February 2019 - 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, 2019

I  wish the sun would come out! I'm sooooo sick and tired of grey skies  and rain...Please, March, bring us many days of sunshine and lovely  spring weather.

I  cannot believe how fast this past month went. It's just been a blur! As  I write this I'm not scheduled for recreation, so I'm assuming it will  be around 4th or 5th round. I don't know if it's just this shift, but  things have improved this past few days, and they are trying to get rec done and stay on top of the work load. They also told the officers that  mail MUST be passed out by 10pm, after weeks of receiving mail past  midnight. Things are definitely less stressful when everything runs smoothly, but what I also know about this place is: never get comfortable. This could fall apart in the next shift or crew of officers.

I  had filed a grievance about the situation, and they were really slick  with how they rejected it...I had typed it, and they returned it a  couple of days after saying, "Must submit original copy." Now, I don't  know how they confused something being typed as not "original" but we are allowed to use our typewriters. I gave a heavy sigh, but at least I  know it was copied and is on record - many other grievances were filed  by other people so hopefully those ones will receive responses.

Anyway,  in other news, I have finished chapter 39 of my memoir, and things are  rapidly speeding up now...I'm close to August, and things are really  falling apart in my life at that time. Writing these things and reliving  the memories and the emotion, is really difficult...I often wish I had a  time machine so I could go back and kidnap myself or something, maybe prevent the stupid things from happening. I remember Stephen King's  novel, "11/22/63," where he writes that the past doesn't like to be  changed, but I would love to be able to go back and see my parents! They  wouldn't recognise me, and I'd say, "Look..." and try to talk to them  and help them to see that yes, whilst I am responsible for my choices  and actions, they too share in some of the responsibility for how they handled things. I'd say, "Look, that kid just needs some guidance and  love...Give him those things and he'll go on to do amazing things - I  promise you!" But until I can figure out a way to turn my radio or  typewriter into a time machine, all I can do is daydream.

Here's to hoping that March is filled with a ton of happiness and love, with good things happening, and lots and lots of hope!

Courage. Strength. Hope and Faith!

Peace.

[Below you'll see a scanned copy of the grievances I filed...Apologies for the poor quality - these forms are very difficult to scan effectively.]



February 26th, 2019

I  started my day out yesterday thinking things were going quite well...I  went outside with my friend, Blaine, and there was a slight chill in the  air which, with a beautiful clear blue sky and birds chirping on the  roof above us, made it a perfect early spring morning. Blaine and I talked about music, and life in general, and when the guards showed back  up to bring us inside, I noticed it was 10 minutes shy of our alloted  two hours. When I mentioned that to the guard I said, "Well, since you're taking 10 minutes from us, how about you just let me grab my shower stuff and go straight to the shower?" He told me that as long as  he didn't have to remove the handcuffs from me to get my shower stuff,  he'd do it - probably thinking I wouldn't be prepared! I keep a shower  bag right by my door, so all I have to do is pivot and snatch it off the  hook, and there's no need to take the handcuffs off.

So,  I took a quick shower and when they brought me back to my cell I  thought, "This day is going well!" Ten minutes later, the guards stopped  working! They didn't finish changing out the first round of recreation,  leaving those guys in the day room until 2pm. Then they got second  round out and right before second shift came on, SOME of third round  went out, but not all who were scheduled got to go...When second shift  arrived they couldn't believe their workload and basically cancelled the  remaining recreation rounds, only doing showers. Mail wasn't completely  passed out either, until well after 11pm!

This  is becoming a regular thing now, and I was telling my girl in a letter  (I filed a grievance on it last Friday) that either the Warden just  doesn't care, or he doesn't have the control he thinks he has...The  working theory is this: because people don't want to work in a prison anymore, and officers are constantly being hired, then quitting weeks  after, the ranking supervisors try to placate the lazy officers and tell  them that as long as it doesn't affect security, or is a threat to  security, they don't care if they don't do their jobs like letting us have our recreation or a shower. They're not going to jump their ass for  us being screwed out of recreation. After all, we're lowly offenders...Who gives a damn?

