You know what is so awesome to see early in the morning? A sunrise; but not just an ordinary sunrise...one that actually accentuates the curvature of the earth...I was looking out my window, the sky a warm orange and violet color...it kind of looked like sherbet ice cream. Well, there are clouds in the distance and the way they floated across the sky and the horizon you could actually see a bowl shaped effect. So cool.
Anyways, lots on my mind today but it is all a bit disjointed and it is getting a bit warm in the cell so I'm distracted...Okay...first things first. I have a new attorney. I've been without one for a few months now, because my previous attorney left my case to accept a prosecution job in Tarrant County, Texas...Which brought to my mind this question: When I was trying to have him removed why did he fight me on it when he could have saved both us time by just removing himself? I mean, he had to have known that there was going to be a job offer if whoever was running for D.A. won? Or maybe he was just waiting to see what happened at elections time. In the end, the Courts ended up appointing someone to me. This appointment stirred up some alarm that I want to address, and this really applies to anyone that writes someone on death row, or is even going through any kind of appeals process... Good or bad attorney...the system is set up in a way that the odds are against anyone going through that process. It is just a simple fact. However, support can go a long way. I'll get to that in a bit. It is easy to be alarmist or reactionary. Especially if you care about someone. An inmate or particular person has such a limited amount of knowledge at their hands we don't always know what needs to be, or should be done...So, if an inmate hears that another guy on death row got some 'action' as we call it, on their case, it is easy to fool yourself into believing that that same 'issue' might apply to them. It is rarely the case, however. Guys then get upset when they tell their attorney "I want you to file this or that, or do this or that..." and when the attorney doesn't, they get all upset, but the fact of the matter is WE AREN'T AND WILL NEVER BE SMARTER THAN OUR OWN ATTORNEYS. We might think we know things, we might even get somegood advice from other inmates fighting their way through the process, but the simple truth is 99.9 percent of the time we don't know jack. All cases aren't the same and all appeal issues aren't applied the same. So, it is kind of unfair to say that an attorney is 'trash' with that kind of ignorance. There are always exceptions, but there are attorneys who do what they're required to do and are really good. How do you prevent a 'bad' attorney from getting away with not doing his job? By being proactive and involved. Show him that his client has LOTS of support and people who care about them. Let him know he's being watched and doing what he's supposed to be doing. Having the inmate be involved and active in his own case by both writing the attorney and judge often. Telling the client not to be abrasive or an asshole. Who wants to work for an asshole? Who wants to be in communication with an asshole? Uhhh. No one. See, some of the guys back here who say "Oh, I've got a bullshit attorney" are very abrasive and unsavory. I don't say that as a judgement, but just as an observation, so I tend to take what they say with a grain of salt. I tend to discard someone's statement about the quality of another person without actual proof. For example, there was this one dude back here who trashed talked his attorney every which way that he could and then the guy ends up getting some action...Grain of salt. Not to say that doesn't mean you shouldn't be cautious, but definitely wait and see what the battle field looks like first. Another thing that kind of irritates me is when people say "Oh, he wasn't a good attorney because so and so was executed!" Really? Well, by that standard it means that EVERY death row attorney is shit because even the good ones, the really really REALLY good ones have seen their clients executed. Almost no one - NO ONE - gets relief or action on their appeals. If they did, there wouldn't be a purpose for having a death penalty. It is an anomoly when relief is granted. The system just isn't geared that way. You have a court appointed attorney who is limited in resources vs. an Attorney General who has an unlimited amount of resources. It's not a level playing field. But hey, you guys elect (or don't vote) the people/administrations that appoint these folks. In Texas the cold hard truth is that almost everyone dies. How do you change that? What do you do? If I see red flags with my attorney, I'll do the best that I can to stop the blood loss, I'll do whatever it takes. I just want to know he's going to give me a fighting chance. I've been waking up every single morning lately with this mantra: I want to live. My life has value. Give me a fighting chance. It is all I ask for. Let me prove all the naysayers wrong by showing my worth.
