February 2007 - Randy Halprin

Randy Halprin
 "We tend to see a person in the moment, not as the journey they travelled to get here."  Kat Lehmann

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Journals

February 28th, 2007

Okay...I'm a little outraged right now. I was just listening to the news and they were talking about a high profile capital murder trial in Sugar Land, Texas - a suburb of Houston. Apparently the defendant allegedly hired his two friends to murder his family for the insurance claim. Two of the family members were killed. A tragedy to say the least. Now, one of the friends directly involved with the murder, a participant, and driver of the getaway car, was given…15 YEARS!!! Just fifteen freakin' years! He was a freakin' participant and he takes a plea agreement to testify on the others for fifteen years!! For murder!  

This just goes to show how messed up our system is. The law of parties is ridiculous for one, but also, to be convicted of a capital murder you have to knowingly and willingly have participated in the murder. Now, there are tons of guys on death row under the Law of Parties who face losing their life for being at the wrong place at the wrong time, or hanging around the wrong people. This guy who was given 15 years confessed! That's just mind boggling. So, he's not as dangerous? I don't get it. How is it fair that his two co-defendants are eligible for the death penalty, but he isn't? Because he's willing to testify? I don't get it. Just another reason why the death penalty is not fair, or an acceptable answer. The system is a joke and is outrageous. Justice is crap.

Peace.



February 27th, 2007

Howdy do. Another wonderful day in this place. Actually, it's quite pretty outside. Plenty of sun light pouring through my window. Our section didn't have recreation today, or else I would've definitely been trying to get outside.

I've spent much of the afternoon talking to one of my neighbors and consoling him. I don't know what I know about love, myself, but he's going through much of what I went through with my ex-wife and I can understand the pain. He's a little slow, and has many disabilities and sadly this is his very first relationship ever. It's kind of heart breaking to know that he never had any real experiences with a woman outside of death row. Because of his disabilities he has a hard time explaining how he feels and how he expresses himself. He has anger issues also. I think my best advice to him was to not react in an aggressive or violent manner. I could tell by his voice, the very sad tone, that he was going through hell. It's ironic how one of the most purest and uplifting human emotions can also be so destructive.  

Mail seems to be at an all time low here. Everyone is being affected by whoever is holding up mail. Get this...a guy had to find out two freakin' weeks later that a family member had died. Not only did the unit chaplain not inform the man of the lost family member, but a letter that should've gotten to him in no more than three or four days, took two weeks. The problem is, no one knows how to solve this problem. Grievances come back with replies that say you can't complain about the mail. The mailroom says that we get it when they get it and the powers that be just don't give a damn. It's frustrating and it's affecting friends and families. Maybe they want to keep everyone purposely out of touch with the present. The point is, we need solutions and we need them fast. What's going to happen if this isn't solved is some dude back here is going to flip his lid and end up attacking someone, and that would just be a horrible outcome any way you look at it.

I'll probably be moved tonight. I hope to go somewhere decent. Who knows.

Guess I'll get ready just in case.

Peace.



February 26th, 2007

Monday and a beautiful Monday at that. I really think spring is finally here. I went outside earlier and it felt great. Too bad there wasn't too much sun on my side 'cause I could use it. I'm looking like casper the friendly ghost. I was ready to play some serious ball and do some serious running though...and it was good for my mind.  

I think tonight I feel like grossing people out by telling them what's in some of their wonderful food! This is from the book Fast Food Nation by Eric Schlosser. I will use two excerpts, one on food dye - red dye to be precise and then, the other on the true definition of what a label means when an item says “Natural Flavors”.  

"The Vegetarian Legal Action Network recently petitioned the FDA to issue new food labeling requirements for foods that contain natural flavors.  The group wants food processors to list the basic origins of their flavors on their labels….One of the most widely used color additives, whose presence is often hidden by phrase “color additive” violates a number of religious dietary restrictions, may cause allergic reactions in susceptible people and comes from unusual sources. Cochineal extract (also known as carmine or carminic acid) is made from the desiccated bodies of female Dactlyopius coccus costa, a small insect harvested mainly in Peru and the Canary Islands. The bug feeds on red cactus berries and the color taken from the berries accumulates in the females and their unhatched larvae"

Basically, what happens next is the insect is dried and then ground into pigment. Many yogurts, fruit bars, candies, fruit fillings and juices use this pigment to color their items to look pink, red or purple. Yummy! A typical fast food milk shake contains over forty artificial flavors! McDonalds French fries are flavored with beef extract! Many fast food restaurants that claim a “natural smoke flavor” in their beef are really using a chemical extract captured when saw dust is charred. Yum yum yum. Who doesn't love the smoky taste of saw dust? I do not miss meat at all…

I guess I'll close on that wonderful and delicious note!