What  they are not realising is that it very much is a threat to security  because you can't keep screwing guys out of the few priviliges they have  - privileges that help to keep them in line and well behaved, and if  they're taken away...I try to encourage guys to file grievances because  you need what is happening on record, but in their minds the process  doesn't work. Some think violence is the only answer, and I'm like,  "No...don't do that! In using violence it will only justify them  screwing us over even more. It solves nothing!" But they really believe that it is the only way to get attention. I've offered to write  grievances for people, so long as they promise to turn them in, but I  can't hold people's hands, only encourage them...

As  far as I know though, the only recreation problems we're having are on  A-Pod and B-Pod, and so it isn't enough to address the problem. These  are the most full pods on the building and the only pods where everyone  goes to recreation.

So,  I woke up today feeling slightly down because they didn't pass out any  Jpays last night....I was most eager to hear about my girlfriend's  weekend 'cause she does these huge craft events and she gives me a play  by play of the day in her letter and I love it! I do fist pumps when  she's sold a bunch of stuff, and call them "barn burners." I'm always  soooo proud of her team when they have a successful day, and I also love  hearing about how the kids at these events react to the little grab bag  idea I came up with for her...She tries to ensure there's enough little  toys to annoy adults at these things - bouncing balls, whistles, chattering wind-up teeth...Nothing makes me smile more than having the  image of a snooty and stuffy adult irritated by the mischief of kids!  Why do adults forget they were once children too?

Well, hopefully they'll get their act together tonight and pass out Jpays!

I'm  scheduled for recreation later this afternoon and I just finished  another chapter of my memoir...I'm getting closer to the end now, but  it's difficult reliving all of the emotion...

Courage. Strength. Hope and Faith!

Peace.



February 24th, 2019

I woke up to brilliant sunshine blasting through my window...I initially thought the guard in the control center had turned on the cell lights, but when I pulled the sock off my eyes, I could see the sun light reflecting off the white walls of the cell. It was a lovely way to wake up after so much rain of late, and I'm hoping it will stick around.

We've got one of the nastiest, meanest guards working today and she's already on the war path with people. For the life of me, I cannot understand why people - of any walk in life - can be so mean and hateful. It makes me wonder what they've gone through in life that makes them that way and I do try to empathise and understand, but it is a dangerous thing when you give such a person any kind of authority over other human beings - especially when they have the full support of the State behind them and believe they are rightfully punishing 'criminal scum'. Yet, they don't see that often their acts are criminal in themselves.

Years ago, there used to be a women who was over 'intelligence gathering' on death row; she was put in place after the cell phone scandal of 2008 and her job was to follow money on inmates' books (to see if large sums were being moved around for the purchase of drugs or cell phones) and to monitor certain people's mail etc. She had authority to go into any cell at any time and take whatever she wanted - contraband or not - and had free rein to do whatever she wanted to do. Now, to be fair, I've seen many officers over the years have this kind of authority, and the majority of them don't abuse that power - they do what their job requires them to do, but they don't go out of their way to mess people over and create havoc. But this person...As if it couldn't get any worse, she'd often tell the people she screwed over that she not only had the authority of the State behind her, but she was called upon by God himself to punish criminals of ANY kind.

She eventually abused her powers enough that they had no choice but to fire her after the sprayed a can of gas in an inmate's face, for merely talking crap back to her...But it's like, geeze, don't they (or shouldn't they?) do a psychological background check on these people before giving them a job with such power?

Anyway, I filed my grievance on the recreation situation on Friday, and helped several other guys file their complaints as well. I really don't expect anything to be done about it - especially after my brief exchange with the warden himself, but you never know. This past week there wasn't a single time that we didn't receive all of our mail before midnight; I don't think they've finished the showers before midnight for that matter! It's insane to think how quickly this place has deteriorated. We always joke, "Well, it can't get worse than it is now" and then we're proven wrong every single time!

