Jul-Dec 2021 - Randy Halprin

Randy Halprin
The purpose of life is not to be happy. It is to be useful, to be honorable, to be compassionate, to have it make some difference that you have lived and lived well.”   Ralph Waldo Emerson
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July 6th, 2021

Finally, I have a pen to write with! It's been an interesting journey to get to this day, so let's begin...

On Thursday 1st July, I was told by the Polunsky officers to pack my stuff up. They told me I'd leave for Dallas in the morning. I said my goodbyes to my friends and got everything together. I tried to sleep but because I was so anxious and excited I didn't get much. I woke up around 5.50am and cleaned myself up, and waited...

Around 9am a guard asked for my clothing size. I though he meant prison clothes so I said,

“Uhhh...2X all the way around?”  

He nodded and walked off. Then at 9.30am two guards said,  

“Let's go! The Dallas cops are here.”

I said goodbye to everyone and they all yelled back,

“Good luck, Randy! You've got this!”

I went to a legal booth in the death row hallway and waited. Then a deputy in a black paramilitary uniform asked me to get naked. I stripped and then he handed me free world clothes! Back slacks that were a little tight, and a dress shirt. I looked ridiculous...I know I felt it. One of the guards said,

“Wow...you look so different.”

I was shackled up and thought I would go to a van by the building, but instead I was walked RIGHT OUT THE FRONT GATES!!! It was so strange! I kept saying,  

“This is really weird.”

I went to the parking lot where a Dallas County Sherriffs Department van was waiting for me. I felt like I had entered the Twilight Zone.  

Once in the van, off we went. I took it all in...The trees...the sky...the shops and stores. Once in Livingston, the van pulled into a 'Chick Fil-A' and I thought,  

“No way! They're going to get me some real food?”

They didn't. Instead, they ordered food for themselves and that was fine. I inhaled the delicious aromas of the coffee, fries and honey mustard chicken. If that was the closest I'd ever get to real food...I'll take it!

It was weird seeing how a fast food place operated these days. All of these teenagers outside with their gadget thingies, taking orders and swiping credit cards. Wow...I thought, the future is here.  

The van pulled off and we began what was a non-stop, beautiful ride. The clouds like fluffy marshmallows you could almost pluck out of the sky! The trees, with the sweetest pine smell you could imagine. Cars whizzed by in a psychedelic blur of colors and shapes.  

About 45 minutes outside of Dallas it began to rain...A blinding rain, and I thought,

“Oh no...I can't see clearly anymore.”

It soon cleared though, and about 20 minutes outside of Dallas, we pulled into a gas station. The Deputy got everything together to step out as a truck pulled into an adjacent pump. Both driver and passenger were drinking beer. When the deputy got out of the van and the truckers saw him, they panicked, hid their beer cans, and I watched, smiling as one popped gum or a mint into his mouth. The deputy had more important things to watch, but it was still funny to see them panic like that! I wanted to yell,  

“Don't drink and drive!”

Van gassed up and off it went. The Dallas sky line coming into view...Home! My home! Yeah, still a prisoner, but the place I grew up in. It was so beautiful and emotional. I chocked back the tears...

We pulled into the jail and the deputies wished me luck and one said,  

“I'll pray for you.”

“Thank you.” I said.  

The shackles were removed and off into the jail I went.  

Finger prints, mug shot, nurse, and a check up. The nurse was kind. I was given a blue arm band with my information, strip searched, and by 6pm I was in a cell.

Five minutes after that a group of guards showed up to search my cell. I thought,  

“Come on! I just got here.”  

Fortunately, that was the only time.

I tried to get a toothbrush and a pen...I was told I had to buy them. Crazy! Other than that, and the place being super strict, the guards are polite, professional, and most are kind. One officer always tries to give me an extra lunch tray. I get a newspaper every day, and I'm allowed to make calls.  

The place is run like a tight ship, and it's super clean. We're required to wear masks, regardless of vaccination. Things are punctual, and a stark contrast to Polunsky. I've not been able to shave yet so I look like a bigger, hairier version of Mr Burns from The Simpsons.  

Every now and then it gets loud and the guys around me 'spit-box' – run their mouth to blow off steam. Some of the exchanges are really funny. For the most part, while I feel a bit restless and bored, it's okay.  

So, as I wait for my hearing, I'll make the best of it that I can.

Courage. Strength. Hope and Faith.  

Peace


July 7th, 2021

Here's a challenge...go to the Dallas County Jail website (or any County Jail website for that matter) and look at all those in jail. Find a young inmate and be a  mentor, spiritual advisor, or friend. Reach a hand out into the most hopeless and helpless of places and maybe, just maybe, you can help course correct these young directionless guys waiting on a trial or to be released back onto the streets. You don't have to send money...just let them know, maybe for the first time in their life, that someone is invested in them and cares. I truly believe that you can be a part of the solution to help stop the cycle of violence, screw ups, and bad decisions.  

So...what prompted me to write that? Watching the guard pass out mail and seeing how, out of the 70+ people I'm around, there were about 4 letters in his hand. Four letters!! Have these guys already been convicted and sentenced? Have their friends and families already abandoned them? It crushes my heart because I was once one of those guys. I had no family, no support, no friends, no love...I've been there.  

People want to blame the rising crime, domestic violence, and murder rates on Democrat run cities, defunding the police, or bad policies. But it's more than that...We are a violent nation. We are an unforgiving nation. We lack the ability to empathize because we put stock in this BS mantra of “rugged individualism.”  

We stop the violence by investing in education, communities, young lives. You lead by example. Giving a life sentence to an 18 year old isn't a solution. It doesn't stop crime. It just perpetuates the cycle.  

Anyway, on a lighter note! I have to say that listening to some of these guys around me, I find myself laughing quite a lot because they're masters at the ancient art of “Spit-Boxing”. Spit-Boxing is when you can't physically fight one another and instead throw verbal blows in a colourful diatribe of the most outlandish or vulgar language possible. The goal being to exhaust whoever you're sparring with and they'll go quiet. When the other person begins to stutter out of frustration, or says,  

“Man...I'm done witch you!”

That's when it's over! The winner throws a few more insults as he does his victory dance.  

I wish I could say I'm getting a lot of sleep. I did yesterday, but at times things get noisy so I wake up often in the middle of the night. Sound travels far in this place. Really echoes around.

But wow...is this place run like a US Naval ship! Even on a day like today, everything hit at once...Commissary, laundry, Securus phone tech, law library, medical...And nothing missed a beat. I was astonished because back at Polunsky it would've devolved into anarchy.  

The other thing I noticed here, now, is the drill...a lot! Drills for fire, drills for inmates fighting, drills for a riot. I've seen two drills conducted in 18 years on death row. I'm 5 days at Dallas County Jail?? Easily 10 or 11.  

You've also got to sign for everything. Rec? Sign here...Books? Sign here..A razor? Sign here, please...If the world were to end, Dallas County Jail will be one of the most well preserved archives in the world!  

I don't think I've yet described my cell here...It's huge! At least the size of two death row cells. I have a shower and my toilet, and plenty of room to exercise. I wish they'd let me go to the gym...I don't understand why I can't.  

The meals are decent, though every day is Bologna sandwiches, jello, and at least an apple or orange. I love the fruit, but the Bolgna will get old. Breakfast varies...waffles and sausage or sausage, hash brown, and biscuits, and dinner is always different. So far the best dinner is the salisbury steak smothered in a brown gravy with onions...Yummy!

But commissary...Geeze Louise a huge amount of options! Lots of pouches with meat, hot pickles, coffee, candies, chips, pastries etc. But talk about expensive!! My best example on Polunsky is a 4oz bag of freeze dried coffee – it costs $2. A 3oz equivalent in jail? $4.75! A stamped envelope is 67cents, and cheap pen is $1. Dallas County Jail is making a pretty penny locking people up. It's criminal...Irony, huh?

All in all though, I'm okay. I truly appreciate everyone's prayers, and support.  

Courage. Strength. Hope and Faith.  

Peace


July 12th, 2021

I finally had a solid night's sleep, although I woke up to quite a sight. A guy strapped into the mental health restraint chair, and a 'spit hood' over his head. I swear, that thing looks so barbaric! Surely there's a better way??

I slept good – so much so that when I woke up I thought it was past 8am...I jumped up and had a quick cup of coffee. I have to use warm sink water to make my coffee because we don't have hot pots here in Dallas. Then I brushed my teeth.

I needed to make some legal calls and they were fantastic! I should have a visit with some of my team tomorrow, and then, of course, the hearing is on Wednesday. It's going to be a great couple of days.  

I try to guage myself on the calls. We're allowed one hour each shift. Sometimes the officers don't monitor the time, but I never push it. Again, I'm taking no chances and the experience of 2010 in Dallas...Well, the aftermath was so traumatising in terms of what it did and how it hurt me, hurt my relationship, and even hurt the relationship I had with my attorneys at the time. It was a mess of my own making, and I can only blame myself.  

Not really sure what's on the agenda today. I need to exercise, take a shower, eat lunch, and do a crossword puzzle. I got passed up again on the book cart, and I really don't know why. Again, if I felt I was here for any prolonged period of time, I'd ask why and press the issue. But I don't see the need. The rec situation is really no different than Polunsky anyways. It's just that listening to a radio helps fill the void, and I'm without my radio here.  

Just exercised. The lunch cart is here, but sitting. After I get a sandwich in my system I'll shower. Only 4 ½ hours to go on this shift and I really hope I have some mail to respond to this afternoon.  

As I write this someone is serenading the floor with, 'I'll make love to you' by Boys II Men...It's quite funny. And now someone is kicking on the door...a bunch of guards run over and basically said,  
“Chill out or you'll regret it.”

At Polunsky you could kick a door until your foot fell off...They dont' care...they just ignore you. Here? They'll have your butt hog-tied and subdued.  

I'm looking forward to seeing my attorneys tomorrow. It'll be good to talk.  

Courage. Strength. Hope and Faith.  

Peace


July 13th, 2021

Tomorrow is the big day! Geeze, time has gone by super fast! As I write this, I'm waiting for a legal visit. I have no idea what time it will be...but the team should be here today.  

I've been watching the technician fixing the server for the video visits. She's been getting the video visitation system back up and running. That was one thing I was looking forward to, as Polunsky doesn't include death row in their video visitation.  

Anyways, I hope before I leave to go back to Polunsky, I'll get to use the video visitation here.  

I had another normal night's sleep. Back at Polunsky I'd get out of bed at 5.30-6am, listen to the 6am album on the prison radio station, and exercise. Here, I sleep past 7am, get up, exercise, and try to make the necessary calls I can. After that it's a lot of pacing and being bored.  

6pm...Just visited with my legal team and it was a great conversation. Everyone is super focused and looking forward to tomorrow, and I know I feel good, and we all agreed that I'm in a very good position. You want to believe that things are fair, and  that truth will prevail.  I'm so exhausted and I'm just ready to move on and live!

I'll have a full report tomorrow when I return, but tonight I'm praying and I'm grateful for the good people I have in my life.  

Courage. Strength. Hope and  Faith.  

Peace


July 14th, 2021

What a day...I'm emotionally, physically, and mentally exhausted, but I still feel pretty positive.  

I was expecting quite a crew to take me to the court room, but I was escorted by three SRTs and then when I got there, I was placed into a holding cell. Shortly after that the same SRTs came back and placed a belt around me, then handcuffed my wrists to my sides. I was lead into the court room and sat next to one of my attorneys. I could see the other attorneys and my Rabbi, sitting behind.

I think all of us were caught off guard when we learned that it would be streamed live. The cameras were everywhere and it was just other worldly. I was nervous, but I tried to stay calm and kept my attention engaged.  

We gave our position first...There was no grandstanding or theatrics. Our position is clear: we don't have to prove harm because the Judge's animus towards Jews was enough that he should have recused himself. We cited Supreme Court decisions and pointed out that the mere fact the CCA gave me a stay – unanimously – is proof alone that there was bias.  

The state argument is, “Okay...we acknowledge the Judge's views are deplorable, and he is a bigot...But he wasn't a bigot during the trial.”

Then they went on to list 'examples' of how I had a fair trial, and the best line of the day – the wisest line – was when my attorney said,

“So, a leopard has spots on Monday, and he has these spots on Friday. The spots don't go away on the other days.”

The Judge seemed engaged, and I believe she is wise enough to know that a bigot just doesn't turn it off.  

The Judge ordered that both sides file a “facts finding and conclusion” by August 13th – that's basically a brief from each side that cements their sides. Then the Judge reviews things in totality, and figures out where she stands. Then, she'll turn in that recommendation to the Court of Criminal Appeals, and we wait...