Peace.



February 25th, 2007

It's a beautiful Sunday morning. I'm sitting here listening to "This American Life" and getting caught up on work. I didn't really have much to write for today. Though, I wanted to include a couple of pieces of information I found out over the past few days...

Firstly, regarding the nurse who made the pro-death penalty comment, her name is Ms. Curry. She works for the corrections division of UTMB (University of Texas Medical Branch) which has a contract with most county jails and the Texas Department of Corrections. There are a few nurses with her attitude, and I've made it my personal goal to see that her comments are addressed. I don't know how you can be in a profession of healing and express pro-death penalty comments.

Secondly, I'm including a little interview I did in which a guy here who is my neighbor right now, and who claims he saw a brief part of a video of the execution of a guy named Gary Graham. I cannot verify this, but I'm working hard on it. Still, I found his words seemingly disturbing and very honest. Here it is:

Q: May I use your name for this little interview?
A: No.
Q: Why not?
A: Because my attorneys told me not to stir any trouble up.
Q: Don't you feel it important to let it be known about this?
A: Yeah, but I'm trying to keep these guards off my back.  I have a new retrial coming up.
Q: Okay. Can you describe to me how you saw this video? What was the video about?
A: It was an execution video of Gary Graham.
Q: How were you able to see it?
A: I was called out for a telephone call. When I went into the use of force room to make the call, there were some guards and rank watching it like a movie. (Note: The use of force room is where we are taken to make phone calls. It's a large room filled with riot gear, and has two desks and a T.V./VCR monitor)
Q: What did you see?
A: It fucked my head up.
Q: Describe to me what you saw, if it's not too difficult for you.
A: The dude was strapped to the table and his face looked like he was beaten up. I guess he put up a struggle before he was strapped down. I heard rumors he tried to fight before they took him to the walls. (Note: the Walls is the unit in Huntsville Texas where they take you to from Livingston, Texas, to be executed on your date.) Anyways, I saw him on that table and it looked like he was suffocating. His face changed colors and he let out a gasp and then there was some commotion.
Q: Did it look like he was in pain?
A: I don't know. I just knew he was suffocating.
Q: So, you're telling me that the guards escorting you and the other guards plus ranking officials were all watching this tape?
A: Uh huh. But then Sergeant Ludwig walked into the room and he looked disturbed by it and got pissed and said, "don't ya'll ever show this shit in front of an inmate!" He walked over and turned the T.V. off.
Q: Who were the ranking officers watching this?
A: Ummm. I think Lieutenant Price and Sergeant Pool.
Q: How do I know you aren't making this up?
A: I got no reason to make this shit up.  I seen it. I just got all detailed with you.
Q: Why didn't you tell someone? Why didn't you write a grievance?
A: I told you, I was about to have a retrial and I didn't want to start no shit. I'm about to have another retrial this summer and my Attorney promised to look into it after this is over.
Q: Alright.
. . . . . .

Well, like I said, I can't verify any of this. I did ask someone who knew Gary Graham, and they said he did get beat up before his execution. My theory on how the video tape was made is that they considered it a "use of force" incident and have to tape and document anything that requires force. Executions are not to be video taped, but if the were video taping a use of force, then maybe they allowed this to be taped. I don't know. I'm surprised it hasn't turned up on the internet and I know if the tape still exists, as it should unless Huntsville destroyed it, it should be accessible...I do think the guy who told me all of this is being truthful.

It's too detailed and this guy is mentally retarded and would not be able to make something like that up. He was upset in talking about it, I could hear it in his voice. Okay, I need to get to other stuff.

Peace!



February 24th, 2007

Oh, glorious Saturday! The sun is out, it's warm and bright. I still need to go to recreation today...I think I probably will around 4pm...the day is still young. Not much happening around here. I say that a lot, huh? It's funny, because a lot of people use the movie "Ground Hog Day" as a metaphor on our lives, and I have to say it's pretty much true. It could even be considered as a syndrome, I think. Everything is the same (awww shit, damn chronic masturbator is in the day room. I've got to block my cell window for two hours so I don't see him doing his 'thing'.)

Guess I'll close here. I'm going to do some reading and maybe write on some other things. I've got a really good idea for a short story I'm going to call "Reflections" about twins, one on death row, one free...I did an outline; we'll see where it goes.

Peace.