Oh well...onwards and upwards...

On a lighter note, I wanted to recommend some geeky reading material for those interested in graphic novels...Over this weekend, I finished all five volumes of the brilliant Image Comics (the best publisher in the business, people!) series, "Peter Panzerfaust" by Kurtis J. Wiebe and Tyler Jenkins. It's a reimagining of the classic Peter Pan story, and it takes place during the German Occupation of France in World War II. It takes every element and every character of Peter Pan and puts them in a real world setting. Peter is an American and the lost boys are young French orphans who become resistance fighters, and Wendy Darling and her brothers were in a British plane that was shot down over France. Tiger Lily and the Braves are French-Canadian natives who become resistance fighters, and Hook is Kapitan Haken, a German SS Officer. The art is phonomenal! All done in beautifully rendered water-colors. I couldn't put the book down all weekend, and the ending is executed so well that it had me in tears.

I've read a lot of great series' over the years, but many are often forgotten. Still, some remain THE BEST, such as Joe Hill's "Locke & Key", Brian Azarello's "100 Bullets", Robert Kirman's "Walking Dead," and Marguerite Bennett's "Animosity," to name but a few. For me, what makes a great series always comes down to the writing, but when you have art that complements the story, it takes it to another level...Peter Panzerfaust pulls both off perfectly! Check it out for yourselves...

As Peter would say, "Second star to the right and straight on 'til morning."

Courage. Strength. Hope and Faith!

Peace.



February 21st, 2019

Yesterday was a mess! The first shift officers only did three rounds of recreation for the entire 12 hour shift, and just a handful of showers. The work load was so much to do for second shift that the Lieutenant told the officers to only do showers, so everyone still waiting for recreation was screwed out of it. It may seem trivial to people who don't fully understand the importance of recreation for mental and physical health reasons, but for some of us, our sanity depends on getting out of the cell for that short bit of time, whether for social reasons like having conversations with friends, or for physical exercise, a walk around the day room, exercise in the fresh air and open space. Being denied that time is an unnecessary stress for us back here.

To highlight my point, I know several guys back here who are in the process of dropping their apeals so they can be executed - or, as I call it, suicide by State. In a recent appeal a guy, Justin Hall, had been fighting with his attorneys who were trying to keep him alive, claiming he was mentally incompetent to make such a decision for himself. So, the guy chose to write to the court and tell them directly that he WAS competent, but in his words he stated he was a "broken man and should be put down like the rabid dog he was". In the opinion written by Sharon Keller of the CCA, she agrees he is competent to be executed and disagrees with his lawyers' arguments that it was the environment that broke him, and made him mentally incompetent.

Keller wrote (taking this directly from her opinion):

"In his [Justin Hall] October 6 communication with the trial court, Appellant did say that he had been "broken" by his 24/7 confinement on death row. This statement does not necessarily indicate any lack of competency on Appellant's part."

Being depressed due to his circumstances is UNDERSTANDABLE, AND IS A RATIONAL RESPONSE TO ADVERSE CONDITIONS (my emphasis). She then goes on to cite Bundy V Dunger, 675 F.Supp. 622, 625 (M.D. Fla 1987) which says:

"Expert testified that the absence of situational depression and agitation would be surprising given the grave consequences the defendant was facing and that periods of situational anger, stress and depression would be normal reactions under the circumstances."

I find it very interesting that Keller all but admits that our conditions on death row are tantamount to torture. However, she says it's "normal" for us to have adverse reactions to our conditions...WTF??

My point being, the things like recreation are important to some of us to maintain a sense of normality and sanity; when things are so chaotic to the point where we aren't being given our recreation time, well, it should be addressed. If not, we'll see more instances like Justin Hall, where people drop their appeals or even try to hurt themselves.

