Yesterday afternoon turned out to be quite eventful...Whilst we had a decent lunch for “Emancipation Day”, also known as “June-teenth”, and it was a state holiday, everything else ran as normal, although I wasn't expecting to be told that I was moving to another cell in the evening. When I found out it would be 8 cell, on the same pod, I was not happy...You see, that cell has been broken for the past three years, and no maintenance crew has ever been able to fix it. In fact, each time they make an attempt to fix it, they end up breaking something else, and we've taken to calling that cell “The Beast”, because maintenance workers are chewed up and spat out every single time they try and fix it.
For whatever reason, though, each time a crew tries to fix it, it gets listed in the Major's Office as “Fixed”, and they try to move someone into that cell, only to have to move them right back out again! I wanted to avoid that problem, so I asked the guy in the dayroom, an older black dude we call “Old School”, to get the guard's attention and ask them to come and talk to me, so I could address this issue before things spun out of hand. Old School, whilst being a friendly and jovial guy, has the attention span of a fruit fly, and each time he'd go to yell for the Officer, he would be distracted by something else, and would not do what I needed him to do. It was turning into an epic fail and I was getting frustrated.
Finally, I was able to talk to the two Pod Officers, and I said, “Look...just last week they tried to move someone into that cell. The toilet was broken and they had to move him right out and into another cell. I'm not moving into a broken cell.” One of the officers replied, “Well, we were told it was fixed.” I said, “They say that every single time! Whoever is doing these moves is not black tagging these broken cells! Look, there's 20 empty cells on this pod...I will go into any other cell EXCEPT that one. Please...”.
The female officer, an older woman, and actually really nice, said, “Okay. Calm down. We'll go and check it and if it is broken, we'll see if we can put you in another cell.”
“Thank you”, I said.
About 30 minutes pass and they come back around, and she says, “Well, it really does look like they fixed it this time. We flushed the toilet, checked the sink and lights, and everything seems fine”. I took her at her word, and told her that as long as that was the case, I would move into the cell...So, I thought at that moment I was going to 8 cell, until another 20 minutes later, the guards came back to my cell and said, “Nope. Scratch that. Water is coming out and flooding onto the run. We'll contact someone and get you moved to another cell.” Meanwhile, I'm thinking, they just need to turn that cell into a broom closet, because no one can seem to fix it...
Now it's about 9.15pm when a move crew comes in to move me. I asked the guard, a young, 21-year-old, hot-headed-knuckle-head, “Where am I going?”, and he tells me I'm going to 8 cell...I take a deep breath and calmly say, “No, I am not. That cell is broken; you can talk to the Pod Officers and check.” His face turns beet red and he says, “There's nothing wrong with that cell. Are you refusing to move?”
“No...But I'm not going to that cell. I'm requesting to talk to a ranking officer to resolve this matter.”
Once I do this, by policy, they are supposed to inform a ranking officer that I want to talk to them and they're supposed to come and de-escalate a potential situation, should it spin out of control. Often, rank is refused, and this is primarily one of the number one reasons the guards have to do a “use of force”, because of the lack of communication between an inmate and the guards. A lot of the guards feel like because they are “the authority”, it's weak to “cave in” to an inmate's request, even though it's clear policy that they are supposed to do whatever it takes to de-escalate a problem.
Instead, he yells, “I checked the cell! You're going to effing move to that cell!” Again, I calmly said, “I'm requesting a sergeant or lieutenant to resolve this matter.”
He gets pissed and starts yelling, “I'm tired of all you effing cry babies!”, and he stomps off and slams the gate. This riled up my neighbour, and he starts cussing at the guard, and I had to tell him to chill out and not make matters worse. But I was just amazed that the guard called me a “cry baby”, and he was the one who stomped off like a petulant child.
Fortunately, about that same time, a Sergeant showed up on the pod to pass out the printed Jpay emails, and when he came to my cell, I told him about the situation (which he had no clue about! Again, highlighting the lack of communication problem in this place) and I said, “If you check it and say it's fine, I'll take your word and move to that cell, but I am not going to move into a broken cell.” He assures me he'd check and we'd go from there.
About an hour later the hot headed guard showed back up and said, “You're going to 78 cell.” I was thinking, “Wow...was it really that difficult to resolve?”
I got settled in and didn't get to sleep until after midnight. I woke up this morning at about 5.25am to get ready for recreation outside...I went out, but because I was exhausted, I got my butt kicked at basketball, so I came in and did my laundry, ate lunch, took a nap, and now I'm typing this.