February 23rd, 2007

It's Friday and I'm sitting here just letting my mind wander. Kind of in a daze. It had been so nice the last few days and then another rain storm came in. I think spring may be here a little early. I'm sick and tired of rain. I think I already wrote this, once, but when I was younger I used to love gloomy days; I was comfortable feeling depressed, if that makes sense. In Kentucky, at school, I'd go up to my room, put on the Cure's "Disintegration" album and get lost in the music. Then, I found The Cure's "Pornography" album and talk about manic depressive music! I'd literally lay my head in between two speakers and turn out the lights...But now, living with so much gloom and doom it gets old real fast. I still like depressing music, 'cause I think a part of me will always have that (unless I was on meds. Haha) encoded in my DNA. I just want blue skies and sunshine right now! Lots of it! I tell you what.. Now that it's warming up, I'm ready to get back into the groove of playing some ball. I really need to get out and run. I'm pushing it really hard.

Guess I'll end this here. I'm just jumping around. Maybe we'll have sunshine tomorrow.

Peace.



February 21st, 2007

Good news!!! My brother Jimmy responded
to a message I wrote to him, after a friend had found him. It was awesome and wonderful to hear from him. It's been over 11 years. Most importantly, he forgives me. That means so much to me and I know the kid probably has a huge and kind heart. Awesome! I'm just so happy about this and look at it like it's one step closer to a full family reconciliation and reunion. I want for that to happen so badly. I think I would feel as if my life came full circle if that happened. Heck, just to have my father's forgiveness and for him to see who I am now. That would be many prayers answered.

Uh oh.. another may fly headed my way. LEAVE ME ALONE, I'M TRYING TO TYPE LITTLE BUG!!! Haha, as if the sucker can read this. Well, they don't seem to understand verbal warnings too well, either.

Peace!



February 20th, 2007

Last night I was moved to D-pod. I keep coming back to the same cell! I've been in three cells about 6 times since I came off of level 2 back in November. I don't mind where I'm at, though there is one guy here that tends to get on my nerves. A chronic masturbator of sorts...ugh. He lives in self delusion that every female guard wants him...Sheesh.

This pod is pretty nasty and there seems to be an influx of may flies everywhere. I've seen about ten or twelve in my cell and I try to chase them out, as I really don't like squashing them anymore, but I have a strong dislike of bugs - they freak me out. I don't know why. Childhood fear or something.

Not much else happening around here.

Peace.



February 19th, 2007

Today is a bogus holiday - Presidents' Day. Things have been super slow, I had a really good exercise and a funny thing happened as I was jogging. I got called “The White Devil” by a dude. Crazy stuff.  

This one female guard has left her post and has been hanging out with this male guard working the pod. Young love, I guess. This place is sooo high school. She's okay so I won't write negative things about the two, but still you would think with all of the various escapes and problems they'd be a little less complacent.  Tax payers money hard at work.

Guess I'll close here. That's all there is to report.

Peace.



February 18th, 2007

Wow.. We've had two days of sunshine. It's been so nice! Yesterday I went outside with Ving and we exercised for a little bit and then just enjoyed the nice weather. It's been super cold here lately and the sun sparse. I'm just glad to have had that moment out in the sun. We were going to play a little ball, but could only manage three games, as it was too cold. Today has been sort of boring. I wish I had something of substance to write about, but I really don't...I'm going to spend the rest of the evening reading so this is it for today.

Peace.



February 15th, 2007

I've just been relaxing today, kind of in a writers funk. I shouldn't even be wasting my time with this entry...Yet, here I am. So much on my mind and not knowing how to get it all out. I wish I could just let it pour, but the faucet of thoughts has been turned off and tightened down with a monkey wrench.

Mail is all messed up too. Why do they keep messing with my mail?

Peace.



February 13th, 2007

Ugh...So tired! I just got done cleaning my cell and getting things in order in case I am to be moved in an hour or so. I'm ready to go so long as it's not E-pod or F-pod, but I'm probably jinxing myself. For some reason or the other they're not giving us showers today. Nobody has given a legitimate explanation, but the water is just fine, as my sink water is running both hot and cold...Hmmm.

I got about four hours of sleep last night and then got up at six in the morning. I'm hooked on listening to this cartoon "South Park". It is so funny. Nothing is sacred. Sure, the humor can be infantile and potty mouthed, but some of the episodes are really a stroke of comedic brilliance.  

Not much else is going on...Just waiting to see if I'm moved. If anything exciting happens I'll write more. If not, I think this is going to be it for the day. I'm really tired and I need to catch the world news...