I've been thinking a lot lately about the concept of accountability. Like, everyone back here needs to be accountable for their actions, and whilst I agree with the idea so long as it doesn't mean death by revenge, I'm finding that those who scream for accountability the loudest, are the least likely to be held accountable for their own misdeeds. Take our government for instance...Ideas of justice, accountability etc...They scream about it at other countries who have wronged them, or even at their own citizens when they break a law. but when has the govenment EVER been held accountable for the genocide of countless native tribes? For slavery? For the way it has treated immigrants from the Irish to Italians, to the present day migrants? When has the country, state or city ever been held accountable when they shoot an unarmed black man? Or when a prosecutor deliberately prosecutes and sentences an innocent person? Everyone screams accountability! We need accountability! Just not for themselves...I mean, our own freakin' President, who every day talks about criminals and rapists pouring over the border, and he's a criminal and, by his own admission, a sexual abuser! Where's his accountability?

I don't know, I just shake my head at all of it and find it increasingly more confusing to navigate and intellectually understand these things. I just try to hold my head high above the water and try to keep myself from drowning.

Courage. Strength. Hope and Faith.

Peace!



February 19th, 2019

It's Tuesday, and my fourth day back on B-Pod. I still haven't fully adjusted, and I had a bit of an adventure on Friday afternoon...Around 2pm I was sitting at my desk, writing off and on, but doing more jamming out to the radio than anything else. It was peaceful...All of the recreation and showers had been finished, and I was getting quite spoiled by the complete lack of chaos - the chaos C-Pod had put us all through for well over a year! Anyway, there's a really great song out by Young The Giant, called "Superstition" and I'll go out on a limb and say it's the best song around right now - just a phenomenal song! So, it's playing out, and I'm bobbing my head and tapping my pen to the beat, on my writing tablet, when an ant with wings lands on the wall next to my desk and I think, "Huh?" I grabbed some toilet tissue, caught it, and threw it down the toilet. A bug here and there is not uncommon in this place and whilst I'm prone to having the heebie jeebies and screaming like a little girl when one randomly pops up, I wasn't about to let the thing interrupt my enjoyment of the music, so I went back to bobbing my head and tapping my tablet.

Then...another ant with wings pops up. Now, I'm like "WTF??" And begin to look over my cell. I can't find where it came from and most of the cell cracks had been solidly sealed with soap or Vaseline by prior occupants. Ten more ants with wings pop up on the wall and I'm beginning to freak out a bit...I keep looking around the cell and I can't figure out where they're coming from, and I can't hear anyone in any other cell yelling anything out either, so I keep looking...Then I catch sight of a crack in the ceiling where a piece of iron had been bolted to a seam on the wall to prevent inmates from hiding cell phones in the cracks/seams. Back in 2008, we had a cell phone scandal, so the TDCJ are more vigilant than ever about that sort of thing. Anyway, both ants with wings and fire ants were pouring out of the crack and that isn't hyperbole! I let out a scream like something from a horror movie and yelled, "Holy shit! It's the apocalypse! The Seventh Seal has been broken, and God is reigning his punishment down upon my Jewish ass!" They were falling on my head and face, biting me as I tried to best to wipe them up with a wet rag and then seal the crack up with Vaseline, toothpaste, and toilet paper...My neighbour was asking me what was going on and I told him, "Look for ants! They might be headed your way!" Sure enough he lets out a scream of holy terror.

It took about 30 minutes to get the situation under control, but a few fire ants managed to avoid my rightful vengeance and ended up getting their pay back on me by biting my ass - yes, my ass! - and other delicate places...

I finally get settled back down and second shift comes and I'm eager to receive my mail and listen to the Prison Show because my girl was giving me a shout out. At about 7pm a guard pops up and tells me I'm being moved to B-Pod 2 cell. I was caught a bit off guard...On one hand, I've been wanting to move off C-Pod for months and months - it was the longest amount of time I had ever been stuck on a particular pod. But on the other hand, once they had emptied it out it was peaceful and I didn't want to move! I was settled, and the two sections that were left on the pod were starting to act like a family because it was just "us"...It was a nice feeling.

