Yesterday I was too mad to write any follow up report. I wish I could say it was smooth sailing but it wasn't. I packed everything up in my red crate; it all fit snugly, and I had ZERO excess property. I had only the things I wanted to keep, and of course my electronics and legal work, which is allowed to remain outside of the red crate. Anyway, the guards show up at my door, I strip down, hand them my shower slides and boxer shorts, and do the song and dance of spinning around to show nothing is in my buttocks...Then they put the handcuffs on me, take me to the shower, take the handcuffs off, and I shower and wait for the guards to come back and get me after about an hour.
When I get back to my cell, the first thing I notice is my powdered detergent is spread all over my floor. This stuff comes in a see through zip lock bag and there isn't even a need to open it up. One of the guards who returned me to the cell says "Oops...we accidentally spilled it". Knowing it wasn't an accident but not feeling like getting into an argument, I only said "And it was too difficult to clean it up before I came back?" I mean, shit, they've got brooms with them...But whatever, I pick up all of my other stuff, not really concerned about whether anything is missing or not, and I just want to get the detergent cleaned up...But I then started to notice that some books, comic books, and letters are missing! I hurriedly clean up the detergent, wash the residue off of the floor and start going through my personal property. They took HALF of my books and comics. When I asked a guard why he said "Your name wasn't on them" which I know is total BS because I put my name on everything. I move around too much to come up with something missing and not have my name on it. So I said "So what is the excuse for taking pictures and letters?" And their reply was "Don't know what you're talking about. We didn't throw anything away". "Really? Then why is it MISSING?" Another informative reply of "Maybe you want to check again?" I don't know... Those are the kind of responses we have to deal with when things disappear. I guess they went to the magical realm of "we threw your shit away". I hear it's a lovely place.
I was so angry and upset that I just went to sleep at around nine in the evening. I slept all the way until eight the next morning which is very rare for me. I just couldn't get myself out of bed. I finally just forced myself to get up and deal with it. It is material (except the letters) and can be replaced. It's been quite some time since I was screwed over like that.
Anyway, I forced myself to start the day. I've been listening to a Batman marathon on the radio, doing some exercises, looking out my window, and doing laundry. I'm keeping myself as busy as possible to keep my mind off negative things. At least I'm well rested. Now I have all of this extra energy as I never sleep more than six or seven hours...I'm not even a "nap" person unless I'm just wiped out.
I heard a news report that said something close to a billion dollars has already been spent on this year's election cycle. Jesus H. Christ do you know how many people that could feed? Unbelievable the amount of money wasted in this country to influence other people. I just think of all the positive things that could be done with that kind of money. Peoples' priorities are all jacked up!
Dinner/lunch sacks are here. Mmmmm. Peanut butter and jelly time!
March 16th, 2016
What a long and extremely boring day. At least we were able to get showers today. Sometimes after the building is put on lockdown, they say we can't get a shower for the first 72 hours, which has really never made any sense to me when there's signs all over the damn place talking about hygiene and cleanliness being essential to a "smooth" running prison. I was happy to shave as well, even though the new razors they give us would qualify as torture under the Geneva convention. Seriously, you wouldn't need to water board the terrorists with these things - just tell them to shave with a Texas Department of Criminal Justice razor. They'd give up the whereabouts of Jimmy Hoffa! I don't know if beavers have ever gone all murderous on some poor dude skinny dipping in a river, but it feels like a hundred beavers eating your face off...It was nice to get the hair off of my face though; I was beginning to look like a hobo ha ha.
I'm also a bit down that I no longer get to watch the cats, because I was moved to another cell on another pod last night. I swear...if it's a thing they moved me into a cell where this guy we call "Runaway Chuck" just moved out of, then I'm going to ask him if it would be so difficult to clean it up before he moves out. This is the second time I've had to clean up a badass nasty cell after some dirty inmate, and it's pissing me off. A grown man shouldn't live like this, and there's just no excuse for this kind of laziness. But I digress...So, I moved to C-pod after spending nearly two months on B-pod. I was kind of sad to leave and I had really enjoyed watching the cats outside of my window. Now, the upside of my new cell is that I do get to watch the horses now, and the sunsets, so not a terrible trade off.