After I got back to my cell, my Rabbi came to visit and it was an absolutely wonderful visit. It's been over a year since I've seen him so I enjoyed it very much! We prayed, and he gave me a blessing before going back to my cell.  

I read the article in the Dallas Morning News and it wasn't horrible. I'm glad they wrote that I maintain I wasn't a shooter. All I can ask for is fairness...That's all. Regardless of how you feel about me, how you feel about my past, or my mistakes, and you're one of these people who always say,

“I want a constitutional justice!” Or,  

“I believe in the constitution!”  

Then, you should also believe that I or any defendant deserves a fair trial - one of the most important rights given in the US constitution. You can't pick and choose what parts of the constitution you 'believe'. It's really that simple.  

The rest of day was cool. I was just relieved that the SRTs, the Bailiffs and everyone, were really respectful today. I'm exhausted, but I do pray for good things.  

Now, I await my return to Polunsky. I don't know when that'll be, but I don't expect it'll be too long. Who knows?

Courage. Strength. Hope and Faith.  

Peace


July 15th, 2021

It's been a relatively peaceful day. I've been processing yesterday and I hope it all translates/transforms into good things.  

You know, I just don't want people to think I don't care about anything but myself – that isn't true at all...This process has been really hard on everyone involved, and I'm hugely cognizant of that.  

I hate that it's taken so long, but again, I'm not a killer. I'm NOT! So, I do feel I have to fight very hard for my life. I just have to. But I also know this process is difficult for the Officer's family. I know that. All I could ever hope for and continue to ask for is forgiveness. From the depths of my heart, my soul, my entire being. I wish I wasn't there that night...I wish I had never escaped...I wish I had been a stronger person and to not have been a coward and told George Rivas that I no longer wanted to be a part of his plans...And I'm just so sorry for being a follower and so weak.  

Even if I live and get another chance at life – even life behind bars – that longing for forgiveness will stay with me and I'll never stop asking for it.  

What I want to do with a possible future and a chance at life, is to be a force for good. Like, even if I could talk sense into this young neighbour of mine, I would try. When I'm living that's a goal of mine; to give hope to people who are my age at the time of the escape (23). To talk to them and to take advantage of the time they have to educate, inform, and better themselves. Whether five years or 99 years. Life is not over. There is always hope. Always!

That's what I want my life to be. That's what I hope for. And if given the chance that's what my life is going to be.  

It's later now and I read the latest article in the Dallas Morning News (7/15/21) and it irritated me a bit because it seemed to frame the hearing yesterday in favour of the State, when no ruling whatsoever has been made as yet! It misrepresented already decided case law, and Supreme Court precedent. I don't expect reporters to be experts or constitutional scholars, but the fact remains that while we have the burden to prove bias, that bias has been acknowledged by the State as true. The Supreme Court has long held that the defense does not have to prove burden. The Judge's bigotry and bias was enough to “demonstrate an unacceptable risk” and warrants a new trial. Period!

The Judge just didn't stop being a bigot because he said on record he was going to give me a fair trial. You don't turn off bigotry like a light switch.  

Yeah, I'm a little worked up at the moment. But something nice that just happened was an old guy who was getting his insulin from the nurse, looks over at me and gives me a thumbs up...

“Hey! You're gonna get that new trial!” He shouts.  

That was so nice.  

Courage. Strength. Hope and Faith.  

Peace


July 16th, 2021

I've been a bit down today...I called a close friend I've had for years, who told me that another very special close friend is back in hospital and, well, the news really shook me up. I'm trying to keep strong, but it's difficult when I worry so much.  

This stupid thing keeps popping up into my head right now. When I used to say to my dad,  

“It's not fair!”

And he'd say,  

“Yeah, life's not fair!”

But it should be, especially for people who try to live a good life and never hurt anyone. I can take a lot of my licks; I may not like them and even complain, but the truth is I've made a lot of mistakes and I've done terrible things...Whatever the universe bestows upon me, I get it, deep down. Sure, I've tried to correct my life, my impulses, and my wrongs. I've asked for forgiveness and I go forward trying to be a good and better person. But what about the people who are just plain good? Do they really deserve the hardships that life dumps on them?

So, yeah...I'm down and just hoping that my friend gets better and heals completely. She can and she will, because she's a heck of a lot stronger than most people. I'll be fine and I trust my lawyers. I will focus on praying for her, and ask that all of you pray for her too.  

Courage. Strength. Hope and Faith.

Peace


July 17th, 2021

Sunlight is pouring through the gym and I can see the clock. It's 7.50am. The officers seem to be quite jolly this morning as I can hear a lot of laughter. I slept okay. I could've slept longer but got out of bed sometime after 6am. I'm still very worried and anxious about my friend...I hope to get some positive news today.

So, when I got up I did my morning rituals and cleaned my cell. I guess humans have to have their routines! It's helps us feel normal, even if often they're utterly ridiculous and pointless. I don't feel settled here, if that makes sense. The officers are more professional, kinder, and well, outside of some young and idiotic inmates the place isn't 'horrible'. Polunsky most definitely is horrible, and yet...I look forward to returning. It makes no freakin' sense! I guess it's like soldiers who fight in wars...they often come back to civilised life and can't adjust, and want to return to war.

I often think I'm more emotionally and psychologically damaged than I care to admit. The 'Swan'...as my Taffy calls me – calm on the surface, but kicking furiously under the water, to stay afloat. And the punches keep coming! I just learned that apparently one of my trial attorneys believed that in spite of the Judge's personal opinions and bigotry, I had a “fair trial.” I'm really shocked by this because (1) it's patently false, and (2) it only highlights 'Bigot Blindness', especially in white people...Making excuses and being silent towards racists and bigots, and saying,

“Well, I didn't think it was harmful or that he meant it in that way...”

We excuse the behavior or say,  

“Oh, it was just a joke” or “He didn't mean to harm anyone.”

We dismiss the harm it causes our friends. It was one of my closest friends on death row, Irving Davis, who opened my eyes to this. He said,  

“Those things may not hurt you...but they hurt me.”

So, my trial lawyers may not have 'seen' bigotry or felt the trial was unfair, but I'm the one the Judge hated. I'm the one sitting on death row. I'm the one who didn't get to present strong evidence and mitigating circumstances because the Judge wouldn't allow it in. Things that could have prevented the Jury from giving me a death sentence. I had a hold out juror...Imagine they needed that one thing to keep them from killing me. That one document that said I was a follower, and not violent...the document that put me last on a ranking list, but the Judge wouldn't allow it.  

I shouldn't be on death row. I'm NOT a killer. I'm NOT violent. Twenty-one years of time on death row WITHOUT ONE SINGLE VIOLENT INCIDENT has proven that. Do you know how many times a shower door has popped open by accident, and I stayed there and didn't move? Or when my cell door came open and I stayed in the cell? One time, I was sitting on the floor reading through papers, and a female officer opened the wrong door. I looked up, surprised. She froze and said,  

“Shit!! Wrong door!”

I stayed sitting, and didn't move.  

21 years...Think about that.  

So, I really don't care if a trial attorney 'believes' a bigotted judge gave me a fair trial. I was still hurt.  

It's later now...I've been alternating between a crossword puzzle, and reading Robin Cook's, 'Coma'. I took a shower and now I'm wrapping this up. I can't believe tomorrow is Sunday – this week just flew by! Will I return to Polunsky in the new week?

Courage. Strength. Hope and Faith.  

Peace


July 18th, 2021

Sunday...It's been peaceful. I'm just wondering if I'll be headed back to Polunsky or not. This could be the week. I do look forward to the drive, at least. It'll be the last I see of the world until I get a new trial.

I composed a letter to Dallas Morning News (just to get it off my chest!) and while I won't actually send it, I will share it here because I think I summed up my argument and the facts, succinctly!  

Here it is...

As I sit in Dallas County Jail waiting on my return to Texas Death Row, I've been reading the recent articles in the Dallas Morning News, on whether I did or did not receive a fair trial in 2003.

It's NOT disputed by the State that Vickers Cunningham was and is a bigot. The State accepts all of the evidence that supports this: witness affadavits, text messages, and recordings, including an interview conducted by Dallas Morning News, AS TRUE.

However, the State argues I had a fair trial because,

'He told Halprin he'd give him a fair trial, and he had his shackles removed in the presence of the jury.'

We argue that Cunningham's personal bigotries prevented me from having a fair trial. If Cunningham had biases about people of color, minorities, or religious minorities, he should have recused himself from the majority of the Texas 7 trials. He did not. Instead, he hid his racial and religious bias under the robe, which makes it all the more insidious and unacceptable.

The Supreme Court is clear on this issue:

'The Due Process clause clearly requires a 'fair trial in a fair tribunal...' before a judge with no actual bias against the defendant.'

As I've spent the last 20 years asking for forgiveness for my bad choices and actions in life, I do forgive Vickers Cunningham. No one is asking that I be set free. Only for the opportunity afforded to me by the Constitution of the United States, for a fair trial. Something that, because of my trial Judge's bigotries, I could not and did not have.

Randy E. Halprin

Otherwise, I'm okay. My friend is getting a little getter, thank G-d! I thank you all for your prayers for her. That is a huge weight off my chest. She has a long road ahead of her and I hope she continues to improve.  

Courage. Strength. Hope and Faith.  

Peace


July 19th, 2021

I'm still in a bit of a tizzy after reading the Dallas Morning News, in Sunday's paper. I'm hoping to talk to my attorneys about it tomorrow and if all works out I may see someone from my team tomorrow, as they have to go to Fort Worth for something.  

The more I think about the article, the more ridiculous it is to me. Who wants to defend a bigot? Then, I think of the contradictory statements,  

“Well, he never was really fair to the defense. He always acts like a 4th prosecutor...”

Come on!! It's the Judge's job to be impartial, NOT to help the prosecutors along...But the thing that really upset me is how my trial attorney could actually say, knowing what he knows about my trial Judge being a bigot...he actually said he'd have no problem with the Judge presiding over another trial! So, you are telling me that if you had a black defendant or a Jew, or a Latino, that you wouldn't ask the Judge to recuse himself, knowing he's a bigot? No trial attorney – not even a mediocre attorney, would stand for that. And if they did, they shouldn't be an attorney. Period. Edwin 'Bubba' King should lose his law licence for that comment. It's ridiculous!  

Whew! Anyways....

The day has been okay otherwise. At breakfast, the officer gave me two bowls of Lucky Charms, two apples, and two Kellogs Blueberry Breakfast bars. Most of the officers try to give me extra food, which is great, but I'll be 300lbs before I return to Polunsky! Seriously though, whilst this place is strict, everyone is really kind. Even the SRTs haven't been jerks to me, which I appreciate. I think a lot of you know...you know I'm no threat, and that I'm polite and kind in return. It's nice when someone recognises your own humanity.  

I'm just wondering when I'll return to Polunsky...

On another note, I was thinking about how much I love blue cheese. Okay, context: So, they have these blue cheese flavored chips that are insanely good...So good!! I mean, in the world of potato chips I consider myself an aficionado, an expert of the chip. It was once a dream of mine to try every type of potato chip on the face of the earth, so when I tried this particular flavor, it pushed itself to the top of the list along with Cool Ranch Doritos, and Miss Vickies Jalapeno chips, and now, add to that Moonlodge Buffalo Wing and Blue Cheese.  

When I was a kid my dad would always order blue cheese dressing with his salad. Now, being a salad lover myself, I'd look at it with utter disgust and contempt. It stunk and it looked funky...I'd go,  

“Ewww! Dad, how can you eat that?”

And he'd pick a forkful up and push it towards me, and say,

“Try it.”

Then I'd feign gagging and wave it off.  

Fast forward to about 2012 or so...Mrs Cox, a Salvation Army Minister, would visit guys on Death Row. I never used to visit Christian Ministries because, well, I'm Jewish. But one time my friend, David, was visiting me and hit it off with Mrs Cox. She asked him if I would visit with her, and I agreed. I admired her so much, and she saw so many people on Death Row. She was a real 'mensch'.

Anyway, David would give her money to buy people food at visits, and on a particular visit I ordered a salad and a bag of chips. When I got the salad the dressing was blue cheese.  

“I know you prefer Italian or Ranch,” she said. “But that's all they had.”

“It's okay...no, really, it's fine.” I replied.

Because she bought it, I felt obliged to not let it go to waste. Deep inside though, I was terrified to eat it because I was afraid I would start gagging as I do with broccoli! I poured it on my salad and was hit with the smell! Childhood memories came flooding back and I thought,  

“It's now or never!”

