May 2007 - Randy Halprin

Randy Halprin
 "We tend to see a person in the moment, not as the journey they travelled to get here."  Kat Lehmann

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May 8th, 2007

I'm sitting here waiting to be moved. I'm already packed up and the guards told me I was going back to B-pod. I was just there last week. I don't really mind. It's not the best of pods, but you do with where they take you.

Today has been long and boring. I went outside at six in the morning and exercised, came in, goofed around, read, and not much else. I didn't feel like doing anything. Yesterday afternoon I was fortunate enough to get out in the sun and be out by myself. It was nice getting to a place where I could just think and enjoy the sunshine without worrying about my thoughts being in a shouting match with all the noise around me. It was peaceful. Plus, I got a little burn which I needed, cause right now I'm deathly pale. I can't really tan, but I can get enough color so I don't look like the living dead (oh, wait I AM the living dead. My bad.) I hope to get my mail tonight before I leave. I have a sneaking suspicion that some of my mail is being tossed when I get moved. I can't prove it, but too much stuff has come up missing.


May 7th, 2007

A bright and beautiful day! I just talked to a guard to see if I could get outside and he said he'd keep me on the waiting list. I hope to get out and get some sun! It looks wonderful out there.

I slept so-so. I woke up in the middle of the night, because my neighbor had a seizure and banged his head on the toilet. Everyone was yelling for a guard, because we all heard this loud crack sound. Then, we heard no response. I knocked on the wall and hollered to see if he was okay and nothing. Everyone freaked out. So, fortunately a guard came pretty quickly. Usually it takes forever to get their attention and then once you do you spend fifteen minutes arguing how important the matter is before they actually come to the section. They called a sergeant and some nurses and helped him out. When he came back from the infirmary he had a huge knot on his head. That's when we found out it was just a seizure. All of the guys on this section asked if he was okay and a few guys kept checking on him the rest of the night. Moments like this are what cement me to the belief that there are some really good guys back here. Humans.

I was just thinking about a time when I was in general population and watched a fight break out over cartoons. It was the whackiest thing I'd ever seen up to that point. I had just been coming off of work. At the time I was working on what was called 8 building where they housed Closed Custody inmates. Mostly youngsters who were rowdy and fought a lot. They were too rough to be out in general population so they were confined to a building where they were allowed to move around and have some privileges, but everything was restricted. I hated the job. When I went back to my pod after a long day of crap I expected to walk into the pod, sit down and watch some cartoons and then take a shower and nap. Instead a few young black guys were arguing with a few older black guys. In prison, generally the black guys controlled what was on the T.V. for majority purposes. If you were white you pretty much watched whatever was on, though every now and then if a sport or a program that they watched wasn't on, you could catch something you wanted to watch. I like cartoons so it wasn't a problem for me.

I sat down on a bench expecting to see some cartoons and instead watched a heated argument over whether Oprah should be on, or Pokemon - it might've been Digimon - it was one of them. The voices grew louder and the debate hotter when someone took a swing at another and the next thing I saw was a huge fight amongst a bunch of guys arguing over cartoons or Oprah! I couldn't believe what I was seeing. All I could think about was how odd it was to see a bunch of so called “Hardened Criminals” fighting over a show geared towards females and a show for kids. I think that's when I realized that I'd stepped into another dimension. Prison is stranger than fiction.

Anyway, some guards ran into the day room and the fight stopped instantly. I got up went to my cell and took a shower. When I came back from the shower I saw that instead of Pokeman or Oprah, the show Bay Watch was on. Seems peace was made over scantily clad women running down a beach.  Who would've thought Pamela Anderson would prevent a major riot from breaking out?


May 4th, 2007

Got up at 5:55am this morning. I had to shave before I went to recreation and my visit with my friend. I got dressed and went outside. It was very humid and wet from the storm we had last night.

About an hour and forty five minutes later two guards showed up to take me to my visit. My visit went well and is always nice to see David. We talked about all sorts of stuff. When I got back after the visit I got my shower and took a nap getting back up at 4:00pm. Then dinner came - nothing spectacular; a hot dog bun 2 slices of cheese and black eyed peas. How delicious.

There's a big growing rumor we may be getting T.V.s on death row. The Texas state legislators are supposed to have voted on a bill. I have mixed feelings about this. It's a good control device and would most definitely make the guards' workload work much easier, but then I've gone almost 6 years without one…I'd hate to turn into a zombie and get side tracked from things such as legal work, writing, etc. I think it would be easy to waste away my life on the boob tube. Then again, I do like movies so…Guess we'll find out eventually how true the rumor is.