I do like this cell, but I probably won't be in it very long because across 12 building they're installing new shower doors – pretty fancy ones too! When they install the two doors to each section, they're moving all of the inmates to another section. They've completed B-Pod and F-Pod, and one of the guards said they could be here next week. But for now, I'm cool.
Courage. Strength. Hope and faith!
June 18th, 2018
I woke up this morning fully expecting to be outside first round. I currently live on a section where the majority of guys don't go to rec., but today is one of those strange days where everyone feels like going out. I'm not scheduled yet, but I'm hoping to get outside before second shift 'cause I really don't like going to rec at night time. I would still be glad to just get out of the cell, but it sucks when it happens...I like being able to wind down and ease into the evening.
So, one of my friends was over here first round, and it was good to chat music with him and see how he's doing. He said his attorneys told him to expect an execution date within the next three months. Those things never get any easy to hear; I guess after a certain point in time, when someone is executed, you can become numb to the whole process – something I believe has happened to all of us back here, but when it's really personal, when it's someone you've known and laughed with for years, talked about personal things, and just liked as a person...It's a gut punch! Imagine what it would feel like if one of your friends called you up and said they had terminal cancer or something...I told him to keep his head up and don't lose hope...It ain't over 'till it's over...Anything can happen, and I firmly believe in that. I've seen guys go to the death chamber, come back, and give the entire death sentence back. I don't think it's being overly optimistic or “Pollyannaish”...It's just knowing that the impossible can happen. Never give up hope!
Okay...Well, I need to knock out my exercise if I'm going to be waiting on recreation this whole day. I'll probably get to that in a bit. Right now, I'm just trying to gather some motivation. It's just one of those “blah” days...The sky is a bit grey, but fluctuates with flashes of sunshine, and it is cooler today, so you'd think that would motivate me...But again, it's just...blah! I'm sure I'll perk up in a bit.
Man...just missed my chance to go to rec. right now! Someone just turned down their rec. and I jammed up the officer, but she said someone beat me to it. Oh well, maybe next round. I'm hoping one of these guys on my section turns down their outside rec. on third round, so that I can slide in their space. They do it a lot on this section, so there's still hope! (ha ha). As long as they keep the rec. yards open, I have no problem going out in the rain...I'd actually love it! Going out in rain brings the kid out in me...I have a favourite memory from school in Kentucky...I was in the 8th grade, and we stayed in the same class room all day long. It could be quite boring, and even though my classmates and I got really close and loved to tease each other, it could get a bit stressful sometimes. I mean, outside of lunch break and a bit of church each day (or as I referred to it, “Nap Time!”) we were trapped.
We had one teacher who really didn't like to teach; he'd basically give us our assignment, we'd do the work, and then sit around until class was over. He didn't care what we did as long as our work was finished, and we didn't sleep. I can't remember who it was, but they asked if they could turn on the tv and put cartoons on...He said, “Nope...but you can watch PBS”. At that time, it was always “Reading Rainbow” on PBS, so at first we'd groan, but it became a bit of a ritual. We'd hurry up and finish our work, then turn the tv on. I still remember the freakin' theme song... “Butterflies in the sky, I can fly twice as high. Take a look, it's in a book...the reading rainbow! I can go anywhere!” (ha ha).
Well, one day they did some segment on a rainy day, and making the best of it...There was this kid jumping in rain puddles, and singing “Puddle Hopping!” We started doing that on rainy days...One of us would jump in a puddle and start dancing around singing “Puddle Hopping” and everyone would laugh. It stuck with me, and I still do it. I remember one time being outside with someone and it began to rain; the guy was complaining and I began to splash around singing “Puddle Hopping! Puddle Hopping!” He thought I'd lost my mind, and whilst I don't know what that says about me (a case of arrested development???) I refuse to give up that inner kid...We all should refuse to give up our inner child. I think this world would be a helluva better place!
Courage. Strength. Hope and faith!