I read something interesting a couple of weeks ago and I wanted to do a long piece on it, but I think it would serve you, the reader, a better, if you looked it up yourself, and pass it on to every person you know either for or against the death penalty. I have no idea how the internet works, but you can find "Killing Kelly: An open letter to Georgia's Christian Citizens" at baptistnews.com
I've read few arguments greater than this one against the death penalty. You could literally apply it to anyone on death row. Christian or not.
Man, it's getting quite warm in here...The sun is out, the cell is heating up. I'll have to turn on my fan which means it is time to shut my trap and stop here...
March 16th, 2015
Another beautiful day and it is only 9:05am as I write this. I'll be going outside, though, third round, so I'll be getting some great sun as well! I will run today. Actually, if I can talk my neighbor into playing some basketball I'd much rather do that, but definitely going to get back into the groove of exercise. I've had over a week off so it is time to do something. I still have no attorney so I've been writing various law firms/offices etc, and one of them were my old attorneys. I received a letter from them this morning and said they'd contact the courts and see if they couldn't get them to speed things up...I was like, "Hey! I'm looking for an attorney, yes. But I don't want to speed the process up! I'm in no rush so long as the Judge is in no rush!"
Geeze... We'll see what happens, though. I really want some positive things to happen.
March 14th, 2015
Lock down is over! Woohoo. I was kind of surprised because it is a Saturday and they were setting up recreation early this morning. We had heard two rumors; that we were looking at another week because general population still hadn't been shook down, or that we would come off of it on monday morning. Both rumors were wrong. But the great thing? The torrential rains have stopped and the sun was out in full effect. I was set up for recreation inside for third round but I had noticed that no one was going outside. I think they put three people out total. The sun was calling my name and I was thinking, "I do need to get some things taken care of in the day room, but I also told myself I would take full advantage of outside this year and get some sun..."Outside won. I asked a guard if I could go out third round and she was like, "Sure!" Very nice of her.
I enjoyed every moment. It felt amazing. About 75 degrees and perfect. Loved it. I was going to jog because I haven't in a week, but honestly? just laid on the concrete like a seal on rocks and soaked up the sun. It is going to take a lot more than some spring sun to bring color to my skin, but hey, it's a start!
March 13th, 2015
I was sitting in the dark last night...I turned off my radio and just sat there quietly, thinking about all of the things I wrote about...I don't think I've ever really gone into as much detail as I did and there's one thing that bothered me, because there's a word that was used a lot during my trial and even some hearings that happened years later. "Minimize". Like, "Halprin is just trying to minimize his role in things..." that I'm blame shifting or not accepting responsibility for my actions. And I suppose things could be interpreted that way by some, but how can you minimize the truth? Honestly, I think out of all of my co-defendents I've been the most honest about everything that has happened, at least when it pertains to myself. I DO accept responsibility for my actions and choices throughout my life. I MUST be held responsibile for some, but murder is not one them. Again, it is difficult to wrap my head around the fact that even after all of the truths to come out of the night, from the facts and even co-defendents all saying, "Hey, Randy didn't kill anyone...", I still face the "ultimate" punishment.
At times I feel like there's hope; that somehow I'll get through all of this. That I will live to see another day. I think about all of the things I WANT to live for...Some selfish and material, like seeing the end of the comic The Walking Dead or Alex & Ada - ridiculous, I know! But really for the things I have TO live for. I do get angry at times...Angry at myself, angry at life. I'm not a person who openly expresses that anger and even when all seems calm and peaceful on the exterior, there can be storms on the interior. I tend to internalize things, put a cork on it and just deal with it in my own way. Hence, this journal acts like a pressure valve for me at times. But I do get angry. I get angry about injustices in this world. I get angry at the people who poke and prod my brother because of his mental illness. I get angry because I wasn't there in his life when he needed me most. I get angry at my own insecurities and faults and how, at times I feel I have so little control over my impulsiveness.
