May 2017 - 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 30th, 2017

Tuesday...We're definitely on lockdown. Breakfast was a handful of raisins and two fried eggs thrown in a sack. I woke up, exercised and took a bird bath. Now I'm just waiting anxiously to see if I'm told to pack my stuff up and head out to F-pod or what...I won't know anything until later tonight or possibly tomorrow. They've already started to shake the building down so that has at least started. I don't think I'll be going to F-Pod, and the guys around me think the same...You've got guys who pull their dicks out on female guards on a regular basis, and the harshest punishment they get is 15 days commissary restriction. Surely, trying to get a man some food isn't going to warrant a harsher punishment? Time will tell...

Now I'm just sitting around waiting to listen to the two hour end of the month special of the Classic Club Hour on Tuesdays...Last week they did an entire hour of The Cure's "Kiss me Kiss me Kiss me" album and it was so  freakin' badass. To hear songs I've not listened to in over 20 years! I can't tell you how good that felt! Check out these three B-sides "Just breathe", "Snow in summer" and "Chain of flowers". So good, and should have been on the album, but still the album itself is awesome!

Gonna go and watch the horses outside of my window for a bit...


May 29th, 2017

Memorial day. I won't know about the case until tomorrow and when I went to rec. earlier this morning some guys were asking me why I helped that "loser" out. I said "Look, I'm just going to say this: if they'll do it to him, they'll do it to you or me and we honestly let these officers get away with too much. They're always stretching and pushing to see how far they can go. I stood on principle and it'd be nice to see more of you guys do it as well so they won't fuck us so much back here." After that I left it at that.

When I came back from recreation they told us we're on lockdown. On Memorial day! Unbelievable...None of us expected it to happen until at least mid June or early July especially during Ramadan for the muslims because they fast all day and are going to be even hungrier once they get just a sack lunch for dinner at sun down. Crazy! Oh well, better to get it over with now, I suppose.

So, I'm sitting in my cell with little to do on this holiday and I was thinking back as I tend to do each Memorial day weekend and think about the summer of '95 when I left home to go to Louisville and things just went downhill after that. We have moments in our lives when you can look back in hindsight and see a literal fork in the road, a place where the universe divides itself and there are two alternate possibilities. I'm living one and some other version of me stayed home, hopped in the Suburban with my dad and went to the grocery store. I'm definitely not sitting here in a cell and typing on a typewriter facing death...Nuts. I hope my alternate universe version is happy, maybe successful with a  couple of kids. I'm sure he's living in Kentucky somewhere. I don't know why I know that, but I'm sure he is.


May 27th, 2017

Sometimes in life we are called to step out of our comfort zones and act on what we feel in our heart is the right thing to do. To speak out against things we see as wrong. Sometimes it requires civil disobedience and earlier today I was put in a position where I had to take an action on something I felt was wrong.

It started sometime early in the morning. I don't know why the officers on our pod began to pick on this one particular guy upstairs in the cell above me, but I knew he was trying to get a shower and they wouldn't let him. The guy suffers from mental illness and while it is mild, he's still highly paranoid and a bit schizophrenic, and for this a lot of guys back here think he's "weird" or not worth their time. I've always been polite to him and will talk and listen to his conspiracy theories, but that was about as far as I'd ever take it.

When lunch came I heard him screaming about being passed up on a sack lunch (the kitchen had been temporarily closed earlier Friday because an inspection team is coming and they wanted to scrub the kitchen before they showed up) and again, I wondered what that was all about.  He wasn't banging, he wasn't making threats, just asking the guards why they skipped him on his meal.

By dinner time, we were getting hot meals again and once again he was yelling about the guards not feeding him. I thought to myself, okay, this has my attention now, I'm going to ask the guards what is going on, why they weren't feeding him. When they came to my cell I said "Are you going to feed that man upstairs? You can't deny him food". They both looked at each other and the male officer said "No". I said "Why not?" To which he replied "Well, the Sergeant told us not to."