I ended up moving to B-Pod relatively early, but they were still doing recreation and showers...Back to the chaos, I thought. The cell is nice though, and I get really good radio reception here. The section I'm on only has one idiot, and everyone gets along very well, and I do have some friends nearby like my friend Blaine, who had just received a stay of execution in January...I'm so happy about that!

The rest of the weekend was peaceful, but Monday was a holiday and it was crazy insane! On another level, I went to recreation 2nd round, after I was told that I'd be going 4th round...When I get out there at a little after 8.30am or so, I get STUCK out there until 5.45pm! Apparently the male officer that was working the pod quit on the spot and because it was two female officers left, they couldn't strip search us and take us back to our cells. I was frustrated, hungry and exhausted by the end of the day...I didn't get my shower until 10pm, and today is looking like it's going to be another late shower. I went to recreation a little after 6am and I know I won't get a shower until much later this evening which really sucks!

So that's all of the excitement of the last few days!

Courage. Strength. Hope and Faith.

Peace!



February 14th, 2019

Valentine's Day...I can't begin this without telling my girl that I love her, and "Happy Valentine's"...It's our second one together, and I'm just so fortunate and feel like I've won the lottery of love with her...She amazes me, daily, and well...I look forward to many more Valentines if the universe sees fit.

I went outside today for the first round of rec; it was a lovely, cool, spring-like day, and it felt great. Syed received another care package today, and yelled, "I'm the luckiest man on the planet!" Again, I want to thank the 3 people involved in making Syed so happy. It's these acts of kindness that bring some much needed light into this otherwise dark place.

Well, this afternoon has been a bit slow and boring...I wanted to write some more of my memoirs, but I couldn't quite get there, mentally...I will most definitely tackle it again over the weekend though. I've got chapter 37 mapped out, and it's a tough one...It breaks me at that moment of my life. As these chapters inch closer to September 1996, they will become more difficult to write, and probably more difficult to read too.

Anyway, I am holding onto hope, tightly!

Courage. Strength. Hope and Faith!

Peace.



February 13th, 2019

I started my day at 4.45am; I wanted to sleep in until 5.30am but couldn't get back to sleep, so I got up for 1st round recreation and left my cell just after 6am. When I came back I got to have a shower fairly quickly with no waiting around, and by then, the sun was blasting through my little window. It's supposed to get warmer as the week progresses, and by the weekend, Livingston might be in the 80s!

Anyway, I wrote some letters and then felt like cooking something, so I ended up making tacos for some guys back here, and they came out really well. My girlfriend informed me that she brought up the subject of Syed Rabbani, the mentally ill guy back here who is one of the forgotten people, on Twitter...Well, today, commissary delivered a care package full of food and snacks, from her, and there are two other people who are also sending packages to Syed to help him! I want to say a big thank you to my girlfriend, and to Karine and Jessica, for the kindness you have shown to this forgotten soul. I can't describe how happy he was to get the first package, and he was clapping and saying, "thank you, thank you, thank you" to no one in particular, all afternoon...I think he will be over the moon entirely when he receives the other two packages! It was just wonderful to see him so happy. So again, thank you so much to all 3 of you!

Otherwise, the day has been pretty uneventful and calm. I am already feeling spoiled by this empty pod thing!

Courage. Strength. Hope and Faith.

Peace!



February 12th, 2019

I had a rough night of sleep last night after I realised I was a scatter-brained idiot sometimes. I'm a very giving person, and yet I'm still sometimes short-sighted and selfish in looking after my own needs - it's something I need to be more mindful of in the future, and work on. I don't know if it's a 'survival' instinct or what, but I don't like it. Anyway, I can only hope for a bit of forgiveness and move beyond it.