I get angry at my own stupidities and poor choices. I get angry that life isn't always fair and I have little control over some people's perception of who they think I am. With those same things that I get angry about, I am also grateful for so much more and I try to express my own gratefulness often. Some things in life we just can't control. I don't know what I feel about fate and God and all of that; whether things happen for reasons or not...Times I feel that they do and times I just wonder if it isn't all happenstance...I guess it is one of the great existential questions...When I was a kid I believed blindly. There was something about going to temple that was calming and peaceful. When my dad didn't feel like going to Shabbos services on Friday night I would sometimes beg and plead to go. I would pray and ask for G-d to show me the purpose of life - a big question for a kid, I know but I did. And times I would feel like some of those prayers were answered.
I can remember when I was 18, I was back at school in Kentucky and there was so much crap going on in my life...for a teen it felt like the end of the world for me. If it could go wrong, it did. So, I was back at school, fall semester - just allowed back in after a summer suspension because the school had felt that previous summer I was "Suicidal" and so I spent the summer and early fall living on my own in Lexington...The school's 'Year Book Pageant' was coming up and my girlfriend at the time was elected to be a part of it, so I threw myself into the process completely. I was excited if not nervous as hell! But also sad because I wouldn't be able to spend the celebrations with her because her parents were coming down as well and they cut me off due to events earlier that year. They didn't approve of me and so I would have to step to the side. I was at odds with my own parents and so the feeling of being excluded was only magnified. I spent the day practicing with my girlfriend and setting up the stage. There was a point when I left to go get ready and I stopped at these two big boulders that over looked the schools track and field. The sun was setting and dipping behind a hill and it was a beautiful sight. I lost it and started crying. I prayed and just prayed asking G-d to allow me this night and experience with my girlfriend. I wanted it so badly. I remember going back to the chapel where the pageant was being held and doing some last minute cleaning up and to say goodbye to my girlfriend before it started and then I would have to run across the campus to get dressed. I was vacuuming the floor and my girlfriend came out. Her parents were with her and so I gave her a hug and kiss real quick and was about to get out of Dodge. As I was leaving, her mother called out to me and she said she wanted to talk to me. I was nervous but went up to her and she said she forgave me and wanted to start over on a clean slate. I lost it! I was crying, and then she started crying and then my girlfriend started to cry...We hugged and I said "I'm sorry. I really am!" And then I had to leave to get dressed, but I ran out full of happiness and for a brief moment I thought maybe the downward spiral that my life had been taking was about to stop. Things would turn around...
Of ourse they didn't and not long after that I continued to fuck up. I look back at that particular moment and wonder was that really "G-d" or just coincidence? I don't know. But shit, I don't know a lot about life almost 19 years later. Religions often talk about a "plan" for us as if we're just one sprocket in a larger mechanism that makes this universe go around. We're all connected in some way, each individual life having its own particular value, each life affecting another. I do see truth in this part, maybe not the whole plan thing in the context of religion or G-d, but definitely believing we're all connected. That each person affects another. Kind of like in the book The Five People You Meet In Heaven. I wonder, then, what is my value? If maybe, what is my plan? If I'm a sprocket does my clock keep turning oris it running out? I'm fairly confident the Bible is made up. There might be some small historical value to it, but people tell stories and we use stories to best explain the world the way we think it works. I once listened to a program and a scientist who studies language said "We are the stories that we tell." I can agree with that. Stories push us forward. I can't prove whether G-d exists or doesn't exist. All I can do is take the lessons I've learned from my life and my life's own story and try to push forward, a better human being.
I do wonder...I wonder about everything. I have a curious and inquisitive mind and it bugs me to the nth degree that I don't have anymore answers than I did a decade ago.
But back to sitting in the dark last night...thinking about everything. I prayed. What's to lose?