I knew this was bullshit so after I grabbed my tray, I just reacted and stuck my arm out of the slot and said "Well, we're about to find out if that is true. You can't deny a man food." I was kind of shocked at my own action. In my mind this wasn't even a part of the plan. But intuitively my heart just told me this was the only way to get the guy upstairs something to eat. Believe me, a part of me was like "Shit Randy! You're going to F-pod now...90 freakin' days on level 2". Don't get me wrong, I've always spoken out against things I see as just wrong and I've been a smart ass to guards about it, but never actually taken an action that jeopardized my "comforts" as level 1...I was flying blind. The other part of me just kept saying "You're in the right on this. So what? 90 days isn't shit. You're in the right."

What was funny at this point was when I "jacked" the food slot, the female officer looked at me in disbelief and told the officer with her "He just jacked the slot!" The other officer seeing my arm hanging out of the food slot looks at her and says "He did what?" Like he couldn't believe it either. I then spoke up and said "Look, there's an easy resolution to all of this where no one gets in trouble. Just feed the man. That is all you have to do." They decided to call the rank.

When the Sergeant came to my cell I stood up, allowed him to close the food slot and he said "What's going on?"

"In 13 years I've never done this. The man upstairs in 51 cell hasn't had a shower, a lunch or dinner because these officers said YOU told them not to. I just want that man to get a meal. That is all." He looked at me and said "I never said that and he'll get a meal. I promise you. But let me ask you this, if they write a disciplinary case on you, is that your statement?" So I said "Sure. I understand the consequences but I know I did the right thing. It was the only way to get you down here."

And guess what? The man did get fed. After that I've since waited to see if I've received a case. Because it is a holiday weekend the case - assuming it was written - wouldn't be processed until Tuesday so...I'm just waiting. I mean, look, I don't want to do 90 days and I'm honestly sacrifing and putting any potential visits in that 90 day period at risk, but again...I did what was right. It's a freakin' crime to try to starve someone. If the goal of "Justice" is to equally hold everyone accountable under the law...then why a double standard? Why do the enforcers get to consistently break/bend, stretch or violate the law while those who live under the rule of law are punished sometimes to the extreme?

We'll see what happens.


May 21st, 2017

I've been kind of half assing these journals lately. I just haven't had a whole lot of inspiration or anything, I suppose. Kind of existing, not really depressed but not whole heartedly enthusiastic about life on death row either. I'm happy that many guys are now receiving action from a recent Supreme Court ruling, which will finally force the state of Texas to let many mentally retarded inmates off death row, commuting their sentences to life imprisonment. That's great! But it's also annoying to be sitting on death row for something you didn't even participate in and still have death looming over your head, while some just figured out a way to beat the system. Just being honest about it. Whatever works, I guess.

Friday was a mess of a day! It was commissary and I was in the day room 3rd round. By far the busiest part of the day in terms of passing things like books, etc to other guys. Add commissary to the mix and it tailspins into chaos very easily because guys want to send food to friends or cook for others, or send things to guys who didn't make store. It's understood that as a community, when a person is in the day room and  they need to get something to another person, we all help get it where it needs to go. It's a civil duty to an extent. Though, there's always a risk that certain officers won't take too kindly to us passing things around, because it is against the rules. Most just turn a blind eye though cause they know most aren't stupid enough to try to pass something that is dangerous or to hurt someone, and it's just food or books. It keeps others passive and the officers have less to worry about.  

So, here I am, in the dayroom helping out when the guard in the control center flashes the lights on me and tells me to stop. I throw my hands up in the air, like awww shucks, you got me, and when she turns around, I finish passing. Well, one guy he gets a bag of snacks stuck on the walkway. I've got to help get this off of the walkway or else someone could confiscate it. I get the guy's line and try to "fish" it. Lights flash again. I'm getting frustrated and put the fishing line down and start pacing around the day room until she isn't watching me again. This bag is heavy and it isn't budging and I'm getting more frustrated. Another guy upstairs apparently loses a pen on the walkway and is yelling for me to help get the pen. I say "Hold on ! Let me get this off of the run!" I go back to trying to get the bag. Dude keeps yelling "Randy, come on! Help me get the pen!" Finally, irritated, I snap and say "Screw the pen! If I have to I'll replace the pen for you! Let me get this freakin' food off of the run!"

