I crawled out of bed at about 6am this morning as the guards began to do showers - we're still on lockdown so our shower days are Monday, Wednesday and Friday. I always find it odd that every single officer will ask "You going to shower today?" on the days we can shower. Hmmm. Let me think about that one...I've not been able to scrub my nuts for the last two days and I won't be able to do so until Wednesday...Yeah, I think I'll be cool going five days without a shower! Seriously, every single person except the mentally ill goes to the shower on the designated shower day! It's like when the guards are passing out the juice and I'm standing at the door like Pavlov's dog with a cup in my hand, eager for a tasty cool beverage (I'm exaggerating calling it "tasty" of course...it's definitely cool, but something more akin to squirrel piss) and they still ask "Want some juice?" Nah, I'll pass. I just like standing at the door twirling a cup around and pretending to be Wyatt Earp. Sheesh!
So, I get up and stretch, drink a cup of coffee (gotta be careful...rations are getting low!) before I start exercising...Then they get me in line for the shower. When I checked the sink, the water was warm so after working out I was looking forward to a nice hot shower, but I ended up getting the exact opposite...The water was freezing! But it woke me up anyway, so I can't complain about that.
I'm guessing we'll be on lockdown for another week because they still have to shakedown E and F pod as well as 7, 8, 10 and 11 buildings. The unit is split up into two halves: B side is Ad-Seg/Death row, medical, pre-hearing detention, closed custody, and medium custody, and A side is all general population buildings. B side is designed for more restrictive levels.
Over the weekend I spent a lot of time thinking about the Law of Parties. It can be difficult to get people to understand and support someone in my position; often, people will agree that I don't deserve to be on death row for something I didn't do...I did escape from prison, I robbed, and I was associated with the "Texas 7" label...I get that. I'm aware of how the courts and politicians want nothing to do with that because it's horrible. It looks really bad...But the bigger question is this...If you KNOW someone didn't kill anyone why shrug your shoulders like "I don't want any part of that...it's too political!"
I recently read an article published in early February, where Jeff Woods' case was being discussed...It talked about the Law of Parties, and how he had gone into the robbery as a willing participant - the getaway driver - but because he had no way of preventing or even knowing that his friend would kill someone, it would be unconscionable to kill him for something he had no control over. The article even stated that the majority of Texans believe he shouldn't be executed either! There's a difference between someone who actively participates in a killing, encourages whoever they're with by saying things like "shoot his ass", or even threatens a person with killing them if they don't follow their demands, and someone who is just "there", and has no way of knowing what anyone else is going to do. Being involved in a robbery isn't enough to condemn someone by saying "he should've known"...Even statistics don't support that argument. You can check that out by looking up the FBI's Uniform Crime Report; it's the gold standard in crime statistics. Nobody can read another person's mind!
The article also quotes Shannon Edmonds from the Texas District and County Attorneys' Association as saying, "Prosecutors want to have as many tools available to them as possible, in some of these heinous crimes." What she said was in reference to the Texas 7 and a reason for defending the Law of Parties. But again, if you KNOW I didn't do it...If all of my co-defendants have given statements that Patrick Murphy and myself weren't the shooters...If it's known that out of the guns found only five were fired/used...With all of that known, why then is the "Law of Parties" a justification for executing me? What Ms Shannon very obviously failed to mention, is the way prosecutors like to use the LOP as a means of enticing co-defendants to snitch on one another...They tell the various individuals in the "group", "We can kill you all...unless you start telling us who did what..." I should make it known here that this is something that wasn't used as an option in our case...They just wanted to get us all. Period. Anyway, the downside of using snitching, is that people will start to point fingers at each other, and will lie to save their own ass! There's also the unjust outcome of the actual killer getting a life sentence, while the person who didn't kill anyone is sentenced to death...How is that fair? How is that justice? It doesn't explain it by saying "Well, he did rob, so he should have known!" There's just no justification for that whatsoever!
Puting my intitial offence and the escape aside for a moment...The question remains: should I be executed for something I didn't do? Should I be killed for something I didn't anticipate, didn't know was going to happen, or want to happen? Should I be killed because instead of taking part in the shooting, I took off running putting myself in the line of fire, and ending up shot in the foot? What makes my case any different from any other person sent to death row - unjustly - under the Law of Parties? Lock me up forever if you must...But don't sit idly by and let them kill me for something I didn't do! I beg of you!
It's now noon, and I'm waiting on lunch...My neighbor "Big White" has been giving me his peanut butter and jelly sandwiches which I'm kind of surprised about because he's a big dude, and big dudes don't usually give up their food! But seriously, he's a really good guy with a big heart, and I appreciate having him around. I told him when we come off of lockdown I'll cook us up some hot pockets. It's the least I can do to show some gratitude.
Guess I'll do some reading now. Starting to get bored...
March 8th, 2017
So much on my mind today...Not even sure where to begin...Yesterday was such a long and exhausting day! It started at 5am with a guard waking me up, saying,
"Huh? What?" I said, pulling the sock that keeps the light out, away from my eyes. I was sleeping so well the sudden interruption left me confused...
"Are you okay?" she said again. I looked at the clock on my radio and said "Well, I was until you woke me up. What the hell?"...
"Oh, just checkin' on ya"! she said. "You guys are about to have your shakedown so go head and get to packin' your stuff".