I took a cautious bite...Hmmm, this is interesting...Then my taste buds told me,  

“WOW...this is actually pretty good. Maybe my dad wasn't crazy after all!”

I took bite after bite, loving it more and more. It became a favorite. I liked it...I really liked it! Having that flavor on a chip is like a dream!

It's later now...Setting into the evening. I had a hot dog and beans for dinner. Some of the best beans I've had in a long time. I asked the guard what brand the jail used for hot dogs, and he said,  

“I think it's some Kosher thingy.”

I was confused at first, and then asked,  

“Hebrew National?”

He said,  

“Yeah, that's it. A damn good dog!”

And it really was.

Well, I'll call it a day...

Courage. Strength. Hope and Faith.  

Peace


July 20th, 2021

Last evening my investigator came to talk. It was quite a surprise. We discussed the article about my trial attorneys and what he said made perfect sense:

“They have to say I had a fair trial because if they didn't, it would be an admission that they were ineffective, made worse by the fact that they probably knew my judge was anti-Semitic. So, by talking to a reporter and saying, 'Uh, it was fair. I didn't seen any red flags' they were covering their asses. Of course, it's pretty cowardly when a person's life is at stake."

Today has been kind of ho-hum. I read, exercised, and now it's second shift. I hope dinner is good. Yesterday was great. Best beans ever! For lunch it was PB&J for a week straight. Thank G-d for the fresh fruit! Oranges today.  

I've been told that the prosecutor was a better presenter than my attorney, but to put things into a clearer perspective, and point out why a 'better presenter' means diddly-squat in this case...First, neither my attorney nor I were forewarned that the hearing would be streamed live. It caught us both off guard and it made everyone nervous. So, when my attorney began I think he was trying to find ground and explain why we were here. He cited Supreme Court precedent and pointed out that our case is actually stronger than previous cases, and then let the prosecutor have the floor. He let her read her brief verbatim and then closed it out by not only pointing out the State's position – to defend a bigot after the State acknowledged he was a bigot – and put it into a legal and historical context. We didn't need to get fancy or have our 'Few Good Men'. We didn't have to ask for the truth because the truth is already there out in the open.

The hearing wasn't a necessary thing. It's what has been admitted by the State and what has and will be filed by us that matters. The State can say all day long that the Judge put aside his bigotry for my trial, and we can't prove harm, but as my legal team always says,  

“BUT IT DOESN'T MATTER. The harm was him hiding his bigotry under the robe”

So, the State can have the best presentation...They can speak fluidly and throw out all of this legal mumbo jumbo to deflect from the point. It still doesn't make it right...Their argument isn't right. So, hopefully that clarifies it for anyone who doesn't understand our position.  

That's really all I have to say for today. I'm going to finish this book and read the newspaper.  

Courage. Strength. Hope and Faith.  

Peace


July 23rd, 2021

I was reading in the newspaper about a Dallas man charged with the death of his 3 year old son. The trial - a capital murder trial at that - lead to a mistrial being declared because one Jury member coudn't convict because the State could offer no reason how the child died. They just know he stopped breathing, and he had consulted his wife shortly before the child died. As tragic as all of that was, what stood out to me about the case is before the DA brought capital murder charges, they actually approached the defendant with a first degree murder charge and a 60 year sentence. He declined the deal and so the State essentially said,

"Okay, well we'll make sure you never see the light of day since you don't want to work with us."

How is the State allowed such leverage to initially say,

"It's not capital murder if you plea, but if not, it is capital murder."

Imagine if this was a death penalty case...Imagine a County DA saying,

"Plead guilty to a lesser offense and time, but if not we'll make sure we kill your ass."

It happens all of the time!

The fact they offer a deal means they then go on to lie and manipulate a jury of something they knew was never the case, or they wouldn't have offered a deal in the first place! Think about that. Is there not something fundamentally wrong with that? How can we say the US justice system isn't flawed?

Off my soap box for the day...

Now I'm just sitting here wondering when I'll go back to Polunsky. I mean, I'm not being treated badly. Heck, most of the officers are always trying to give me extra food. They're respectful and professional, and you'd think I'd want to stay away from the chaos of Polunsky. Believe me, I don't miss the chaos, but...I miss friends and my routine and rituals. Seriously though, I'm okay here, but I do wonder when I'll leave.

Courage. Strength. Hope and Faith.

Peace


July 26th, 2021

Here's something that's been bothering me since I've been in Dallas County Jail...I can't wrap my head around the fact that Bob Barker – yes, THE Bob Barker of 'The Price is Right” Fame, and animal rights activist – has long profited from the Industrial Prison Complex. You see, he owns a company that sells clothings, shoes, hygiene products etc, to jails and prisons across the United States. Right now, my Dallas County Jail clothing and crocs have markings that say 'Bob Barker Company'. I just can't wrap my head around how a man that advocates for animals and their humane treatment can then turn around and make a profit by keeping people in prison. And he has to want people in prison or else no one can by his cheaply made crap.

But hey, who doesn't love Bob? Even if he makes millions of dollars from keeping young black men and the poor in jail.

So, I was thinking...Why am I still in Dallas? I'm surprised I'm still here to be honest. I am missing my friends in Polunsky, and being able to sleep at night! I just hope that when I have my retrial, I'm not languishing around for years...waiting. I do not want to be in Dallas County for years...I can see how even innocent people feel so desperate and take the plea deals. They just want to get on with their lives.

A group of nurses just showed up to offer COVID shots. So far only one guy has accepted it today. I noticed they monitor the person after they've given the shot, here, for a few minutes. On Polunsky they gave me the shot and told me to go back to my cell. Not even a sticker or a lollipop!

Courage. Strength. Hope and Faith.

Peace


July 27th, 2021

Another day in County Jail...I slept okay but the banging began after breakfast and went all the way into the morning. I talked to someone on my legal team who said that 12 Building was on lockdown, and going through a shakedown. I was like,

“Whew! Maybe being here right now isn't too bad!”

I don't, and never have had, contraband; but no one likes going through the process of having their cell ransacked. Knowing it's over now...they can go ahead and send me back!

The day has been okay. I've felt a little sluggish for some reason, but I'll be okay. I managed to do some exercises and paced...I've had to have walked MANY miles in this cell! It's so much more spacious and so I got a good pace going. I know I must look insane to the guards, going back and forth...It's just boredom.

I think when I return again (and I will) I'm going to go on a campaign for commissary to sell little portable radios. Every county has them except Dallas. So many goals...so many missions...ha ha.

You know, to have a little freedom either in prison or jail, I'd be more than willing to wear some kind of GPS monitor. Surely they have the technology for a prison or jail. I'm NO threat. I'm NOT going to try to escape. I know they can't take my word for it, but just strap an ankle monitor on me. If I try to fiddle with it or take if off, they'd know. They'd be alerted. So, why not? I'd wear the thing for the rest of my life if it would allow me the freedom to access the jail gym etc. How many years does it take to show I'm not a risk? I'm NOT violent...I'm NOT going to escape. Twenty years isn't enough it seems. Another decade? What does it take?

Why do some people get chances and some don't? What does it take to prove myself?

Courage. Strength. Hope and Faith.

Peace


  
July 28th, 2021

I had the strangest dream last night...It came some time after they brought breakfast. I was sitting in some kind of Spanish mission style cafe, at a table with one of my attorneys and Chief Justice John Roberts of the Supreme Court. They were talking about legal stuff I didn't understand, when Justice Roberts turns to me and says,

“You're good...You have nothing to worry about.”

How weird! But kind of assuring?

I'm still in Dallas...Honestly, I thought I'd go back fairly quickly, and I didn't think they'd want the responsibility of keeping me here. But I'm being my usual self - quiet, respectful, and kind. So maybe they're like,

“No rush. He's being good.”

And why wouldn't I behave as my usual self? Twenty years of not being in serious trouble is a track record I do not want to spoil. The longer I'm here the kinder the officers are towards me. Don't get me wrong – I'm not getting a free pass with anything! I'm a prisoner from Death Row and my security is still as such, but just in terms of being treated as a human being, getting the

“Hey Halprin! How are you today?”

Or when an SRT officer passing by says,

“Everything good Halprin?”

Those count for something. They make me feel...normal. Especially coming from Polunsky where indifference and apathy rule the day!

Did I ever mention that I have my own shower? Holy Moly it's the best thing ever! I can shower when I want, and for however long I want. I don't have to stress on waiting all day or worrying if a guard will jack me. It's brilliant! I will miss that when I return.

Otherwise it's been a day of reading, a little writing, and doing crossword puzzles from the newspaper.

Courage. Strength. Hope and Faith.

Peace


  
July 29th 2021

I scored two waffle trays for breakfast this morning. I'm not a big breakfast person because on Polunsky it's almost always pancakes. Prison ruined pancakes for me! I detest them. But when the officers this morning offered an extra waffle tray to me, I said,   

“Who am I to turn down waffles? Yummy!”

I had a minor panic attack today. I sometimes go down mental rabbit holes of “what ifs?” and yes, I know I have to get past the courts to get from point A to wherever, but I have optimism that I'll have a favorable ruling. For me, that situation is no longer an “if” but a “when”. Now, after that happens? That's where the fun comes in. Unless they remove murder from my charges, I don't see a situation where I would even take a plea, unless it was a small sentence, which, I mean...c'mon...The politics of my case pretty much rules that out.   

So, then I get to...okay, trial. Well, my first trial was so traumatizing for me that there's a legitimate dread. For several reasons. One, I don't want to languish in County Jail for a couple of years, just to have a trial. Two, I don't want to go through the emotional trauma of a trial. I do feel that I would be better prepared, yes. I'm a little wiser, more mature, and a better person. I have a track record of staying out of trouble...I have friends and support, and I know my case inside and out. Instead of being a 'bystander' and trusting an attorney to handle everything I know enough legally and evidence wise to be a participant. I'll know if the attorney that represents me is doing a good job or not.   

It's just the idea of being beat up, mis-characterized, having every little thing I do either taken out of context or mis-represented...for two weeks. Having to sit there being genuinely regretful and remorseful for my choices, even though I'm not a killer, to have my sincerity towards the victim be treated as it is not sincere...That's so hard on the heart and soul. It's not about trying to “win a trial”. No one wins! I'm not trying to “win”. I just want people to see the truth. That's all. It just gives me a panic at times. Whatever the outcome, I will handle it. But it's the process...the process frightens me.   

Yeah, I know I have to cross that bridge when it comes. Ultimately, wherever that bridge takes me I just want to have a life where I can be useful to others, to serve a greater cause, and live with humility. Wherever that might be isn't my concern. I just pray for the opportunity.   

Courage. Strength. Hope and Faith.  

Peace


August 2nd, 2021

Still in Dallas...Today's been odd. First, when the commissary cart arrived I wanted to buy stamps. They sell stamped envelopes, but I need the additional postage for other things to mail. The lady said,  

“We're not selling stamps anymore...” which I find ridiculous. If it's true it really hurts me because I can't write particular people. So, I'll send a request to whoever runs the commissary and ask if it's true, and if so, what are the people who need additional postage, to do? I mean, at times even legal mail requires extra postage.  

Later, the craziest thing happened...I'm pacing in my cell and doing exercises, when an officer comes up and says,  

“You trippin'?”  

I said,  

“What?”

I was confused. He asks,  

“You in here smoking?”

I blurted,  

“Hell no!!”

“Well, I'm gonna go in there and check,” he said.  

“Okay.”

I'm really confused, but concerned. 100 things begin going through my head...Is he going to call the SRTs? Am I being set up? I don't smoke and never have. It's freakin' repugnant! Even when I did drugs when I was a youngster, I found smoking disgusting.  

Second shift comes and I ask the guard working if he knew why this happened to me, and he says,  

“Don't worry about it. They saw your arms moving around and didn't know what you were doing.”

“I was exercising! I'm in the fight for my life and would never do anything so dumb...”

“No. You're right about that.”

And that was that.  

Really, that's been my day...Extremely boring. I could rant about COVID being on the rise and it being mostly unvaccinated people filling up hospitals. Actually, one comment I'll make...I didn't know that so many Conservatives have suddenly turned into pro-choice.  

“My body, my health.”

People, who would've thought that would happen? Just sayin'...

Courage. Strength. Hope and Faith.

Peace


August 3rd, 2021

I had an epiphany of sorts this morning...It came from listening to the conversations of these young black men talking in the vents – mostly about their gang lives, getting back on the streets for that life, and all that comes with that.

