January 2015 - 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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January 30th, 2015

I was a bit surprised to see Ms. Cox today...She's a Salvation Army minister who has been seeing inmates for well over 30 plus years. One of the great things about her, besides her passion and compassion for prisoners, is that she is not the preachy type. She leads and lives by actions and if that brings you to the 'Lord' then great, but she's not going to judge you or condemn you. The world needs more people like her.

She typically pulls me out about once a month. Usually the first week. I had already seen her the beginning of January so to see her again was a surprise. At our previous visit she had mentioned that the Salvation Army was letting her go...She was fighting the decision, but today it looks like it was all but a done deal. I understand their (Salvation Army) decision because she's in her 90's...Yes, 90's!!! Though she looks and moves around with the energy of someone half her age, but they can't be responsible or liable should she get in an accident etc. while working in the capacity of the SA. I mean, it's the logical thing from a business sense. I don't think anyone she visits is comfortable with the idea of her traveling alone from Dallas to Livingston either so I understand, and honestly, now, every time I have accepted a visit from her I do feel some sense of responsibilty should anything happen to her. It would make me feel like crap. So...I get it. But this is her passion, her life's work and she truly feels she can't be replaced and probably she can't! Who on earth has a legacy like her? The dedication? I know the guards think she's probably mental and that the guys she's visited just see her because they want some food and a soda from visitation, but the truth is many of us have contributed to her cause and help by donating books/comics etc or even money from our own account to help pay for her trips. Every year I make a donation to the Salvation Army in form of toys/books for kids at Christmas. I don't disclose that to toot my own horn, but it's because of the love and kindness she's shown ME. I didn't even begin to visit her until me and my ex split...I was really depressed and up until that point I had turned down any attempt by any minister to visit/talk with me. But she caught wind of our separation and requested to see me...I can't put into terms what that visit did for me. How do you repay an act like that?

So, these are her last visits, I believe, and she will be sorely missed. While her visits will be missed, her energy and encouragement and the belief that all of us here have a redeeming quality to us, will most definetely live on in our hearts and souls. She will be missed.


January 29th, 2015

Geeze what a beautiful day! I came in from being outside and Jesus Harold it was awesome. 77 Degrees? In January? The guy I was outside with wanted to play basketball and I was, as they say, down to boogie, and we ended up playing 60 games...Unfortunately, I lost-34-26...I was on a roll, but couldn't finish the job. Really, aside from the horrible defeat, I just couldn't believe how picture perfect the weather was. It was a dream. I'm going to sleep good tonight!


January 24th, 2015

It's been a while since I've been exposed to or witnessed someone being gassed. In terms of use of force by the guards on inmates, there have been few just lately, mainly because some of the new types of chemical agents they use are a heavy deterent.  From what I've been told it is like being hosed down by napalm. One guy they call "Big Country" was gassed last year and said his nuts were on fire for three days. THREE DAYS! So, I was a bit surprised at the effect it had on me from a good 40 yards away! But I really was pissed at how it all went down this time...  

Apparently, last night, Scott Panetti, a documented paranoid schizophrenic and a guy who not long ago recieved a stay of execution for that very reason, had an episode and accused the guard of giving his mail to another inmate. Words were exchanged and the guard accused Panetti of threatening her. So, the next day, officers showed up to take him to F-Pod, where they house inmates for disciplinary reasons. He refused to come out of his cell, so, the use of force team was called into action. Now, protocol is for the Ranking Officer in charge to give orders to the inmate to submit to a strip search and restraints (handcuffs). By all accounts, at this point Panetti began to get naked and go through the strip search. After he put his boxer shorts on he placed his bible on the food slot before submitting to handcuffs. The use of force team considered this an act of aggression and began to hose him down with the chemical agents...I thought the justification was complete bullshit. A freakin' bible. Now, I'm no holy roller and everyone knows that part of Panetti's schizophrenia is rooted in biblical grandeur and delusions. I testified to this point years ago on behalf of his legal team. He just wanted to take his bible with him to F-Pod and there was no justification in gassing him. Period. To be quite honest, it pissed me off.

So, that was what went down today. But here's the thing...it is really an indictment on how they handle people with psychological disorders back here and in prison in general. It's a joke! The Psych Department is a  joke. When they're having a major incident with a person with a mental disorder, they are supposed to have someone from the psych department come down and try to talk to the individual, see what the issue is and calm them down and find a non-aggressive solution to the problem. They NEVER  do this. It is a recipe for disaster, especially when the officers that work here have no training whatsoever in dealing with the mentally ill. Most of them are young and cocky and think it is a game. Let's wire up the crazy person! I remember while waiting on my trial in Dallas County Jail back in 2003, there was this guy down the hall who would wrap himself up in toilet paper and mumble to himself all day. The guards thought it was cute and funny and so they would poke and prod him sending him into nonsensical frenzies. Then one day he pulled out his own eyeball. Really funny stuff, there, assholes...This is a pet peeve of mine. My brother suffers from schizophrenia, and I am a functional depressive...I've looked in the face of illness and fortunately, I was able to somehow ground myself and pull myself from the brink. I take these things personally and wish society, especially American society, would stop treating the issue like a big fucking joke and do something to address the problem, in the free world, and in prison.


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