this wait and he said, " Randy, don't see it as disappointment. See it as opportunity. " And of course he is right...what counts is what I do with my time in the interim...which I already knew and I've been doing, but sometimes my disappointment can affect my drive. He took my information down and said I could depend on him to be an advocate for me to be a life coach when the opportunity presents itself. What's so crazy about that particular conversation was how well timed it was with all that transpired after. I've talked about enrolling in classes and I've already been several months into one class already. Initially, a bunch of guys on my section signed up but when they realised it required reading assignments and book work most of the section dropped out and both Field Ministers Troop and Gary considered cancelling it altogether but my neighbor and I told them to not do that, find others who are willing to do the work and that's when Gary decided it would be best to restructure things and do it differently than how they did it on A pod. He had to go through some red tape and administrative headaches, but in the end he got it sorted, found new guys to participate, created an entirely new program, and began to move people around, completing the final moves today. So what remains from the original group are just a couple of us and we'll finish our current class, but on February 1st new classes will begin.

Today my section had a heart felt conversation about our individual goals, vision for changes, and desire to show the world we are worthy of redemption. It really pumped me up and had me excited. So far it seems like it's a much better group of guys, but it's the work that will test each person's dedication. It's not easy to adapt to a new routine and schedule when you've been languishing for years and have had a decades old routine. Troop and Gary anticipate that so they did something really smart for our program that I'll go into in another entry.

Other good things...so, we have an app on our tablet that is also available in the world called Pando...It's mostly Christian content,but I check it out from time to time and saw that Megamind did an interview in The Tank with some leaders of a prison ministry called Universal Beyond Bars or UBB. If you go on the Pando app and look for that church, look for the video cast titled UBB In The Tank, you'll see the radio studio. In the background you'll see my memoir amongst some of the books exhibited and finally, if you go about 10 minutes and 12 seconds into the video you'll see a scrolling ticker tape and suddenly there's a shout out to me as The Tank's co-producer ( so people know I really am!) and my picture. I was so touched by that and of course a bit proud as well. So yeah...good things this week. I'll talk about more soon!

Courage. Strength. Hope and Faith

Peace

January 11th, 2024

I had intended to do a journal yesterday but with tablet issues (now resolved...more on that in a bit) and monitoring the CCA for a ruling yesterday I was out of gas by the end of the day and my brain was dead. Wednesdays can be so exhausting because I start the day off full of prayers, hope and positivity... meet up with Taffy at 8am in spirit for either a cup of cocoa or what I call a good luck root beer which we both love, say another prayer or even climb up on my bed and look out the window and the front side walk of Polunsky visualising the Dallas Sheriff's Deputies walking me to their van as they did the summer of '21 and '22. So, by the time the court rulings are posted on the legal app, I'm like a tightly wound ball of nerves.  

When the disappointment of no ruling sinks in it is like a balloon losing air. I've got to take a deep breath and refocus and go through another week and do it all again. It's both frustrating and disappointing but I suck it up and keep trucking. In G-ds time, right? There is something I'm supposed to do or learn that will eventually reveal itself and I'll think, as I have many times before when I go through something I'm not particularly pleased with or question, and I say, “Oh...So, that is why...” We don't always have the ability to see a purpose in real time. It is in our gift of hindsight that G-d will sometimes speak to us, I think. It is just allowing our selves to see it and accept it. Doesn't matter your faith. We all have this wonderful ability to see through G-d's eyes. Try it sometime. It's crazy spooky! Take any event in the past few days,usually something you may have initially seen as negative...and then find a positive moment after that event and you'll literally be able to connect the dots to see that had the negative event not happened, the positive wouldn't have either.  

My day actually ended on a positive note as my tablet problem was resolved. At the beginning of the week I was still stressed and worried that my tablet needed replacing because as I wrote earlier my tablet didn't work, and while my neighbor's charger was working on his,and even though he did say that there were times he had to jiggle his tablet to get it to work as it didn't work properly...I sent him my charger and he plugged it in saw the word charging and unplugged it quickly, not seeing IF IT ACTUALLY DID CHARGE...we both feared the worst about my tablet.  

As I expected, Monday morning was a mess and I couldn't get anyone to help me get Securus to look at the tablet so by the afternoon I was down to just 40% juice and worried...But I had a little niggle eating at me saying, ' Try another charger...' so I asked another guy a couple of cells down if I could try his out for a second. I fished it in, took a deep breath plugged it in...the screen blinked as it normally would and the word Charging popped up at the same time the blue indicator light turned to a flashing purple indicating it was charging! I let out a huge YES! and the guy let me use it until my tablet was fully charged. He said I could use it as I needed, which was such a huge relief but now I had to tackle the issue of ordering a new charger at an over priced $15.99 plus tax, and waiting weeks if not more for Securus to deliver it. I wasn't happy about that at all especially since the cheap piece of junk died on its own and wasn't my fault at all. I took care of it! Always unplugged it when it wasn't in use, kept it from getting banged around etc. Our whole set up is initially provided for free from securus...but replacement products such as ear buds and charger are our responsibility no matter if it is our fault or not. That's the rub! You are forced to buy an over priced item like cheaply wired ear buds for 20.00 dollars when in reality they probably cost Securus pennies on the dollar to make knowing they will HAVE to be replaced every few months from wear and tear...It really is predatory, but when you're the only game in the business and you're ripping off inmates and their families, who cares? So, they will replace the tablet for free ONLY if they see that the inmate didn't abuse or tamper with it. If they feel the inmate broke it, the inmate has to fork over $130.00 to receive a replacement. Now, that I understand because there are some guys who foolishly believe they'll crack the code to unlock it and gain access to the actual internet...which is not happening. Or there are those that want to try and jump sound circuits to boost the volume...Troop has told me some crazy stories of guys currently without tablets because of their own idiocy. Others just don't care at all because they have no support, and intentionally break the tablet, or any state provided item for that matter, in an act of defiance or anarchy. Most of the time, though, the stuff breaks naturally because it really is the cheapest of quality. Before I purchased a new charger though, I thought I'd try a different route through an officer that often deals with Securus and has access to surplus items for guys that are indigent or need a loaner until something can be purchased. I asked one of the field ministers to explain my situation and he did and told me they were busy but they'd get back with me in a couple of days to check out my issue. I was so grateful that I wouldn't have cared if it took a week! I had settled in to the day far less anxious about that situation and when it was close to shift change I was just about to ask the guy a few cells down to use his charger when suddenly the officer popped up to my cell, opened my slot and handed me a brand new spankin' fancy smancy Chinese made charger still in the wrapper. I told them I'd return it as soon as I purchased a new one and they told me to give them my broken one and call it even. I was so appreciative of not just that but going out of their way to get it to me before they left work! It meant a lot to me and reminds me that even in a place that is often devoid of humanity, either on the side of Inmates or Officers, there are plenty of genuinely good people that work here and are more than their job title. Yeah, there are plenty of mean spirited officers or those who are generally apathetic to our conditions or treatment, but the same can be said of certain inmates that see them as the enemy no matter who they are or how they act. I've been guilty of an ' Us v. Them ' bias from time to time for no other reason than the fact I'm an inmate and they are a guard. A lot of it just comes from years of incarceration and mistreatment . Just as I know some of the initial bias from Officers comes from their being told not to trust inmates which is understandable...I get it. Prison is a pit of vipers. But stick around long enough and a person's nature will reveal itself and Officers can discern bad inmates from the good one's and inmates pick up real quickly the jerks from those that know their job and the professional barriers they must keep, but can also show their humanity.  

Humanity can and should exist in prison. It just requires a culture change on both sides, and that's something very important to me as a long term goal. It goes hand in hand with what I've written about my desire to live a life of service to others. I really believe that the most important piece of the puzzle to reduce recidivism is changing prison culture. There are a handful of administrative officials that believe that as well and a large group of inmates - ironically 'lifers' - like some of the Field Ministers, Life Coaches and those that participate in the prison radio station. Our only barriers to change are those on the outside ( certain anti prisoner rights activists and politicians ) who hold on to antiquated views on what they believe is ' Justice ' and those on the inside that treat prison like it has to be a concrete jungle where there can only be predator or prey or time for them to find the next great street hustle, where respect is earned by throwing fists and if you're kind, you're weak. A growing number of us reject that and are trying to change that mentality. You can't expect a freed prisoner to be a productive member of any community if they can't first act as a community member amongst their peers within prison. You can't expect a person to build a house without the proper education and tools first. You'd think it would be a no brainer.

For the most part, Death Row has always been a microcosm of culture change because we know without community and looking out for one another we'll drown. Even if someone doesn't like another person, if they're in need they will typically find help. Prison as a whole will take more effort but it is possible...But society has to be willing to give administrators with bold ideas a chance without protesting that prisoners have it too easy...For inmates it requires us to project kindness towards others as the dominant force. To reject cruelty and expect accountability not just for what got them locked up, but for our treatment of one another. For me, it's speaking to that young person who feels there is no hope, or has given up because I was once that same young person.  

Anyways, for me, when I've experienced the kindness of another be it guard or inmate, I'm grateful that all isn't lost. Even if sometimes my sarcasm or retorts sometimes come off a bit sharp or unintentionally jerkish, I'm hyper aware of the value of kindness and do my best to be both kind and gracious when kindness is given to me. Yep...The kindness of an officer towards a death row inmate deserved my thoughts in respects to the gesture! Gotta pay it forward now.

As for today, it started a bit chaotic with two new officers on the floor. They were totally unprepared for what a day of rec. on B pod can throw at them. These officers really are undertrained but TDCJ is so desperate to get them in place, they spend little time learning the parts of their job that keep things running timely and smoothly. But to the crew working today they figured out things after the first round. For some it takes months! Everything levelled out by second round. I was initially scheduled to go outside 4th round and I worried I'd never make it, but was bumped to 2nd round which was lovely! The fresh air did me a world of good. I came in, went straight to the shower and just like that the day was done. I had planned on watching the series Vikings tonight on the Unit channel but skipped it to do this long journal...I'll make up for it with movies over the three day holiday weekend. I can't wait! Some really good ones I've waited years to finally see are in the line up. Now it's time to get ready for bed and wind down for the night!  

Courage. Strength. Hope and Faith.

Peace

January 7th, 2024

It's been a stressful weekend worrying that my tablet is about to bite the dust. The trouble started Friday afternoon when before I went to the shower I plugged in my charger. When I came back from the shower I looked at my tablet and noticed the percentage hadn't changed. That has happened before and sometimes the barrel connector just needs a little jiggle and it'll kick in. Its not like we have a name brand tablet and charger...it isn't even a USB charger, its a cheap clear plastic charger with one of those ends on it that you see with certain appliances. Well, the jiggle didn't work and the tablet still wouldn't charge. I was now worried the charger was broken but my neighbor offered to try it out on his and so I sent it to him to test on his tablet and it was working fine. He sent me his charger and it wouldn't work on mine and my heart sank because it meant it was something to do with tablet itself. Now, if it was an easy process to get a replacement tablet it wouldn't be that big of a deal, but it is a nightmare because it can take weeks even months for Securus to do anything. All of our communication is solely digital now. So, if the tablet runs out of juice before I can get a replacement I'll be dependent upon the mail room to print up copies of messages which I've heard from a couple of guys who have had to replace their tablets that it's a task in and of itself. Whoever said technology makes life easier is a liar...it only adds a whole lot of unnecessary stress when it doesn't work right!  

Anyways, tomorrow is Monday so I'll begin my campaign to get a replacement tablet. Saturday was spent catching up on things until three then I paused for a bit to spend some time with Taffy. We do it several times a week just to be doing the same thing at the same time because it keeps us connected in the moment and it's nice as well. I listened to the classic rock show on The Tank until four then I settled in to watch some movies on the section tv. I missed the first Paranormal Activity movie but watched part two and three which were surprisingly better than I expected. It took me almost 24 years to see Blair Witch Project and I thought it was just so so...They did much better with the P A movies... After that we watched an action thriller with Liam Neeson and then an action movie called Dead Lock. Another movie came on after that but I was running on empty and hit the hay sleeping all the way until 7:30am, and I feel all the better for it.  

In this new week they are supposed to be shifting some guys who will no longer participate in classes and bring some new people in who do want to do it. I have a feeling I'll probably be shifted to another cell as well just because I've been in my current cell since the and of June. I've got prime real estate in terms of a view to the tv so it's possible I could be moved to a cell with a bad view...but we'll see. I love my movies but it won't kill me if I can't see them. I just hope I don't get moved to B section...there are a couple of guys over there that really test a person's patience so being far removed from them is a blessing.  

Well, here's to a new week with hope for good things. We shall see. Foot ball is on now which I don't care about unless the Cowboys play so I'm going to listen to some Star Wars marathon!  

Courage. Strength. Hope and Faith.

Peace


  
January 3rd, 2024

So...yesterday marked the end to the holidays and a big surprise for those of us who got up early for rec, just in case it was happening. The officer working the floor went into each day room at six in the morning and dropped a piece of paper on the table, and when someone asked what that was all about he said, " New rec. schedule" and walked off. They didn't start rec. until a little after 8am and the first guy out read it and I could see from his body language it wasn't good and so I asked what the schedule was. He said they had cut our rec. down to just two days for each section. One day inside and one day outside...which meant that the other five days we're trapped in the cell. Out of seven days we get out of our cell for a total of four hours...granted there is always the possibility of extra time at rec. with lazy officers....but still. We were not happy.  

Since being here in 2003 we've gone from rec. every day and as the years ticked by and people stopped working in prisons which started even before the pandemic, we're now down to almost no rec. at all. I wrote in my epic new years journal about the looming crisis Texas prisons face and this is just the prologue... And there isn't much in regards to no rec. that anyone can do because no staff affects security and security gives carte blanche to limit movement, recreation, not do showers etc. It sucks...but it is the reality of the situation and we've no choice but to accept that. BUT there are reasonable solutions that TDCJ CAN consider and implement that present no threat to security. Things that mitigate a lack of recreation or being able to get out of the cell... It's simple: Access to more content on the tablet such as the available pod cast, news paper app and media app. The first one is free to inmates and offers myriad educational and shows for those that can't afford anything else. The other two come at a cost, but only to the prisoner. That would give people more to do in their cells instead of go crazy or become a powder keg of frustration. Even if you hate death row prisoners or just prisoners in general you've got to see the potential risks to all involved when there are no other outlets for a person locked up in a cell 24/7...If you are fiscally minded think about the additional costs for prison health care both mentally and physically. Think about the risk to staff if an inmate blows or has a mental break down. What if an inmate attempts to take their own life and they have to rush them to the hospital which requires additional staff to leave the unit to escort the inmate... There's a guy back here that used to go by "Big Cat"... We used to play basketball, work out together, have conversations about politics,comic books,movies etc. The pandemic hit and that time being trapped in his cell indefinitely broke him. It broke a few dudes...but he has mentally slipped more than others. He now goes by " Big Chief Sky Wolf " and claims to be the prophesied last great indigenous Chief to all of the Native American tribes. He chants loudly at all times of the day and believes that his neighbor is trying to electrocute him through his table...He is a shell of the person he used to be. Yesterday at rec. he told me learned fluent Hebrew and then began to speak gibberish. It hurt my heart to see what has happened to him and others. All many of us are asking is just to have a fraction of what those serving a capital life sentence have at no risk to security. That's all...  

So, it's been no rec. today but at least they did showers...  

Courage. Strength. Hope and Faith  

Peace


  
December 31st, 2023

I pray that all who read this will be blessed in this soon to be new year of 2024. I have a very good feeling it's going to be a good year no matter how insane the political climate is, no matter how crazy the world may seem right now. Don't allow it to grip you in fear or poison your heart...don't give darkness that control over you. Go into the new year in love and light and make people wonder what you're smiling about. That smile just might be infectious and turn someone's bad day into a good one.  

I don't know how much longer the CCA is going to make me wait before its ruling, but as I told Taffy, while the wait has been frustrating at times, all it has done is allowed me the time to rack up accomplishments and set me up for a promising future in service to others. I wouldn't have achieved two certificates in the self improvement classes, Voyager, and I wouldn't have been able to do Kairos or join the new set of classes in the program I'm in. Even if a ruling comes before I complete it, I can still show I didn't waste my time and I did something both constructive and positive with my life while on death row WITHOUT the guarantee I'd even survive this place, which is still seemingly undecided. I'll continue to do what I can to learn and grow.  