11:15 P.M...I was moved to A-pod. Cool section. Love it here. Next to my buddy Jeff...

Peace.



February 12th, 2007

Man...The craziest thing was just uttered by a nurse who does insulin shots for the diabetics on this pod…As she was passing down the walk way, a guy in the day room, recreating, jokingly and good naturedly said, “Hey, what about my shot?” She muttered a disgusting comment (It happened at 2:54pm as I documented the time..) “They'll give you a shot when it's time to die.” Implying the lethal injection. I don't think he understood what she said, but I understood completely and went to my cell door and said, “What is your name? How can you utter something like that when your primary job is the well being of others? You call us sick, but listen to your own words.” A guard told me to chill out, but I was so pissed! I'm gonna find out her name and once I do, I'm putting it in this journal and I'm going to ask that complaints be filed against her. I'll write a grievance also. How can you work in a medical profession and then make a comment about killing someone? Demented. That's south east Texas for you...

I went to recreation real late, but it was nice, because it was sooo quiet. I came back, showered and after I type this up I'll catch some Jay Leno and South Park. I've gotta get up at six to go outside. I can't stay up too late.

Goodnight, and Peace.



February 11th, 2007

I totally broke a radio and had to
pay for it to be replaced. I had such confidence in my skills!! Now, my little Mr. Fix it bubble has been burst. I won't get into details, but know that I feel like such an idiot....

Oh well...

Peace.



February 8th, 2007

My attorney came today...I wasn‟t expecting a visit from him until the end of the month, and I was actually asleep when the guards came to my door to escort me to the visitation building. I hopped out of bed in a daze, half ass brushed my teeth and rinsed my face and sloppily got dressed. He came to drop off an affadavit for one of my co-defendants for them to sign, basically saying that had my attorneys from my trial asked him to testify on my behalf, he would have. This is to show negligence from my original attorneys...Also, in the affadavit he would swear that I never pulled or shot a gun and that I didn't expect anyone to be killed. I would post it up, but right now it's confidential, but as soon as I can, I will. I just hope my co-defendant signed it. My attorneys stroked his ego (and he does have a massive meglomaniac head!) So hopefully he'll be willing to help. All in all it was a good meeting.

Much of the rest of the day has been spent reading Al Gore's book, “An Inconvenient Truth” which was also turned in a what's been touted as an excellent and shocking documentary. The book is really good and breaks down the whole global warming issue. It gives charts, pictures of seas, lakes, icebergs, glaciers, taken years ago and comparing them to now. I highly recommend reading it.

Peace.



February 7th, 2007

Yesterday, I mentioned a report on the news about the Texas Parole System...It had me really upset and I'm still fuming over the idiocy of it...Basically the report implied that TDCJ (Texas Department Of Criminal Justice) was allowing inmates to parole early. Of course every inmate released is a "Violent Criminal". Now, the way the current system works is on any violent offense i.e., robbery, assault, murder, capital murder pre-2005, (any capital crime after 2005 is death or life with out parole) rape etc…you have to complete half or more of your sentence to be eligible for parole. So, say you went out and assaulted a person today, and you received a 30 year sentence, you would not be eligible for parole until you've served fifteen years. There's no such thing as "Good time", even though we're supposed to be able to receive it for good behavior, work, school etc. Most of the time on violent offenses you will serve no less than 80% of that sentence. However, due to over crowding and courts seemingly giving out life sentences for everything under the sun, the system is stacking up a myriad of problems forcing parole to release those who have served half of their sentence and who have behaved in prison during their time.  

Unfortunately, the media can't see the forest for the trees and they want to sensationalize the story and put unnecessary fear into the hearts of good citizens, “Could you be living next to a killer? Find out at ten in our special investigative report!” Why don't they offer real solutions or how about reporting on why the state does not focus on rehabilitation or why the state continues to cut programs for drug abuse, violence or anger management. Why have they not reported how the state has limited access to chaplain services from churches and other religious organizations and programs...and don't say it's because of the ACLU, as some might do...The ACLU is not against religion, they just want equal services to all prisoners and religions…The truth of the matter is people can hollar and cry foul that too many people are being released or the sentences given to offenders aren't lengthy enough, but they never seem to think about the long term effects. How many more prisons need to be built? How do you cover the medical costs as prisoners age and are diagnosed with an alarmingly growing rate of hepatitis and type 2 diabetes? Do you just want to punish, or offer a shot at redemption and to serve the community successfully? Or you can just turn on your T.V. and watch the media frighten you with ignorance?

That's my sermon for the day...