As I'm writing this it's 7:26pm, and I'm listening to some electronic music on KTRU Rice University. The sun is setting and my cell light is off. I feel like I'm writing like they did in the old days, racing the sun. I'm a dork, I know. I'll turn my light on if I get some mail.

Not much else to do but enjoy this music, relax and think.


May 3rd, 2007

I had the first of a two day set of visits with my friend, David. It's always great seeing him. I've known him for so long now; he really has become a mentor, a friend, and family. We're from two different generations but he's great. Without him I'd have never really pursued writing. Thankfully, it was quite quiet down in visitation, so it was a really lovely visit. When I returned I took a nap and then went to recreation.

Geeze. Thursday night I can't believe the day has come to an end. I can't believe we're a week into May. This life feels like a space vacuum in a worm hold in a time warp. It definitely is slow and fast at the same time. Well, I've gotta wash some clothes before I crash out. I only plan on staying up until about 11:00 P.M. and then I'm going to get some much needed sleep. I am so pooped.


May 1st, 2007

I just got back from a shower that felt wonderful. It's been hot and muggy all day today and then I went out to play some ball, which didn't go too well. My game has really been off. I lost, I'll not tell the score. I'll just say it was pretty ugly. I even had a wipe out. I hit a wet spot from last nights rain and my feet went right from underneath me. Scared the crap out of me, because had I not landed on my butt, it would've been ugly. The guy I was playing freaked out for a second and was about to call the guards, but I got up and said I was okay.

After we played we were talking about the death penalty. He's been on death row since it was reinstated in 1976. A long time, for sure. He'd never seen anyone being taken away for an execution, but last Wednesday he saw a guy lead out to the van for the first time. He said that up until that point he'd not really given his possible fate much thought until he saw that, then it sunk in. Because he's been on death row for so long and he was under the old appeals laws, he figured if they hadn't killed him yet, they probably wouldn't. I asked him if I could do an on the spot interview about it and here's his account:

Q: What do I call you in the interview?
A: Artie is fine.
Q: What pod are you on and can you explain the view that you have from your cell?
A: I'm on B-pod. My cell faces the side walk that goes out to visitation. On the other end is a kind of sally port where buses and vans pull in. The walk way is fenced and there's a building right across from our building. I guess they have general population inmates there, cause I always see them go into this little entrance area.
Q: So, from your cell you can actually see the visitation building and also the sally port?
A: Yeah.
Q: Artie, do you mind explaining to me what you witnessed last week and also do you remember the day or date?
A: Yeah, it was Wednesday the 26th.
Q: Of April, right?
A: Yep.
Q: Okay, explain to me what you saw.
A: Yeah, it was that white guy they call "Sleepy"...It was his date and I was looking out my window -
Q: Hold on, Sleepy is Ryan Dickson, right?
A: I think. Big kind of fat youngster?
Q: Yeah, okay continue.
A:  So, I see him coming out of visitation. There are two guards beside him  and a group of people behind him. He was chained up. I noticed there was about five or six guards up by where the van was waiting and they were shaking hands, laughing and giving high fives to each other. When they saw Sleepy coming down the side walk they sort of straightened up. Then, I noticed in the entrance area where the other building is, there were five or six guards dressed up in riot gear kind of hiding. My first thought was, crap, they're going to jump him, but they waited until he passed that area and then came out marching behind. I also noticed a lady with the camera. I think  they thought maybe he would try to lash out or fight, but Jesus, he was  chained up.
Q: So, he walked to the van. He didn't refuse or fight? You didn't see him in a wheel chair?
A: No, no, he was walking. He was very dignified.
Q: Okay, so they walk him down the side walk, there's all these people -
A: Yeah, even people in street clothes.
Q: So, they load him into the van that will drive him to Huntsville to be killed. What happened after he drove away?
A: Man, Randy it really upset me. I've  never been this close to the face of death, but what made me feel so sick is seeing then hug and high five and laugh and celebrate. I even saw two guards bump chests.
Q: C‟mon Artie, you're embellishing things now.
A: No! I swear on the Lady Guadalupe, it's true.
Q: How did this make you feel, Artie?  How did you feel after this about the death penalty?
A: Randy, up until now I was comfortable. I felt safe. I didn‟t think I would ever face this, but I've seen it now. It's very real to me. I prayed to the Lord and asked him for forgiveness. This has changed me.

After we finished talking I went on to tell him of the very first time I witnessed the same thing in the August of 2005. It truly is life changing stuff. I still can't wrap my head around the thought of seeing people celebrate a man's death. It's very disturbing.

Well, I'm probably going to be moved in a short while, so I need to go ahead and get ready. I've been doing this interview and time got away from me.


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