It's been a peaceful weekend and I've watched a few movies...one I highly recommend is in Spanish with English subtitles that was so funny and full of heart. It's called "Instructions Not Included "...The story centers around a very immature womanizer whose world is suddenly turned upside down when one of his one night stands shows up with a baby and says he must raise her because she can't... Which he does in unconventional ways that are hilarious. And even when most would accuse him of being irresponsible, it's abundantly clear he falls in love with the girl and wants what is best for her. There's a bit of a twist towards the end as well. I didn't think I'd be able to follow the movie very well because its difficult reading subtitles from my cell, but I was pulled in and loved it. I want to say I think the Mexican actor has won some foreign film awards before because he looked familiar. So, that comes Randy approved and that is better than two thumbs up.  

I'm planning an epic journal for new years day, writing it by hand which is something I've not done in ages. I'm just going to write whatever is on my heart in the moment and see what comes of it. So, you've been warned whenever a January 1st 2024 entry pops up. I'll send it snail mail to be posted which might take some time, but it will come.

Hmmm. What else? I think I'll share a few of my often random thoughts to close out the year : Is it a bit ironic that you can tease me for liking musicals like The Wizard Of Oz saying it is some " Gay ass shit ,dude " and then see a commercial for the new Barbie movie and in complete seriousness say " I bet that's a good movie. " ? Why is no one pouring into the streets protesting Russia's indiscriminate bombings on civilians and its illegal occupation of Ukraine's Crimean territory? Who are these people in the world that roll out of bed and start their days with Fox and Friends? Why after so many years later do I occasionally hear the same person sing " Let It Go " from Frozen?( I hope he never stops ) What would I do for a Klondike bar? I don't think I have ever actually had a Klondike bar...I've had a choco taco ( may it rest in peace ) made by Klondike so I really don't know how far I'd go to have one. Yes, these are real random thoughts that I have! Okay...I'm done being goofy for the night! Here's to hoping that 2024 is a good one for everyone.  

Courage. Strength. Hope and Faith.  

Peace

December 28th, 2023

I do a lot of reflecting this time of year because it marks the time when everything went wrong 23 years ago...so there is atonement and thinking of ways to give back by being of service to others, but also trying to change prison culture so that a young person in prison doesn't feel as hopeless as I once did.

So, as I was thinking this past week I had a few thoughts/ ideas that people might explore. As some might know, the only distinction between a capital life and capital death sentence is the sentence itself...yet, for whatever reason the administration and certain pro death proponents and politicians have continually treated death row prisoners with disdain and restrictions. Never mind that Texas Death Row is factually the most well behaved group of inmates in the TDCJ system. TDCJ has created incentive programs for the worst behaved inmates to promote good behavior, but for death row who is already well behaved zero incentive exists. We are limited in the people we can call, the content on the tablet, recreation etc...A G5 classified inmate - which houses true knuckle heads - can qualify for a video visit, but death row can't.  It's time to start asking people in charge WHY? Why such heavy handed restrictions when we ARE well behaved? I don't know how it works from state to state but in Texas, death row prisoners belong to the county. They are turned over to TDCJ until the time of their execution date, but the bills: food, medical, housing, etc. goes to the county of the condemned. This begs a question that may require a financial audit. How much is the state billing the counties per inmate? It might be worth asking county commissioners this question. Another thing to ask them is if they are aware of the restrictions within TDCJ towards a person with a death sentence. Especially within the more progressive larger counties. If a person goes back to Harris County for a hearing they get a tv in their cell, can go to rec. every day, can make unlimited calls to whoever accepts the calls. Other counties have the same as well and some even offer unlimited access to content on their tablets...but as soon as they return to TDCJ after their hearing or trial, they lose it all. Are counties aware of this and do they have a say in HOW a death row prisoner is treated? If they are paying the bills, shouldn't they? Why does that suddenly change within TDCJ on death row? Furthermore, why does a person serving capital life through their good behavior have full privileges, but a capital death doesn't? Why treat one group of people with the same crime - sometimes even far worse or heinous - different than us? It makes zero sense in the mind of a person on death row. Even the women on death row have full access on their tablets and a jury has deemed them just as unredeemable as a man with a death sentence. Why the disparity? Ask questions!  

Anyways, the day was actually good today. I went to rec. before 7am got a good exercise in, went straight to the shower after, and then unwound for the rest of the day as we wait for the unit channel to start the first five episodes of the series Vikings. I hope it's good. We go back into holiday mode tomorrow and the day begins with the movie Avarice, an Aussie movie, followed by eight episodes of the series Wednesday which is surprisingly good. Jenna Ortega plays a really good Wednesday Adams. I grew up with Christina Ricci in that role and I think Jenna Ortega does it much better.  

Well, here's to a very happy new year and blessings to all. Thank you so much for the years spent following my life and I'm really hoping to have many more years, G-d willing...Here's to 2024.  

Courage. Strength. Hope and Faith  

Peace

  
December 27th, 2023

Whew...today was a crazy exhausting day. Not bad, just a bit chaotic. I woke up at 5:45am, got out of bed and exercised early, fully expecting staff shortages because of the holidays, but then after 8am a guard came through setting up recreation and told me I'd be fourth round. Well, as late as it was, I knew the odds were against me to get to rec. so I tried a new strategy to lower my frustration and the stress of worrying if I would or wouldn't make it to rec.  I asked to go to the shower but to leave my recreation slot open just in case I would make it...Around third round, surprisingly, a slot came open and I made it...but only for an hour when the guards were told to shut everything down. No more recs, no more showers...So, had I waited all day without that proactive move for an early shower it would be day five without one for me. Confusing? Yeah...I'm just happy to have had both and I think I'll start doing that from here on out. It only took me 21 years to figure that one out! Ha ha.

I was talking to a guy who was down in the dumps because he has an intellectual disability and is trying to get a life sentence under what is known as the Bobby Moore standard, ruled on by the supreme court in favor of a guy who used to be on Texas Death row. The standard is basically that anyone who scores under 70 on their IQ is ineligible for death, and should receive a life sentence. So, the guy recently went to a hearing and argued he was intellectually disabled based on his testing, but his judge used an old test from the 1990s that had him above the 70 mark and his judge ruled against him and now he is worried that the court of criminal appeals will side with the Judge, which is probably true. I tried to lift his hopes up by explaining that the same thing happened to Bobby Moore and the Supreme Court wouldn't let it fly, and to not give up and hang in there. I don't know if that helped as he pretty much believed he was a goner. It's hard to see guys give up.  

And now the day is winding down and I'm kicking back. I'll probably listen to some music and be in bed early tonight. Gotta keep energy strong for the holiday movie marathon this weekend!  

Courage. Strength. Hope and Faith.  

Peace

December 26th, 2023

It's the day after Christmas and unusually quiet in this place. We expected staff shortages and no rec. or showers but it still never quite sits right with us that we have to go four or five days without a shower...I take a daily bath in my sink and it suffices. I can't speak for everyone else but the stink in the air tells me someone ain't hitting the water!  

My morning started with some prayers and a message to Taffy and then I listened to an Interpol album on the prison radio station which is always a nice way to start the day. The day before Field Minister Troop said he might come with a movie on the big screens and true to his word he came rolling in a little after seven in the morning. He had Gary along side of him and as he set the equipment up I talked to Gary a bit. His wife runs a ministry for prisoners and their families which is cool, and their website is www.death2lifeprisonministries.org, and I recommend checking that out.  

When the equipment was set up for the section we watched two new movies: Blue Beetle, which was surprisingly good and an amazing movie based on a true story called Gran Turismo...Let me tell you, watching that movie on the big HiFi screens was like being right in the race car. The movie is based on a true story and done just right. Shortly after the movies our meal came and we had chicken, brisket, buttered potatoes, green bean salad, Coleslaw, beans, celery sticks, olives and a big giant biscuit. Our desert tray was several slices of cake and a piece of pumpkin pie.  

The rest of the day my section watched movies on the section tv in the day room and a football game at night. It's back on movies for the day today. I'm most looking forward to the new scifi epic called the Creator.  

So, today when I woke up and started my morning I wanted to get my head back into a good space. I've felt weighted by a lot of things like the long wait on the CCA, some surprising anti Semitism from people around me, and in the anti death penalty movement, and just the general conditions of this place. But I believe that life is what we make it and with a little bit of positivity and proactive work, myself and a few others feel we can hopefully make things a bit better back here...But we really need the help of people who care about these things out there. When it comes to us on death row it makes little sense to us that we are treated so differently than inmates NOT on death row. When your inmate field ministers - some of whom are serving capital life sentences - have the proverbial keys to the castle because either their county decided not to seek death or it came down to just a jury deciding to spare their life...when there are people in general population who might have commuted far more heinous or habitual crimes and they have jobs, full and complete access to their tablets, contact visits and a 20 person call list...all we want to know and hope is that people who care on the outside can call or email people in administrative positions, or people of influence, and ask why?...Why all of the arbitrary restrictions especially when death row IS the most well behaved inmate population in Texas? That's just a simple fact. Why the boot on the neck? If TDCJ has been creating incentive programs for the worst behaved inmates throughout the system, where is the incentive for the most well behaved? Why should a death sentence be a part of the equation? If you are someone who cares, please start asking these questions.  

So, that's one of my goals for 2024. Some will ask why do I care if I might get off of death row? I care because it makes zero sense to me that a capital life sentence has myriad privileges and a capital death sentence doesn't. If the punishment is death or a capital life sentence why then make such arbitrary distinctions? But that's my opinion, I suppose.  

And those are my thoughts for today.  

Courage. Strength. Hope and Faith  

Peace.

December 24th, 2023

I woke up at 7am this morning after going to bed at 11pm last night. I was watching The Matrix Resurrection and was quite excited to finally be able to see that movie as I loved the original trilogy but the reboot was so dull and unoriginal. It was awful. So, I decided to get some sleep. Now, the movie before it was excellent and I highly recommend it...an indie movie called Desperation Road. Three seemingly different events in people's lives put them on a collision course. The story was very heavy and emotional but the acting was excellent. It's still sitting in my brain.  

Well, it's Christmas Eve and as you know a difficult time for me because of what is attached to it...In a way I'm glad the courts didn't make a ruling in the past couple of weeks coming on 23 years since that awful night. It would have probably unleashed a fury of pain and hate towards me...which I would understand. But this holiday in particular I've been thinking a lot about forgiveness. When we had the pizza party over a week ago one of the guests was a minister named Kevin Rambsy. I knew his story from before by watching his videos on our Pando app...It's called Stabbed 37x and he talks about how a man broke into his home and stabbed him over and over until he almost died. Miraculously he didn't and he has built a ministry around not only forgiving his attacker, but guiding victims of other crimes into forgiveness so that they aren't controlled by the event or their victimizer. It's really powerful stuff, and I wish more people could learn to forgive. It's always difficult for me to carry the weight of feeling unforgiven either by my own family or the Police Officer's family, or my initial crime that put me in prison. I can say and tell others that I know my heart, but what good is that if they refuse to look at my heart? It's tough... But it doesn't make me want to give up or continue on this path I am on. I'm not perfect and wouldn't even try to pretend I am, but I do want to truly live a life in service to others and I've done and continue to do all that I can to pave that path...How else do I give back?  

I was talking to a life coach the other day and he said the meal for tomorrow should be really good so everyone back here is looking forward to that. Because of staff shortages, it's been sack meals for lunch and dinner yesterday and will probably be the same for today. Taffy and I will be doing It's a Wonderful Life together this afternoon. They posted the movie on the Pando app, along with three other movies for the holidays - 8 Bit Christmas which was pretty funny, as well as the remake of the Bishop's Wife, called The Preacher's Wife with Denzel Washington playing an angel... Anyways, I started the tradition of watching It's a Wonderful Life in my first year of being on Death Row many years ago and it resonated with me and stuck. Having someone to share it with makes it all the better.  

It feels a bit weird that this is the last week of the year. It went by in such a breeze, but as a friend told me recently, that's what old people say! Time really flies. Ha ha. I guess that makes me officially old. Who would've thought it?  

Field Minister Troop just stopped by and said that tomorrow he might try to give us a movie on the big screens which would be cool and a nice Christmas treat. Well, I guess I'll go back to reflecting on life as I do each year around this time. Keep peace in your hearts...

Courage. Strength. Hope and Faith  

Peace

  
December 19th, 2023

It's looking like it will be another day of no recreation or showers. It'll probably be like this until after the holidays are over. There was a brief bit of hope for a second as the floor officer began to schedule the recreations but nothing transpired since then. All you can do is shrug your shoulders and carry on with the day. Okay...scratch that...they have training officers to start rec. and showers!!!  

So, there's a prison newspaper produced by inmates throughout Texas called The Echo which has gone to a digital format on our tablets and I was reading it yesterday. One of the articles was an interview with the TDCJ Executive Director, Brian Collier. To his credit he has implemented a lot of innovative programs and ideas that have transformed Texas prisons. They are starting a new incentive program based on European prison models that turn prison pods into dorm like settings with game tables, huge TVs, real chairs etc...and for the trouble makers that are designated G4 or G5 they will also implement an incentive program for them starting with 65-85 inch televisions, a pop corn machine and rumors of a playstation video game system (!) if they behave. It created quite the fury back here amongst some of the guys on death row because we are probably one of the most well behaved inmate populations in Texas and we receive zero incentive or 'reward' for that good behavior. In fact, it's quite the opposite, especially concerning the tablets, because unlike every other inmate classification other than AD-SEG, Death row has no games, movies, or music on their tablet. We can't even have the news app or free podcasts...Forget a play station - they even blocked us from having the free tic tac toe and Sudoku games that are pre-loaded on the tablet! In the article Executive Director Collier encouraged inmates to write him with suggestions and so we are talking about a letter campaign amongst us and also seeing if we can start an email campaign from outside to push for more available content on the tablets, or even an in-cell tv...As of now the tv we watch only reaches inmates with cells in the line of sight to the tv. Many on each section cannot see the tv and others with poor health or eyesight can't stand at the door for long periods of time. Also,with the lack of recreation, some other form of stimuli needs to be available - the simple solution is either access to the media app or an in-cell tv.  

So, hopefully we can get these letters and emails out. My on-going argument for the podcasts is there is a plethora of available Christian content on the tablets. But nothing for other faiths which the podcast app has...When I was in Dallas I could listen to various Jewish podcasts and services available. We shall see what happens.  

Last Friday we did have a pizza party for all of death row that the church called Bikers For Christ provided. That was nice of them. Everyone received a large Dominos pizza. This is the second time in the past year we've had real pizza. I do Its A Wonderful Life every year. Before the era of the television and tablets I would listen to it on my radio and made a tradition of it and yes, there are a lot of Jewish themes in the movie so I never viewed it as solely Christian or Christmas...for me it was inspirational because even at our lowest in life, when we believe we have no value, our lives affect others in ways we can't always see and I chose to try to live a life that affected others in positive ways to atone for my past mistakes. I'm looking forward to it again this year as Taffy and I do it together as a family tradition each year – this will be our 7th!  

Well, we shall see what tomorrow brings. Happy Holidays and blessings to everyone!  

Courage. Strength. Hope and Faith.

Peace.
  
November 25th, 2023

Another Thanksgiving on death row and a special time of the year to reflect on the things I'm grateful for like the air I breathe, my Taffy, and friends. I am trying to move forward with a better sense of gratitude and positivity in spite of the sometimes difficult moments in this place. Even in the darkest of places, I am blessed with the things that matter the most and that is all that matters. People build their own prisons around themselves and true freedom comes from within... Gotta be more mindful of that at times.  

Thanksgiving was good though, and we had Turkey, mashed potatoes, green bean salad, cranberry sauce, coleslaw, and other food...With the holidays I've been staying up late for movies but sleeping in late and sleeping pretty good because it has been so cold. Although I have had some very weird and scary dreams because I have watched some horror movies and just watched Saw X last night before I went to sleep...it was so gruesome that I had had enough of scary movies for the night and skipped the last two that were scheduled...I just wanted to see what the Saw hype was all about with those movies and...whew....definitely not for the squeamish or light hearted. Today I skipped the first movie of the day to clean my cell, catch up on homework that is due on Monday morning and along with other duties...The holiday set me back a bit but that is to be expected.  