June 17th, 2018
It's been a long weekend, but a fairly productive one in which I've managed to keep myself busy, and it hasn't been nearly as boring as last weekend. Thursday I had a legal visit and I met another attorney who works in the same Capital Habeus Unit where my other attorney works, and it was really great to meet him and talk with him. I've got a lot more hope and confidence in these guys than in previous attorneys at the federal level, that's for sure! Plus, they just seem to be really good people...Personable, and caring. Over the years, I've met so many different people involved in this process, and I understand the need to keep it professional, and just get down to business; I've never understood why it has to be cold and clinical though. One of the things that means more than anything to us back here – if you are one of the attorneys who is hard-working, diligent, and focused on saving your client's life - is just knowing that you care about us. A simple visit or phone call goes a long way...Answering letters goes a long way too. I can understand why some guys become belligerent towards their attorneys, because sometimes it is about perception...They just want to know that the attorney cares, and I do genuinely get that feeling with these guys. And while there are no guarantees (when in life is there ever any guarantees?) and anything can happen, having hope goes a long way...One of my most favourite quotes of recent times is from Leia in “The Last Jedi”. She says, “Hope is like the sun; if you only believe in it when you can see it, you'll never make in through the night”.
On Friday, my recreation restriction was over, and I was able to get a full two hours of recreation. I came back in and had my shower shortly afterwards, and then settled in for being stuck in the cell for the weekend. I took to some writing and waited on the Prison Show coming on the radio. After that, I went to sleep.
On Saturday, we had a really good lunch! I guess for Father's Day weekend? It was pizza...Don't get any crazy ideas of a real slice! (ha ha). It was a flat square with some tomato sauce, a sprinkle of cheese, and a little meat. Still, it was different from what we would normally get, so I'll take it! We also got some cake, some fruit cocktail, and corn on the cob. Later on, some really good shows came on the radio, so I listened to those and went to bed a little after midnight.
Sunday has been much of the same, and because today is Father's Day, I thought I would reflect a little on my relationship with my dad...I try to stick to some of my favourite memories on these things each year. When I =talk about my dad, I know that some people have a negative opinion of him, based on the way he pretty much gave up on me. And yes, sometimes I do get really angry about that, but while I know my parents missed many things and messed up in raising me (all parents do...you can read all of the books you want, take all of the parenting classes in the world, but there is no one way to raise a kid 'cause we're all so different) I also firmly believe that they did the best they could. Do I wish things were different? Hell yes! Do I think that things could've been different in my life had they not given up? Yes!...But I also had a life that many children and teens don't get to experience. I wasn't spoiled. My brothers and I had to work for a lot of the things we wanted, and I'm grateful for that appreciation of work and work ethic that dad instilled in me. I'd give anything to be able to get out of this cell daily and work! Working for things instils a certain pride...Like, “I did that”... “I earned that”...In my situation, I am so grateful for the help of my friends and those close to me, but I wish more than anything that I could earn it myself.
I can remember a time in 1991 when there was a certain pair of Air Jordan's that I really wanted. They were over a hundred dollars, and I suppose my dad could've easily bought them for me and let me have them...But instead, he told me, “I'll get these shoes for you under the condition that you will work to earn them. You'll have a couple of weeks to work the money off, but if you don't, I'm returning them to the store.” He bought them, and he sat them on top of the dresser in his bedroom. Every so often I'd go in and take them out of the box, gaze at them adoringly, and couldn't wait to start wearing them! But...I wasn't doing all of the required yard work he wanted me to do. I didn't properly earn them, and two weeks later, he returned them to the store. Lesson learned.
Another time, after my mom had broke my stereo system when I wouldn't turn it down, there was a CD boom box I really wanted. I'd never had a CD player, but I was ready for one, and so I begged and begged. The deal was I would prime and paint the wrought fence around our swimming pool, and a few other chores. If I did, not only would I earn the boom box, but he'd let me pick out ten CDs to go with it! I busted my ass! (ha ha). He took me to Best Buy, a store not far from our house, and I got this bad ass Sony Boom Box, and because I was starting to get hooked on U2 at that time (after the mind-blowing “Actung Baby” album, my first “for real” jump into alternative music) I just had to get everything U2 had out!
So, these things I'm really grateful for...
But I think one of my more favourite memories, was the time spent preparing for my Bar Mitzvah, and the actual day of my Bar Mitzvah...I can remember Wednesday nights when I'd spend them at Temple Beth Shalom, and Hebrew School...He'd come and pick me up at about 7pm, and on the drive home we'd stop off EVERY Wednesday night at this place called “Big Foot's Subs and Sandwiches”. I think he used to do business with them, and so he could pick up his check and get a meal. I'd always – ALWAYS – order a meatball submarine sandwich, and a bag of chips – it was a tradition! We always did little things like that together. When I was taking piano lessons after class, we'd stop off at a gas station so he could fill the suburban truck up, and I'd get a bottle of apple juice. Sometimes we'd drop off Jimmy and Kevin at daycare, and we'd get some donuts and a juice together. Thinking about those things now...I write this with tears in my eyes...