Well, much time has passed and the bag is still stuck. Count time is announced and the lady in the control room is walking on the floor. She sees the bag and says "You need to get that off of the run or else it's gone". I politely say "What do you think I've been trying to do?" Then she says "Well, it needs to be gone. If I come back through and it's still there, it is gone. I ain't losing my job for you. Oh and you've got two warnings. Number three and you get a case". I just looked at her and said "Well, you might as well start doing the paper work cause I'm gonna get number three". She walks off and I finally get the bag off of the run. I send it where it is going, climb the bars to two row, help the guy get his pen and then jump back down and told everyone "okay...I think I'm done here. No more stress please!"

I didn't get a case, but man, it was chaotic.  That was enough excitement for one day.

The weekend has been pretty boring. Just taking it easy, reading and listening to the radio.


May 14th, 2017

Happy Mothers Day to all of the moms out there...I was sitting here thinking about my own mom...Well, I should make a distinction, I'm adopted. I have a biological mother with whom I have met and maybe in another life could have possibly developed a bond with, but have little emotional connection to. My adopted mother, however, even after going over 20 years without seeing or talking to her, I still feel a huge connection with her. She'll always be my mother and I look back on our memories with fondness and love. Sometimes giggles and even a "yikes, I really pissed her off that day!"

I've written before about how I think my mom's taste in comedy helped shape my own; I grew up on Saturday Night Live, the comedy channel, and 80's movies. My love of books came from my mom as well. One thing we always did together was either go to the library or the book store and come back home with a huge stack of books. For a kid who didn't even learn his ABCs until he was 5 1/2 years old, I latched onto reading and absorbed every word like a sponge. I was reading above a highschool level in elementary school and reading much of my mom and dad's old books on our living room book shelf. If I wanted a book my mom never refused me.

She rarely lost her temper with me, but when she did...There are two specific moments I remember the most. I was about 12 years old and I was in my room playing my stereo. My room wasn't too far from the living room where my mom was watching T.V. and she walked in and said "Turn it down". I protested saying that it wasn't even that loud. She said she could hear it in the living room. I went over to the shelf it was on and lowered the volume. She walked out, went back to the living room and I turned it right back up. Here she comes again...

"Turn. It. Down" she demanded.
"But mom! It's not even that loud!" I cried.
"I don't care. It stays down or I'll take it."  
"Mom!" I walked over and turned it down though. She left and for about 10 minutes I left it down. Then, thinking I'd tricked her, slowly turned it back up. She stormed back in...
"That's it, Randy! It's mine now".
"You can't take it! It's mine!" I yelled.
"Really? I'll break the damn thing if I want. I bought it!"
"Well, break it then! I dare you!" Lesson as a kid: never dare your mom to do something thinking she won't. She walked over to the shelf, snatched it up. I remember seeing my little speakers tumble over and she literally smashed it on the ground. The arm to the record player broke off. I just stood there stunned. She left it right on the ground and stormed off. I picked it up and fortunately it wasn't seriously damaged, but believe me, I never turned it up again.

Another time was when I was 13, actually not too far from my Bar Mitzvah, I can't remember what caused our argument, but she was mad and I was mad and it lead to a stand off. I was never an aggressive or violent kid but I made a threat of kicking a hole in the wall, on this occasion...She said "Do it then and see what happens next." In my defense, I never intended to really kick the wall but I pulled my leg back, swung my foot towards the wall, fully intending to stop my foot just short of the mark. But that isn't what happened...I felt my foot go right through the sheetrock. My mom's eyes go wide and all I could say was "Oh...shit." No need to go into details about what happened next.

Years later, and after all that has transpired with me and my family, and the years of silence, I love my mom just as much as I loved her then. She's my mom. That will never change.

Happy Mothers Day.


May 8th, 2017

At what point does hope become delusion? That is a question I've been thinking about a lot over the past few weeks. I consider myself an optimistic person; I'm realistic and cautious, but to keep my own sanity I have to hold onto a certain level of optimism. What good is it to carry around the weight and misery of pessimism? I can't help but wonder if sometimes the majority of us back here aren't delusional when it comes to our ultimate fates. Imagine this scenario...there's a crack in the Hoover dam, and at some point it's going to give...But if you can just hold it long enough to get it fixed you might have a chance to keep the dam from breaking and sweeping you away in a flash flood. The rational part of your brain is telling you "'re  just a single person; your hand is not going to hold that water back. Better grab a canoe and get ready!" But then another part of your brain is like "Don't listen to him! People have done supernatural shit before. There's always a chance!"