I did manage to sleep in until a little past 7 this morning, and I was set up for recreation 3rd round, in C-Section day room, but I was bumped up to 2nd round. Because I would be in the day room, I decided to do some writing, as well as my usual exercise. Anyway, when I finished exercising in the day room, I went to pull out my pen to start writing, and I thought either the guard had dropped it or lost it somewhere between my cell and the day room, but I didn't just want to accuse anyone straight out because I'd feel like an idiot if I had inadvertently left it in my cell...Sure enough, I got back to my cell and there was my pen sitting on my desk...Idiot! I can't believe how scatter-brained I can be at times - something else I really need to work on. I would've felt horrible if I had blamed the guard for losing my pen when that wasn't the case at all.

It's turned into a really lovely day...Plenty of sunshine, and whilst there a lot of puffy clouds out, there are large patches of blue sky. The grass is a mixture of greeen, some dead patches, and some beautiful wild flowers. It hasn't been cut in ages and looks unkempt, but something my girlfriend and I agree on is the beauty of the natural state of grass. I know a lot of people think that lawns and fields look wild and unruly when they aren't neatly manicured, but really look at it in it's natural state...Tall grass, patches of clover, wild flowers, and even some of the weeds that spring up high above the blades of grass have their own beauty. Then, while insects give me quite a scare (don't laugh, I'm quite manly!..ha ha) seeing dragon flies, moths, butterflies, bees and other critters flying about from stalk to stalk or wildflower to wildflower is really amazing to watch. There's a perfect balance to all of it.

So, everything is finished before 2nd shift, and I'm getting quite spoiled by the peacefulness of this near-empty pod...With just two sections on this site, I've noticed the guys on both sections become closer; we're not separating ourselves to just our groups of friends, but instead, starting to see one another as a sort of family living in the same house - it's a nice feeling.

I think we're a stronger community when the negativity is down, and we all get along as one instead of becoing more tribal and insular.

Courage. Strength. Hope and Faith.

Peace!



February 11th, 2019

I woke up for breakfast, which came a bit late this morning - 5am - instead of the typical 3am breakfast time. It was weird getting a tray at a relatively normal time. I hadn't gotten to sleep the night before until close to midnight, becasue I listened to the movie, "Titanic" and then I tossed and turned imagining that moment in history and how terrifying it must've been. It really is a masterpiece of a film - it deserves a spot on my 'Movies you should see before you die' list!

I fell back to sleep a little after 6am, got out of bed just after 7am, and started my day by writing to my girl. Then I prepared for going outside, 2nd round. I went outside with a friend, and it was a grey and misty morning as I exercised, and we chatted about legal stuff. He was ranting and raving about his attorneys not keeping in touch with him, and I tried to explain to him that this doesn't always mean that they aren't working for him. I think that's why communication is so important in this place - a lot of guys just want to know that their attorneys are doing something...that glimmer of hope can keep us sane back here.

When we came back in, I ate lunch and knocked out another chapter in my memoir! I'm at the part where I'm back in Texas, and things aren't going the way I had hoped. I didn't make a plan B, but just arrived in Texas believing my parents couldn't possibly reject my plea for help, knowing I was sincere. But I was wrong...

As it was so humid today, I went to put on my fan and it shocked the hell out of me! I had just returned from the shower and was wet, so that didn't help! It gave me a good scare but thankfully 120 volts isn't enough to kill me - just made me almost poop my pants! Turns out I had an exposed short in it.

It's been a peaceful day here anyway, and I'm feeling reflective tonight...Hopefully mail will come early so I can get some sleep!

Courage. Strength. Hope and Faith.

Peace!



February 10th, 2019

It's been an interesting week to say the least...On Monday night I had a couple of personal issues pop up. One of them wasn't anything but a misunderstanding, but the other thing...I was upset with a friend back here because I had told him I didn't want to visit with a friend of his, but I felt like they were trying to pressure me by going over my head and talking to the head people in trying to get on my visitation list, which I wasn't happy about. I appreciate the thought in wanting to get me out of the cell and have a visit, but I'm uncomfortable with how they went about it...Sigh...Well, it's over and done with, and I've moved on...