When the time for my Bar Mitzvah arrived, there was a lot of fan fair. People were coming from all over the country – all from my dad's side of the family. I knew most of them, but some I didn't, and I remember earlier that day in school when I'd gotten so nervous thinking about Friday night services, and Shabbos services, I threw up! I went to the nurse's office at school, and she asked if I wanted to go home...I said, “No. I don't want anyone disappointed in me”. And so I trucked on...
That evening, before the Friday services, I remember the entire family eating at some fish restaurant near Six Flags Over Texas – the amusement park. Anyway, the services went well, and I lead everyone in singing the Hebrew prayers, and it was a lot of fun. Saturday was going to be a bit more nerve wrecking because I had to read directly from the Torah in Hebrew, by myself. Oh, and that Friday night I had my very first tongue kiss with a girl named Shoshana...I was on top of the world!
The next day arrived, and everything went fantastically well. No nerves...well, maybe when I was carrying the Torah around for everyone to touch and kiss, but I just kept telling myself over and over, “Don't drop it. Don't drop it.” I'm a world class klutz, so it was a very real possibility!
After I read my Torah piece, my dad was invited to come up on the bima (the stage) and give his blessing to me, bringing me into “manhood”, before the Ark of the Torah. He had both hands on my shoulders as I stood there crying, and I knew he was genuinely proud of me...And that's all I ever wanted from him...For him to be proud of me.
So, Happy Father's Day, dad! I know I really screwed up, and I know I brought a lot of shame on the family...I'm genuinely sorry for that, but I have done my best to become a better person. I've had to figure this out for myself over the past 23 years, and there has been a lot – A LOT – of stumbles along the way...But I do believe that if you knew me now, you'd be proud of me.
Courage. Strength. Hope and faith...
June 14th, 2018
Still no AC...No idea what is going on. It's too hot! I'm expecting a visit from my attorneys today, so hopefully it will be nice and cold out there! We shall see...
Courage. Strength. Hope and Faith.
June 13th, 2018
Man...it is HOT!! The AC went out some time during the night, and I woke up sweating. I always sleep with my fan on – I have done since I was a little kid. I had a ceiling fan, and would turn it on high before going to sleep. I couldn't sleep if my radio and fan weren't on...Dad would come in and turn both off when I had fallen asleep, and I'd wake up and turn them back on again. Anyway, I woke up sweating, and turned my fan up higher. I'm thinking that surely they'll have the AC sorted out by the morning, but it's the afternoon now, and it's blazing up in here...It's really hard to think with it being so hot. No rank has come through either, so we don't know what is being done about it.
I've only got one more day of recreation restriction, and then I can get back out of this cell. This has sucked, and for something so stupid as well! They brought new basketballs for the outside rec, yards just a little while ago, and I'm itching to get out there!
Courage. Strength. Hope and Faith.
June 12th, 2018
Fifteen years on death row, today...It's kind of weird, and it feels like a blur at times. I honestly didn't expect to make it this long, but here I am still at it.
I still have the same ID card that I received when I first came here. The picture on it was taken the day I returned to TDCJ. I just look...sad...A bit shell shocked. Okay, a lot shell shocked! The events of that day were happening so fast that I didn't really have any time to register everything.
After returning to the same holding cell I was in the night before, after the jury was sequestered, early that morning I sat and waited. I can't remember if my attorneys came and asked me how I was doing, but I paced the floor back and forth. There were other inmates in cells around me, and I guess they watched the news the day before because they kept taunting me and yelling things like, “They're gonna kill you!” I never understood why prisoners did stuff like that to one another...Eventually, the majority of them land in the same boat, and yet they taunt each other, or in prison parlance, “Hold their nuts over you”.
I guess it was close to eleven in the morning when my lawyers came in and told me that a verdict had been reached, and so I was placed in a stun belt, under my clothes, in case I were to react harshly to their decision, and they could zap the crap out of me! They did it to another guy who was sentenced to death just a week earlier, and some of the bailiffs had been joking about it...“He pissed and shit all over himself!”, and other lovely things they were saying...Well, regardless of what was to happen, I wasn't going to give them THAT chance.
I enter the court room and it's jam packed! A large section of it was given over to Police Officers...I remember seeing our family friend who was the Chief of Police in Dalworthington Gardens (and he's currently the Sheriff of Tarrant County as I write this) and we made eye contact for a brief second...I remember feeling a pang of sadness that he would make it into a “me Vs. them” issue...I've never hated police, or ever wished bad things on them, but this was an event that never should have happened, and I never imagined it happening either, so it hurt because I respected him so much.