On Saturday field minister Troop stopped by to show us two movies. He's doing two sections a day on the big screens as a holiday treat. We watched two action movies : The Mother and Plane. While he was showing the other section the movies he came back to chat and so I asked him what was planned for the program restructuring for the classes I'm taking and he said this week he plans on talking to the Major about who is remaining in the program and who has quit because many have as I expected. Those who quit will be moved off of the section and they will bring new people in and reboot the program beginning the first week of January. The class I'm taking right now will continue until I leave or finish so that will be good as I don't have to start all over. I'm ten weeks in, you know? And if I'm still to be here...which I obviously hope I'm not, there is still another 16 weeks of classes...He also told me about the group recreation program for those that have qualified and that will be on A section. I can't participate in that because of my escape 23 years ago which hurts as it has been so long and I'm not that young foolish barely adult any longer... but it is what it is..So, the goal is to make the side of B pod that I live on about those who want to better themselves and have it be more positive and goal driven. The new field minister, Gary, will be over most of the programming and teaching which is cool because I really like this guy. He is really focused and wants to make changes to the prison culture...one of my goals as well. He along with the life coaches will be a great addition to the growing changes. It's cool to be a part of though. Should I get another chance at life I definitely want to carry this forward.  

I just paused to catch a few movies...I just watched a wild action movie called Kate and a drama thriller called I Care A Lot which was excellent. I can't believe another Thanksgiving holiday has come to pass...time is going by so fast and of course, I hope in the coming weeks I'll have a positive ruling for a new trial. In a couple of weeks it will be exactly one year since the recommendation for a new trial. We shall see what happens... Happy Thanksgiving!  

Courage. Strength. Hope and Faith.  

Peace.  

November 11th, 2023

Happy Veterans Day. It's a cold, wet and grey Saturday and I felt like doing a journal today and skipping a movie or two. The first movie of the day was The Maze Runner and now part two is on. I enjoyed reading the books years ago, but the movies are so so...A lot of these movies based on young adult fiction or sci fi movies all have the same look to them. Its difficult to distinguish movies like the Hunger Games, Divergence, or the Maze Runner...not that the novels are much different either! haha. Last night I watched Black Hawk Down which was just brutal, but a fantastic movie.  

Yesterday I had a legal visit and was able to get out of my cell for an hour. What was funny about it though, is another inmate came back earlier from his legal visit and he had this spring in his step. As the guards escorted him back to his section he yelled out for everyone to hear, "They got microwaves out there now and are selling pizza!" Now, this guy isn't the most reliable source for information and I told my neighbor I was sceptical about that. I mean...really...microwaves and pizza? My neighbor's response had the entire section laughing when he said, "I know a fat dude's body language. He was literally bouncing on his toes with excitement. He's telling the truth!" We all started to laugh because the guy was literally springing on his toes. So, I went out there at about 4pm and one of my attorneys asked if I wanted some pizza and I was like..uh, heck yeah! He got me an individual small deep dish pizza, a salad, and some chips. The pizza was heavenly! Now, before anyone gets all twisted up that they sell pizza to prisoners...these proceeds go to a charity to help people with various disorders and a blind charity...so, it's giving back to the community. The visit was more or less a courtesy visit to say hello because there is still no news on my case. We're still waiting on the courts.  

Today a church group passed out cookies to the entire prison which was a nice treat. Field Ministers Gary and Troop helped and said they had some good news for my section but were in a hurry and would come back to share it with us later. I'm curious as to what it is! I also found out that Field Minister Terry Solley made parole and he said he'd come and visit me in Dallas should I receive a new trial. He's going to be a free world minister and already has a church that has hired him and he'll becoming back INTO PRISON here as a free world volunteer which I think is amazing and commendable...spend half your life as a prisoner, earn your freedom, and then come back to help the guys you've left behind. Talk about sacrifice. It's amazing to see so much change for the better in prison. Are there things that absolutely suck? Yes. Do I expect a country club? No...prison should carry some punishment and losing our freedom is a part of that punishment for the people we've hurt. But to see a culture change... To finally invest in the prisoner instead of just treating them like animals or humiliating them...knowing that most of these guys will eventually return to society and become your neighbors...It's working! Many guys are living productive and better lives. It's slow going work, but changes are working. Now if only politicians would see the benefit in investing in poor communities or crime ridden areas and contribute to a nation wide culture change. That is how you solve the crime problems. Give value to their lives and they will see the value in themselves. I do think that is the key to easing crime and recidivism.  

I'm hoping the new week will be one of positivity and good news. I just can't believe the month is flying by so fast! And finally I heard that my friend Clinton got his spot back on the Execution Watch show which is good news!  

Courage. Strength. Hope and Faith.

Peace.

November 8th, 2023

I really can't believe that it's another month and time is flying by so fast. I continue to slack with these journals and it isn't that my heart isn't in it, it's just that I have my mind on a thousand other things and can't seem to commit them to an entry.  

Right now I'm really upset that someone who is involved in death penalty issues and death row rights has somehow managed to threaten the progressive radio station and had my friend, and ex death row inmate, Clinton Young, removed from being a voice on the Execution Watch show that is broadcast during executions. This person made up a complete lie perpetuated by haters who hate that he won his freedom and this is again one of multiple times that this so called anti death penalty activist has in turn hurt men on death row. We all know who this person is and we have zero respect for them and do not want their support or voice acting as an expert on all things death row related. It really has my ire and it's taking a considerable amount of restraint not to out them. As the old Jewish adage goes - 'It's better to be kind than right'.  

Well, it's another week and CCA day so I'm saying my prayers and keeping positive regardless of the wait and whether or not the ruling comes today...It will come and hopefully soon. Now that the election cycle is over maybe something will happen quickly now, not that it probably makes much of a difference. I'll say this...if they were to rule against me right now in this anti Jewish climate it would make them look really, really bad and so I do wonder if they will also consider that moving forward.  

I don't know what's going on with today's rec. The guards seem to be dragging their feet so it looks like it will be a long day with not much of anything being done. I do have a class today at one...which speaking of, I was getting know one of the new Field Ministers, an inmate named Gary and I really like him. He's been locked up since he was 18, made a lot of the same mistakes I did at a young age but wanted to be a better person...He is serving a life sentence and about ten years ago became a Christian and decided he wanted to help young people coming into prison not make the same mistakes he made. We have a lot in common. I like that he is smart and humble as well. We talked for a while about our mission/ goals. Of course, his is from a Christian perspective but we definitely found common ground in our goals. Several guys have already dropped out of the class I'm taking as I predicted they would...he told me he told another field minister that he wants to restructure the classes and move some people over here that are serious about the work, but we also talked about the idea of using this section and classes where I currently live, to get these other men on B pod more privileges as well. Right now the spot light is always on the faith pod A pod, and he wants to restructure our section on B pod so that we get a bit of much deserved credit and attention. I like his vision. He said that with me doing this now, and should I get a new trial, we can then use this idea and myself to hopefully benefit men in ad seg. That is where I've been focusing a lot of visualising towards...changing Ad Seg. Even right now I'm trying to get the life coaches some equipment so the Ad Seg men can take classes and maybe watch a movie if their behavior is good. It has me hopeful.  

Wow....they're shutting everything down for a shelter in place warning due to a chemical plant explosion. They just turned off our ventilation system as a precaution and locked down the entire unit. It looks like it's going to be another week without a ruling as I can find nothing on my case yet. Here's to hoping on next week.  

Courage. Strength. Hope and Faith.  

Peace.


October 14th, 2023

As I begin this it's Saturday morning and the place is so quiet and peaceful with the lights still out so I don't know that we will get recreation or not. I think the building is short staffed. I'd like to go outside and jog or play some ball but if we are stuck in our cell at least the movie channel is on and we have that back. Yesterday we watched five episodes of the series Yellowstone. I think we are on the third season. That show is so good. Maybe one of my favorites of all time. I'd have to say it would go Lost, Justified and now Yellowstone. After those ended the movie Split came on. It's a thriller about a man with multiple personalities that kidnaps people to feed one of his personalities called The Beast...pretty weird. There was a twist at the end but no spoilers here!  

We have no idea what is on today starting at 8am. Yesterday the field minister,Troop, came by and said they are going to do a new pilot program concerning death row and rec. They've selected 14 people to move together onto the same section and try what is called "Group Recreation"where they can all leave their cells at the same time and go back and forth to their cells from rec. at their leisure. BUT those selected have to pass a security approval first and he said someone like myself with the escape on my record wouldn't pass that approval. So, I won't be able to participate in this new program, sadly. Sins from almost 24 years ago still haunt me. They've already picked the people and will move them in the coming weeks. We shall see how it works out. Surprisingly, Troop said many guys have said they don't want to be selected.  

The movie I still Believe is starting. It's a depressing movie! I've seen it a couple of times and I cry every time.  

It looks so lovely outside and was only going to be in the 70s for a high so I know it would have felt amazing if we could have gotten outside! It will be in the 50s tonight.

Lunch time...now. the food has gotten worse since the lock down! All it was was carrots, watery beans and some kind of weird broth with about a spoon of what looked like shredded chicken guts in it. It was utterly disgusting! You wouldn't even give this stuff to a dog.  

It's 11:29am now and the next movie is Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes Of Grimwald and part of the Harry Potter franchise. I like Harry Potter but this is a really long winded and boring movie that hasn't impressed me so I'm sitting it out. I hope the next movie is better.  

1pm and the next movie up is a drama called Antoine Fisher with Denzel Washington. I might watch that and see if it is any good.  

Well, it later in the day now and I talked to a new life coach from the Hughes Unit. Dude looked like he was in his twenties and said he was 42 years old! He seemed cool and we talked about how I wanted to be a life coach. There is another new life coach here that used to be on death row. I knew this guy when I was 25 years old and we even played basket ball together. It goes to show that jurors can truly get it wrong with the whole ' Future threat of dangerousness' they are required to answer yes to to send someone to death row.... Everyone is capable of change and yet the state continually lies to its citizens by saying we are incapable of change. I mean just look at this last execution of Jedidiah Murphy...important people from all over the world were speaking out for him. The head TDCJ chaplain offered him a field minister job and he was denied clemency and the Supreme Court vacated his stay on a technical issue. It's crazy that a person can be executed over an interpretation of a law or precedent.  

Well, now, I'm going to chill for the rest of the day.  

Courage. Strength. Hope and Faith.

Peace.

  
October 1st, 2023

Fact: Texas' Death Row is one of the, if not the most, well behaved group of people through the Texas prison system. Need proof? For the past month the Texas penal system has been going through an intensive and extensive lock down to search for drugs and contraband. They have also been administering urine tests to each inmate and while throughout the Polunsky Unit inmates have tested positive for drug use, NOT ONE SINGLE DEATH ROW INMATE tested positive nor was any contraband discovered in our shake down last week.  

I say all of this to make a point...Why then, do death row inmates have the least privileges and access to content on their tablet such as the media app and podcast app, than anyone else in the state of Texas? Why is it that an inmate with a capital life sentence in general population can have a job, watch movies, listen to music, or play video games, and can get a discipline case for drugs, do 90 days of punishment, and then have all of his privileges reinstated...while a death row inmate who gets in no trouble at all has to continually live as if he is being punished for nothing more than his death sentence? I think these are fair questions to ask the people who run the Texas prison system and I hope there are people out there that will ask these questions.  

So, on Thursday, the pod I live on - B pod - was urine tested for drugs. They told us to drink lots of water and then two officers came to the door and told us to strip out of our clothes to make sure that we wouldn't try to cheat the test. I was handed a cup and told to pee in it...but what was odd about the whole thing was one of the officers wanted to hold a conversation with me as I was trying to pee...Talk about a strange feeling. I was thinking in my head, “Dude is just talking to me like I'm not standing in front of him with my junk out trying to pee...this is so nuts!” haha.  

Once the pod was tested and cleared, Friday came and they shook the entire pod down. I was put outside which was nice because I haven't had fresh air in a month and the sunshine was lovely. After about an hour I came back to my cell and everything was treated respectfully. Nothing was torn up, taken or strewn around the cell. I put my cell back in order and then cleaned my cell up and spent the evening watching the movie The Black Panther on the section tv. Saturday we watched the movie Selena which was so tragic and the movie Shawshank Redemption, one of the greatest movies of all time, in my opinion. We were all talking about how accurate it not just portrays life in prison, but how it got all of the different personalities right because over these many years I've met people just like some of the characters in the movie. It really is a perfect movie.  

From what we are hearing we have another week or so of this lock down and then things will go back to normal. I know that will be a nice distraction for the guys that are dreading the return of the Supreme Court tomorrow because many men are at the end of their appeals. It's a blessing to many that counties for the most part just aren't scheduling execution dates because some have had appeals over and done with for years and nothing has happened. I think if the state willed it to be, death row in Texas could be down to less than a pod. I mean right now I have a couple of my closest friends on death watch so...starting tomorrow things could get scary for many others. Still, I intend to go into the week hopeful and positive not just for myself but for the men around me. We shall see what happens.  

I just can't believe it's October already...

Courage. Strength. Hope and Faith.

Peace.

  
September 27th, 2023

I thought I'd do something a little different today and chronicle the day as I wait on news from the court. My Wednesday routine is typically planned around checking the legal app Lexis Nexis on my tablet. They post up to the minute court rulings from the State, Federal and Supreme Court.  

We've been on a lock down now for three weeks and it's expected to carry on for another two weeks! Its quite ridiculous and the meals are always bare minimum, so I feel like I'm losing weight every day, especially since I'm carrying on with my morning exercises. I did a fast for Yom Kippur and having already been hungry, it didn't feel like I was that hungry for the fast. That is because I am hungry every day. Haha. Guys are starting to get irritated and HANGRY because our food has been so paltry. Well, I will get the day started and we shall see what happens throughout the day. I'll write this throughout as I check on the news.

It's past ten in the morning now now and I expect that the CCA will start dropping rulings close to 11 or so. I'm nervous, but a part of me is equally excited. Then, another part is dreading to wait another week. I just want to know what is going to happen good or bad. My investigator visited last week and he said it wasn't unusual for the CCA to drag their feet when they face a situation in which they have to rule in an inmate's favor and for me to not get too worked up about it. Easier said than done, of course.  

It's almost noon and I started to look at the legal app and nothing was there for my ruling, but a bunch of other rulings dropped and the only death row case was a guy named Arelis Escobar...they denied him a second time after the Supreme Court had told them to look at his case again because the state admitted that a forensic expert gave false testimony...and they still denied it! It took them just over 9 months to rule on his so I really don't know what the hold up is with mine, now getting close to 10 months. It's really frustrating! Somehow I've just got to keep being patient and hopeful.

In other news they have let the Field Ministers back out and come talk to guys. My friend, Troop, said he won't be showing any movies because for now they are letting a guy with an execution date in two weeks watch some movies until he starts having his last visits with his family. It's cool that they allow that. Things certainly improved for those guys with dates since I had my execution date. We were treated really badly during that period. Such a weird time it was.  

And this has been my day. As I wrap this up they're passing out the dinner sack meals and so I'll have that and wait for the movie "We're The Millers " to come on the section tv. I've never seen it so I hope it's funny.  

Courage. Strength. Hope and Faith

Peace.

September 21st, 2023

Sorry I've slacked on this again...this place sucks so badly, and as I wait on the court to decide my fate I find myself going mentally blank at times and not having much to write about. Now we are on a month plus long security lock down due to an influx of drugs and murders across the prison system. Everything is a hot mess and you'd think the officials could get it all sorted out but this is what it is....Still, I'm going to try to start a routine of some sort.  

We were told last night that we were going to store on the 28th but we don't know if it'll be for a stamp and hygiene. Now, yesterday the death row warden said he might allow a limited regular commissary spend. That would be nice being that these sack meals are so paltry. The other piece of lock down news, and it seems to be fairly solid, is that we won't be off of the lock down until October 10th!!! Insanity! I guess even if the courts rule favorably in the coming weeks or so I'll be stuck here until mid October now...assuming that happens. It is already starting to push into November so now I'm just hoping I'm in Dallas before the new year.  

