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.
I've had some great calls with friends which is such a blessing. It's nice to know people are okay in real time. It's nice to feel and give love in real time.
So, as I wait for my hearing, I'll make the best of it that I can.
Courage. Strength. Hope and Faith.
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, Dalls 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.
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.
July 13th, 2021
Tomorrow is the big day! Geeze, time has gone by super fast! I woke up, made some great calls, and now 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.
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. I talked to someone about things already being posted on social media, and while some of it is good, some of it was nasty. It upset them and I said,
“Look..opinions are only opinions. They're not facts, so none of the mean stuff means anything. Does it hurt? Yes! Do I wish it didn't happen? Yes! But nothing anyone says, whether good or bad, is going to sway my Judge's mind or effect what the CCA decides. I can only take comfort in knowing the facts and truth are on my side, and if people would take the time to review the facts...Well, they'd soon see that the TRUTH is on my side.”
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.
(At the time of typing this journal (27th July) Randy is still in Dallas County Jail)
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.
July 16th, 2021
I've been a bit down today...I called a close friend who told me that another 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.
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 feel a little better today because yesterday I was a mess...Of course, I have to try and get an update when I get the phone sometime after 8am. I hope it's more positive.
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. When I go back to Polunsky I will miss being able to talk in real time to the people I care about, but I do miss my Polunsky rituals – 18 years of it and all!
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 Taffy calls me – calm on the surface,but kicking furiously under the water, to stay afloat.
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 had some good calls today. 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.
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! 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.
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!
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,
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,
“Yeah, that's it. A damn good dog!”
And it really was.
Well, I'll call it a day...
Courage. Strength. Hope and Faith.
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.
A friend sent a letter with some concern, after watching my hearing, and felt the prosecutor appeared to be a better presenter and more prepared. I can understand that as the prosecutor was reading her filing, verbatim. There was no distinction. And yes, the judge seemed engaged.
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.
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?
I'm lucky to have friends in other parts of the world and they're often shocked at how flawed the US justice system is. Especially when US politicians always exhalt that it's the best on the planet.
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 haven't heard a movie in three weeks now! Geeze, I was spoiled, huh? Seriously, I'm okay here. I enjoy my calls, but I do wonder when I'll leave.
Courage. Strength. Hope and Faith.
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, and whilst I'm not ready to give up phone privileges, 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! The
people I know and love have been vaccinated, and I'm just so proud of
Courage. Strength. Hope
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 made a few calls and talked to
someone on my legal team. She 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, 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
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,
have nothing to worry about.”
How weird! But kind of
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
“No rush. He's being
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
Or when an SRT officer
passing by says,
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. I
exercise – jump in the shower! I get bored and want to sing –
jump in the shower! 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
Courage. Strength. Hope
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. In visualizing my future, 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 every 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 k now 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 panic at times. Whatever the outcome, I think I could handle. I really do. But it's the process...the process frightens me.
Yeah, I known I have to cross that bridge when it comes. Ultimately, whenever 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.
I'll finish today with two quotes...
“What is to give light must endure burning.” Vicktor Frankl
“I had not always believed that strength could come from brokenness, or that the thread of the divine purpose could be sewn in tragedy, but I do now.” Max Cleland