The judge made everyone stand, and the jury was brought in to read their verdict. I had a couple of friends (and a girlfriend) behind me in the gallery, and as the sentence of death was read, they all started to cry which caused me to cry. But I was more or less crying for them, not for myself. After that, the mother of Officer Hawkins was allowed to give a victim impact statement, and I started to cry as she described her pain. I did hurt for her, and it was genuine. However, the way she characterized me, was very mistaken. I wasn't the person she believed me to be and that did hurt me. When that was over, things happened very fast. I was rushed out of the court room, ordered to sign a bunch of documents, stripped, placed in prison clothes, and rushed into the parking garage of the County Jail. There were police everywhere, some with guns trained on me. I was thrown in the back of a police car, and off to Huntsville.
I've written about my experience there before, but I remember everything feeling otherworldly...Almost like an out of body experience. I didn't know what to expect when I got to death row, but I imagined it being like something from “Silence Of The Lambs” - just a bunch of whacked out serial killers. I definitely wasn't one of THEM.
I couldn't have been more wrong! This place is far from a paradise, and there are some really awful people here, personality-wise. But over the years, I've also met some of the kindest, most giving people. I've met just about everyone on death row over the years, due to the fact that I've moved to so many different pods and cells. I've made some really close friends. I've met guys that really deserved a second chance at life, and I've met guys that have gotten those second chances, and squandered them. I've met all types of personalities, and seen so much humanity here...So much giving. I've seen the strongest of minds crack and splinter, and spiral into madness over the years, and I've seen guys considered to be the weakest of individuals not only survive, but flourish in this place. I've met horrible Shawshank Redemption style guards, and I've met some of the kindest and most humane guards. Chaplains and Ministers that don't give a flying crap about your conditions or salvation, and Chaplains and Ministers that shower you in what I would call “God's love”...Their presence shines with something other worldly. I've seen it all here in these fifteen years. I wouldn't call it a curse...I'd call it a blessing...It helped shape my own desire to be a better person (even if at times I falter) and to grow as a human being.
A Rabbi once told me that a vase that has cracked into pieces and been put back together again is stronger than a solid vase. Sometimes it takes an individual to break to become a stronger person than they were, and I definitely think I'm stronger. I would just really like that chance to prove my worth to the world.
I hope I can be blessed with another 15 years...
Courage. Strength. Hope and Faith!
Randy....Taken just a few hours after he was sentenced to death, on 12th June 2003...Aged just 25 years old.
June 11th, 2018
I woke up this morning and decided to grab the day by the horns. I'm on rec. restriction until Thursday, 14th, so I jumped out of bed and knocked out a workout before getting to the shower. I read today's Stoic quote which was about not letting anger dig you into a hole that you can't get yourself out of...Deal with it, and move on! And that is so true. It becomes a problem when you won't let it go...A poison.
When I looked at the date today, I realised that tomorrow I'll have been on death row for 15 years. Today, the jury went into deliberations a little after noon, and I was taken to a small holding cell. I waited and waited and waited. At around 5.30pm or so, my co-counsel came into the holding cell and told me they couldn't decide, but the longer it took, the better it looked. He left, and I waited, and waited some more. It was later that evening that the judge had decided to sequester the jury and hold them in a hotel overnight, and send me back to my cell until the next day of deliberations. Other jurors had taken minutes or an hour to sentence my co-defendants to death, and here I was, heading back to my cell with a decision still looming over my head. I honestly don't remember what I felt like that night...I think the guards taking me back to my cell were surprised that no decision had been made, but as far as I could tell, none of the officers in that particular escort group seemed upset about it. It's just so weird to think back on...I'll write about it some more tomorrow, to mark the 15 years...
Courage. Strength. Faith and hope!
June 10th 2018
Sunday...I woke up about 5.25am to get a shower, and listen to “On Being” With Krista Tippet. It's a wonderful program about spirituality, and being human, and it comes on Houston NPR at 6am on Sunday mornings, and it was really good today. I highly recommend it to anyone who likes deeply moving intellectual and spiritual conversation. Her voice is one of the most compassionate and calming voices I've ever heard! And her guests are almost always enlightening.