The epiphany is this: whilst I know there are groups out in the world, who try to prevent these young men from getting involved in gangs or violence, from my own eyes the intervention (mostly) comes when they're already in prison and sometimes facing lengthy sentences. What I have almost never seen is anyone come into jails and start talking to them.

Most of these guys will eventually be released or make bond, and they go right back to the life they know. There is no alternative...No way out. The cycle of crime, or even death, continues. But if groups of community leaders, clergy and others from their communities were to come in and offer hope, eduction, be supportive in their redemption, and offer a way out...That could create positive change. I listen to these guys talk and intellectually, they are not dumb. They just lack that spark that will set them alight to see a different path.

So, they come into jail and see no other path open to them. Sometimes a person knows where the path is, but it's so dark they can't find it. It takes another to light the way for them.

I seem to be stuck in Dallas for some reason...I'm not going to harp on about it, it's been a mixture of positives and negatives. I'm just unprepared to stay such a long time. I'm doing my best to keep busy. If I'm here tomorrow I think I'm going to ask why I'm not getting recreation. I've not asked since I've been here only because I didn't expect to stay so long.

Courage. Strength. Hope and Faith.

Peace


August 4th, 2021

Today's been a spit boxing extravaganza! There's 4 dudes going at it right now. Worst line? Well, honestly, it's way too explicit and homophobic to repeat, but the guy basically called the other guys for being gay, and then after insulting him, asked that he perform a sexual act on him.

The response was like,

“I'm a [bleep] but you want me to [bleep...bleep...bleep]?”

Thank God there's barely any of this nonsense back on Polunsky.

The day's been okay though. If I'm still in Dallas tomorrow I should receive a legal visit. I'll be looking forward to that. Otherwise, I'm still waiting for my return to Livingston.

Courage. Strength. Hope and Faith.

Peace


August 5th, 2021

Why am I still here? Well, it took three weeks to get me here after the judge signed the bench warrant. Maybe it's the same amount of time when it comes to going back? Who knows? I just don't know what the deal is...Again, I really wouldn't care if I could “settle”, but I can't settle. Anyways...I'll get on with it.

I seem to be coming down with some kind of cold or something. I hope it's not the Delta variant! It feels more like a head cold than anything, but still...I hope it doesn't last long.

My investigator stopped by the jail tonight which was really great. He had to come to Dallas for other business and decided to drive up to the jail as well. Unlike Polunsky where legal visits have to be scheduled in advance, and are limited in hours, a legal visit or minister visit can come at any time, and for however long they like. So, we stayed out there until almost 10pm! I thought it was earlier than that, but next thing I know it's shift change.

Ugh! They just moved a guy into the cell next to me and he's banging on his desk...

Courage. Strength. Hope and Faith.

Peace


August 6th, 2021

I have a headache and my nose is stuffed up. They ended up moving the guy who was banging, after an hour. Thank G-d! It would have been a very long night.

Something interesting happened earlier today. I was sitting at my desk when, through my vent, I hear,

“Randy! Look out Randy!”

I thought,

“Who in the world knows my name here? I've not talked to a single inmate.”

I got up and went to the vent and said,

“Yeah? What's up?”

“Man, this is Jack...You don't remember me?”

“Uhhh...I don't know a 'Jack'. Sorry.”

“Yeah, you do, man. 2002, 2 East Upper. You had the walls around your cells. You were there, Woody, [AKA Abel Ochoa], that guy that killed his little girls. Those SRT's always pulled you out, and when you passed my cell, I was the guy that would tell you I'm praying for you.”

Everything flooded back to me and I said,

“Yeah! Yeah! I remember now! Wow...That was almost 20 years ago.

“I know!” What's crazy is I saw you the other day and you ain't got no hair! But you still look young,” he said.

“Yeah...I miss my hair.”

We both laughed.

“Anyways, man,” Jack said, “I just wanted to tell you I read them articles and I'm still praying for you. I hope it all works out.”

“Thank you. I really appreciate that.”

“Yeah, sure. God's got this. Trust him.”

“I do, Jack. I do.”

What a conversation...Amazing that I'm near a guy I was around 20 years ago.

Not much else going on today. It's hard to think because of my headache, and I'm blowing my nose every couple of minutes. Wouldn't it be crazy if I really had the Delta variant of COVID? With having COVID this past winter, the vaccine, and now this, I'll have a super immune system!

Nah...I doubt it's COVID. If so, everyone around me would be dropping like flies because few guys on solitary are vaccinated and we all share the same phones and ventilation system.

Courage. Strength. Hope and Faith.

Peace


August 10th, 2021

Yesterday I felt barely alive with how exhausted I was. Coming off of a virus and then not having any sleep because all hell broke loose the night before. It was hard to sleep over all of the yelling and incessant banging...Then, early in the morning some guy trying to pull a fast one on the commissary lady set off a reaction that had the floor filled with officers...It was nuts. By evening time I was so exhausted I crashed so hard that I slept all the way until 7.30am. Had I not needed to be up and make some calls, I could've slept longer. I did feel relaxed and rested though.  

I'm reading Steinbeck's 'East of Eden' right now. I wasn't sure if I was in a place mentally to take on a great classic, but I'm glad I started it because now, more than ever, I actually get it. It's filled with every facet of the human heart and condition that it almost seems fortuitous that I just randomly grabbed the book off of the cart. This is the third book I grabbed by happenchance since I've been here, that seems like the universe is literally speaking to me. Just strange...

Reading here is so different. I've always loved to read. I was a book mad kid and read at school, at home, at restaurants, under the blankets late at night with a flash light on...By the 4th grade I was reading at college level...Not bad for a kid that barely knew his ABCs at 5 ½ years old. I hated math. I hated PE. I loved history and I loved English. When I first came to prison I read about every genre written imaginable. From every Tom Clancy spy thriller, to Dean Kootz, John Grisham, Stephen King, and a myriad of horror writers. Then, I got right into the literary classics and literary fiction. I blame my friend and mentor, David, for that.  

But reading at Polunsky...while I don't tear through books like I once did, it's distracting. With my radio, friends, noise etc, I'll read a chapter here, read a chapter there...I still love to read, just differently. Here in Dallas though? Unless it's noisey, that old love – the reading for the escaping into another world, and that excitement returned and I'm just reading and reading.  

Courage. Strength. Hope and Faith.  

Peace


August 11th, 2021

Today I've been thinking about time...I've been thinking about how time, for me – and I would go out on a limb and say for most guys on death row – functions on a different dimensional path than most people, save for those who are terminally ill, in the world. Even since my first day on death row I have always been hyper-aware of time. First because I didn't think I'd live past my early 30s and now still the unknown of what's going to happen hanging like a sword over my head.

When you're aware of time in the way that I am it causes you to live differently because you can't be oblivious to it like most people are. I can talk fantastically about what I would like to do next year, but no one can honestly say what's going to happen but again I don't have the luxury of oblivion.

And that's one reason I pray so hard and pray I get off of death row. I want that oblivion. I want to breathe. I want to live like regular people and not have time on my back like a ten ton boulder. I want to operate in the normal parameters of time. And if I fall down a flight of stairs, or get shanked by another prisoner, or have a heart attack because I eat too many chips, I can think in those last seconds,

“Crap! I didn't see that coming.”

It may sound strange to call that a luxury of normal living, but it is! Who on G-d's green earth wants to know when and how they're going to die? I sure as heck don't. But mostly, I just want to get on with my life in normal time. To breathe. To get to my goals and to helping people. That's all. I just really want to live.

I've kind of been coasting through the day...But getting by.

Courage. Strength. Hope and Faith.

Peace


August 12th, 2021

Today is a bit brighter...and hopeful...I talked to someone on my legal team and was told that my filing for our 'Conclusion to the Fact Findings' to the judge has been given an extension of another week and is now due on August 20th.

That's cool. I know we have the winning argument. I think of the State's argument because of the ridiculousness of it all.

“Yeah, everything Halprin is arguing is fact and true...but it didn't affect the trial.”

I'm reminded of my actual trial when a detective on the case was asked,

“So, based on your investigation Halprin told the truth?”

“Yes.”

“And he was telling the truth when he said this...”

“Yes.”

“And he was telling the truth when he said that...”

“Yes.”

“In fact, his whole statement checks out. Is that correct?”

“Yes.”

“But?”

“But I don't believe him when he says he didn't shoot.”

CRAZINESS!!

Again, I can only pray that my judge is filled with the wisdom to discern the nonsense from the facts. No reasonable person can believe that a bigot is capable of giving a religious minority defendant a fair trial, or any minority defendant a fair trial for that matter.

So, has anyone read something so enlightening that it almost consumes your whole thought process? I mentioned I'm reading John Steinbeck's 'East of Eden' and while the entire novel is an explanation of the human heart and condition, there's a part of the book that examines the story in the book of Genesis about Cain and Abel. As the story goes, Cain slayed Abel out of jealousy, and then tried to hide it from God. Two of the characters get into a theological debate about the King James translation where God does not punish Cain but essentially tells him,

“Thou shalt rule over sin.”

In American standard translation it's more forceful in that it says,

“Do this.”

After long consideration of the phrase, one of the characters takes it to Rabbis and Chinese philosophers. They examine it for two years and realise that the Hebrew root is 'timshel' - “Thou mayest.” G-d gives man a choice. G-d knows our hearts and instead of making a stern demand, G-d says you have the choice to not be ignorant. You can choose to enlighten yourself or you can be ignorant and foolish. And my brain is on fire because sometimes I think about free will and fate and I think,

“If the future's written then where does free will come from?”

And that two word statement, “Thou mayest,” to me anyways, allows both free will and fate to co-exist. It says,

“You have the choice – you may enlighten yourself in life, use the tools and the knowledge given to you to better the world, or you can choose not to. How you live is your choice."

Think about this – say you plan a vacation. You know you're going to Disney World. That part is set in stone (the future) but...how do you get there? Let's say money/expenses don't matter. That's not part of the scenario. You can fly – you know it will be less of a hassle, faster, or you can drive. The choice doesn't change the outcome it just may or may not make the trip easier.

My mind is all over the place thinking of this stuff. I can promise you that East of Eden is a book worth reading. I think when I get back to Polunsky I'm going to read 'Grapes of Wrath' again. I already have two other classics I'm going to read with my Taffy - 'The Crucible' and 'Pride and Prejudice'. I'm looking forward to all of it with her.

The day has been peaceful and quiet. I hope I sleep as good tonight as I did yesterday. The lights were out completely - the first time since I've been here and it was so dark, I slept like a baby. May it be so tonight!

Courage. Strength. Hope and  Faith.

Peace


August 16th, 2021

Today  started off on a wild note. I woke up at about 5.30am and it was  already noisey. I was just relieved to have gotten some sleep the night  before. I told myself I was going to push for recreation as I have not  had it since I've been here, and if I'm stuck here, I want all of my  privileges. At about 6.30am I talked to an officer about recreation and  he was really cool about it and told me he'd talk to someone about it.  Not a hot 15 minutes later he says,  

“Yeah. You can go. We just have to wait on an SRT escort to take you to the gym.”

I was really happy about that and it was hassle free – that was what I was most worried about.  

As  I was waiting I started to exercise and another guy – a kid really –  was going to rec when he suddenly tried to knee-kick the officer. I  don't know what spurred it. They didn't seem to be arguing or anything  like that, but the kid made a huge mistake. The officer was quick as  lightening, dodged the kick, spun and grabbed the kid's shirt and put  him on the ground! Next thing you know, other officers are piling on top  of him and they have him in handcuffs, dragging him across the ground  by his ankles. So crazy!

Honestly,  this kid...I don't feel sorry for him. Well, let me clarify...I feel  sorry that he has had a life in which he feels he needs to be a  'gangster' and act tougher than he is. I feel even worse that he's had a  life in which he wears being a 'gangster' as a badge of honor...Like  it's something to be proud of. It's clouded any common sense he might  have and makes him act like an idiot daily. This is what I mean when I  talk about having people come in from his community and mentor him and  others like him, before he ends up in prison for the rest of his life.  

As  as I have learned the hard way, there are repercussions for our choices  and so I didn't feel bad that they dragged him off by his ankles. They  didn't beat or abuse him. They were quite professional. It could've been  worse for him. From my point of view, he started it. Act like a thug,  you can't be surprised when you're treated like one.  