I got to my new cell around 9pm, put everything on my bed and commenced cleaning, working up a sweat. I'm a bit of neat freak as it is, so I scrub the walls, the door, the toilet area and then wash the floor. After everything is dry is when I start to unpack things. I never keep a whole lot of property because I move so much and I'm not too attached to much other than certain sentimental cards, letters, pictures and my radio. Everything else is dispensable. What was strange about this particular move is that typically during a lockdown all movement is supposed to cease, but for some reason the administration decided to move the guys who are "security risks" or "escape risks" (Am I still an escape risk almost 16 years after the incident?).
Today I haven't really done much. Mostly listened to the radio and the prospects of a Hillary vs. Trump general election. I just don't understand how any rational citizen can think this guy is a good idea for America. Not only that, but the dude is so far removed from reality and the "average American"...These redneck idiots get all hyped up on him, but they have NOTHING in common with him. I mean, Jesus, the guy gives his victory speech at one of his country clubs that requires over $100,000 for membership. You really think this guy is going to fight for the average citizen? This is about one thing to him now that he's made it this far: winning! He just wants to win. He's got no substance or policy plan. "We're going to make America great again". That isn't substance, dip shit. That's a tagline. If America has lost its greatness it is because of jackasses like you. More to come on that subject as we near the general election. Oh Lord, can we please have a brokered convention so the Republican party implodes??? Is that too much to ask for (well, a Supreme Court Justice who votes to end the DP too if I'm not being too greedy!)?
March 14th, 2016
I knew something was up...I usually wake up as soon as the guards turn on the walkway lights at about 5:20am, but my body clock woke me up at around 5:45am, and it was still dark outside of the cell. At first I was thinking, crap...you bastards are screwing us over on recreation again! I kicked the blankets off, rubbed my eyes and muttered curses as I started my day. I walked to the door of my cell because I can see the area by the control center where the guards "rest" and they were out there. All three guards plus a new trainee...I thought, hmmm well, they CAN'T be short staffed today. What the hell is going on? And then I thought...oh no...please tell me this isn't the spring lockdown...
I went to the back of my cell, climbed up on my bunk to look at the back window. Usually you can see inmates from General Population moving about, going to work, etc...I didn't see anything. Please, please, please don't let this be lockdown, I thought. Screw it. I'll just start my day like I typically do and get everything in order until a guard walks around and I can get some answers. I drank my coffee, took my vitamins and brushed my teeth. I had breakfast in a cup, saved from earlier (some scrambled eggs) and I thought, well, I'll do some exercise and then heat that up with some sriracha sauce (I'm hooked on the rooster sauce!). Finally a guard walked by and I said "What's the deal? Why aren't you setting up recreation?" He said "Unit lockdown. Spring break". NOOOOOOOOOOOO!!! I fell to my knees crying! (Just kidding, I didn't really do that but in my mind I did!) I let out a sigh and walked away sad faced. Never make plans in prison, 'cause they almost never turn out how you want them to...I was really amped up for today because me and Big Will had already talked about trying to get outside. It was going to be perfect. In the high 80's, sunny and bright. I even planned on getting a sunburn so I could get some seasonal color to my deathly pale skin. I was going to jog in the fresh air. Well, maybe in a couple of weeks. I figure this one will be longer than usual because it is the entire unit that is on lockdown. But it is strange because in all of my years they usually don't lockdown right before Easter. And a lot of guys go to church for Easter services in General Population...I guess this current administration really doesn't care. Also there's a Christian ministry that comes around this time of year called Kairos and they do special services for GP inmates and they deliver a bag of cookies to each Death Row inmate. I'd be shocked if that happens now.