Then I got myself riled up listening to the Sunday morning political talk shows...although, I'm seriously thinking about giving politics a break! It just isn't healthy to get so worked up about things...I find myself getting so angry at the things Trump is doing. I mean, really, picking a fight with Canada? And what is even crazier is the way he is alienating our true allies, so he can buddy up with all of these dictators, rogue nations, and general bad actors. Didn't Bush and Obama call these countries the “Axis of Evil?” I feel like I'm living in a real life version of the Star Wars Prequels...Everything that Trump is doing is sooooo similar to what Palpatine did in those movies. Start with trade wars...alienate true allies...split the republic...So, we've traded Darth Sidious for Darth Drumpf! Listening to this crap is not healthy for anyone. Nobody talks anymore!
The rest of the day I spent reading, but it has been an unusually long weekend. I'm ready for the new week.
Courage. Strength. Hope and faith.
June 9th, 2018
This Saturday is soooooooo boring! Why am I even wasting typing ribbon, when I've nothing to say today? I guess I'll add a quote from “Small Stones From The River” by Kat Lehman...
only the challenges
by climing it
Courage. Strength. Hope and faith!
June 8th, 2018
Today was a weird day! I woke up at 5.30am with the intention of trying to make a deal with the guards to get a friend from another section into our day room, so I could spend a little time with him. He's expecting an execution date, and if he ends up going to death watch, I won't be able to catch up with him again unless he receives a stay...Making “deals” with officers is actually pretty commonplace, because giving up one of your privileges to go to another section, or outside with someone, (some guys barter showers as well) means it can translate to less work for the guards, and I have no problem with that. There are some guards, however, that aren't willing to trade for anything, and that's cool too. It just means more work for them.
So, I hear the gate to my section pop open and I go to the door to see who it is...The female officer comes up to my door and says, “You're on recreation restriction, but you get to go outside today. You gonna go?”
“Yes, but-” I try to say...
“No. No. No,” she cuts me off.
“Well, are you going to let me finish, because it might benefit you?”
“I'll give up my recreation if you-” Cut off again!
“Fine. I'll be going to recreation then.”
“First round. By yourself.”
“That's fine. Have a lovely day.”
I didn't really let it get to me. In fact, I was kind of looking forward to getting outside first thing in the morning. Alone, with nothing but the sounds of the morning coming awake...Absolute peace and quiet. That's a gift that's priceless, and rare.
So, I got ready for recreation, and the two guards required to escort an inmate every time they go somewhere, show up. As I'm being stripped and searched, before leaving my cell, the male officer says, “You only get an hour.”
“I'm not on level 2 or 3,” I say.
“Yeah, but you're on rec. restriction.”
“Okay...but I should still get two hours.”
“No, only one,” the male officer says.
“I'll have to check into it,” I reply.
Handcuffs are put on me, and my door is opened up and they take me outside.
Because I was only getting an hour, I didn't waste any time and started to work out straight away. I can't explain the feeling, but it really felt like I was out in the world, running in a park. The air was fresh and clean. Birds and crickets were chirping. The sky was coming alive with blues and purples and pinks. As I jogged, I zoned out and freed my mind.
The hour went by really fast, and I was back in my cell by 7am.
My neighbour spoiled my mood after that when he told me that when the male officer came back inside, he made a comment about me and inmates whining. I don't know why it made me so angry, but it really pissed me off. I was like, “I'm whining? I ask about recreation time that I have a RIGHT to get, and that makes me a whiner?” When every single day one of these officers complains and WHINES about the work they're getting PAID to do? So, I made it a mission to have a conversation with this guy. Not to be belligerent or cuss him out, but just to point out the fact that everything we do in this place, food, showers, recreation, necessities, laundry etc. is dependent on THEM. We can do NOTHING on our own. We can't even walk to the shower when we want to. We can't go to recreation when we went to. We're locked in this call for 22 hours a day, and because we have a death sentence, we're not allowed any independence. We can't work, we can't feed ourselves, we can't shower without THEM. So, yeah, I can understand when inmates do complain (as I've been guilty of, but geeze, I am sure that any individual on this planet would complain in this situation) when they want to get out of their cell for rec. or to get a shower after sweating and being dirty, and having to wait around all day for the guards to take us to the shower...It's especially difficult to swallow when there are murderers in general population, who, I should add, were also convicted of Capital crime, who can shower whenever they want to, or walk freely to the chow hall or to recreation. They get to live somewhat normal lives compared to guys back here.
Anyway, I finally had a chance to talk to the officer, but I might as well have been talking to a caterpillar...It didn't affect him, or register with him whatsoever.
Sigh...so this is my life...And don't think I don't know that I did this to myself by freakin' escaping...I'm all too aware of what a dumbass I was...