Wednesday is when things got a little wild! So, for a long time, B-Pod has been relatively empty, and I think they had four empty sections to use as solitary confinement/isolation and quarantine for really sick guys from general population. Well, around noon they told F-Section on C-Pod - the pod I live on - to pack up their things because they were being moved to B-Pod. Later that evening they told E-Section the same thing, which kind of sucked because it had been a year since I had seen one of my friends, and I've only been able to talk to him here and there since he moved to this pod, and now he's moving back to B-Pod. We were pretty sure that would be it for moves, but on Thursday, they told C and D-Sections that they were also moving to B-Pod. That left just A and B-Sections (B is the section I'm currently on) which means this entire pod is otherwise empty.

On Friday morning they moved the guys on discipline (levels 2 and 3) to F-Section, and made that 'solitary' or as we used to call F-Pod, 'The Dungeon', and left us where we were. One of the guards said that the rest of the empty sections will be filled with Administrative Segregation guys...which, in reality, is a violation of policy because we aren't supposed to be anywhere near those guys. I suddenly had the thought that if they do move them next to us, the State will have lied to the jurors during our trials, because one of the principal arguments the State ALWAYS makes is the case that we are so-called "future threats to society" which also includes other prison inmates in population. We're sooooooo dangerous that they tell the jury it would be better to just kill us than risk an attack on another inmate or guard. But...if the State then turns around and puts non-death row prisoners RIGHT NEXT to us, or even on the same pod, that argument is rendered moot because apparently we aren't that dangerous after all...They're putting these guys right next to us...Makes sense, right? Just a thought I had.

Our weather has been crazy! Thursday it was in the 70s, and on Friday when I went outside it was freezing, and Saturday was equally as cold. Sunday has been nice though, and tomorrow it's supposed to be back into the 70s...good ol' Texas weather!

I'm still busy with my memoir, and I just put together a 'sound track' to each part because music is such an integral part of my life, and I thought it would add another level to the whole thing. It's keeping me busy!

Courage. Strength. Hope. Faith.

Peace!



February 5th, 2019

I didn't sleep well last night and worried that I might be first round for recreation, but they said that rec was cancelled because they didn't have enough officers to cover it, as well as showers and visitation, because all hands would be used to escort AD-SEG inmates to classification hearings. There, they go before a small committee who decide whether or not they will be able to return to general population or remain in AD-SEG. More often than not, they remain in AD-SEG...The committee is a joke!

In a way, whilst I don't like missing recreation, I was more than happy to sleep in until 8am...My thoughts are a little too distracted to take advantage of the peacefulness - it's been oddly quiet all day long - but I have managed to stay occupied anyway.

This afternoon, pest control came through spraying everywhere...I don't know what they use but it seems to attract more bugs than keep them away. I said, "Y'all need to get that stuff with skulls and crossbones - the crap that'll give you cancer - because the bugs drink this stuff up like it's lemonade!"

Anyway, after 4 days of grey skies, the sun finally broke through and I looked out my winder and watched as hundreds of birds landed in the grass, searching for a meal. The grass is turning green again, and yellow and white wild flowers have popped up as well...I think we'll have an early spring....But the humidity is still here, and we're expected to have another cold spell later this week! I look forward to that.

All that's left for today is dinner and mail call. I can't wait...I'm ready for the day to be over.

Courage. Strength. Hope and Faith.

Peace.



February 4th, 2019

I woke up fearing we'd have a day full of chaos. The crew of officers we had today is notorious for laziness, and leaving a huge amount of work for second shift. I said my prayers and told myself, "Put your head down, get to work on your memoir, and let things fall as they may." On one hand, I can be the most patient person in the world, and on the other, when things get chaotic back here, I can get worked up into a state of anxiety and I know it is beyond my control, but I still want to take control!