Well, for the most part the weekend was peaceful and unventful. I was able to see Ms. Cox, the salvation army minister (alive and kickin' at almost 94 years old, I believe) on Friday. I hadn't seen her in so long that I was beginning to get worried. You can tell she's really tired, starting to wear down and becoming forgetful. But I will say this, when you get into a long conversation and talk about things that really interest her...she just lights up and you can see that (divine) spark and the life comes back to her, and she's as sharp as a tack. It was nice to get away from this place for a while and be out there.
I've been teaching my friend and neighbor Big Will how to play Scrabble to keep his mind off of his personal stress going on right now and it has been fun...On Sunday we brought our boards (home made with a grid system on them) outside early in the morning and played a game. I've been helping him with words and strategy. So, he'll put down a bogus word and I'll be "Nope. Try again. You can get more points spelling the word so and so on 'g' 5". He's beaten me twice with my help and I told him yesterday "Dude, the training wheels come off tomorrow and I'm getting dead on yo' ass!" But he said that this is really helping him with his own spelling and reading skills and that is a great thing. It really is a good way to teach people how to read and write. I have no earthly idea what I'm going to do the rest of the day. I guess probably just start getting ready for the big shakedown.
I'll close with this: "Cherish your visions; cherish your ideas; cherish the music that stirs in your heart, the beauty that forms in your mind, the loveliness that drapes your purest thoughts. If you remain true to them, your world will at least be built." (James Allen)
March 8th, 2016
Well, I'll be a monkey's uncle! I'm getting recreation today. Gotta get ready but will return...
I started this entry earlier in the morning and now it is 3:45 p.m. I actually got stuck out at rec. for almost four hours. The officers were out on a break...Here's something interesting, because they are so short staffed they are breaking themselves out, meaning that only one Pod Officer is on the floor when there is technically supposed to be two at all times. I guess we are not all that dangerous after all...Very interesting. Actually, they've been doing this for some time now, even before they were "short staffed".
Anyways, today was supposed to be my outside day and because of the storms the Officers were cool enough to let us recreate inside which I really appreciated because I needed to get out of this cell, stretch my legs and get some jogging in. It was so humid though. By the time I finished jogging a couple of miles I was drenched in sweat. I was grateful that the guards allowed our section the opportunity to get out of the cell when some other guards would've just screwed us and said "Sorry, no rec., outside is shut down". I could name a few that would do that, but it also proves my point that not all guards are out to screw us over or punish us. It is just a job and they treat us like humans instead of monsters. While I was out there some kind of small tour came in with a couple of people in suits. A young black guy jammed them up and said "What are y'all? What do you want back here?" One of the suited men said "We're just here to see how you live". The youngster went on a rant of "Well, how the fuck we live? We ain't got no T.V., we ain't got no mother fuckin' telephone so I can call my T-Jones...". The other suited man said "Well, you have three hots and a cot". "Shit! We ain't even got that! This food is cold as a mother fucker!" The suit said "What, you want a microwave?" And kid came back with "No, dumbass...but a nice hot meal would do!" I couldn't help but laugh at the exchange...When the people left I talked to the youngster and said "I appreciate the effort you made at trying to open a dialogue with them, but your approach was wrong". He said "What you mean by that?" I took my time explaining and told him "You were a bit on the aggressive side. And when you started talking about T.V's and phone calls, even if you are in the right, you're going to lose people like that every time. The argument isn't T.V., the arguments are this...1) We're in a cell all day long, and because of our new rec. schedule, we have very little to occupy our minds. 2) Regardless of how you may feel we should live, you could treat us a bit more on the humane side. And 3) Our contact with the outside, with family and friends, is limited. Why is a KILLER in G.P. allowed to have access to more visits, daily telephone calls, etc...What is the difference between them and me? You have to frame the conversation a bit differently. Even if you don't respect them, talk to them respectfully, don't give them a reason to think 'Geez, what a dumbass, this guy deserves this'."