Courage. Strength. Hope and faith!
June 6th, 2018
Well, this day is going by fairly quickly! I've been in a fairly good mood, and feeling quite energetic throughout most of the day, though right after lunch I took a little siesta because I had run some games of ball early this morning. It's weird, I should be on recreation restriction, but I'm starting to wonder if the lieutenant that ran the case thought it was a crap disciplinary and decided to not log it into the computer? Oh well...you'll hear no complaints from me! An interesting thing about these bogus disciplinary cases is that there's a unit somewhere here in Texas, that is under investigation because the warden - Warden McMullens - who used to be the death row major a few years ago (and was a tyrant - totally out of control!) would threaten to kill guys, and those on level 3 were forced to stay naked in their cells and have a blanket placed over their door so they couldn't see out...Some real Guantanomo Bay crap! Anyway, he and a bunch of others just got into real trouble...It was all over the news, and apparently emails were leaked to the press that showed them conspiring against inmates, writing bogus cases, and setting them up for all sorts of things.
My neighbour is riled up because these guards decided to go on their breaks before finishing up collecting the trays, and switching recreation rounds. He wants to go to bed because he stays up all night...He's a good guy, just easy to piss off. Definite anger management problems...But I get it, you're being forced to stay awake because as soon as he goes to sleep, they're going to wake him back up to collect the lunch trays that have been sitting in our cells since 11am. I can't really stay up all night and sleep in the day; I'm surprised that some guys can keep that schedule.
Courage. Strength. Hope and Faith.
June 4th, 2018
I woke up today fully expecting to be on cell restriction, but the guard setting up recreation, asked me if I wanted to go outside first round...I said sure, and jumped out of bed and headed outside to play some basketball. I told the guy I was outside with that I thought I was on cell restriction, and he said, "I thought so to, so before I asked him to grab you, I made sure to ask, and he said you weren't on the paperwork." Cool...Though, maybe I should've stayed in today because I got my butt handed to me in a 35-5 loss! Sometimes I wonder what happens to me; I can go from heaving a great win, coming inside full of pride, then the next day, I lose shamefully! Sigh...Oh well...
Last night a huge thunder and lightening storm hit and it was raining cats and dogs, so I wasn't sure what today would hold. But when we went outside it was grey, and very dry. The sun eventually came out after we got back in, and it looks lovely outside just now. The guards today are really on top of things as well - they're done with all of the recreation, and the showers!...There'll be nothing left for second shift to do, so another plus to the day. Perhaps we'll get mail early?
I heard some of the Supreme Court rulings for the end of the year, and before they go on summer break...One of them had to do with a cake making business refusing to make a gay couple a cake for their wedding. The business owner said that it violated his religious principles...I'm not going to make the argument for how stupid that sounds, because...it's stupid, and I refuse to believe in a God that would discriminate, but whatever...So, apparently, the state of Colorado (or any other state) could not force a business owner to do something that violated their religious beliefs. Now, from what I've heard on the news - AFR and NPR - they understand the ruling, but it was left kind of vague and ambiguous because it didn't really rule that the cake dude could actually refuse service...They just said that the State could not force him to offer a service that was against his religious beliefs. There's a gay show on KPFT on Monday nights at 8pm, and I guess I'll listen to that so I can understand the ruling better...I'm sure they'll talk about it.
The other big news of the day was the Texas Supreme Court ruling that the State had to inform the general public of the execution drug supplier up to 2014, because the State passed a law that protected the provider's identity, in 2015. The theory is that the supplier in 2014 could be the same supplier we have now, and I think that those in the activist community should absolutely hound the drug company that is named for 2014, and ask them if they still provide the drug to the State today...Hurt their business for being involved. Period. What I find interesting is they are using tax payers' money to fund these executions, so shouldn't the tax payer have a RIGHT to know how their money is being spent, and with whom? Isn't that the whole purpose of taxation without representation? Didn't we fight a war with the British for that reason? Boston Tea Party??
Courage. Strength. Hope and Faith!
June 3rd, 2018
Weekends...They move at the pace of a banana slug, but then like some weird time vortex, they're over with. I've managed to keep busy, and I'm almost done with it. I'm wondering what they're going to do this week because I heard from an officer earlier today, that they finished installing new shower doors on B-Pod...The old ones were all rusty, and literally falling apart, so they're replacing them with stainless steel doors (why didn't they do that when they first built this place?) and apparently, the little slot we have to get handcuffed through is waist high, so no more squatting down in an uncomfortable position, while the guard fumbles with cuffs and keys.