Initially, I was scheduled for 3rd round of recreation outside, but then someone upstairs gave me a 'heads-up' that they weren't going, so I might get bumped up to 2nd round...I was kind of surprised that so many people were skipping out on recreation because, whilst it may be freezing in many states in the US, it's in the '70s in Texas! It's grey and a little wet, but nothing that could spoil going outside.

Sure enough, I went out 2nd round and the guy I was out with asked if I wanted to play basketball. I was up six games to his five when the guards said he had a visit, and he left. I was outside for the next hour and a half by myself and it was lovely! You can't put a price on moments when you're outside alone, when the wind is blowing lightly and you can think without the noise and chaos of this place. I exercised and reflected on things, prayed, and just enjoyed the moment. When I came back in, I began working on some edits of a poetry collection of mine that my girl is putting together, then I began to type up two chapters of my memoir, which I'm happy to say are finished, and going in the mail to my girl tomorrow!

The guards amazingly worked today, and I had a shower around 2 in the afternoon, and as far as I can tell, the only thing left for 2nd shift to do is a handful of showers. I guess the lesson the day is to just carry on and not let what might seem to be a bad day, stop you from doing the things you want to do in your life...Bad days only become bad days when you allow them to...

Courage. Strength. Hope and Faith.

Peace!



February 3rd, 2019

January shot by like a rocket! I cannot believe how quickly time is going by these days. This past week was a bit of a roller coaster.....I had received word that my attorneys filed a supplement to my request for a rehearing with the Fifth Circuit; it seemed like a solid issue because it showed a contradiction within the court itself, on how they rule on a particular issue. A three-judge-panel might come to one conclusion, whilst another panel will reach a completely different conclusion - often against precedent, or what the Supreme Court looks to for guidance in their rulings. And yet, the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals, and the Fifth Circuit, routinely ignore precedent AND the Supreme Court...The petition was denied, and I admit, it knocked the wind out of my sails a bit. I just keep thinking, "Geeze, God, what do I have to do here? How is this all going to get straightened out?" It's frustrating, and it hurts at times...But I remain hopeful. It'll take a lot more than that to make me lose hope!

There was an execution this week as well, and those always suck. I wasn't happy with the way the media handled it, or how they portrayed Robert Jennings based on a crime that happened in the '80s! Like, they can only ever see him as the exact same person now as he was back then...I've been around him many times and he was always respectful, intelligent, and kind. To hear certain public officials come out on the news to say, "He's finally getting what he deserves." or, "This is justice," I cannot imagine how how people can see killing as justice - just call it what it really is: Revenge. When will people stop confusing the two?

Well, life moves on...I was having a discussion with someone on Friday and we both agreed that one of the biggest ways to slow down the machinery of death in Texas is by informing people that the Court of Criminal Appeals in Texas is an ELECTED, not an appointed, position. You'd be surprised at how many people don't know that. When they're elected they remain in that seat for SIX YEARS!!! And yet, these same extremist judges are often re-elected because they have no one to challenge them or people just vote along party lines, or ignore the court altogether because they think, "What does the CCA have to do with the issues I care about?" If you are someone who votes in Texas, and you're anti-death penalty, then that is what you should focus on! There's a saying in the political world that goes, "All politics are local," which means that to affect things on a national stage you have to start with your local/state governments. But if people don't vote, or even run for that matter, how can you expect any kind of change? It's something people need to really wake up to. I get frustrated when people say, "My voice doesn't count." It doesn't count? You really think that? Tell that to the people who elected Trump...Or Ted Cruz...Or the number of extremist Judges in the CCA, or those who are appointed to the Fifth Circuit by Trump and Cruz.

Well, who knows what the next week has in store for us, but I hope that it will be a good one filled with positivity and positive change!

I'll close with a little piece from my Small Stones from the River book...

"If you have difficulty seeing
kindness
in the world
make your own"

Courage. Strength. Hope and Faith.

Peace!


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