Anyhow,  I got the phone and then after I made my calls they showed up to take  me to recreation. It was one SRT and the rec officer. I got a 'pat down'  and they walked me to the gym. At first, that initial breath of fresh  air – I say 'fresh' but it was really smoggy city air - I was imediately  overwhelmed by the air! It was a bit hot, a smell of exhaust fumes, and  oxygen. I walked to the mesh area and looked at down town Dallas...Sky  scrapers...The American Airline Center to the left of my panoramic view.  The old Dallas County Courthouse...trees...people walking, oblivious to  the fact that some inmate was watching them. I thought,  

“Look at them...so busy to get nowhere. Looking at their phones or talking without looking at the beautiful world around them!”

I  saw Mrs Baird's bread trucks, UPS trucks, an Amazon truck...I watched  as some guy stood on the side of the road as an Uber Eats car dropped  off food to him. The clouds were thick, like big fluffy marshmallows in  the sky. An airplane breezed across a sky scraper, taking off from the  nearby Lovefield airport. It was a little humid and hot. I actually  managed to have some sunlight on my face, which I didn't think I'd get.  

It's  hard to describe how real and 3D everything was...Yes, obviously most  of us are stereoscopic, but for me, even with two decent eyeballs, being  kept in a cell all day and seeing only a limited amount of things, the  environment becomes two dimensional. Walking outside and seeing a  city...It's a bit like stepping into an MC Escher drawing, or seeing the  matrix for what it is.  

After  taking in the city for a long time I began to walk around. I think if I  get to go to rec again this week, I'll jog for 30 minutes. The gym is  huge and I get almost 2 hours of recreation...a true blessing.  

Now  I'm completely wiped out. I hope to sleep really good! It's been a nice  day, actually. Having rec kind of settled my nerves and cabin fever.  Now I'm just hoping tonight stays quiet.  

Courage. Strength. Hope and Faith.  

Peace


August 18th, 2021

I'm so angry at myself at times....I went outside for recreation and watched the city. It was cool and grey...absolutely perfect. That first teasing bite of autumn, although I'm not fooled by Texas weather! We're far from autumn, but Texas just likes to give us a little tease. Texas weather can be a shameless hussy!

So, I'm watching the city and I think,  

“Randy, you are such a stupid, ignorant, and impulsive jerk for escaping. Right now, right at this very moment you'd probably be out on parole. You'd be one of these automatons staring down at their phone, lost in life.”

I do get mad at myself and I probably would be free...September 5th I have four years left on my original offence that began when I was 18 years old, almost 19...I'm almost 44 now. Crazy.

But then I think, if I had remained in general population all of these years who would I be now? I'm far from perfect, but I do believe I'm a good person and kind, but would years of prison have hardened me? Would I have become angry and resentful at the world? Would I have remained angry and resentful towards the people that turned their backs on me? Who would I be?  

Without a doubt, as awful as my choices were in life and the mistakes I made, and then this 20 plus years of this roller coaster...Without them I wouldn't be who I am now. I have so many regrets and remorse for the choices I made, but I don't regret who I've become.  

After about 45 minutes it began to rain on the city and as it cleaned the air the downpour was so fresh smelling. At the hour mark it was time to return to my cell. I had lunch which was PB&J and then decided to take a  nap. I ended up sleeping for two hours! I guess I needed it.  

There's a peacefulness now. Maybe it's the rain, maybe everyone is exhausted. Who knows?  

Courage. Strength. Hope and Faith.  

Peace


August 19th, 2021

It's so strange...Two weeks ago I had a head cold. It lasted a few days and I was fine. Last night I could feel an itchiness in the back of my throat. When I woke up I was completely stuffed up in my nasal cavity and I feel like I have a head cold. I don't feel sick. My energy is fine. I slept okay, and feel chipper.

I talked to my attorney today and the big filing for my appeal is due tomorrow. Everyone feels like we have the winning argument. I do continue to ask for peoples' prayers that the judge considers all of the facts and is given insight and wisdom into her decision. That I'm granted mercy and another chance.

I think that the reason I'm still in Dallas is COVID related. With the surge especially high (because people won't get vaccinated) I'm guessing that either TDCJ or Dallas County Jail doesn't want to move people around the State. That seems to be the most logical explanation, but who knows really? And again, I don't mind being here, but I am not settled. I'm also worried about certain personal items I have at Polunsky. My pictures, certain books and cards from my Taffy...We'll just have to see what happens.

Anyways, the day has been slow moving and quiet. The noise will probably explode at anytime.

Courage. Strength. Hope and Faith.

Peace


August 22nd, 2021

As the weekend comes to an end, I really don't have a lot to write about. I've been sick all weekend long and pretty much lost my voice. It's coming back, but definitely not full strength.  

My big filing was submitted to the judge on Friday, and whilst I've not yet seen it, I'm confident it's good. I'd like to be back on Polunsky when the judge makes her recommendation to the CCA just in case things move quickly after that. I don't expect the CCA to rule quickly, but you never know. They might just want to be done with me and kick me down the road. Regardless, everything is in motion now and I can only pray for brighter days ahead.  

So, other than dealing with being sick for the second time in two weeks, I'm doing my best to get by. There are some slang terms here in Dallas County that I really hope never make it into the Polunsky lexicon. They are so...really irritating. I get it, I'm almost 44 years old and I'm sure things I said at home growing up got on my parents' nerves. Actually, my dad used to say,  

“Stop talking like a valley girl!”

But these are tiresome phrases that are like nails in a chalk board:

“On my momma” as in “I hit that fool so hard, on my momma he passed out”

“On G-d” ditto

“Nah, but for real,” as in “I bought that car for $5000 but nah for real, I did.”

“Type s**t,” (in this someone says something to the guy and the response in return is 'type s**t'. Huh?)

And the most annoying response to just about anything, and I'm not making this up, is “Skiddupp.” I don't know...it's boggling!

Courage. Strength. Hope and Faith.  

Peace


August 24th, 2021

Where do I begin on how completely idiotic I feel this mask debate is, and the argument that it's an 'attack on freedom' is utterly nonsensical. I mean, I'm of the mind to say,  

“Sure, you have the right to put your own health at risk...”

But the problem is that it's not just your life – viruses are transmissible, and that means that you, dear anti-mask wearer, put others' lives at risk. And don't say that masks don't work because the proof is in the pudding and during the pandemic, cold and flu viruses were at an all time low. So, yes, they do work. But again, the main purpose of them is to prevent YOU – a possible carrier – from giving it to someone else.  

An attack on freedom? Puh-lease! Is the restaurant rule, 'No shirt, no shoes, no service' an attack on freedom? Are school uniforms or dress codes an attack on freedom? Are no smoking rules an attack on freedom? Is a seat belt law or a no texting while driving law an attack on freedom? Indecent exposure? Public intoxication? Littering? Speed limits?

Seriously, people cannot be that dumb! And let's admit it...if the Trump administration had come out on day one of the pandemic and said,  

“Every American should wear their mask and be patriotic,”

a great number of the anti-maskers would have their red, made in China, MAGA face masks on, waving flags and saying,  

“You ain't American if you ain't wearin' your mask. USA!” (No, I don't think all Trump supporters are ignorant or red necks, but they sure can act pretty darn stupid.)

This shouldn't be a political issue. It's not an attack on freedom any more than having laws against a guy in a trench coat flashing his weiner at you in a park is. I mean, come on! It's just common sense. I don't want some pervo flashing his pecker at me. Just like I wouldn't want anyone to die of COVID when it could be so easily prevented. It's not fear...It's logic. Something this country has seemed to have left on the side of the road. The world's laughing at us...Sheesh!

Rant over...I really should stop reading newspapers!  

I spoke with Taffy about my recent legal filing and it's pretty flipping good! That lifts my hopes up. I'd like to get back before the CCA rules so I can get things in order, say goodbye to friends on Polunsky etc. I just keep hoping for the day when I'm 'Randy Halprin, former death row inmate'. G-d willing!  

The day is winding down now. The noise isn't crazy yet, but it's not quite 10pm. Anything can happen!

Courage. Strength. Hope and Faith.  

Peace


August 25th, 2021

I may be trapped in Dallas due to the COVID outbreak of the Delta Variant (thank you unvaccinated people!). I'll know more tomorrow, but it seems to be the reason. Dallas might not want to risk transporting people. I could go off on a tangent, but I'll spare you all today.

It's been a super slow, super boring day, but I did go outside for a couple of hours. The officer doing rec was a bit of a jerk at first, and I thought I might not make it, but I did. It was hot as blazes, but the sky was clear and the city beautiful. I love the small quiet towns, but I'll always be a city boy at heart.

When I came in I was wiped out! I ate lunch and fell asleep. When I got up I watched a fight break out on one of the general population tanks. These tanks operate like it's the 'Lord of the Flies', and are very predatory. County jails are always like that. You'd think they'd try to prevent it, but they never do.

Other than that I'm just relaxing and plan on going to bed early – assuming it's quiet tonight!

Courage. Strength. Hope and Faith.

Peace


August 29th, 2021

Wow...Entering into the last few days of the month – just 16 days away until I'm 44 years old! Then, my friend, Irving's, birthday is on the 17th, and Big Will's is on the 29th. People love making babies in the new year!

The weekend has been typical; a bit slow and boring here, but the past two nights have been quiet and I slept well. Today started off quiet but now sounds like a zoo. Banging, yelling. Literal animal noises...I really believe some people are afraid of silence or their own minds. There are two types of people like that – those that pop pills to sleep the day away because they can't face it, or those that have to make so much noise to drown out their own thoughts. Maybe if I wasn't so sensitive to sounds I could handle it, but my hearing is abnormal. I hear too darn good! I love it for music, not so much for everything else.

So, I've been sitting here wondering if I'll return to Polunsky this week or even soon. The last I heard, my investigator said that Dallas just has to put a transport plan together. I didn't know it takes two months to do that! It only took 3 weeks to get to Dallas.

I caught a little of the Dallas pre-season game that the officers were watching at their desk. They were being trampled on! I hope they do better in the regular season.

I'm looking forward to recreation tomorrow assuming I'm here. I won't complain if they take me back to Livingston though. I have things I need to take care of. These days I live and think like I'm going to be soon leaving the place – alive! Even if it takes many months. I feel like my time there is coming to a happy end. Oh, how I really do hope so!

Courage. Strength. Hope and Faith.

Peace


August 30th, 2021

You know what's great about getting actual sunlight 3 days a week, and direct on your face Texas sun? My face no longer looks pasty...I have some color. Honestly, the past three weeks I think I've gotten more sun on my face than I've had in a year.

The city is beautiful. Today I watched countless planes taking off and landing from Lovefield airport. I watched cars and people, a cool looking Coca-Cola truck, a train that seemed to have two miles worth of trailers. The sky was clear and while it was hot, it was beautiful.

I received copies of the State's filings and the one my lawyers filed. You know, in the past when I would read something by the State I'd have a pit in my stomach. I'd get anxious and begin to worry and think,

“Geeze...while they're wrong it's written in a way that could convince a judge.”

I felt none of that with this. Their argument that I had a fair trial was so weak! The filing is just sloppy, and some of the things they claim such as the judge had a first amendment right – religious freedom – to be a bigot and his views towards me were because I am a reprehensible person so they were justified. WTF?? I was incredulous! I felt confident even before I read ours...Ours? Point by point we made the case that not only was the judge a bigot, but he harbored those views during the trial. We pointed to evidence. We showed how, in the trial, he was biased and we put it into a longer and historically systemic picture. It was just brilliant and I'm really excited.

But yeah, we still have to get past the CCA and they're notoriously on the wrong side of history, but also the facts. Still, I just can't believe they would want to defend a proven bigot. Time will tell...

Got to keep up the positive energy and hope!

Courage. Strength. Hope and Faith.

Peace


September 1st, 2021

I had the strangest thought earlier today – a bit of a sad thought actually. I'm older now than my dad was when he turned his back on me in 1996. If I had kids I just can't imagine any scenario, no matter what my age or experience in life, where I'd ever turn my back on my son or daughter.  

The day has been okay, but a little on the slow side. I thought I was going to get screwed over on recreation because there was so much going on and I missed the sign up time. The guards have a 'you snooze you lose' policy and if you're not at your door when the rec officer comes by, well you lose out. I caught the guard a little later and asked, and he gave me a non-committal head nod, but thankfully at 9.05am I went out. Another lovely day in the city!

I keep telling myself there's a reason I'm still here. It just hasn't revealed itself yet. Really, I can't believe it's already September and I've been here two months. Now that I think of it, it was almost two months when I was here in 2010, but they really didn't want me here back then. It seems that they don't mind me now, ha ha.  

I've been reading Jane Austen's 'Pride and Prejudice' with my Taffy, and it's a really great novel. It was written in 1813 and it's just as relevant over 200 years later! I remember having a similar thought when Taffy recommended I read 'Don Quixote'...There are books that just transcend time!