Anyway, as they're putting these doors in on each section, they're moving everyone in the cells to another section. If they start on C-Pod next (the pod I'm currently on) it'll be A-section or F-section...I'm on F-section, so I could get bounced to another section or to another pod. Confused? I am! I guess we'll see. Once they're ready to install them on A-Pod, that will be the most difficult pod to shift people around because death watch has to remain on that section due to the cameras in the cells, and F-section houses all of the handicapped inmates so that they can access the special showers for that section...I guess we'll know next week.
Not much else to report on this lazy Sunday...
Courage. Strength. Hope and Faith!
June 2nd, 2018
Another day in Paradise, but I didn't know that Paradise was a freakin' INFERNO...It's hotter than blazes here, but at least they fixed the air conditioning. It's hot and cold at the same time! How is that? The back wall feels like a kiln, and the cell has cool air...Bizarre!
Well, I've been sentenced on my stupid disciplinary case, and you'll see that my Webmaster has uploaded a scanned copy of the paperwork for the case, below this post - please excuse the quality, it wasn't a good copy to begin with. I had opted out of attending the hearing, and just went ahead and pled guilty, because it didn't make much sense to try and argue my point that it was a stupid case...Sometimes the lieutenants that run the kangaroo court get angry if you make an argument and they feel like you're wasting their time. So, I just decided to waive my hearing, plead guilty, and get it over with...Leave my fate in their hands. The punishment? 15 days recreation restriction...For some string, a rolled-up magazine, and some broken coax cable! A bit on the extreme side, I think! That's an infraction that warrants a verbal reprimand, and no more. So, now I'm trapped in my cell for the next two weeks. I'll just make the best of it, and keep busy...It does no good to get angry over it; these cases are stupid and a waste of money...Just stupid!
When I was in general population, I can remember a couple of the cases I received. One I deserved because I refused to go to work due to some severe sunburn I had after working in the fields the day before; when I didn't go the guard told me, "If you would've gotten a waiver from medical, I'd have let you take the day off, but you just don't show up to work? Now I'm pissed..." I was 100% innocent in the other case though...It was what's called an "extra necessities" case, meaning they wrote me up for having extra bed sheets, but the sheets were my cell mate's. He even told the officer that wrote the case that they were his sheets and told me that when I went to court, to call him out and he'd tell the ranking officer that was holding court, that the sheets were his. So, I went to court, told the female sergeant my cell mate wanted to make a statement, and she called him out and he said, "Ma'am, those sheets were mine. The officer wrote the wrong case." She looked at him, looked at me, and was nodding her head like she was understanding what we were saying. Then she asked, "Well, is your cell mate forcing you to say this?", and my cell mate replied, "No ma'am." She said, "Mmmm. Hmmm.", again seeming like she was going to dismiss everything there and then. Then, she grabbed some papers and ruffled them around..."Well...I appreciate your candor and honesty, but the case is written in Offender Halprin's name, so I'm going to find him guilty." I couldn't believe it and exclaimed, "What? He just told you they were his!" But she wasn't having any of it and said, "But you got the case. Deal with it! I'm giving you 5 days recreation restriction."
And that, ladies and gentlemen, is why it's called a kangaroo court!
Hey, remember when I said there are some really good officers here? Just the other day at breakfast, they had cinnamon rolls - a very rare treat...Their rarity is on a par with sightings of a sasquatch. So, I get up for breakfast and see this yummy cinnamon roll, get my tray, and devour it! Suddenly, the officer passing out the breakfast trays shows up again with another tray, and says, "You want another one?" I was like, "Uhhh...Hell yeah!"...That sucker was huge too!! Dripping with sugary glaze, and just mmm mmm good! I thanked him and just thought to myself that this place would be a whole lot better with more acts of kindness like that. And by "better", I just mean that I believe it would make it easier for both inmates and guards alike, if we could get along and not have everyone angry and miserable all of the time.
Courage. Strength. Hope, and Faith!
** Note from Webmaster - This is the paperwork relating to the case that Randy received...It hightlights the pettiness of some (not all!) state prison guards, and the absolute waste of state expenditure, and resources, at the taxpayers' expense! It's surprising in an ultra conservative state that is proud of its fiscal responsibility, that "responsibility" seems to get thrown out the window when it comes to the Criminal Justice System . **
** Apologies for the poor scanning quality - these grivances are printed on flimsy paper that just doesn't scan very well **