So, yesterday they FINALLY removed the stupid self harm tag from my door that had been. placed there last year as part of a new mental health program to prevent suicides. A computer program, not a psychologist, weighs different factors like sentence, age, religion - yes, it actually considers a person's faith as a self harm risk factor! Anyone that racks up over 11 points gets a self harm tag. I had 11 points because I was 45. I turned 46 last week and went to 10 points so a lady came through yesterday and no longer deemed me a danger to myself... All based on a stupid computer program based on pseudo science and pseudo psychology.  

They said on the tank that the next store will only be writing supplies and hygiene. No food until after the lock down which really sucks. That means it'll have been a month and a half without food by the time the lock down is over. Sheesh! The section is watching some movies on TNT right now but I'm sitting them out. If we can get USA on tonight I'll probably watch John Wick but that is all the tv I'm doing today. I'm kind of burned out on the same old stuff on tv. I've barely been watching any thing unless I've not seen it, though there is always an exception for the classics such as a Star Wars movie or Back To The Future. Those never get old! haha I'm ready for fall and cooler weather. It's been so miserably hot this past summer, even in these cells with tempered air, it was hot. We are still in the 90's here in Livingston, but things might begin to get cooler starting next week. I was telling my Taffy that this year I want to skip fall and go straight into winter.  

One of my closest friends back here has an execution date scheduled for next month and while I hope for a stay, I'm dreading it. It'll really hurt me. I've some of my best memories of this place, times where I could just be goofy and laugh with that dude inspite of this place and I might share some of those moments in future entries.  

Well, again, I'll try to get back into writing regularly...

Courage. Strength. Hope and Faith

Peace.

August 26th, 2023

It's been a humdinger of a few days! My fan died and so I've spent the last few days miserable in the cell. I donated a fan to the indigent program not long ago and of course I didn't expect that the other fan I had would up and quit. So goes life, I suppose...haha.

Today they did make up recreation for last Tuesday. Apparently this new warden told the ranking supervisors and officers that there would be no more sitting around on their butts, and if they had the man power, both first and second shift will be doing recreation. Now, I know this place and everything is cyclical. Guards quit on a regular basis so I don't expect this to last very long, realistically... but it is a nice start for a change. Being trapped in a cell all day sucks.  

So here is the latest Polunsky unit controversy. On Friday and for most of Saturday the movie channel was out. Typically the unit movies begin Thursday night from 6-10pm. Currently they are streaming the series Yellowstone which is excellent. Then it runs movies from Friday evening onto and through the weekend. But this Friday and most of Saturday it was off and no one knew why. When it did come back on Saturday afternoon some of the movie line up had changed slightly and Field Minister Troop said that on Friday the warden shut it off because apparently someone from death row had a person on the outside send an email complaining about the movies that had too much violence or nudity. So, the warden received word from the Director that from now on all movies shown have to be pre-approved by the warden before the weekend. So he went through the weekend line up, reviewed what was being played and they had to re program the channel with a different line up. I was relieved that they allowed The Hateful Eight because I've wanted to see that Tarantino movie for years!!! I still have a few more of his movies to see to be caught up in the 21st century. The Hateful Eight was the last movie of the night. I loved it! Funny, smart, and the dialogue was brilliant. We shall see what comes on today. So far it seems to be holding to the original schedule closing out with the epic Troy this evening. My thing is this: You will never satisfy everyone and if you are offended by a nipple or too much violence no one is forcing you to watch it. Walk away from the door and come back to watch a movie more suitable for your values. Don't try to blow the whole movie program up for everyone just because you aren't happy. I don't like everything that comes on and if it's bad, I go do something else for two hours. It really is that easy.  

Otherwise I've gotten through the weeks and bided my time as positively as possible as I'm STILL waiting on the CCA to rule. It's been nine months and for something that is straightforward and the state feels I deserve a new trial, you would think it wouldn't take so long. I'm just praying that it comes in the next week or few. If I could have a birthday wish it would be for a favorable ruling before the fall. Tomorrow will mark the one year anniversary since my hearings began. Maybe it's a positive sign. My friend, Ivan, was turned down on his appeal and it sucks because I do believe he's innocent. I don't believe everyone who tells me they're innocent, but if you take the time to listen to Ivan's podcast, Cousins By Blood you can't but agree that there's a lot of shenanigans afoot in his case and there's a lot of stuff there that supports his innocence.  

Not much else is going on. I'm waiting for my next class to start on September 13th, my birthday, just so I have something to keep my brain fired up and healthy.  

Courage. Strength. Hope and Faith.  

Peace.


August 12th, 2023

I'll keep today's entry short and sweet...I love Taffy and I'm the  luckiest guy in the world to have her encouragement, her love, and belief  in me as a human being. I'd be a fool to take that for granted and my  friends know how much I love her. It's a crying shame that there are  some people  with nothing better to do with their time than to start  drama. I'd say it's comical that they will go to the extent they often  do, but really it's sad and pathetic that in their own misery they will  try to bring people down with them. Well, nice try anyways because  Bambi and Taffy are strong. Really...try being kind.

Courage Strength Hope and Faith.

Peace.


  
August 7th, 2023

It's 11:41pm as I write this. I'm usually asleep by now but I can't get to sleep with the walls still hot and so I thought I'd so some writing until I get drowsy. Also, I'm still a bit excited because the idea I proposed to have Sunday movies replayed on another day of the week for the guys on death row, was approved. This should officially end the battles over what will be watched on Sundays during football season because now there should be no problem with any section watching football all day and then later in the week, the rebroadcast of the Sunday movies. I didn't expect to have it approved so quickly, but I had confidence in the idea...My section doesn't yet know of the news so I'll tell them in the morning. Actually, I might wait until I know the exact day of the rebroadcast just so I'm not made out to be an idiot if something suddenly changes.  

Over the weekend there had been a talk over what was to happen on Sundays with movies and football, but it was on shaky ground and the bully is still a jerk and he could end up derailing peace efforts, but hopefully my approved proposal fixes the whole issue. The weekend movies were really good. I loved Guardians Of The Galaxy 3...Loved the Martian with Matt Damon, was disappointed by the new Antman movie...it didn't have the humor or heart of the first two. The Breakfast Club still holds up. I do wonder what Gen Z-ers would think of that movie? Fast X was over the top, full of bad acting and cheesy dialogue, but I couldn't help but like it. For years I didn't understand the popularity of those movies...Until I finally saw the first one and honestly, who doesn't have a movie or series that they like that it is sooo bad, but good? I'm a fan now and can't wait until Part 11...After two decades I finally was able to see The Green Mile and it had me in tears...I watched a sci fi thriller called Life that was decent... but by far the best movie of the weekend was a psychological horror movie called SMILE. It still has me unnerved. It didn't play to horror stereo types, there was very little blood or gore. A few quick flashes, but nothing to make a person squeamish. It was anchored in good ol' psychological scares. What made it so original and brilliant is how it used classic jump scare techniques in a creative way that got under your skin. A lot of horror of movies have cues to a scare...sound and the score. They let you know what is coming and is pretty effective. But in SMILE the cues were misleading. An alarm system suddenly goes off and it goes on and on as the lead character looks down a hall...the camera holds on the hallway for what feels like an eternity. You want the scare, but then you think, “turn off the damn alarm!” It goes off and then the ph one rings....It's the alarm company asking if she's okay, what is her code...that tense feeling deflates and then the voice on the other end taunts her...she freaks out, hangs up...then the phone rings again. She ignores it but it goes on and on...should she answer it? These things happen all through out the movie blurring the line between reality and what is in her head as she begins to unravel and descend into madness. I don't know the name of the actress but she was brilliant and acted so well that you really believed the anguish on her face. I want to see the movie again it was that good. It'll stick with me for a while.  

Today was uneventful. Well, I'm tired now. Time for bed! Be Kind!  

Courage. Strength. Hope and Faith.

Peace


  
August 4th, 2023

It's Friday night, almost 9pm, and we just finished Guardians Of The Galaxy 3 and it is by far the best one in that series. It had it all....humor, action, drama, a great plot, and excellent sound track. It even had me teary eyed at some points. It ended perfectly. Without spoiling I'll just say it was the perfect use of a Florence And The Machine song. I'm skipping the next two movies to jam my favorite music shows on The Tank. Right now they're playing disc three of The Cure's "Join The Dots" collection of B sides. 'This Twilight Garden' is playing...perfection! Brings back so many memories. When the cure released a single there was always a couple of versions or remixes of the single and then one or two B sides and those songs were as good or better than the singles, so I listened to them incessantly. I'll take this over a movie almost any day!  

Today has been relatively peaceful compared to yesterday. There's still a bit of tension on the section but at least everyone wasn't at each others' throats. So, since I've lived on this section, when it comes to the television, it will be on movies unless it is something that everyone has seen over and over...which is pretty much what some of the stations do. If someone wants to watch something else all they have to do is announce it to the section and most everyone will say it's cool. On the week nights guys have certain shows they like to catch like Law and Order, Chicago Fire, and for the past month guys have gotten hooked on the reality series, Temptation Island. However, when it comes to Thursday nights on through the weekend it goes on the Tank's own movie channel for the prison. Thursdays are usually three episodes of a series and a movie. The excellent series, Justified, completed a couple of weeks ago and then they started the first season of Fear The Walking Dead, which was to finish tomorrow night and then next week they are going to start Yellowstone which a lot of us are looking forward to. After the three episodes the unit typically plays one movie and then it goes off for the night. Then Friday through Sunday it's nothing but movies all paid for and provided by inmates families or volunteers.  

When this section was selected for Kairos, they moved a couple of individuals over here that really threw off the vibe and balance of the section. Three guys have started one fire after another and unless they drop out we are just stuck with them. It all came to a head yesterday when one of them demanded we watch a pre-season football game on Thursday night, then declared that when the season officially started, Sunday would be all day football. Now, we anticipated that there were guys that would want to watch the occasional game, before these guys moved over here. Everyone was cool with a compromise of half a day of football and the other half movies. If you don't want feelings hurt or problems to brew you've got to be mature and fair enough to bend a little. So, those of us into the Walking Dead said, “Look...these are the last three episodes of the season. It'll be off by 8pm...let us finish that, we'll sacrifice the movie and you can watch the game. It's a fair compromise for a game that doesn't even count and will only have 2nd and 3rd string players!” They refused to budge and then the guy in the day room, a real piece of work, has the tv intentionally put on Fox News knowing most of us hate that channel and that it would be stuck on it until the evening shift. All hell broke loose and everyone was at each others' throats... I was angry and down, not so much over missing the Walking Dead, it's trivial, and I try to not get attached to the tv because I have more important things to focus on. But it was the fact that these guys tried – no, not tried, just hogged the day because they knew most of the guys over here don't want conflict and are trying to do the classes available. Nothing yanks my chain more than a bully, but again what do you do? I'm not happy they won the day, but I think in time they'll either get kicked out of the classes or drop out. Field minister, Troop said the program has a way of revealing those that are serious and those that aren't. We shall see.  

That afternoon I went to rec. pretty depressed and sick of this place, but I did pick my spirits back up when I figured out what could be a really good solution for the Sunday football vs. movies dilemma, not just for my section but all sections. As I was walking around it occurred to me that general population doesn't have to decide one or the other because they have two TVs in each day room. 12 building, where ad seg. and death row are housed only has one per day room. I know the inmate over the movies for The Tank because he used to work the building as a trustee before joining the chaplaincy. He's been really cool about playing the movie requests we send in and he likes me as a person. Why not ask him if he can get permission to replay the Sunday movies one day during the week? This would open up Sundays for all day foot ball and the movies that play on Sunday for general population can be replayed for those on 12 building during the week. It's a practical win win situation that keeps the peace! I ran it by a few guys around me and they loved the idea.  

When I got back to my cell I wrote the letter and it went out this morning so hopefully he can get the idea green lighted. I guess I'll know something sometime next week. There's no more football on this weekend so it'll be non stop movies. I'm looking forward to the new Antman movie, The Fast X movie, The Green Mile, which I've wanted to see for years, the classic La Bamba, The Breakfest Club, and the horror movie Smile.

Surprisingly, we've had a shower everyday this week and two days of recreation which is an improvement on the past couple of months. Tomorrow should be our outside day so we'll see if they have enough staff or not to run rec. I think I'm going to call it a night and get to bed...  

Courage Strength Hope and Faith  

Peace  

August 1st, 2023

I'm trying to wrap my head around the fact it's a new month. Only four months left to the year...

So, last week was really awesome. Last year some friends had talked me into joining the faith based program on Death Row. As a person who is Jewish and still has some baggage and trauma from attending a Baptist Boarding School in the sticks of Kentucky, I wasn't too eager, but once I was convinced that all faiths were welcome and the classes offered were more about accountability, forgiveness, self improvement, and life skills...never mind that it was ground breaking for TDCJ and Death Row, I was excited at the prospect of joining because it lined up with my goals of wanting to live a life of service. These classes would be a great opportunity to put action to my words. And to learn. I signed up, was accepted, and then subsequently denied because my co defendant was on A pod and we are not allowed around each other. Never mind that when we both had execution dates, they had no problem keeping us near each other on death watch...I was crushed, but in the crazy perfect way G-d does things, the CCA ordered a new hearing and I returned to Dallas, so I wouldn't have been able to join anyways.  

Some months ago Field Minister Solley asked me if I was still interested and I said yes, but reminded him of the A pod situation and he told me that they were going to do a program on B pod specifically because of my situation and plus it could be an opportunity for others in this pod to join if they'd like. Of course there was always a possibility I would return to Dallas if the CCA rules favorably, but the program for B pod would be in motion and they could use it as a spring board to create a more positive environment on this pod because it can be pretty depressing with the lack of recreation and chaos on this pod. A pod receives a lot of benefits because of their program. Free world visitors, concerts from the outside, sometimes free world food and other benefits. It isn't about pampering inmates... it's about rewarding their hard work, and that's the thing – you are expected to do the work...You can't phone it in. If you don't do your best, or if you create problems, you're out. Or in the words of Winston on John Wick: Your privileges from the continental are revoked.

A month ago they moved those accepted from C section on B pod. It kicked off with Kairos last Wednesday and Thursday. Two 12 Hour Days of listening to speakers, ministers of different denominations and belief systems, workshops, some assignments, and with music breaks and free world food on our breaks. Some of them talked about Jesus and how their faith had helped them through some of the darkest days, but it wasn't preachy or judgemental. In fact, in our introduction they took a microphone to every cell door and allowed us to introduce ourselves and give a bit of personal history. Let me tell you, it's no easy feat being vulnerable in front of 30 plus people on a loud PA system that other sections can hear as well. I talked about how long I've been locked up, being Jewish and how I want to live a life of service...When we did our workshops not one single person tried to preach or convert me. I had fears of being beat up on like in boarding school, but it was all respectful and really loving.  

Over the day, speakers talked about how their actions had lead to bad business choices, drugs, affairs and other mistakes. Some of the men were once multimillionaires that lost everything because of their mistakes. Some were done wrong by business partners. After they talked the speakers would come to our cells and we would discuss things like accountability, our own mistakes, and what we have done to be held accountable. One speaker asked us to create an equation that would best explain our mistakes.  

Because it was such an intensely long day, the inmate field ministers and life coaches would offer coffee, tea, punch and other drinks to fuel us through it all. And holy moly, the meals...On the first day breakfast was breakfast tacos, boiled eggs, some salsa for the tacos and some fresh fruit. Lunch was a real hamburger with all the fixings and a couple of snacks. Field Minister Solley was taking pictures of us all throughout. Dinner was too amazing for words...Fried chicken, gravy, a sweet roll, potato salad and a huge piece of strawberry short cake – completely provided by and paid for by the free world people. NOTE: nobody's tax money went towards any of this for anyone that would be upset that death row inmates would eat so well.

On Thursday things were flipped around... It was a much more emotional and heavy hearted day because once we have accountability for our actions we can begin the process of forgiveness. Neither can be mutually exclusive because to ask for forgiveness, or to offer it, requires accountability. Forgiveness can't be the powerful force it is without an action behind it. It also doesn't mean that you won't still feel pain or regret...The important thing is to no longer allow that anger, pain or regret to have control over you. We were given a super thin piece of paper and asked to write down the names of those we want forgiveness from or those we forgive throughout the day.  