Peace.



February 6th, 2007

Today has started off quite well…It's 8:16am, and while I've only had about 4 hours of sleep, due to a rowdy neighbor cussing out the guards, all night long, I'm in fairly good spirits anyways.  

I'll be going to recreation in a few minutes; I'm going to exercise and think for a while. When I come back I want to write about a disgusting news report this news channel, CBS 11, who don't even try to disguise its blatant bias in its self righteous reporting, did a piece on the Texas parole system…Completely misleading and factually incorrect. Oh, an example of how biased this news station is - on a report for some strip clubs the reporter began it by saying, “For some, one person's trash is another's treasure…” I was like “WHAT?” More to come when I return.

It's now 9:40 p.m, and my day got past me...I was just moved to B-pod and so I'll have to write tomorrow. Gotta get to cleaning.. ugh.

Peace.



February 5th, 2007

Today was a day with real jerks working. Officer M. the number one of them all. I won't use his full name because he's a real vindictive person. What I'm hoping is if TDCJ officials read this that they'll put two and two together. Anyway, he works “One card first shirt” and was on F-pod today 2/5/07...

So, officer M. has this little “hit list” of about 10 people he hates, and it's guaranteed that if he's working the pod you can be sure that if you're on his list, you won't get recreation, a meal or a shower. He will not give them to you. What I don't get is why the ass is even allowed to work in TDCJ in the fist place, when last summer he was suspended for trying to break an inmates arm…apparently him and an inmate had words, so at lunch time when the inmate stuck his hand out with is cup to get juice, officer M. grabbed his arm and forced it down over the slot…which makes me believe that the only language TDCJ (Texas Department of Criminal Justice) knows is violence. I mean, look at the events of yesterday as a prime example. If the state hires jerks like him and others, no wonder we have prisons like Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo Bay. Violence, hatred - they're like diseases. They are a disease that incubates and grows and spreads through weak minds...

Other than officer M. and his following toady guards, the day was quite beautiful. Sunshine poured through my window and I was pretty productive. Right now I'm just listening to the radio, waiting for mail to come…As I received none on Friday, I should hopefully get some today. Maybe something from my brother Jimmy - I'm praying for a message from him…I really, really hope.

Peace.



February 4th, 2007

I need to get back to a normal sleep schedule...Ever since I was moved to F-pod this past Wednesday I haven't been getting to bed until about 3-4 in the morning. I've been staying up, chatting with my neighbor and such...I'm starting to feel it. I keep forgetting I'm not eighteen years old anymore. I'm almost thirty years old for crying out loud (Why does that seem so...old? Haha) I can remember when I was just a child and thinking people who were thirty were old farts...Ah yeah, life through the eyes of a child. I miss that!

There was an incident here on our section that started at about 9:45am...They had just passed out lunch and a guy upstairs “jacked” the food slot. Basically, what that means is, he stuck his arm out the rectangular portal in our cell doors. This is an effective tactic to get a ranking officer down to the pod, because usually when you ask the normal floor officer, he'll refuse to get a sergeant. So this is one of the few ways to get him to come to the pod. Well, there is this real...hmmm, how do I say this nicely?? This real jerk of a sergeant, named Brown. He loves to stir up trouble and curse at people and in general just be a true ass. Very unprofessional. He comes to the pod cursing and screaming and making threats against the inmate instead of just trying to hear what the issue at hand might be…For whatever reason, sergeant Brown felt that the inmate was just trying to get moved to another cell on the other side of the pod and so he says, “Oh yeah, I'll move your fucking ass to a cell on this section, but your bitch ass ain't going anywhere else. I ain't falling for it..” Well, the inmate says, “Since you don't want to talk to me peacefully, or with any sense, I refuse to give up this slot. To make a long story short, the riot team is called and the guy is gassed and forced out of his cell. This is what I mean when I talk about how things escalate and go beyond what it needs to be. This is pretty much the standard stupidity of TDCJ and the people they place in authority positions. It's not ignorance. It's stupidity, plain and simple.

In other news, my new MySpace page is up at MySpace.com/Peace__Love__Compassion. I think it looks really good. A much different look from the original page. This one is more geared towards being an activist page for anti-death penalty stuff. My friend did a really good job. It'll be evolving as the weeks go by and I'll bring myself back into it, but for now we're trying to keep a low profile.

The super bowl is on tonight and so I'm going to let my neighbor listen to it with me since he doesn't have a radio. I'm pulling for the Indianapolis Colts. I've got 200 push ups bet on the game. I hope they win.

Peace.


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