Why the hell was she so chipper at five in the morning and why the hell would I be chipper about facing a shakedown? I groaned a fuuuuuccccckkkkk, kicked off my blanket and sat at the edge of my bunk. I grabbed my cup, bag of coffee and poured a little extra in just for good measure. Heated up my water and slammed it down. I noticed red onion sacks had been shoved into my door and so I grabbed them and threw them on the floor, brushed my teeth and started organizing things. Another guard came around yelling "Everything in the bags! Legal, all property except state issued items or your electronics. Leave that in your cell!" One guy started yelling upstairs,
"Hey, you can't look at our legal stuff! Are you sure that goes into the bags?"
"Yes. Everything means everything!" The guard yelled back.
I sat down on the ground and began to pack my stuff. It is really quite the simple process for me as I'm used to moving around/packing so much. There was a time when I was doing it every two weeks. I had a system. I can pack in about 15 minutes flat. This goes there, that goes there. Wham bam. Done.
At about 6:55am, guards came pouring into our section like a swarm of bees. They began to open food slots, strip inmates out, place the hand cuffs on us and take us out of our cell. Pure chaos. I wasn't sure if they'd put us outside on account of touch and go rain storms, or put us in the hallways where there are tiny little booths used for psych examinations or legal booths for meetings between approved inmates to discuss legal work. I wasn't too thrilled about the idea of being stuck in a tiny booth, in just boxer shorts, for a long time, but it turned out we were headed outside. After they moved us through the metal detector I was lead to the outside rec yard. The hand cuffs removed and I was left to wait in dread as our property was ransacked.
March 5th, 2017
Man...did the media really say, the day after Trump's State of the Union Speech, that this was a "correction course" and he seemed so "presidential"??? And then...more Russian allegations with our Attorney General and this weekend Trump gets on twitter and accuses Obama of wire tapping him and then berates Arnold Schwartzenegger? I mean, come on people! You think that just because he can read a speech that someone else wrote for him, he suddenly changed from the buffoon he is to "presidential" in one night? Madness! We've got to put up with four years of this crap...
So, as I write this, it's Sunday morning and a bit cool, wet and grey. We've been on lockdown for a week now and they've only finished two pods. They've got the shakedown tables and stuff on our pod but haven't started it yet. This time around they're doing it a bit differently. For the past couple of years it was done with a relative speediness. They were giving us a large red crate to pack our personal property into. If you had too much property they would confiscate anything that didn't fit into the red crate. But because I move around on a regular basis, my personal property is fairly limited anyway...So, outside of anything I feel is really important, I don't keep excess items, and any books or comics I receive, I give away to others once I've finished with them.
Anyway, this time round, we have to pack everything into bags. Then, they take the inmates off their pod and hold them outside on the rec yards of another pod. Then, for the next three hours or so they spend time going through every single personal item, piece of paper, books - whatever you have. Once it has been thoroughly searched, they bring you back to your cell. Apparently the guards are throwing away a lot of paper work and other stuff, which is not going down well with inmates. Some guys are also getting really upset because they are going through the legal work of inmates outside of their presence. Prison policy is that the guards cannot go through an inmate's legal work without having that inmate in front of them. And the guards, whilst allowed to "search" it, cannot read the actual content. We don't know that they're not doing that when we are taken to another pod and far away from our legal work. In theory, the rule is to protect client/attorney confidentiality. The State (or the Defense) is entitled to the knowledge of anything filed or any evidence being presented. However, there is no entitlement to appeal or trial strategy or what we share with our attorneys in letters or verbally. That is protected by law. A few guys have filed grievances about this concern but the process takes a month and by then the lockdown will be over.
I'm not so much concerned about losing anything on a paper level as I am my electronics - those things are my sanity! I always tell people that nothing we buy or "own" really belongs to us. The guards can take, at any time, anything we "own" for any reason or no reason at all. I have conceded this fact many years ago.
I'll know more tomorrow. To be continued!
March 1st, 2017
I can't seem to catch any kind of break...After having a semi decent weekend of just relaxing and feeling like things were looking up a bit we woke up Monday morning to learn that we were on lockdown, and that this one would be a long one. I don't mind a short lockdown; it gives you a chance to catch up on things in relative peace and quiet. I don't like being stuck in the cell 24/7 or having to take a bird bath out of my sink because we can't get a shower every single day, but it is tolerable, for a short period of time. The longer one is cooped up in a cell, the more stir crazy you can get; you start feeling like Jack Nicholson's character in "The Shining". You start seeing creepy little twins pop out of the corner of your eye...Voices start whispering to you. Next thing you know you're stripping buck naked and howling at the moon outside of your window. Okay, okay...maybe it isn't that severe, but man...it can suck!
So, here's what I know thus far about the shakedown: they're being very thorough going through every single item. The're also taking the inmates off the pod and putting them on the outside recreation yard far away from their items being searched. Before, they would just throw us in the shower and go into our cells and search. What worries me about this current practice is you have no idea what the officer is doing with your property. You don't know what they are going to throw away or let you keep. I've always told myself that nothing that I "own" really belongs to me. The guards can take anything they want for any reason. It sucks when you have no control or real ownership over anything. But it is what it is and unfortunately it's part of being in prison. To be continued...
I'm so glad spring is here. I've been watching the horses outside of my window and the birds are returning and the grass is green. It sucks that I'm trapped inside, but I'm grateful for the window.