Between speakers we'd have our workshops and talk about forgiveness... I mentioned to one guy about how over the years I've sought forgiveness for so much and how not receiving it tears me up sometimes and I beat myself up over it. He then told me a story about a boy who through his recklessness killed his father's beloved pet. The boy was terrified his father would kill him, but his dad instead forgave him, and said be more careful next time. Then he told him to go bury the pet in his back yard. The boy did as he was told, but the next day after school he went to the back yard, dug the animal back up and brought it back to his father and said how can you forgive me for this? The dad said it was done, he forgave him and told him to go rebury the pet. Again, the boy – unable to forgive himself – dug it back up the next day. Finally the dad pulled him close, looked him in the eyes and said, son... stop digging up the dead pet. Then the teacher looked at me and said I had to stop digging up my own mistakes...learn from it and be accountable, but move forward because just as a person that can't forgive will always be in pain or driven by hate... if we can't forgive ourselves we hold our own growth back and destroy ourselves... Man, I was crying like a baby!  

Well, at the end of the day, they picked up the pieces of paper we wrote on and put them all in a burn bin, set it on fire and said, now move forward...Let our past mistakes go and become better men. At the end of the day we were allowed to give a statement or speech and I talked about the experience and how grateful I was for being part of it. There was more great food and snacks throughout the day and they took a lot of pictures. I don't know how many we will be allowed to keep when they are printed, but hopefully I can post one on the site to share soon.  

I forgot something funny that happened on Wednesday when the musicians were setting up...A guy said, "Randy can sing! Do a song with him!" So, Solley grabbed a wireless mic and ran upstairs to my cell! I was saying, "No no no no!" Because I'm naturally shy and was put on the spot...now some guys are constantly teasing me for choking under pressure....ha ha.

Initially we were told there would be no assignments until the 9th, when they would do a class for us and then treat the ENTIRE pod to a large pizza donated by a ministry. This has been in the works for some time and some guys on this pod still don't think it's true, but the field ministers assured me it's really happening! I told a guy on another section that IF the CCA ruled in my favor by the 9th I'd give him MY pizza. Why not? It would be much more deserved for him than me.

The weekend passed with no rec or showers, but I watched some good movies on the unit movie channel. If you haven't seen the movie Hell Or High Water, I highly suggest it. It's a true Texas movie through and through and Jeff Bridges as a Texas Ranger should have earned him an Oscar nomination at the very least.  

On Saturday afternoon I listened to the classic music show on the prison radio station and one of the DJs in that show and the alternative rock show was one of the musicians during Kairos and we got to meet and chat. Well, on the radio show he told Megamind he finally got to meet me and what an honor it was... I was touched. Troop, Solley and Megamind are always telling people about me and saying really kind things, so throughout those two Kairos days I'd meet a speaker or different field ministers and life coaches and many would say, "I finally get to meet you! We've heard so much about you!” And I'd reply "I hope good things!" ha ha.

Yesterday, a Monday, we finally had a shower after SEVEN DAYS without...how crazy is that? Troop surprised the pod with a movie on the big screens. We watched a Norwegian thriller called The Snowman...The first act of the movie was a bit too slow, but the movie picked up in the second act, and while it was an excellent movie, it was really unsettling and doesn't just get under your skin, it stays there. I've been disturbed by it all day...I think it was because the cinematography and plot is literally buried in tones of grey, white and snow. The snow itself becoming a suffocating psychological blanket of fear...The movie did have some graphic scenes so it isn't for those with a weak stomach or nervous disposition. But if you enjoy psychological thrillers I'd put it up there with Silence Of The Lambs.

Later, Troop had an assignment for us and asked if we would write encouraging letters to kids at a camp for troubled youths called Boys Village. Some guys complained but Troop reminded us that if we were going to do the program it was expected of us and we could be given an assignment at any time – even weekends. If we didn't want to do it, we could drop out at any time.

I was excited by the task. It's in my wheel house and part of my overall goal to reach out to troubled youths so I wrote a two page front and back letter giving a little of my life story and how one poor decision or mistake can put in motion a chain of events that lands a young person in prison for life or on death row. Well, today one of the volunteers I met last week came to my cell which a surprise. He said he was personally invested in our success and growth which was touching. He prayed for a positive ruling for me, and said he'd be around more and he is here to be a mentor. To have people that were just strangers last week invest personal time in us, guys on death row, is beyond moving to me.  

We had rec. and showers today as well so it was nice to finally get out of the cell for a good jog and some exercises and a shower after. It is now 10:00pm and I'm going to wind down, focus on positive thoughts for tomorrow and who knows, it could be a great day with answered prayers. Be kind...Be kind to others and to yourself.  

Courage Strength Hope and Faith!  

Peace!


  
July 22nd, 2023

It's Saturday evening as I write this and I'm under the fan....There's been a bunch of movies that I've not seen on, but I've only watched one of them, but once the sun goes down and the cell cools down I'll probably give the last two a try.  

I've been really distracted of late with all of the chaos of this place so when I feel like writing I jump on it and get as much out of my head as possible. Its been a week of no recreation for us. They did rec. on Tuesday but the guards working were so clueless and in over their head. They throw these new recruits onto a pod without any proper training or having learned how to manage the twelve hour shift and it's the inmates that don't get showers or rec. because of this and lack of any leadership from ranking officers. I do feel sorry for the guards that just don't know what to do, but it is frustrating because recreation is one of the biggest tools in staving off mental and physical health decline and more and more guys are starting to slip. Even I get bouts of anxiety when the day goes chaotic. Each morning I wonder, am I going to get to get out of the cell and a shower or is it another day that I have to bathe out of the sink and figure out what to do for the next 16 hours of the day...? I do my best, though. I gripe every now and then, but I refuse to let it beat me down or keep me from being the best version of myself regardless of the situation.  

I've been in my current cell for almost a month so I'm sure they'll end up shuffling me around in the next week or so. I can say this though, July has flown by so fast. Heck, the past year has rocketed by. This next Friday will be one year to the day that I returned to Dallas last summer for hearings. A year! Its been one wild year so maybe that's why it's moved so fast. This coming up Wednesday will be 7 1/2 months that I've been waiting on the CCA to make a ruling, long time friends here have received execution dates, some received stays and now one of my closest friends, Big Will has an execution date. Since last summer it has been an endless roller coaster of ups and downs. I know that should I be granted a new trial there is much more of that in store. As much as I want to leave death row, I'm mindful that if it happens I'm in store for a lot of challenges. By no means would I treat a trip back to Dallas as a vacation or cause for celebration. I have to prepare myself spiritually and mentally for whatever happens next. Its scary for certain. No sense in pretending it isn't. I can only hope in it all there is some forgiveness, mercy and grace. That being said, any time away from here would do my spirit some good. I just would hate to leave these guys behind. Still not sure how I'm going to face that one should a new trial happen.

So, guess who came to Polunsky Unit last week? Rudy!!! The very same guy the football movie is based on. He was interviewed by the prison radio DJ, "Megamind" and it was really interesting and enlightening. He talked about how the goals in our life require hard work and dedication and a willingness to travel the hard path, not an easy one. I just can't believe he came here of all places. They've been getting bigger and bigger people to stop by the radio station which is really amazing considering all of it started only three years ago because of one inmate's dream and persistence. It just goes to prove that we are capable of redemption and are of value if we chose it and that even behind bars people can achieve great things. I'm in a cell all day but I'm always humbled when Megamind calls me his co-producer at the station because of my own contributions of ideas and other things. It gives me a sense of self worth and value.  

Courage. Strength. Hope and Faith

Peace

  
July 8th, 2023

Since the last day of June it's been one thing after the other and sooo strange. On the 30th I was moved from a cell with no view of the tv to a cell with a view, bumping the guy in the good cell to the bad cell. I tried to explain to him it was beyond my control, he got angry, cussed me and deliberately left the cell filthy so I had to clean it up.  

The next morning he found out from the field minister that a bunch of people were shuffled around and to the guy's credit, he did apologize. Still, as I write this, he is trying to have his attorney's call the warden to get the cell back and have me moved again. I'm thinking, okay...so, you were mad because you thought I had you moved but now you are actively working to have me moved again? If you do it, it's okay? Huh?  

On the 4th they treated the day as any other day with a chaotic recreation day. I watched a couple of movies but other than that, it was so routine that I forgot to look outside my window and watch the fireworks. It was the first time in 21 years I'd actually forgotten to look out the window if the weather was good to try to see even a glimpse of a burst of color in the distance. It was a shock when I realised it the next day. I really try to not become jaded over holidays and celebrations because it's always allowed me to have a sense of being connected to the world and normal.  

Thursday we didn't have rec. or showers. Nothing new there. Yesterday we learned the news, that TDCJ is going completely digital with our mail. This just added to the weird energy of the week. It actually happened late yesterday afternoon...A notice popped up on the tablet with the new rules and address that all snail mail has to be sent to. Snail mail will no longer be allowed after July 17th and there is no grace period for mail post marked before the 17th. Books and magazines may still be ordered or sent as of now, but I can see them eventually doing what Dallas County Jail does by putting an end to all mail and essentially going 100% digital. They are saying there are no limits on pictures, pages or even cards as of now, but it will be scanned at a remote site and forwarded to the Polunsky mail room to then send it to our tablet. They did say that only written mail can be scanned so we're wondering if that includes print outs from the computer or copies of legal work, articles etc. There are always vague policies that are left up to interpretation by the unit mail room. So, we really don't know anything other than that July 17th is the launch date. If you write anyone on the Polunsky Unit you will need to first put their full name and TDCJ number followed by this address:

Polunsky Unit  
P.O.Box 660400 Dallas
TX 75266-0400  

If a person is ordering books or magazines they may use the original Polunsky Unit Livingston address. This may have been easier to digest if they would have given us a grace period or time to notify loved ones and friends, but they have given us about ten days to notify people and with as slow as the postal service is and the delays in the mail room...no doubt many inmates' people are going to have mail returned to them. Not everyone uses the emessaging system so it is just one more complication that technology brings.  

This morning I went outside which was nice. I wanted to watch some movies today but it has been so loud I've not even bothered. I might try this evening and tomorrow. There are a couple I'd like to see. I'm hoping next week brings about less chaos and good things. Maybe even good news. We shall see!  

Courage. Strength. Hope and Faith.

Peace.

  
June 27th, 2023

Today was one of those wild and chaotic days I can't seem to ever get used to. I went to rec. early in the morning for about ten minutes, then we were told rec. was cancelled and so I went back to my cell, then about 45 minutes later rec. was back on but we were told we would only get an hour. I went back to rec, got a work out in, went back to my cell very hot and suddenly drained..I waited on a shower, had that in the afternoon and had no desire to do anything else.  

Death Row has air conditioning, but the building walls cook like an oven and it pulses. My bed and desk are near the wall so the air helps little when it is over 100 degrees outside. I do my best to manage. I'm just trying to keep my spirits hopeful going into another Wednesday waiting on the CCA. On another note, I've been thinking a lot about what is called The Anti Terrorist Effective Death Penalty Act or more commonly referred to as the AEDPA. Federal legislation that was passed in response to the Oklahoma City Bombings. Politicians that had long wanted to speed up death penalty appeals took advantage of the rage and emotional response to that horrible day. It had been very effective in Texas between the late 90's and into the first two decades of this century ensuring hundreds of executions. There were signs that it's effectiveness had been waning, though. Young and smart capital defence attorneys, and the creation of the federal Capital Habeas Units, were finding creative ways to challenge it. It slowed the appeals process down a bit or bought clients a little more time. Then, Justice Scalia passed and Trump happened and he was able to fill open seats on the federal courts with uber conservatives and turned the Supreme Court into a conservative super majority. Republican states, especially those in the 5th circuit (many southern states ) pounced and began to appeal to federal courts on issues dealing with the AEDPA. The Supreme Court as it is has made recent rulings interpreting it in the strictest way possible. This is killing a death row inmate's chance of any success at the federal level, by limiting what issues can be appealed .  

The Supreme Court often mentions 'the intent of congress' in its opinions. I think it's time to start demanding politicians change the AEDPA. It's bad, outdated legislation that was born out of revenge. It will almost certainly ensure that defendants with bad attorneys won't have a chance and increases the chances of an innocent person being executed.  

It won't be long before Texas has its machinery of death back to firing on all cylinders. There are so many men here with exhausted appeals and on borrowed time. The slowing down of executions and the pandemic lulled people against the death penalty into a sort of complacency and it's time to wake back up.  

As I type this it's getting close to my bed time. I'm laying here under the fan, listening to The Cure's Staring At The Beach singles collection on The Tank. The song 'The Walk ' is on. I'd boogie, but it's too dang hot. Here's to hoping for good news soon!  

Courage. Strength. Hope and Faith.

Peace.

  
June 25th, 2023

I'm a bit stressed as I write this because the Securus messaging system is giving me a headache. It's Sunday and I'm doing my best to get through the day. I had a late night as I stayed up last night listening to the movie Titanic. I wish could have seen it but right now I'm stuck with just listening to movies because the gate to the day room has to be closed now. I was able to see the TV when it was open. I did ask the administration if it would be okay to remount the TVs in a place that the entire section could see it and they've been receptive to the idea, but it takes time to get a work order signed off on and executed.  

I cannot believe that we are entering into the last week of the month. Time is moving by much too fast...It's about to be July! Great things have happened in July for the past two summers, so G-d willing I will have my favorable ruling and be back in Dallas either by the end of July or early August. I think some of my friends back here are just as eager and impatient as I am. I keep getting asked, "When are you leaving, Randy?" or, "I thought the courts ruled for you already!" It's nice to have the confidence of guys as well and it does boost my spirits up some.

I've been trying to see what G-d wants of me while I'm here. I think there is a purpose for everything and right now I'm wondering if it is to help with this fan drive I started on Friday when one of the life coaches told me there is an indigent fan shortage. I've got seven commitments, including myself, to donate fans when we go to store.  

Today I typed up a bulletin for the DJ of the prison radio station to announce on the radio to get others to donate. We only needed seven fans, but I'm thinking it would be a good idea to stock some up for the indigent program in case others need them. With the captain on board and giving the green light for us to do this I think I can raise a bunch of fans. They only cost twenty bucks, so it isn't a huge dent in someone's commissary budget, you know? It feels good to be able to help those in need. I can remember a time when I had no fan and had to hustle to trade things for a fan in the extreme heat of South Texas. This was before an indigent fan program even existed. You either hustled or you could die of a heat stroke. I've seen men fall out dozens of times when I was in general population. It's a deadly heat.  

It doesn't look like we are getting showers today. It seems that for the past couple of months, on average, we have a shower once every two to three days, and one day of recreation per week. There is no solution in sight. Apparently a bunch of guards are quitting because in general population there are is no air conditioning on the buildings. So, when it's 100 plus degrees outside, the buildings are even hotter and the Texas legislation doesn't want to pass a bill that pays for the millions it would cost to install air units...so, for politicians that talk a good game about keeping Texans safe, they don't seem to mind that their prisons are dangerously understaffed.  

I'm hoping field minister Troop comes by because I have some things I need to run by him on ideas and some issues to raise to the administration. Everyone teases me about all of the ideas I have and it's only because I'm trying to make the place better for everyone, including the Officers. Some of my best ideas come from thinking of others.  

There is a rumor that in the next fiscal year the food in TDCJ is supposed to improve and be a bit healthier. I hope so because the meals have taken a dive of late, but I get it, the kitchens must be infernos with the heat outside so the inmates must be trying to get out of there as soon as possible. Well, I'm going to kick back and listen to some movies as I pray and meditate on what I hope is a positive week.  

Courage. Strength. Hope and Faith.

Peace.

  
June 13th, 2023

As I begin this I'm waiting to see if there will be recreation and showers. The lights are still out so who knows...I'm really irritated that this emessaging doesn't work as advertised. Taffy hasn't heard from me since Friday and she is worried which has me upset...not even the short messages, and I don't know why everything has suddenly slowed up. The system started acting funky on Friday and it hasn't been the same. Securus is such a crappy business, but they have a monopoly on prisons so why spend money to provide a reliable service? Our hands are tied. It is tempting to sometimes turn this tablet in and go back to just snail mail.  