I hope I made him think a bit. It turned out they weren't anybody of importance, just a couple of detectives down here to talk to another inmate and wanted to see what Death Row "looked like". I came back to my cell and was fortunate to get a shower pretty quickly...Now I'm just worn out, so I'm going to listen to the news, read a little and call it a day...
March 8th, 2016
I was sitting here thinking about why I have been feeling so bored of late and just not been able to get my mind to function, and I realized that it is totally this new recreation structure. We have more time on our hands and then even more days when we don't get to have rec. due to "a shortage of staff". I tend to wake up and structure my day around when I'll be going to rec. What I mean by that is the guards begin to set up recreation at about 5:20am. They'll go down the run from cell to cell asking each individual if they want to go to rec. and then they'll say "Okay...first round" onto the next "Second round" etc...On average they have 4-5 rounds of recreation so you can guess when you will be leaving your cell. So, if I'm told "2nd round" I know that I can get some things knocked out of the way before 8:30 a.m. I'll be back in my cell around 11am, depending on how long it takes the guard to feed lunch. Then I'll get my lunch, wait on a shower, and maybe knock out a few more things before relaxing in the afternoon. With this extra time in the cell, it throws everything all out of whack, and I have extra hours in the day that I normally didn't have...
I realize that whole paragraph probably made no sense to anyone but myself, haha, but it's how my days are now. That being said, we haven't had recreation on this pod since Saturday, due to a number of reasons, number one being SHORT OF STAFF! But enough complaining...There's some heavy storms moving in and it looks pretty nasty. Looks like another day of no recreation. But anyway...
So, on Sunady I listened to a program on CBS called "60 minutes". It's a news magazine type show and usually I'll see what the topics are and one of them was about Death Row on Polunsky. Of course I'm going to listen to something about the place I'm in! I let some other guys know that it was coming on so they could hear it as well and honestly...the story was a bit weak. It really didn't focus on anything of substance and seemed to me to be a bit pro-death penalty leaning. The reporter talked to three guys from back here, and he asked questions like, "Do you believe in the death penalty/do you think you should die/who is responsible for your being here". Only one of the guys took responsibility for his actions...When the reporter asked "Who put you here?" he said "I did. The only person I can blame is myself". Another one of the guys kind of took responsability in a half-assed way, but he did say that no matter what happened and even though it was an accident, he wasn't going to stop when the police told him to. I thought about what he said and what one of the prosecutors in my trial asked me when I was on the stand testifying...He said "And what would you have done if the Officer tried to stop you? You weren't going to let anything get in your way!" And I said "No, you're wrong, I would've stopped. I wouldn't have tried to run". I remember him kind of blinking in surprise. And that is the truth...Had Rivas not started shooting that would've been the end of it. Back to prison I would've gone. When we were captured in Colorado I was alone with Larry Harper. There was a freakin' arsenal in that RV. There could've been a shootout but neither of us wanted that. I asked Larry "What are you going to do ?" He said "I'm not going back to prison". I knew that meant suicide for him. He'd talked about it before. I told him "I can't hurt anyone else or hurt myself...I've gotta go out there"...I surrendered.
Circumstances and environment will always be a factor in answering the question, "Who is resonsible for putting you on death row?". That isn't blame shifting and it irritates me when people say that, but...ultimately, in my case, it was my choices, my actions (escaping from prison and going on the run with 6 potentially dangerous individuals) that put me here. I have to accept responsibility for that, and I do. Now whether or not I should DIE for those choices, is debatable, but I really can only blame myself for this predicament. I own that. I'm just trying to do right, correct the wrongs, and be as good a human being as I can be. I just want the chance to carry that forward, to prove the jurors wrong, to prove the system wrong. I'm far from perfect...I can be a complete dumbass at times. I'm impulsive, I don't always think things through, but...I do believe I'm a decent person. I really try hard to be.
Anyway, one thing I'm glad people got to see from that report, was the police officers revving their engines during Lopez' execution. I hope people at least agreed that such behaviour is tactless, tasteless, and downright inhumane, regardless of who is being executed.