I'm going to try and get to bed early tonight.  

Courage. Strength. Hope and Faith.  

Peace


September 2nd, 2021

I feel okay today. I was in bed before shift change last night and slept really good. I woke up feeling fully charged – a little disappointed I'm still here, but I can deal with it. Maybe I'll leave after the Labor Day holiday.

I was thinking it might not be so bad if the video visits here were working. They have four screens on wheels and the system has been down for months! Countless tecnicians have been here to look at it, but that's really all they do – look at it! No one is trying to fix anything.

I don't really talk to anyone here, but lately I've been talking to the guy behind me through the vent. He's young and it's the second time he's been arrested. He says he's here on a gun charge – illegally possessing a firearm because he's a felon. I asked him why he felt the need to have a gun, and he said,

“I don't know...it's just the lifestyle. I ain't got no beef with anyone. No enemies.”

When we talked before he talked about getting back to 'hustle' and I asked him why. He said he needs the money. I told him there were a thousand places willing to hire him if he was willing to do the work. I told him the 'easy money' would just put him back in jail. I told him I get angry at people who get chance after chance to redo their lives and they just keep coming back. I told him (without getting into details as to who I am) I've been waiting 21 years now (really 26 years) for my second chance. I'm fighting for my very life.

I hoped I could speak to him to really reach him and today was the first day he actually said,

“Something needs to change. I can't keep doing this shit.”

I told him he needed to put in the work. To work on himself, and even if at first the road is difficult and everyone rejects him, keep at it. Show people you're serious. Someone will give you a chance, but you've got to put in the work!

I really hope he's serious. I also know, however, that a lot of these young black men have nowhere to go and they get pulled back into the same lifestyle and cycle. Society fails them in a lot of ways too. If you truly believe there's no systemic problem then you're blind. It's not easy for these men to 'get out' because no one else is willing to accept them if they've stumbled.

I'll keep talking to him and planting seeds of hope and encouragement.

As I write this there's a spit boxing match going on. No a really witty one, it's just a bunch of cussing at one another. Some of them are really funny, and some aren't. Right now it's just a bunch of 'eff yous'.

Well, that's the day in a nutshell...At least it's gone by fairly fast.

Courage. Strength. Hope and Faith.

Peace


September 6th, 2021

It's about an hour before Rosh Hoshana begins. I have so many things to pray about tonight. I remember two years ago being on Death Watch, opening my Siddur that my Rabbi had given me and reading the prayers. I remember last year when I asked the DJ of the prison radio station to play a recording of the shofar being blown over the airwaves, to bring in the New Year (he kindly did which was amazing.) And now this year, as I sit in Dallas, I will pray and bring in the New Year – sadly without an apple or honey...they gave us an orange today.

I went to recreation today and was able to get 3 hours which was great! I left my cell at around 9.11 am and when I went outside it was overcast, but the clouds soon departed and the sun came out and it was hot! Today is Labor Day so the city was quiet. There was the typical Dallas traffic to watch, but I didn't see people walking about...no uber eats deliveries...not much of anything.

When I came in I was hungry and tired. I ate a bologna sandwich and tried to take a nap without much luck. My plan for tonight is to get to bed before shift change. As of now it's relatively quiet.

Courage. Strength. Hope and Faith.

Peace


September 7th, 2021

This place exploded into a  rowdy night last night. But I did manage to sleep in until a little after 7.30am,  so I made up for a little lost sleep. All things said I don't feel  exhausted today. I didn't even take a nap.

Some Securus technicians were looking at the server again and I think this makes it the 30th time  they've looked at it but never actually done anything to it. So  strange. But the rumor is that Dallas County Jail will soon have tablets  as well, so maybe that's what they're doing.

Otherwise, Rosh Hoshana has been peaceful and I've been reflecting upon life and the good things to come. I know they will come.

Well,  just as soon as I wrote that last sentence the place erupted into  chaos! Someone in general population broke a window – completely  shattered it. Maintenance  is repairing the window now – that's fast! I joked that it would have  taken weeks for the Polunsky maintenance crew to fix it.

Well, on with the evening I suppose!

Courage. Strength. Hope and Faith.

Peace


September 12th, 2021

My days in Dallas are numbered...On Friday a nurse came to my door to administer a COVID test. The brain tickler! That woman shoved that thing so far up my nostril I could feel it touch the back of my eyeball! I asked her,

"Is this random?"

She told me it was to prepare me for transfer.

I fully expect to leave any day now...I wonder if tonight will be the night they tell me to pack my stuff? My investigator made the point that it would be pointless to COVID test me and wait days just so I could catch COVID. Makes sense! It would be wild to go back on my birthday, but I will enjoy the ride back as much as I enjoyed the ride getting here.

Every day now is one day closer to being off death row and to have dreams come true and have my life to look forward to. If I do leave today, I hope to be around some guys that'll make me some birthday tacos. Yes, I will pimp out my birthday for food.

Well...we'll see what happens.

Courage. Strength. Hope and Faith.

Peace


September 14th, 2021

I'm back at Polunsky and settled in after a rough and tumble return. If my trip to Dallas could be described as peaceful and serene, my return was anything but. I felt like a person captured off of the battlefield and sent to Guantanamo Bay.  

Sunday night was winding down like any other Sunday night in Dallas County Jail. Razors were passed out at shift change and I shaved, returned my razor, and got ready for bed. It was around 11pm and I figured if they hadn't told me I was leaving at that point, then I wouldn't be going. I pulled the sock off of my eyes and looked toward the door when a guard said,  

“Hey, get up! You're leaving! Pack up your things.”

I groaned, but got out of bed and began to shove everything into my bag and waited to leave. Sometime after midnight I was taken to a holding area near where I first came in to Dallas, and was told to wait until they came and got me to leave. There was no place to lay down but the filthy floor and it was freezing cold. I knew I wouldn't be able to sleep.

I began to pace around the area until I exhausted myself, and decided, screw it, I'll try sleeping on the floor. I was just too tired to try to stay up. A useless effort because the lights were too bright and I was too cold. Around 3am breakfast came in the form of a bologna sandwich. I ate it and went back to pacing around. At about 5am the deputies arrived to take me to Huntsville and I thought to myself,  

“Well, at least I'll be in a nice comfortable car and I can get a nap in.”

They shackled me up and took me into the car port where a windowless van was waiting on me. I was put into a steel cage inside of the van with nothing more than a metal bench for a seat and off they went. I was being thrown around the back of the van like I was on a boat caught in a hurricane.  

The van pulled into Huntsville around 7am and I was taken out, had the shackles removed and thrown into a tiny cage, strip searched and given a new set of clothes as I waited on another van to transport me to Polunsky. I will say this, I was taken by surprise with how nice the Huntsville TDCJ guards were. It was all, “Will you do this, sir...” etc  

Another guard offered me a bologna sandwich and I said,  

“No thanks. I'm sick of sandwiches.”

Around 9am I was brought out to another windowless van and taken to Polunsky. We pulled into the unit around 10 and I was brought out and taken in, had the shackles removed again (my ankles have been rubbed raw from the friction of the leg irons and given a new set of clothing.  

There's a running joke that I'm always put into cells that are filthy for the sole purpose of cleaning them, and the one I was put in was disgusting. I groaned and said,  

“Well, I'm not sleeping today.”

All of the guys around me were cool though. A guy named Anthony knew it was my birthday and he told everyone else and all of a sudden I was given all kinds of food and snacks, writing supplies, etc, until I received my property. It  meant a lot. I didn't have my radio so my neighbor loaned me his extra pair of headphones and hooked me up on his radio so I could listen to the movie Little Things.

Recreation was cancelled today and the guys told me we almost never get rec anymore and often get screwed out of showers, so when they began showers and I got up and went.  

Lucky for me not forty minutes after the shower the property office brought me my stuff and I was happy as a fat kid in a chocolate factory. I pulled out my radio and hooked it up and it was so nice to hear music again.  

It actually feels like fall here today. The weather is cool and wet and it's pretty nice. I don't have much of a view but you can't win everything. The captain came around with the warden and said we're getting our two hour visits back on Tuesdays and Thursdays and Saturdays. I asked the guys about tablets and they all seem to think we'll be allowed access to those as well whenever they arrive. We'll see.  

Last night I sent a letter to the prison radio station announcing I had returned and I wanted to reclaim my co-produced status so I'm waiting to see what the DJ says on the radio. The guys around me told me he had played a Cure concert on Sunday night and I missed it!!! I've missed music so much.  

All in all it's not too terrible that I'm back. I'll make the best of it that I can.  

Courage. Strength. Hope and Faith.  

Peace


September 16th, 2021

It's Thursday, a little after noon and I'm listening to the prison radio station. About 30 minutes ago I talked to one of the unit 'Field Ministers' and he was catching me up on everything that's been going on on 12 building since I've been gone. There's going to finally be some death row access to programs and faith based services in the coming months, and other changes are in the works. He told me they held the first real church services for John Ramirez and the guys on death watch - with a full band and everything - right before his scheduled execution date, and that it had never been allowed before. Apparently one of my close friends, Big Will, was invited and allowed to attend the service and they took him to the Death Watch section's dayroom so he could be there. I was really blown away by that. Very promising. When I asked if ALL faiths would be allowed to participate in these coming events, he said they would be. It isn't specifically Christian.

Then he told me,

"I heard you were denied on your hearing."

I scrunched my eyes and cocked my head and asked,

"Where did you hear that?"

"I think it was your co-defendant, but I can't remember for sure. Something about everyone saying you had a fair trial."

I took a deep breath because I was getting irritated by the comment and then said,

"No. There's not even been any kind of ruling yet. The Judge has to make her RECOMMENDATION to the CCA by October 11th, then the CCA will make its ruling. I've got a ways to go. You can't go by the rumor mill back here. Guys often don't know what they're talking about. They hear a piece of information and misinterpret it or just fill in their own facts, and the next thing you  know, I've been run over by an 18-wheeler on the way back to Dallas."

I told him they probably read the Dallas Morning News article after the hearing where the reporter was only reporting on the people who say I had a fair trial. I explained my case and said,

"Even if I did have a fair trial - and I didn't - the fact that the Judge harbored anti-semitic hatred and bias towards me is enough to meet the bar. It's a structural issue."

I find this so frustrating back here. Guys just make stuff up and haven't a clue what they're talking about. Next thing you know, misinformation is all over Twitter and Facebook because nobody knows what they're talking about. I remember when I received my stay someone said I had been given another execution date. I was like, "WHAT??" And last summer someone tried to put it about that Reed was about to be given another date. I told that person,

"Dude, he still has to back to the trial court for a hearing. Stop saying things when you don't know what you're talking about."

This happens a lot, and goes all around social media. Look, if you aren't 100% certain that what you're saying is true, and that you fully understand what you're talking about, then don't make stuff up!! We deal with enough stress and anxiety back here and when people spread things through gossip and rumor mill, you are affecting their stress levels. Please stop!

If it was my co-defendant this is the second time he's done this. He was telling people before that I wasn't a Law of Parties case, and I had to literally read out my charges to people to show that yes, I am a Law of Parties case, when they questioned me about it. If you don't know what you're saying, don't say anything.

Anyways...

It's an overcast day and another fall-like temperature. It actually got quite chilly last night but they won't pass out the blankets until October or November.

I just heard the announcements for the prison radio station that the DJ received my letter, and because last Sunday I missed a Cure concert, he's going to play an hour of the Cure on Sunday night for me as a late birthday present. Woo hoo. I'm super excited abot that. Tonight's radio movie is going to be Real Steel. I think I've listened to that before, but I'll check it out again. Most of the day time programming today is Catholic related.

Courage. Strength. Hope and Faith.

Peace


September 20th, 2021

It seems we've been getting recreation about every other day. On Sunday we went to recreation which was a bit strange, but I was glad to get out of the cell and move around a bit. I made a vow to myself to not allow this place to infect my spirit. It came from something happening on Friday morning when I was going to rec and being rushed before I could brush my teeth and fully wake up at 5.30am. I was grumbling and super irritated when I got to the day room and I stopped myself because I knew it would ruin the rest of the day if I allowed it to. Instead, I took a deep breath and said,  

“Randy, do not allow this to infect you with its poison. YOU decide whether the day is good or not. YOU make the choice on how to face the day.”  

Once I did that, I was immediately in a better mood and the day ended up being really pleasant and I understood that while annoying, the guards were actually working and just making sure they would finish the recreation and showers and they did! They also got the mail passed out super early on second shift.