We are about to be in the midst of record breaking temperatures here as well and over 100 degrees by Friday. Thank goodness our air is working on this building. Guys in general population don't have air conditioning.  

Well, yesterday was crazy and we didn't get showers. If it doesn't happen today it will be day four and it is a ghost town right now so it has me wondering if this will be another day without. Yeah, I can take a bath in my sink and get clean, but nothing beats a proper shower and there are guys who probably won't bathe in their sink and I'm sure they stink really bad right now. I always think about the mentally I'll guys in this situation.  

Last weekend we watched some interesting movies. The one that has me thinking the most was a really deep indie horror movie called "Cold Skin" about this British weather watcher in the early 1900s. When he lands on this island to take care of a lighthouse there is a strange man there... he refuses to leave and so the guy begins to care for the island with him when he discovers he's holding captive this blue female creature. Every night the light house is attacked by other creatures...the new guy starts realising it is because they are the outsiders and have held captive what is something akin to their princess...It was a weird but gorgeous film and I think an allegory on early British colonialism because the one keeper believes they are superior to these creatures and they must be exterminated. It wasn't so much scary as unsettling. I highly recommend it.  

Yesterday some guys wanted to watch the basketball championships so it was put on there. I listened to my music show on the tank until ten and was out like a light. My neighbor on my right came back from his hearings yesterday and so he was typing on his type writer and I had to adjust to the clickety clacking of his type writer but managed to sleep well, waking up for breakfast at three and then falling back to sleep. I think they might actually be setting up rec. but I don't know if it is upstairs or downstairs. If it is upstairs I won't make it until late in the afternoon. If it is down I'll be first or second round so we will have to see.  

I know I'm kind of rambling about... They are scheduling rec upstairs so I might as well settle in for a long day. Everyone is going to rec. upstairs so I might not even make it. Ugh. I really hope tomorrow is my day. I'm so sick of this place. It will be a little over six months give or take a few days. I talked to a guy back here and he thinks the CCA goes on their summer break in mid July for a couple of weeks and then comes back. The Supreme court begins either next week or the last week of June and they don't come back until October. But even if it isn't tomorrow, G-d please let this be the last month I have to wait.  

I'm really proud of my friend Big Will back here. He became what is sort of the first life coach/ faith program coordinator on death row. He lives on A pod and will stay there, but for a death row inmate it is still a big responsibility. He really has come a long way and changed so much. Well, we'll see if I get to recreation today. More tomorrow! Please pray for me!  

Courage. Strength. Hope and Faith.

Peace


June 5th, 2023

I started my day today at 6 am. I worked out and as it seemed they weren't doing showers, I bird bathed and shaved and cleaned my cell. I feel bright and hopeful in this new week and month but I'm also fighting off some slight negativity and irritation from some thing that happened yesterday afternoon...There was a little dust up on my section and the energy today is still a bit off...

So, since being over here there has never been a fight over what people want to watch. The majority of the section enjoys movies and that is pretty much where it stays. Now let me preface this next part by saying our tv doesn't stay really loud. Sometimes B section turns theirs up waaaay too loud, but we've found that at a setting of 27 the volume is where those that can't listen on their radios can hear it okay standing at their door. It is a perfect setting for this environment. But we started noticing that two guys in particular have been whispering to the officers to turn the volume down. When it isn't necessary. I'm a new guy over here on this section so I wasn't saying anything about it, but another other guy finally blew up over it when the officer showed up out of nowhere to turn the tv down. The majority told the officer to leave it at 27. So, one of the cry babies started screaming "turn it down!" The other guys said no...back and forth and so the guard just left. It all blew up! Guys were screaming and threatening each other. Still, I stayed out of it. Well...this other guy who has some weird superiority complex and thinks he's better than everyone else says, " I can't ask the officer to turn it down? I'm not allowed to ask that? Randy? I can't ask that?" I was calm at that point and said, " Look, I don't care where the volume is at. I can listen on my radio. BUT others can't-" and this guy just starts talking over me and ranting and raving calling us all dumbasses and idiots, trying to be a bully and I said " Will you just shut up? Stop whining like a baby. This is prison. Put your big boy pants on and deal with it. It isn't that loud. I'll tell you this right now....One person- two people- aren't going to run this tv. Just shut up and deal with it. Start thinking about others and not yourself. You call everyone idiots? Let me tell you something, dude...You are not better than me or anyone else on this section. So shut up and deal with it." I was a little harsher than that, but bullies push my button and have since I was a dorky kid in elementary school. As nice as I want to be and I am, sometimes you have to speak up.  

After that things calmed down a bit but there is still some tension in the air this morning. Sometimes I wish they would have never put these TVs up in the first place. Another reason to allow us the media app on the tablet. It would mitigate fights and headaches. Saturday night on The Tank they played The Cure's 40th anniversary which was awesome, but Sunday I was able to FINALLY see one of my most favorite movies of all time!!! Pulp Fiction!!! It was amazing after so many years to catch it! Outside of the fighting on my section, in the afternoon we watched the original Point Break, which still holds up, The Enforcer and Pulp Fiction. After that I went to bed.  

Today I did try to talk to the guy who was being a bully but he can't be reasoned with and just wanted to keep insulting me and the section. I had to do a Texas "Bless your heart" and walk away from the door. Most guys back here don't act like him and will try to work out differences and communicate. But there are always exceptions. Just as it is everywhere in life, I suppose. I'm gonna keep the positivity flowing and try to focus on new beginnings in my life.  

Courage. Strength. Hope and Faith.

Peace

May 31st, 2023

It's the last day of the month and I am winding down for the day. It's been particularly crazy the past few days and memorial day weekend is always hard on me. If you've read my memoir Falling Down, you'll understand. I do a lot of reflecting on that holiday and the Christmas holiday. I get a bit down and lethargic.  

Anyways, I didn't have time to get a work out in as the guards popped right up for a shower and so I did exercises throughout the day to help with the anxiety as I checked the news and the lexis nexis app.  

This place is insane!!! I'll give an example of the problems and poor management back here. Yesterday was chaos. I made it to rec. some time before 2pm. Well, the guy in 17 cell was supposed to go to another section on fourth round. They forgot, skipped him and put someone else in his place. When the guards came back through we both talked to them and I said, "look...take me back to my cell as soon as my time is up so this guy has his rec. time after me." They said that would be fine and I told the guy to not worry, I'll make sure they get me back to my cell. Well,the time came and I told them to put me up...I told the guy waiting to get ready, I left and I went to the shower... They never got the guy!!! He was screwed out of recreation and I felt so bad for him because he wanted to watch the next movie coming on, something called Divergent and he would have been able to had they came back and pulled him out. He has poor eye sight so he can't see the tv properly from his cell and that just made me feel worse. Well, dinner comes and the two sergeants, The 'supervisors' and ones that are supposed to manage and lead come down to help the other guards and they are mad that they have to help and this guy down the run asks, "Isn't it your job to lead and help when needed? Isn't that what a leader does?" Do you know what the sergeant says? "I put in my work for four years as an officer. I don't have to work anymore...I should be on my butt in the office." Huh??? That is why this place is a mess! Very frustrating to have to be subjected to.  

We are a bit worried because now the rumors are that Polunsky is about to get a complete new administration... We are supposed to have all new Wardens and Majors. Warden Dickerson has made Regional Director which is awesome because that is a HUGE position and he sets policy. He could really help death row conditions if he chooses. It also protects the hard work and programs he established here from being meddled with should we get a bad warden. But we are just hoping that nothing dramatically changes for the worst on a unit or death row level by a jerk major or warden. Time will tell, I suppose.  

So as I wrote earlier,I've been checking the news all day in hopes for a ruling today and it didn't come. Obviously, the wait is torture, but I do feel it is coming soon. I just need to be patient. When I get anxious or worried I start researching different rulings and it helps. I've learned a lot and I'm seeing patterns with how the Judges rule. There is one Judge that dissents on everything and he'd have an innocent person either executed or remain in prison for life on his strict interpretation of rules. I've also seen that over 90% of the time the CCA will uphold the trial courts findings especially if the state concedes or admits error. Well, I'm just hoping for the best...  

Over the weekend we watched a bunch of good movies...Baby Driver was the best of them. I got to see Taken for the first time as well. It is a bit old but new for me! haha. I'm hoping better movies play this weekend. Maybe we will get some new ones. Otherwise I'm just taking it day by day.

Courage. Strength. Hope and Faith

Peace


  
May 22nd, 2023

What a busy and eventful last few days...It started on Friday afternoon when I talked to an Officer about trying to get moved from the cell I was in for five months. I was tired of being over there and while I had tried to inquire about being moved weeks before it didn't seem to get me anywhere. I had even tried with the field ministers help which has worked before but didn't get me anywhere either. So, when an Officer that has always been helpful within the bounds of policy and rules came by I asked and she was like," Okay, I can talk to the secretary, where do you wanna go?' I replied, "Anywhere but here." Second shift came and no one said anything about me being moved and I chalked it up as another failed attempt. I got settled in for the evening and sometime close to 8pm another officer told me to pack my stuff, I was being moved. You couldn't have made me pack any faster than I did. I was moved to c section and while I can only see the tv when the day room gate is open, which it isn't always... especially on recreation days, I didn't care. I was just grateful to move away from the chaos and noise of the section I lived on, the occasional bickering over the tv and other irritating factors that were stressing me out. Now I can see the sunrise again, and the people over here get along for the most part and it is a hard core movie section, which is cool on the days I can see them. On Saturday  

I went outside and played basketball, getting my butt kicked by a guy that was just better and faster than me. I've really got to get my speed and wind up. It gives him an advantage. I used to do a beast of a 20 minute hit work out and I need to get back to doing it. When the pandemic hit, I stopped doing it because we never got out of our cells.  

On Sunday the inmate field ministers Troop and Solley came through with some free world ministers and Solley introduced me as being Jewish and well...I was suddenly tag teamed by the ministers and I could tell by the pained expression on Solley's face he didn't intend for that to happen. It was uncomfortable and awkward and gave me flash backs to boarding school being told I should accept Jesus and open my heart or else I was going to hell...but I was polite, respectful and smiled. These things used to make me really angry, but they meant no harm. They were kind...still it was awkward. Solley apologised after and I told him it was all good. It does highlight my point that TDCJ is trying to evangelize because they'd never allow Muslim clergy or a Buddhist monk or other faiths walk around and minister to inmates back here.  

Troop said he would try to come on Monday to show a movie,but I had no idea he'd come rolling up on our section with The big TV's at 6:50 in the morning! He also gave me my certificate of completion for my voyager class as well which I was really happy to get. We watched two movies: Focus with Will Smith and Trespass with Nicholas Cage. They have an FM transmitter hooked up to the TVs which we can listen to on our radios or tablets with stereo sound so it really felt like being at the movies. It was sooo cool. They were both decent movies. Nicholas Cage really hammed it up in Trespass, though... it was borderline cheesy. He took it just far enough. haha After that and with the day room gate open our section watched the movies, The Accountant and Red 2...again, not the best of movies but decent. And now I'm finally winding down for the day and preparing my thoughts and prayers for Wednesday...Each week is torturous waiting on the CCA, but it does bring me one week closer. I could really use the prayers for another chance at life. I won't be a disappointment. I won't let it go to waste.  

Course Strength Hope and Faith  

Peace.

  
May 15th, 2023

Monday afternoon and a boring one at that. Well, there was a bit of excitement earlier this morning during showers when a guard and inmate were going at it verbally. It was a bit ridiculous because it all started when the guard was talking to someone else, so the guy's neighbor jumped in the conversation and she said, "Shhh!" and so he said, "you shut up." She was offended and next thing you know they are screaming and cussing each other. It got so crazy that a lieutenant and sergeant had to come down and put out the fire. I just kept thinking “dear God I've got to get moved off of this section.” I feel like the old dude on the block complaining about all of the noise but it gets so crazy on my section at times that I can't even think. On one hand, I can wait it out if I'm still here in July when I join some classes that will take place on B pod this time around. I'm a shoo in for a spot and will be moved to a special section for that. So, do I just wait it out or hope that the CCA rules before then...I don't know. I do my best to just deal with it but it does take a toll mentally. No human can he expected to take noise 24/7 especially for a person that prefers silence and being inside of my own head.  

So, I had an interesting conversation with another officer over the weekend when she made a comment to my neighbor about America becoming communist (its not) and her freedoms being taken away. I could've easily dismissed it as another wack job and called her an idiot but I was genuinely intrigued and so I asked why did she feel that way and what "freedoms" has she lost? She couldn't really say other than feeling like she was being "forced" to accept so called gay agendas and things she disagreed with or went against her Christian beliefs and I asked if it wasn't a bit hypocritical to say she is losing her rights but is perfectly okay with marginalising a group of people simply because she doesn't "believe in it". I then gave her an article about what my Judge did to me and said, you want to see real religious discrimination and a violation of constitutional freedoms? My trial judge wanted me to be sentenced to death for just being Jewish. So, I can point to real violations. You aren't forced to accept anything you don't want to. That isn't a loss of your freedom or the signs of communism...but just as you aren't forced to accept anything you don't believe in, you don't have a right to hold others down simply because you don't believe in them. You can still go to church...no one is stopping you. You can still continue to practice your faith. If this democracy is failing it's because some people are doing whatever they can do to hold certain groups of marginalised people down. You know what response I got? I was called a " lefty"! I guess some people just aren't willing to see other perspectives...Can't win them all.  

As I write this my section is watching some movie called Rampage. I might catch a little bit of but I'm feeling a bit too tired to stand at the door for three hours I certainly hope they have recreation tomorrow... The lock down is over but there is a staff shortage issue right now as well. It would be nice to get out of the cell.  

Courage Strength Hope and Faith

Peace.

  
May 7th, 2023

I'm worried about my Taffy as she has COVID....Proof that the virus is still very much out there and people should still be cautious.

We are still on lock down but they've allowed the Field Ministers to show us a movie which was cool. On Friday we watched The Dark Knight, one of the Batman movies which was really good. I had watched it last summer but on the small screen of a tablet. We wanted to watch Avatar 2 but Troop forgot to bring the DVD and I thought seeing Dark Knight would be great on the big screens and the section agreed. On Saturday they turned on our day room tv and I was able to watch Crazy Rich Asians, and it was sooo good! I really enjoyed it. I enjoy a good action movie but I also love dramas, romantic dramas and comedies and that had a bit of both. The cinematography was gorgeous and the all Asian cast brilliant. I told my neighbor that it was good to see movies from other cultures. I highly recommend it.  

So, right now I'm livid...I found out I could look up legislative bills on my law library app, called Lexis Nexis. I'd been wanting to read the new Law Of Parties bill making its way through the Texas Legislative session and from what I understand is before the Texas Senate right now, having passed the house...It is an insult and joke. It is such a trash bill that I HOPE NO ONE WILL SUPPORT and I hope DOES NOT PASS...I know some will be offended by what I say but honestly, those whom have worked on reforming LOP law should be offended by such a bill and I will explain why. The bill in its current form does nothing for those on death row other than calling on a special review of LOP cases by the clemency board. They can then recommend to our governor whether we should have a life sentence or our death sentence remains. If you think Greg Abbott is going to grant clemency to any one sentenced to death under the LOP you are a fool. He's in the business of saving people convicted of murdering Black Lives Matter protestors, not saving poor minorities or two guys that escaped from prison. It shouldn't pass and I hope it doesn't because it will make it even harder to get a meaningful bill passed in the next legislation. because the law makers will feel like they've addressed the issue. DO NOT support House Bill 1736!!! And that is my opinion...but coming from someone that was sentenced under the law of parties...I think it is a joke. I'm truly sorry if that offends anyone.  

It's now evening and I'm kicked back listening to the prison radio station and winding down for the day. I'm praying for a good week and maybe good news.

Courage. Strength. Hope and Faith.  

Peace.


  
May 2nd, 2023

So, today I had a face to face meeting with Warden Dickerson over the religious discrimination grievance I filed. My issue was that we had access to a Christian app, but we're not allowed access to the podcasts which offers content for a myriad of different faiths.  