So here's the situation at hand...We're on death row and the Hoover dam is about to burst. What do we do? I've been thinking about it because several of people I consider friends back here are close to or are about to receive executions dates. One of them says he's very much at peace with the situation and "whatever is going to happen will happen". The zen approach, I guess. Another is absolutely delusional in what he thinks he will accomplish in 90 days to prevent his demise. There's hope and then there's loony tune level hope and that is what he has. I tend to say to myself "Man, better face reality real soon cause shit is real around here". I've even half rolled my eyes when people believe that God is personally going to intervene in their execution.

But am I any different? When I first got to death row I remember my first day in the day room at recreation. I was still trying to process everything that happened in my trial, and just the very idea of being on death row when I didn't even kill anyone. It was a total mind fuck and I thought "they're not going to kill me...they can't!" So, here I am a stranger in a strange land walking around the day room when a guy comes to his door and strikes up a conversation. He says "You're that Texas 7 guy they just sent here yesterday, right?" I said "yeah, my name is Randy". Then he said "You think you can win your appeals?" Looking at him confidently, I said "Yeah. I do. They really fucked me over". Calmly he said, "Dude, somebody has to be the voice of fuckin' reason here so I guess I have that duty. You're gonna die. They are gonna kill your ass dead". I really didn't know what to say after that. He didn't say it with malice, just matter of factly. I shrugged my shoulders and said "Yeah. Maybe. I hope not though".


May 2nd, 2017

Have you ever had a full night's sleep, I mean really slept hard...and wake up still exhausted and cranky? Maybe it is too much exercise as I've been working out like a mad man to relieve stress and take out my frustrations...I don't know. I just felt so blah this morning.  

I'm actually starting to feel a bit better as the day goes on, but a little upset that I seem to be getting screwed out of getting outside. I'm trying to put it into perspective and be grateful that last week I was fortunate enough to get outside five days in a row, but still...I'm looking outside of my window and at this beautiful sunny day, magpies picking around in the grass, butterflies everywhere and all these little black love bugs literally making love mid flight and thinking damn...I NEED to be outside! Sigh...

So...I want to get something off my chest for any new readers to my journals...It seems like one of the first things people seem to read about me when they research me is this cursed article from D-Magazine that was written like six freakin' years ago. For the record: one, that article is full of half truths, conversations taken waaaaaaaaay out of context and was purely a smear piece to try to derail my appeals process and hearings at the time. The prosecutors leaked many of my phone calls between me and my EX wife to a reporter for purely sensational reasons. It was a hack piece pure and simple. I broke no rules back in county jail and did nothing wrong. Maybe I was a little naive and talked much too freely to someone I loved back then, but geeze, who doesn't? So take it with a grain of salt and read the many years of these journals to get a clearer picture of who I am, not what they say I am or try to frame me to be...I wish that damn article would just disappear. It has been the bane of my existence.


May 1st, 2017

May really does fly. I woke up at about 5:15 a.m. and got ready for recreation when it dawned on me that we're five freakin' months into the new year. Moving much too fast.

Last week I was able to get outside five days in a row which is a rarity. Most weeks you're lucky to get out twice but for whatever reason I had the good fortune of getting lots of sun. Only on one of those days did we get a bit of rain and that was actually a pretty amazing experience because it had been bright and sunny, when suddenly clouds appeared out of nowhere and they were really dark. The wind picked up shortly after, and it began to feel apocalyptic. Thunder, lightning, wind...When it rained it came down hard but while it was cold, the rain it smelled delightful and about ten minutes later a few clouds cleared out and the sun broke through as it rained. The drops looked like diamonds falling from the sky. Really remarkable. Then it went back to being sunny and warm.  

On Friday I went out and it was hot and humid. I ended up playing 60 games of basketball with one of the best guys to play the game and got my butt handed to me soundly with a 58-2 game count. What can you do? I had to do the walk of shame back to my cell when it was all said and done.  

On the weekend I just listened to my radio all day long and read. Not much excitement there. Lately I've had little to say...I'm hoping to find some inspiration again soon...


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