I spent the weekend catching up on things and last night I listened to the Cure special on the prison radio station. THAT was really  nice and he started the hour off with one of my favorites, The Last Day of Summer. That particular song has a lot of meaning to me as I had requested it before my execution date in 2019. There was a radio program on KPFT called Sound Awake and the DJ was doing a Cure special and asked inmates to send in requests. I wrote a nice letter explaining my situation and that this was possibly the last time I'd be hearing my favorite group and it meant a lot to me. Unfortunately, due to the slowness of the Polunsky  mail room, he didn't receive the letter in time for the show but he did say,  

“If you're here with us next week, I promise I'll play it for you. We're praying for you.”

Well, that following Friday I received my stay and then Saturday he came on air and said,  

“Randy, we're glad you're with us. Here's your song as promised.”

I was blown away by it and so touched, and the song became very important to me. Yeah, it's very melancholic, and the lyrics a bit...well, it ain't an upbeat song to say the least. But it is a beautiful song – one of The Cure's best in my opinion.  

Other songs that were played last night on the Cure special were The Walk, Let's Go To Bed, Close to Me, Love Cats, A Night Like This, Charlotte Sometimes and The Hanging Garden. It was a great hour.  

We didn't have recreation today so I woke up, got out of bed and exercised. Then I cleaned my cell and went to the shower. I spent the rest of the day catching up on things I didn't get to do over the weekend, and now I'm about to read, relax, and wait on second shift.

Courage. Strength. Hope and Faith.

Peace


September 22nd, 2021

I was hoping on recreation today, but we've now been three days without.  

Being on C-Pod kind of sucks and I took a shot and asked the secretary in charge of moves if she'd move me back to B-Pod to be amongst my friends, if a cell was available. She said she'd move me in a couple of days. I was happy for that and I can't wait. It's like the boonies down here. The guys are great and the kindness they've shown me since I returned from Dallas is immeasurable, but I feel out of touch. And I really want to spend what I truly believe are the last months I will spend on Death Row amongst my friends, because I'll never see them again and many won't...I don't want to even mention it. G-d forbid...I will just miss them. As it stands Death Row population is literally down to two pods and one section. The majority of C-Pod is Ad-Seg.  

Anyway. Happy Autumn! The best season of the entire year! We're having a real fall front today and it's supposed to drop down into the '50s tonight. Cocoa season for sure, and I'll be doing lots of that with my Taffy! It's our favourite season, and the season where we started to fall in love 4 years ago. I'm glad Texas heat is on the way out...I have to transfer that positive feeling into good things and hope.  

Courage. Strength. Hope and Faith.  

Peace


September 27th, 2021

In my last journal entry I talked about asking to be moved from C-Pod and on Wednesday night of last week I was. I've been moved to B-Pod 12 cell and what was great about it was that I was moved next to my friend, Clinton, who was just ordered a new trial. He has a judicial bias claim as well, for different reasons, but it still gives me a bit of hope that the CCA will do the right thing in my case, especially because I believe my claim is even stronger than his.  

The other thing about being near him is that I get to spend a little time with him before he leaves and embarks on the next journey of his life. I hope he does well in it. He's been cool and has bequeathed me his watch as I don't have one right now, and he's going to leave me with a few more items as well. I told him I'd leave the watch with someone else when I get my new trial and get out of here. I have a feeling this watch is going to have a very interesting life!

Thursday we had rec and I was able to get out and say hello to some friends and tell them some of my stories from Dallas County Jail. I love hamming it up when I do this and get people laughing. I do voices and imitations of the people I was around which always gets laughs. I think I missed my calling.   

We've not had recreation since Thursday though because of extreme staff shortages.  

Over the weekend I listened to some movies on the prison radio station. They did a couple of new ones like Coming to America 2 and I was so disappointed by that one as the original is comedy gold. Now I'm listening to KPFT and some indie music and here's a fall mix of songs I put together:

The Last Day of Summer
Home Sick
Strange Day
Chain of Flowers
There is no If
Treasure
Plainsong
Untitled
Blood Flowers
Lullaby

Put that on one of those cool and grey days, go outside and walk around and think.  

Courage. Strength. Hope and Faith.  

Peace


September 30th, 2021

Sometimes this place really amuses me...So, I'm standing at my door talking to my neighbour when the food cart for lunch arrives. The food cart is this big steel box on wheels. Sitting on top of it is a big cooler with punch in it. As the guard is pushing it he bumps the cart into a wall and knocks the top of the cooler and the lid splashes into the punch. Now, this lid isn't the cleanest thing in the world either. He puts his HANDS into the cooler to pull the lid out and then tries to snap it back into place. At this point I say out loud,  

“Awwww, c'mon, dude...really?”

He looks up at me like he was just caught sticking his hand in the cookie jar and I say,  

“I really shouldn't have to ask this of you, but will you take the cooler back to the kitchen and get a new cooler? You had your hands all in it, man!”

Look, I know all he's going to do is push the cart back into the hallway, wait a few minutes and push it back in. At least give me the illusion that you changed it out.  

So...It's been a week now since we've had recreation. I think I'm starting to understand the staff shortage. It's a self inflicted would...He's my theory: Every month they hire a bunch of new recruits. I believe that most of these recruits come here wanting to work, but each recruit is only a stop gap attempt to fill the loss in losing other guards. They come in, they have to do double the work they would've had to do and work longer hours because they're making up for the shortages in labor. They get burned out, quit, and the cycle starts all over. There's really only one real solution. TDCJ needs to start looking at using parole more effectively and let those with non-violent crimes or low level drug cases go...This will allow them to close prisons and transfer officers to other units to fill the gaps. Otherwise, they will never fix this problem. No amount of money thrown at people is going to get then to run their butts into the ground, working 16 hours a day, almost every day, with a bunch of irritated inmates that can't get recreation.  

All that being said, I do believe once the tablets are fully implemented throughout TDCJ it will help a little and according to the head warden on Polunsky, during an interview on the prison radio station, level one inmates on both restrictive housing (aka Ad Seg) and death row inmates will be able to have tablets as well. They are fully secure and guards will have a master key to access any tablet. All emails will be screened 24 hours in advance and the only way you can access the services both provided for free and paid for, is through the Securus, secure server. I think that being able to watch videos/movies, programming like church content, access to law library material at your fingertips, and music, will settle some nerves. Still, nothing beats getting out of one's cell to stretch your legs, exercise, or to talk to friends.  

Speaking of the prison radio station...I really need people's help! The prison radio station is operated through the Chaplaincy Department. The Chaplain, Chaplain Gay (pronounced 'Guy') is accepting donations of CDs from Amazon.com or other online sites. They can be used or new...The radio station is looking for ALL genres of music, but specifically for their speciality shows – alternative/indie rock (which is my wheel house and I beg you for loads of music in that category!), heavy metal/hard rock, classic rock, country music (new and old), soul/R&B, rap (both Christian and normal rap), hip hop, gospel/religious, live music of all genres, electronic/dance, and live music of all genres.  

If you send music it MUST be addressed like this:

Chaplain Department/106.5 FM The Tank
C/O Chaplain Gay
Polunsky Unit
3872 FM 350 South
Livingston
TX 77351

Don't worry about whether or not someone else sends the same music or if they receive numerous copies – I was told it's good for them to have back ups in case discs are scratched or damaged by either officers in a shakedown or by inmates. So please...Let's flood the chaplaincy with music! And hey, it's also a tax write off!

Me, personally, I'd love you to send music like: Radiohead, The Cure, U2, Smashing Pumpkins, The Decemberists, Firey Furnaces, Wilco, Ray Lamontine, Big Head Todd and the Monsters, Dave Matthews Band, Massive Attack, Joy Division, My Bloody Valentine, Spoon, The Head and the Heart, Birdie, Bat for Lashes, Vagabond, M83, Explosion in the Sky, Information Society, The Glove...to name a few...but please, please, please send ANY genre! You would truly bring a smile and peace to inmates of all walks of life. I have always believed that music is the path to healing and alleviates stress. Nothing beats hearing a good song, or a song of the past and being still, and being flooded by memories.  

Should this music start arriving on the radio station I'll definitely be writing a huge thanks to everyone who has it in their heart to help us ALL!

It's hard to believe that it's the last day of September. By the time this is posted I'll have had the recommendation of my Judge that I get a new trial – I then have to wait on the CCA. Clinton Young's case gives me a lot of hope that they will do the right thing because whilst our issues were different, the fundamental claim of judicial bias and how that applies to the constitution and a fair trial is essentially the same. My case is stronger than Clinton's and I have hope! I have tons of confidence, even though you just never know with the CCA. I don't know how many times they've had cases that are almost identical on paper and come to two different conclusions – there are no guarantees with them, but I do have all the hope in the world, and confidence that my case is 100% solid!

Yesterday, it was my friend, Big Will's, birthday. I requested a favorite movie of his to play on the radio station and they did play it last night which was cool. He also had a day of all the music he wanted which is great. Things like that really make my heart happy. If one person smiles back here, it can be infectious and spread like a virus. We need more happiness back here!

Courage. Strength. Hope and Faith.  

Peace


October 10th, 2021

It's a warm Sunday, a little after noon as I type this. I'm listening to the movie 'Heat' and focusing on positive thoughts and energy for tomorrow, and the possibility of the Judge's recommendation. To say I'm a little anxious is an understatement. If I had to guess I would think I'll have a legal call Monday or Tuesday so the legal team can tell me the news, but it's possible I'll hear the news on the radio before then. It's a bit twilight-zoneish that these days mirror when I was waiting and hoping for a stay when I had an execution date two years ago. I mean...today is the day I was supposed to be executed – it gives me the chills!

It was such a special day back then...I had a legal visit that day and whilst I was out in the visitation room, my Rabbi had also shown up. He met two guys from the office and then waited on me to change booths. Typically, minister visits or regular visits are two hours, but I remember getting some extra time out there and it was a joyous, celebratory time. My Rabbi had told me that he'd be by my side whether it be to celebrate a stay, or for my execution, and it was just wonderful to celebrate. We sang, we prayed...just a fantastic memory to have. And here I am – ALIVE – two years later.  I wanted my attorneys to make sure my Taffy got the news straight away, and they did. Then she called into the Prison Show that night and it was the icing on the cake!

I really hope that tomorrow will be a day of celebration, and if things go well, I know that I'm half way there.  

A little update on visitation..they've extended the number of people allowed into visits to 9, two rounds a day on Tuesday/Thursday/Saturday evenings. That's better than the five they were allowing in. However, the main issue remains – they plan on keeping it this way going forward.  

We're still not getting rec due to staff shortages. Since September 13th when I returned from Dallas I've been outside just once.  

The hope is that the content on the tablets, whenever they arrive, they will have something for everyone's taste.  

Enough complaining! I'll spend the day praying and hoping I can breathe a sigh of relief.  

Courage. Strength. Hope and Faith.  

Peace


October 12th, 2021

Day one hundred and thirty three billion without recreation, or so it feels that way! I think as a collective, we understand that we're just  not going to get it. What we would like is something to mitigate the lack of recreation – an alternative...Anything!

Well, as I write this I'm still waiting on pins and wondering what the judge has recommended. Talk about torture! I was hoping that I would hear something on the news yesterday, but nothing. It's 10.19am as I type this and I've been bouncing back and forth between NPR and the Texas State News network and there's been nothing. Heck, everyone out there probably knows what it is, but I'm flying blind! Maybe I'll get a legal call today.  

I'm still holding onto hope though! Gotta be positive, think positive, and hope for the best.  

You know, I will give the Wardens this much...when I left Polunsky to go to Dallas back in July, the food was at an all time low. Since my return, the food has gotten much better and a bit more healthy. Well, except for the cake we how have five days a week. It's been really good. Breakfast, which typically is almost always pancakes, has been more diverse...Things like eggs, biscuits, more oatmeal, grits (bleh...I'm probably one of the few southerners that doesn't get grits. Just because corn can turn into anything doesn't mean it should!) So, props to them for that. But now, as I type this, they just passed out a prison version of the 'slushy' in a styrofoam cup. Cherry flavoured...Yum!

Yes!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! The judge recommended a NEW TRIAL!!!!!!!!! PRAISE G-D!!!!!!!!! I just heard it on NPR and just WOW!!!! I'm shaking and have tears in my eyes and I know that while I have to get past the CCA now, I can breathe a little and start mentally preparing myself.  