I was a bit surprised when two Officers came to my door and said that I had to go to the Warden's Office. My first thought was, why does he want to talk to me? I've not done anything wrong! But I went and walked into the office. The warden told the guards to leave and shut the door. First, he was very respectful and he told me that he agreed with my grievance and said if it was up to him we would be allowed the podcasts...but the decision was from higher up and they said we will not receive the podcasts or any other media...However, they are trying to figure out a way through The Tank to broadcast via the tablet content for other faiths through a coordinator named Roxanne Moss.

After that we made small talk and he told me that there would be a faith based program on B pod and I thanked him for allowing The Tank and the opportunity to participate in it. It was a nice conversation, and he even wished me luck with the court. He said his focus is on rehabilitation and not punishment...which you know, I believe but there are others butting heads with him that still carry that 'punish them all' mentality. Its politics, you know? I get it. I respect him all the more for talking to me in person.  

We are on week two of the lock down and I would have addressed the meagre meals we've been having but for lunch we had a hot meal and it was loaded down with meat and rice with a brown gravy, peas, white beans and yams. I ate every bit of it because we were famished. I hope this continues and there are no more sack meals...Breakfast today was two pancakes about the size of a jar lid, a smear of peanut butter and ten raisins. I hate complaining about food when so many people truly are starving in the world, but these meals of late had been paltry.  

The day has been peaceful and honestly, I'm not upset at all that they've kept the TVs off. It has reduced the noise and while I'm distracted by my own thoughts, at least I don't have to contend with that. I enjoy the movies. I really do. It has been a treat and blessing, but those TVs in the day room do add a certain amount of fuel to the daily noise and chaos.  

And that's been the day. I'll be on edge for the CCA rulings tomorrow, but each week is one week closer.  

Courage. Strength. Hope and Faith.

Peace.


  
April 30th, 2023

It's an early Sunday morning and I'm sitting here listening to the Sunday morning political shows, even though I'm kind of jaded by it all. We've been on lock down for a week now and I'm restless. It began last Sunday and we did kind of have a heads up that it was coming. What we didn't expect was for things to be was a throwback to the days in which lock downs felt more like a punishment more than just searching for contraband. We've had two showers in seven days, the sack meals have averaged at about, and I think I'm being generous here, two hundred calories per meal...so a total of 600 calories PER DAY when for the average male that weighs around 165-185 should be eating 1800 calories to keep healthy. I really don't understand how they get away with it.  

Now, on the shakedowns they've been moving at a fast clip, and I have to be fair here...we were dreading the worst because they had the professional shake down teams plus a bunch of new recruits and that never goes well. We were hearing complete horror stories from A pod and the other side of the pod of things being taken and excess property being confiscated. I wasn't too worried about that too much because I live modestly. I'm not a pack rat and clutter drives me nuts. I hold things of sentimental value and my electronics, and what I need to live, and that is it. I never worry about what I will lose. What makes me anxious is the total disrespect and disregard for personal property that the pro shakedown teams and jerk officers have. To come into a cell and see your pictures and cards and items strewn across your cell like a category four hurricane has come through is upsetting. So, when I left my cell, I expected that to happen. They began on Thursday but didn't finish and then returned on Friday morning taking us out of our cells and locking us in the shower for over an hour. When it was over I expected to return to my cell in complete disarray, but to my surprise and gratitude all of my stuff was neatly stacked on my bed frame. Nothing was on the floor or thrown all over the place. I am thankful to the officers that searched my cell. I tip my hat off to them. Others weren't so fortunate.  

They have turned the phone app off so calls aren't allowed until the lock down is over with and the section TVs are off. They had been turning them on in the evening but that stopped on Friday for some reason. Like I said, this feels like a throw back to the old days.  

I cannot believe it's the end of April! I'm entering into May with some anxiety as I am still waiting on the CCA to rule and I'm about to hit that five month mark and what begins the point in which the average amount of time it takes is between 5-7months. I was already a ball of nerves each Wednesday and now it is about to be turned up to 11! There have been some good things happening in the courts and one guy had his death sentence reversed to life almost two weeks ago so that does give me a little hope...I'm posting a new quote on the site and I think it fits perfectly. It is from C.S. Lewis and reads "You can't go back and change the beginning, but you can start where you are and change the ending". That means a lot to me because my path, and if given another chance, is to earn forgiveness through action, to pursue goals and dreams and to live a life of service. I wish I could undo the many bad decisions I've made, but I can't. What I CAN do is shape and change the future and the ending of my story. I'll stumble and I'm not perfect, but I know more than ever who I choose to be. Who I want to be. So, going into a new month those thoughts are at the center of my focus.

Courage. Strength. Hope and Faith.

Peace.

April 19th, 2023

Today is CCA rulings day and while it could still be weeks or months away, each Wednesday I'm pretty anxious. I did a little calculating and research on the average time it takes to release a ruling and it comes to about 5-7 months. My friend, Clinton's was 5 and another guy was 7 months. I'm a little past 4 months now and a few weeks ago my attorneys filed something else so who knows? The wait is crazy, but as long as it leads to me finally off of DR, I'll be okay.  

A guy I know back here went back to Dallas for a hearing on a possible execution date. He has been gone a week now and sent word to me on some information on if anything changed or not. He had his tablet in a day which was good to hear but he had to get some ear buds from someone else as commissary was out of them. He said he is enjoying the movies and music, though. Something we don't get here. At least he has a break from this place! I look forward to those days again...really just to have access to good music again. I depend on the prison radio station but I'd love to have my own music like last year. So much more I want to explore! I've seen so many movies of late that the excitement I had last year isn't as strong... Troop just brought us a movie on the big flat screens. Speaking of,we watched some really good ones of late. The Christmas movie Violent Night was sooo funny and crazy. I also enjoyed this cool vampire movie called Priest. This weekend they are supposed to play the new movie Cocaine Bear. That should be a wild one!  

I'm having to do a lot of my exercising in my cell these days because of a lack of recreation. I usually do push ups, leg exercise like lunges, squats etc. I will do some Pilate's and core and I have a weight bag filled with water bottles for arm exercises. I just mix it up. I generally do 30 minutes of exercises in the morning and then do things through out the day. If you don't eat a bunch of junk and do 30 minutes a day you'll tone up really fast. It is pretty amazing. I tell guys who don't like to exercise that it takes about 30 days to start seeing results. I thought I would be the last person on earth giving exercise advice because I used to hate it and I've always had issues with weight fluctuation,but really, it is crucial in this environment especially for mental health.  

On another note there are sometimes people in this world I live in who are a little 'off'...They are drawn like moths to a flame, and claim they know the individuals or post wild things and we deal with them the best we can. I tell guys it is best to ignore it and move forward because you can't control what a person does or posts. You just have to pray for those people and hope they get the help they need.  

So, to report some decent news from here...a mentally ill guy I've really taking a liking to over the years, Syed, was just granted a hearing from the CCA and another guy had his death sentence commuted to life today. We take little victories however we can get them and the news that the state can murder one less person is always a win in my opinion. Wow...the good news keeps coming. I just saw that the Supreme Court has ruled in Rodney Reed's favor in allowing him to pursue additional DNA testing to clear his name. Even though today wasn't my day I'm glad it was for others.  

Courage. Strength. Hope and Faith.  

Peace.

April 16th, 2023

It's a lazy, boring Sunday afternoon with some movie called Aquamarine on. I'm not even watching it but waiting for the next one to come on. Its been a bad movie weekend and honestly, my mind is too distracted to get into anything. I've been thinking about how bad I want to be finished with this place and at least back in Dallas. A friend of mine from back here was able to return this past week for some hearings next week and it just sent me into over drive with wanting to be done with Death Row. I know I go on and on about hoping the courts do the right thing and I do...and I'll face whatever happens after that as it happens, but I'm anxious and restless and this place isn't getting any better. We can't get regular rec. or even showers. Everything is jacked up and never consistent. At least I know things in Dallas don't change no matter what happens short of a pandemic. I'll get a shower every day. I'll get at least three days of rec. Is it paradise? Far from it. But I'll take consistency and being treated more humanely than this hell hole of chaos and uncertainty.  

Anyways, not to sound dour...I got a bit irritated earlier because a new promo was on our tablet telling people who use the tablet that they are now offering modern books and comics on the media app. Something we on death row can't even access. Isn't that crazy? We aren't even allowed to access newer books or a news app because of having a death sentence...Crazy.

On Friday I completed my Voyager Two class after six months of work and lessons. I hope to have my second certificate soon to add to my list of accomplishments since being here. No one can say I wasted time over the past twenty years. And I had nothing to gain other than self improvement. It's hard to say I had some ulterior motive with a death sentence hanging over my head. I take those accomplishments to the great beyond...But seriously, I am happy and proud of myself and I plan on adding to them because I do have a ton of goals if I survive this mess and I'm always looking to learn and grow.  

So, yesterday Troop and a church of volunteers delivered some cookies to us. That was a nice treat and I was thankful for that. There are rumors that we will be on lock down Monday or sometime this week.  

Courage. Strength. Hope and Faith.

Peace.

  
April 4th, 2023

It's 1:19pm on a grey and muggy Tuesday afternoon. We were supposed to have recreation today, but it was cancelled due to staff shortages. We are also at two days without showers for the same reasons. Here is how bad it is right now. Field Minister Troop came by to record an intro from me for the up coming Alternative Airwaves show I put together for the Tank on Friday night. I asked him how Field Minister Solley was doing and he said that they had Solley on psychiatric observation, doing a guards job watching over an inmate on 11 building to make sure he doesn't hurt himself. Solley is just an inmate. He may be well versed in the bible, but he isn't trained to deal with inmates having mental breakdowns. Crazy.  

Last night I watched a really powerful video from a young woman who forgave her father's killer. I was sobbing like a baby and it really affected me and spoke to the power of forgiveness. Her name is Shelby Houston and the video was called "Forgiving her fathers killer,Shelby's story"  I was floored by it!  

So, I mentioned earlier I was doing a show on Friday night with the prison radio station. It is the second time I've been invited to curate a five hour program with music and I recorded a positive message about changing prison and starting with change within ourselves. I'll be up all night Friday night but it is well worth it for sure.  

That is pretty much the day today. My section is about to watch Creed and some movie called Hancock. I wouldn't mind seeing that. I might check it out.  

Courage. Strength. Hope and Faith  

Peace

  
April 3rd, 2023

It's 8 :19am as I write this. I was up for my work out and a shower but the lights are out and the guard came through and said they were short handed. So, as of now there isn't showers so I will probably have to bird bath. I had hoped today I would have a lot to do..I even skipped the last movie yesterday to get to bed so I wouldn't be dragging my butt today. Oh well...We watched Oblivion, a kids' fantasy called Guardians Of Time, Oblivion and a horror movie called NIX which I recommend. It hit all of the right horror notes. A little weird and confusing at times, but genuinely creepy!  

Well, I don't think there will be a show down with the tv today...My neighbor really wants to watch the final of the college basketball tournament today. It's someone else's tv day, though and while I don't know specifically what the guy wants to watch, it won't be movies. It'll be some kind of sport. We shall see. I was telling myself to not get attached to movies all of the time, last night. I enjoy them, but it doesn't do me any good to just want movie movie movie. So I do need to limit myself. That's one reason I forced myself to go to bed or else I would have been up at that door after my normal bed time!  

It seems they finally have the phone app sorted, but we are only allowed to call those on our approved visitation list. And sadly, as of now, no over seas calls. I do hope they approve it one day. In Dallas it wasn't an issue and it's possible because it was the same securus network. It is one of those things here that TDCJ stipulates. I mean, if it can be verified and approved what should it matter? We can't just call random numbers anyways because the system requires the person to accept the call in the first place...It's a safe system.  

Well, there might not be any tv today or at least right now. The guard said someone stole the batteries out of the remote control. How crazy is that? It had to be another officer who probably hates that death row can watch tv now... I wanted to recommend the legal app, Lexis Nexis, to people who can afford a subscription. It's worth having if you like to look into cases or appeals to get not just facts, but up to the hour legal updates on appeals etc. It is relatively easy to navigate by just putting the person's name into their internal search engine and there you go. I think it's a handy guide in discerning fact from fiction or just to see how sometimes the courts can get it wrong. And they do quite a bit. I use it regularly and have learned a lot about the law in general from its use. I'm glad it's available on the tablet.  

I was listening to fox news earlier and on one of the morning shows the panel was going on and on about how Trump is innocent until proven guilty and an indictment isn't a convention and politics has no place in the judicial system. I agree with everything they said, but what made me call BS in their words was they convict people - especially poor minorities - in the court of public opinion all of the time. They do it every week. But if you are Trump it is a witch hunt. How quickly do people forget that Trump called for the EXECUTIONS of five young black teens who were later proven through DNA to be innocent. So, forgive me fox news if I think you are all full of #@#.  

It's later now and the tv was never turned on. No showers, no anything. This is one of those days were it should highlight why we not only should have more content on the tablet but it is crucial for good mental health.  

That's been it for the day.  

Courage. Strength. Hope and Faith  

Peace.

  
March 27th, 2023  

The last week of the month....March really rocketed by didn't it? I'm doing okay, just getting my morning started. When I returned from the shower and turned on my tablet there was a notice saying death row inmates will have the phone app beginning tomorrow. Our times are from 2pm to 8pm. You don't have to register with Securus...you have to register your phone number with texasprisonphone.com and that should be it. Then, once the number is approved, the inmate will have a notice on their app with your approved number and we'll be able to call you. The thing that sucks is that no overseas calls or services like Skype will be allowed. Even if you are on an inmate's visitation list. Hopefully in the future that will change.  

It was a decent weekend. We watched a bunch of movies. Avatar 2 was a bit long and not as good as the first one, but it wasn't bad. There was a really good remake of Fire Starter, but the best movie of the weekend was Papillon about a French man framed for murder and sent to France's worst prison. He escapes several times and is sent to Devils Island and is one of the only inmates to have made it off alive from there. It starred Ramy Malik and Charlie Hunham. There were some other decent movies sprinkled in as well.  

I am still feeling restless.I just keep hoping each week is my last week as a death row prisoner. Even if it takes a couple weeks or months to get back to Dallas, at least I can finally be able to breathe and have that title off of my back. I'll face whatever comes after that as it comes.  

I was just thinking that if the phone app really does come on tomorrow maybe it will cut down on the recreations they have. It'll be interesting to see what kind of effect it will have on people coming out of their cells. As of now there is very little excitement because everyone is tired of having hopes only to be disappointed again and again. For me the real disappointment is being excluded from the media app for no good reason. I just want some good music. Why not allow us to buy content and give a percentage of it to a victims' fund? It makes no sense to not utilise that kind of revenue that could help a lot of people. It would allow us to give back as well. I just can't wrap my head around it. We can't have entertainment on a tablet but we can watch free tv all day long? Well,not really free...the bill for that comes out of profits for commissary. Still, it is that good ol' backwards Texas logic that still dumbfounds me after all of these years.  

Courage. Strength Hope and faith.  

Peace.

  
March 25th, 2023

I'm starting this early Saturday morning. They are running recreation and it's a little crazy, but hopefully when the movies start things will taper down a little. I don't know for certain we will be doing movies on our section because the guy who has today likes sports and college basketball, but I'm hoping he will want to at least watch Avatar 2 as it's in the line up.  

Well, as I wrote that, that question was answered. It's on the movie channel now and the third season of a series called The Chosen, about the life of Jesus. As someone who is Jewish and spent several years in a Baptist boarding school during my teens, I find this to be a really interesting series because it is the exact opposite of what was taught at my school and what a lot of fundamentalists preach about Jesus and the bible. There is no fire and brimstone, no "muscular Christianity" no anti this or anti that message. It gets straight to the heart of what many believe Jesus taught which is compassion and forgiveness for all...that redemption is deserved for all who seek it. A pretty universal message for any faith. It is well produced and the acting is good. It's good television, as the critics would say. What I find most interesting about it all is how so many people in this country would embrace these teachings on the surface and pay it lip service and say that is how we should live, but our society (U.S. Citizens) does the opposite. We don't easily forgive, we are rooted in vengeance, and we don't often give room for a person to be redeemed. Having a death penalty lays truth to that alone. If I say I'm sorry to a person I have hurt and have done my best to show in actions, not in just words, it is rejected and I'm told I'm trying to play the system or looking for an angle. If I say I'm not a danger to anyone, I'm told I'm just waiting for the right opportunity. Nothing I say or do is accepted and yet...most of the U.S. would say they believe in Jesus' teachings. And he taught to forgive! Why, then is it so hard? I'll never be able to wrap my head around it. I don't mean that as a dig towards Christianity....it just makes me wonder why in the U.S. people say they believe one way and act the opposite. That being said, I've met some wonderful Christians that do follow Jesus' actual teachings as portrayed in the chosen series. I think the world would be a better place if it mirrored that particular portrayal.  

I say all of this also in light of news that when I spoke to the field minister, Troop, he said that several directors of TDCJ recently admitted in front of inmates and guards that their years working as prison officials have shown them that they've been doing things all wrong when it comes to criminal justice and they now see that there should be a pathway for inmates to be redeemed and earn their way back into society. It took them decades to come to that conclusion. Hopefully as more eyes are open and more people are accepting, many of us can finally atone for the things we've done.  

So...it's later now and we watched Avatar 2 ...It was way too long. It wasn't a horrible movie but the plot wasn't tight and had it been an hour shorter it could have probably been a much better movie, but if I blessed to live long enough, I'm with them until the series finishes. I think there are three more movies planned. I'll see what comes on this evening and might watch another couple of movies. Assuming it stays on the channel.  

Courage. Strength. Hope And Faith.

Peace.

   
March 24th, 2023

It's one of those ho hum days that can't seem to get started. I am still trying to figure out what I'm going to do and I'm starting this after lunch. It is my neighbor's tv day and he has it on some talk show, but I'm not watching it. I don't know if they plan on watching movies today or not because my neighbor isn't a big fan so it does give me time to take care of some things for the weekend in case there are good movies.  

We watched all three of the The John Wick movies and they were a lot of fun yesterday but last night's movie, some thing called 'The Visitor' wasn't good at all. I bailed on that about ten minutes in. Someone said commissary is raising the price of coffee to $4.50! That's crazy. A two dollar increase! It better be Starbucks at that price because the stuff they sell to us is generic dollar store junk and I don't see inflation jumping it up that high. It feels like price gouging! I just looked at the commissary list on the tablet and it has gone up! Some guys here can't afford that! I mean, you typically need two bags to get from one store to the next, then guys like to buy a pint of ice cream to treat themselves which is 3.25 and then necessities like hygiene and writing supplies...if your family sends you a little each month, that's wiped out on those items alone. It feels like gouging... On top of that, a lot of the items are made by inmates....clothing, food, hygiene...I mean, 60¢ for a card made out of free labor? The material itself is probably less than 20¢ per card.  

We just had fried fish for lunch and as I write this the clean up crew has come through. It feels like a strange day and I am a little bit restless. Well, it's later now and my neighbor pretty much handed his tv day over to me and initially I was going to put it on X men for the guys to watch but it turned out to be King Kong...so, they are watching that until the movie channel comes on. I think we'll get it changed when it's close to six.  

Field minister Troop just dropped by and we talked for a bit. He had been sent to another unit for training and he said it was an interesting time. He dropped off a movie list and everyone is excited because Avatar 2 is coming on. And that's the day pretty much...more this weekend!  

Courage. Strength Hope and Faith.

Peace.

March 20th, 2023

It's a lovely spring day this Monday of a new week. I've been spending the day keeping busy until we can hopefully watch the movie Greenland and some Star Wars. It is 62 cell's day with the tv, as our section has a drawing of cells for each day of the week that way it gives everyone a chance to watch what they want to watch. We are the only section that has this kind of system and there were some bumps early on, but a month in and we've worked out the kinks. We have one guy who lives here that just can't get along with anyone and unplugs the tv when he is at rec. but outside of him, things are working.  

Well, my day is Wednesday and at first I was a bit exhausted from watching movies all weekend long. I spent over a total of 24 hours on my feet watching movies we've never seen before. Then I found out Greenland was on today so I'm trying to wheel and deal to exchange my day for movies today. I think the guy will do it. I was thrilled and so happy my good friend Big Foot received a stay last week. That execution would have hit me hard, had it gone through. Any execution sucks, but I have only ever cried over few people and I know I would have been a wreck that day.

So, yeah, I went into the weekend with some high spirits. The weekend movies were really good. We watched parts one, two and three of the Jason Bourne movies, an excellent drama called Blue Bayou which I highly recommend, a Denzel Washington marathon and the sci fi epic Elysium. I also did a movie date with my Taffy and the movie Shazam. All worth the tired body in the end!  

Well, as of now, I've talked the guy into the movie Greenland, but he's not a big fan of Star Wars and isn't feeling a three movie marathon but he hasn't said no. My feelings won't be hurt if he does. It comes on all of the time. I'm good with Greenland. I was just listening to fox news and they are sooo upset that the Manhattan DA might charge Donald Trump...they are such hypocrites because they get all up in arms if the DA doesn't go after someone who steals a candy bar and throw them in jail, but they don't want 'their guy' to be prosecuted when the clown is a career criminal? It is a witch hunt when he has skirted accountability for decades just because he has money? These people are insane.  

The morning started bright and clear but now it's grey...looks like it might rain. That has pretty much been all that is going on around here.  

Courage. Strength. Hope and Faith.

Peace.

  
March 14th, 2023

It's the afternoon and my section is watching Detective Pickachu as we wait for Troop to show us the movie Shazam on the big screens. I went to rec first thing in the morning and I am energised and have done some exercises throughout the day. But now I am giving my body a little rest because I've been pushing it really hard with exercises. Even when my ankle was sore, I still did a lot of upper body etc. I even had a weird dream that I fit back into a pair of jeans from my teenage years! Haha. I just would like to be in tip top shape with a return to Dallas.  

I have had some really strange dreams since being able to watch movies. Yesterday I had a nice legal visit but I learned I've been defrauded and someone stole from me. Not a good feeling and it made me understand more the hurt I had caused from my own actions in the past. I told my investigator I guess in a way it was Karma and maybe it was deserved.  

Over the weekend, the Sunday movie line up wasn't that good, and being so tired throughout the day made standing at the door unbearable but I did watch two good movies one with Peter Dinklage called Rememory. That guy is an amazing actor. I've seen him in smaller roles but in this movie he carried it, and wow! There was a real depth of emotion. Another was a Holocaust movie called The Survivor. He was in Auschwitz concentration camp and forced to box other Jews to the death to entertain Nazis. If he lost, he'd be killed and so he was essentially forced to kill his fellow prisoners. He survives and becomes a boxer in the U.S. and is searching for his long lost love from before the war...and he goes through PTSD and survivors guilt. In the end he finds her as she is dying of cancer and he can finally make peace and let go. I was crying like a baby! It ends on a beach with his American wife and he tells a classic Jewish joke about a mother and her son playing on the beach. A huge wave comes and sweeps her son back into the ocean and she cries out to G-d, Why? Why did you take my only son from me!? Another wave comes crashing in and spits her son back out to her and she hugs him tightly, looks to the heavens and says, “He had a hat!” The joke being that for Jews we are always praying to be saved and when we are, we find a reason to complain about it. In that final scene you realise the survivor has let go of his guilt and is grateful for being alive. It made me think and be grateful for the moments I've had and the chance of a second life should I also survive. Here I am complaining about not having a media app or other things, but I am alive! The most important thing of all! What do I choose to do with that life? Well...I want to be good and to be in service to others. I also hope for forgiveness and to show in actions, not words. I would hope for redemption.  

So, I can't believe we're already close to half way through the month. Time is flying by! There's an obvious eagerness and anxiousness as we wait on the ruling, though. But we are so close to being there! Even if it takes another three months. We are almost there and I feel it. I was reading some rulings on nexis lexis and it gave me some comfort that in almost every ruling that the state concedes, the CCA grants the new trial. As well as the cases of proving actual bias, ACTUAL being the key phrase. We shall see what tomorrow brings, but as my investigator told me, he believes we are in a good place and the possibility of a new trial is a very real thing.  

Courage. Strength. Hope and Faith.

Peace.

  
March 11th, 2023

It's Saturday, close to noon, and after a raucous morning of chaos and noise, the place has gone quiet to watch a Clint Eastwood western called A Fist Full Of Dollars. I'm not big on older western movies, but I'm glad that people can enjoy it. I'm grateful for the silence as well!  

The death row warden came around today and it was a surprise to see him on a Saturday. He was asked when we would get the phone app and he said it could be a month or longer. He also said that Death Row would only be allowed to call those people on our visitation list. Someone asked if we would get other apps and he said no. Then someone pointed out that it made no sense that we could sit around and watch tv all day long but could not purchase our own content via the media app and he agreed but said the decisions come from higher up. That is really all we learned in terms of what is going on.  

As I write this I'm waiting for recreation but as the day carries on I feel less inclined to go. I'm cooking right now and there are some movies I'd like to catch and I have a movie date with my Taffy and don't want to miss that. If I can go next round, I might go, but after? As much as I dislike being trapped in the cell, I'm just not feeling it today.  

It's later now...I didn't go to rec. instead opting for the shower. Well, I was stuck in there for an hour because the guards decided to 'take a break' because their feet were tired. The only job on the planet that doesn't fire you for not doing your job... I'm worn out now and after having watched Wonder Woman, a great movie I should add. I'm just waiting for a horror movie and then I'm calling it a night. Tomorrow is my tv day and there is a so so line up of some movies I've seen and haven't seen so it should be a decent day. I have to get up early to make sure the station gets put on and then after that it is cruise control.  

Courage. Strength. Hope and Faith.  

Peace.

  
March 10th, 2023

Friday...It's grey and humid today. We're not having recreation even though there are 4 officers working today on the pod. I stayed up last night until 10pm to watch the movie The Happening. It started off strong but fell apart after the second act, got a bit ridiculous, and the movie didn't really get anywhere. The twist was revealed too early in the movie. It would've worked better to have people guessing what was causing humans to kill themselves...the other thing is once the government or people knew it was nature and plants striking back by releasing toxins in the air, why weren't people wearing gas masks or oxygen tanks? Dumb...

We'll see if we do movies tonight or not. I know we will all day Saturday and Sunday. I've got to spend the day busy so I don't fall behind. I have Voyager class at three and I'm sure there will be book work and homework.  

Courage. Strength. Hope and Faith  

Peace.

  
March 9th, 2023

As I write this it's early Thursday morning and I'm killing time as I'm scheduled for 4th round of recreation outside, and with this crew and the scheduled execution, it is uncertain that I'll make it. I'll just say that I do believe Arthur Brown is innocent, and even one of my attorneys who worked on his appeals believed that and felt horrible he couldn't do more. It is really sad to think about.  

I watched two movies Wednesday in the day time but it didn't put me too far behind in anything. We watched Captain Marvel which was better than I expected, as well as Star Wars Rogue One which I had seen last summer in Dallas. After that I finished up for the day and chilled in the evening. The guys around me watched The Masked Singer. I took a glimpse at it and that show is bonkers! People singing with huge costumes! Then, and this had me laughing so hard, they watched Farmer Wants A Wife! All of these pretty city women vying for the affection of a dude in a cowboy hat and boots! Geeze, the stuff on tv these days. I swear, if I had a time machine I'd go back to where it all started and prevent MTV's The Real World from ever happening! Imagine a world where the most superficial shows on earth never existed! There'd be no Kardashian's or Octomom.. Pure world harmony!  

Well, I was bumped up and went outside on 2nd round. We played 40 games of basketball and my ankle felt good. I started out a bit slow and careful but as I played had more confidence, and my foot was okay. By the end of the time we tied up 20-20. It was fun.  

Spring is definitely here! Today is 85 degrees for a high! That is May like temperatures... I think it is going to be one hot summer here. I hope to be in Dallas by then because they keep the air blasting. It does get hot outside in the gym though. I don't mind that for an hour or two but here the air is always wonky.  

It's later now...they killed Arthur. You know, they said in 30 years he showed no remorse, but for those 30 years he really was innocent, and why would he be expected to show remorse for something he didn't do? Personally knowing him for 20 years, I know he felt bad for all involved but he has always said he wasn't there.  

I'll finish this tomorrow.  

Courage. Strength. Hope and Faith  

Peace


  
March 6th, 2023

I'm writing this in between commercial breaks as my section watches the movie Gemini Man with Will Smith. It's funny because the action packed movies get absolute silence in this place. So, today has been one of those weird days in which it was frustrating and incredibly boring, but also moved by incredibly fast. I intended to get up at 6am and overslept until almost seven, got the day moving with exercises and a bird bath, because I thought they weren't going to do showers, but they did do them and so I went even though I had a bird bath. I then got caught up on writing and next thing I knew most of the day was gone and because I worked hard enough, I was ahead of things and here I am in between watching a movie.  

Yesterday was a good movie day, the best movies being a romantic movie called Valentines Day and another crime drama called Dig as well as a historical movie called Harriet which brought me to tears. Tomorrow I'm hoping they have recreation so I can have a good cardio work out and then later that morning I hope to have a visit. Of course, it'll be a sad week with two scheduled executions this week. Texas is in full tilt murdering people. Hey, citizens, don't kill...it's bad and against the bible...if you do, we'll kill you. Hell, we'll kill you even if you didn't kill anyone...Completely rational folks, here...Remember the Alamo! This place is insane. Still have to get through the rest of the week.  

Courage. Strength. Hope and Faith.

Peace

  
March 5th, 2023

(Dear reader, forgive the scattered brain nature of this. I've been writing it in between movies through out the day!) It is a bright blue and clear Sunday morning. As I write this, we are waiting for the guard to turn on the tv for movies today.  

I'm doing okay. I went outside on Thursday and played 35 games of basket ball...recovery time body wise for a 45 year old isn't like it used to be but I can still give these youngsters a run for their money! Even if I twisted my ankle. Nothing serious, just rolled on it when I was pivoting to shoot a basket.  

We have seemingly been screwed over again...Now, I preface this by saying it is coming from a dude who went to visit Thursday and their visitor read an FB page and apparently as of now, and the reason they removed the phone app on that same day, is that Death Row was not supposed to receive the phone app. Only Ad Seg. Our plan has yet to be finalised which is ridiculous. To add insult to injury, it is a spit in our face because the majority of men in Ad Seg are there for behaviour or dangerous gang activity and yet they are deemed suitable for phone calls and not death row? You have men with capital life sentences in Ad Seg. It makes no sense! So...for now our phone app is cancelled. They keep us on this yo yo telling us one thing today and another thing the next and it really is messed up. How hard is it to just give us a definitive yes or no and leave it be?  

My ankle is still a bit tender but thank goodness it wasn't anything too bad. When I stand on it and move around it loosens up so I am good as our section does movies this weekend. I was okay when I watched the Thriller Thursday night called Becket about this couple that vacations in Greece and get into a car crash. The girlfriend dies and the corrupt Greek police believes Becket had seen something he shouldn't have and the rest of the movie they try to kill him. It was decent. I have been standing like a flamingo to keep the pressure off of my bad ankle. Thank goodness I had the movie list and made copies so everyone knows what is coming on this weekend!  

I had a visit on Saturday night and it was picture night so I'm hoping that the picture came out good. I got the thumbs up from the guard that took it so we shall see! It's been forever since I've had a picture, other than a Dallas mug shot and being in court! Haha. Before visit I made it outside by myself yesterday afternoon and it was perfection. It was nice to be alone with my thoughts and enjoy the day. After that I went to the visitation building and it was packed. They raised the prices on the food out there which is ridiculous now and really unfair to lower income families who have to travel and pay gas etc. But the pictures are free now and they send them to an email address the visitor provides. They do everything so strange and complicated these days, though.  

It's a new week and hopefully it brings good news! I keep praying and preparing myself for a return to Dallas. We are now at the 90 day mark so anything could happen moving forward. Although I'm prepared for the long haul. I think.  

The movies have been decent today. Our section has enjoyed it. Here's looking forward to a good week!  

Courage. Strength. Hope and Faith.  

Peace.

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