I say this with humility and gratitude...EVERYONE's prayers, their belief, their support...Thank you for all of it and for believing in me and my case. To my close and long term friends, and my Taffy: Thank you all for never giving up on me! I'm almost there and I'm so grateful! And to my attorneys: Thank you!!! I owe you guys my life!

Now I'm in the CCA and waiting. Who knows how long that'll take, but I'm hopeful.  

Courage. Strength. Hope and Faith.  

Peace


October 17th, 2021

It's a cool Sunday and surprisingly they're doing recreation today. I don't think anyone was expecting that. I'm scheduled for rec fifth round which would be night time – if I make it. But I'm hoping that the football will cut the numbers down as guys don't want to miss the game.

It's been a weird week...I've been happy about the Judge's ruling, but a certain amount of guilt has settled into me as well as fear for the future and the unknown. The guilt comes from knowing that a lot of my friends and these guys that I've lived around for 18 years now won't make it out alive unless people wake up and end the death penalty. It's just a weird feeling. You don't live next to people – eating, sleeping, sharing life and everything else, knowing what we're all here for...to be killed by the State – and just walk away and forget it all.

The fear of the unknown....well I go through all of these various scenarios and possible outcomes and it's scary. I guess it makes me a bit crazy but I'll get through it.

It's been difficult to write journals of late. I can't really clear my head, but I'll try to get back on the ball soon.

Courage. Strength. Hope and Faith.

Peace


November 1st, 2021

Happy November...I really hope this month is full of positivity and good things. I'm always excited about entering into the holiday season and already on the radio there are holiday advertisements aplenty...It's like everything was planned for this day and some radio executive said,  

“Release them now! Get 'em all out!”

I thought we'd be off lockdown today, but the guards said it would be tomorrow which is better than nothing. I'm so sick of being cooped up in the cell and I admit, it can lead to negative feelings and some anger. I just want to move about, exercise in a more open space, even get outside and enjoy the fall like weather. Friday, even though we were going through a shakedown, was so lovely because I got to play a little basketball after almost two years, and enjoy the fresh air, which I desperately needed. I can no longer allow this place to affect my spirit and I'm really trying to just get through it and look forward to the blessings that come. Blessings that I don't really deserve, but am grateful for them all the same.  

I've dropped the ball in so many ways and I'm tired of being a disappointment. Re-reading my memoir has really brought to life some of my issues and I don't know how I can both have so much introspection on a particular chapter of my life, but then lose the ability to have it in the present...I've got to do better...I feel like I've been given more chances than I deserve, and I need to start doing right by them, and I will.

On a negative note, my headphones bit the dust today. I dropped them and they went to the great junk yard in the sky...I even tried to fix them and it was a waste of hours of time. Fortunately, my neighbour had an extra pair of ear buds, and has let me borrow them for now...I sent a request to the property officer to see if she has an extra pair, so we'll see...I hope this isn't some weird sign of things to come!

Courage. Strength. Hope and Faith.  

Peace


November 2nd, 2021

I had a rough night of sleep and was going to sleep in until around 7 or 8am but surprisingly they started running rec and everyone became excited and noise exploded. I used to be able to get to sleep so easily, but since Dallas County Jail it's like some nights I just toss and turn and have too much anxiety. Something has to change.  

I've been thinking a lot about so many things, and just...My chances for a new life bring with it so many regrets and so many wasted moments on death row, and mistakes...I've got to do better and today I've decided to just start anew and do it instead of just talking about it. I am and will. This Brandon Daniels death has really gotten to me too. Even though no one really knew the dude back here. There are rumors it was suicide, but we don't know for sure. But it goes to show how precious life is and how it shouldn't be taken for granted.  

A field minister just came by and I talked to him for a bit. He was thanking me for all of the music sent into the radio station, but I told him it was owed to friends and the kindness of others, not me. He also said that the tablet company Securus was on our building today and the projected date for tablets on the Polunsky Unit is December 1st. That's pretty amazing and has the potential to really make life a little easier back here for so many people – especially quicker communication between loved ones. That's a game changer for sure. Well, let's hope it happens. The cool thing is the tablets themselves are provided free of charge and it'll be interesting to see what 'free' services they provide...

Anyways, I'm rambling on and my thoughts are all over the place. I hope things get better in my life.  

Courage. Strength. Hope and Faith

Peace


November 13th, 2021

I've had about 2 1/2 hours sleep in the last two days...It's been a very difficult two weeks, but it's difficulties of my own making.

I've talked about my flaws and my desire to do better of late. I've written about not fulfilling promises to G-d, and coming up short in all aspects of my life. But even through this, even through the seeing that things needed to change...I was still deceiving myself and the ones I love. I've violated the 'honesty policy' I've had with this journal and for you – dear reader – I ask forgivness.

I talk a lot about compassion and empathy and doing what's right, but in my own selfishness I had been neither compassionate nor empathetic. I lost sight of the suffering around me. I allowed the internal anger I've been carrying around with me, and the wants of prison 'survival' (something I can only describe as a squirrel stashing nuts away for times of 'need') to dictate my actions. But in all honesty, I'd been doing it for years. I allowed a horrible situation a decade ago to fuel future behaviour, never fully giving myself, my heart, to anyone.

In 2017 I finally found what I truly wanted and thought I could 'course correct' myself, going into it happier than I'd been for years. But even that happiness came at the expense of others, and for that, I am deeply sorry. Still, in that bliss of the new, and it was bliss, I could not break old habits and I was once again the squirrel stashing away nuts when I had no need to do that. I was living in emotional abundance, with Taffy, flowing like a spring, and yet I couldn't drink from its waters.  

Numerous times I sabotaged the one thing I loved more than anything in the world. I was dishonest about things...I kept secrets...And while I never violated the love I had, I did violate the emotional bond, and that is (as I once wrote in a poem The Betrayal of Betrayals) worse than anything else. I tried to hold onto that love, but I still had blinders on and was still blind to the hurt and damage I was doing not only to the one I truly love, but to myself.  

In recent weeks I've felt like Ebenezer Scrooge and being visited by his three ghosts...I guess it's fitting as we enter into the holiday season. In 'A Christmas Carol' Ebenezer sees his past, present, and future. His past beginning with the love of his friends and family...and as he grows, he becomes miserly, greedy, and hard. In his present, no one respects him, and no one trusts him. And in his future, he sees the suffering of others because of his actions, and the death of Tiny Tim shocks him into despair. But seeing his death: dying old, bitter, and alone, is what snaps him to his senses.  

In recent weeks I've realised I could die old, bitter, and alone. I will be respected by no one and worse than all of that, I will have lost the greatest love I've ever had, and the amazing friendship and true support of countless people both seen and unseen.  

For months now I've been miserable...putting on an air of 'happiness' and hope. I've been angry at conditions with life on Polunsky, and how my choices in 1995, 1996, and 2000, landed me here with the possibility of being in prison for life. I've been anxious, depressed, and heartbroken, but worst of all I've blamed others for these things when they were my fault and my fault alone. For all of the talk about owning up to things and taking responsibility, boy, did I drop the ball on that one...

It's possible there'll be no more journals [note from the Webmaster: Randy's website will be continuing as normal, with journals etc] but it's no one's fault but mine, and mine alone. I hope there is redemption and forgiveness and a chance to love Taffy again. I really do. I hope I get to share the next chapter of my life on this beautiful website in the only way it can be shared – with the person I love more than anything on this beautiful and broken planet. I love her and I'm like a derelict ship without her.  

There are people that sometimes enter your life who forever leave their mark. You are better for just knowing them. A good friend is a person that can give you the truth even if you can't accept it...a good friend will make you look at yourself when you are damaging yourself...and a good friend is there in the most difficult of times. I've been fortunate to know a few and I can see their faces. I can feel their love. But I can also feel their disappointment. I am fortunate for this...It's a blessing because I am forced to look at myself, at what I could become.  

Yesterday, I talked to one of the Field Ministers here. When he came to my door all he asked was,  

“Why you?”

No 'hello', no 'Hey, brother!' I was a bit taken aback and said,  

“Excuse me?”

He said,

“Why are you, out of the 7, going to get to live?”

I looked at the floor and said,  

“I ask myself that all the time.”

He then went on to tell me that G-d has a plan for me. That I was being called to be a voice for truth and light...That my second chance at life was not to be wasted. No matter what that life was or where I live it.  

I've been given all of these 'signs'. Even when I was in Dallas...There were particular books that I found by chance, little things, nudges from G-d...The nudges, whilst I noticed them, it has taken finally being smacked by a sledge hammer to 'wake up'.

I hear you...I'm awake.

And so, dear reader...I ask for your forgiveness. I ask for one more chance to show the world the goodness I have the potential for. The compassion, the empathy, the love I have to give.  

And finally, to my Taffy...I am sorry. I love you beyond even what my heart can hold.  

Courage. Strength. Hope and Faith.  

Peace


November 14th, 2021

They ran rec today. I went outside with Tong Chuong, or as we call him, 'Tim'. It was beautifully cool at first, but sunny and clear. By noon it was warm.

We started talking and I just poured my heart out, crying, and telling him all of my shortcomings and mistakes. At one point he put his hand to his head and said,

“What letter is this?”

I said,

“I don't know...”

“D – for douche bag.”

“Yeah...yeah, you're right,” I said.

He's a really strong Christian and asked if we could pray, and it helped a lot. I said,

“Tim, man, I want to change. I know my heart and I know what I want...”

Sigh...we'll see.

Otherwise, the day has been peaceful. I am afraid of the future and what's going to happen, but I can't let these fears dictate my actions. Tim said that...He said,

“You know what your problem is? You act out of fear. Every bad choice, every lie, every mistake. You are a fear-driven person.”

“I didn't know I was that easy to read,” I said.

“I can just tell from the things you've shared.”

He was right, of course.

Anyways, I just want to ask for forgiveness again. I can't promise to be perfect, but I can work to be  better and brighter...

Courage. Strength. Hope and Faith.

Peace


  
November 15th, 2021

Sometimes, G-d speaks to us when we need it most. I received a prayer for Thanksgiving today, from a Cantor friend, and it was like G-D speaking directly to me. I would like to share it with you all, and hopefully it will bless you as these words have blessed me...

Thanksgiving Prayer
Rabbi Maralee Gordon

In this moment, mindful of our many blessings,
may we form an intent to carry gratitude with us continually.

May we leave fear and jealousy by the wayside,
making room in our hearts for contentment, satisfaction and compassion.

May we start each day counting our blessings:
the blessing of being alive,
the many miracles of the living world we are one with,  
the ability we possess to love and to be loved,
the many gifts and talents we have been graced with,
the support we receive
and the support we are able to extend.

May our gratitude lead to action.
May we express our gratitude.

May we smile when we encounter each other on the path,
may we seek opportunities to share our talents with others,
may we express our love to one another,
may we give with no expectation of receiving.

May we seek to repair what is broken.
May we end each day counting the day's blessings,  
those we have received and those we have bestowed.
May we be a blessing.

L'Shalom.
The sentence "May we leave fear and jealousy by the wayside" speaks to me, and also the line, "may we seek to repair what is broken."

I want to be at peace within myself and I can begin to leave fear – the fear that drove me to do stupid things, behind me, and to love fully and unconditionally.  

May we all be blessed and protected in the coming holiday season – it's my favorite time of year. So many things to hope for, to be grateful for, and to strive for in the coming year.  

My song for the season, 'Grace' by Erasure.  

Courage. Strength. Hope and Faith.  

Peace


December 8th, 2021

It's a grey Wednesday afternoon. We've been on another lockdown for a week and a half now, and it's expected to last all the way up to December 23rd. Who would've though it would happen during a holiday season?

All things considered, I'm okay. I'm a little sad that we've lost our weekly phone calls without any real explanation. Who pulls the plug on that right before Christmas? What a grinch! On my section we've been talking amongst ourselves and we'd like to get people to call and find out why, and if they'd resume calls. I was so looking forward to calling my Taffy last night...Sigh...Maybe it's because we'll soon have the Jpay tablets, but who knows, really? It just seems a bit on the cruel side to cut and restrict our real time communications with the outside world, especially since even visitation isn't back to full operation. I mean, guys in GP get phone calls, will soon have tablets, have video visits, TV, recreation, contact visits...It feels like they're taking from us, not giving us more.

I hate to complain...I have so much to be grateful for and I have the best friends a person could ask for, and all the support and love a person could need. So, it's small potatoes. Still, nothing beats hearing the voice of the person you love more than anything.

I've been taking a break from writing, but I'll get back into the swing of things. I'm just focused on some other things right now, getting my head on straight, and trying to do better in all regards.

Courage. Strength. Hope and Faith.

Peace


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