I didn't get much sleep last night. As I said in yesterday's journal, I am worried about my girlfriend and her brother. The Jpay email system is supposed to turn the mail around quickly – within 48 hours – but in Texas, however, they can't seem to hand them out in a timely manner. We also can't email back - we have to respond via snail mail, which can make things difficult in times like this. Our mailroom here is particularly slow with mail, and sometimes we can wait longer than necessary for our Jpays – several people on my section alone are constantly missing Jpays they know they should have received. I usually get mine fairly regularly, but at this stressful time, I don't know why they are so slow in passing them out.
Anyway, I woke at 5.30 for recreation, and went outside just before 6. I played some basketball, but I was just too tired to put my all into it. We managed to play 5 games to a hundred points each game, but despite coming close to winning, I couldn't pull it off. I ended up losing by 28 points!
We've been playing a different way lately because it's better exercise, and it actually improves your shot. So, for years, I always played first to 10 points, but with these games to 100, it's the first to make 100 goals. If my opponent makes 100 and I make 96, he gets 4 points. If in the next game I make 100 and he makes 90, it takes his points away and gives me 6 points. It really does make you work harder because not only are you trying to win the game, you're trying to keep your tally up without falling behind.
I thought we'd come back in and go straight to the shower, but we've got an extremely lazy crew of officers today...I had to rinse off in my sink because I was a sweaty mess, and then I washed my clothes.
For most of the day, besides worrying about my girlfriend, I've been thinking about all the memories that came flooding back when I listened to the Lion King last night. It was a family favourite when I was growing up – especially a favourite of my little brothers! I can remember throwing blankets and pillows on the floor in our games room, and 'camping out' as we watched it together. Sometimes they would come rushing into my bedroom demanding I put the DVD on and I didn't mind because the whole family were Disney fans, and I loved those movies too.
I used to use a nifty trick when I was babysitting my brothers on my parents' date nights. My dad would want the house cleaned before they came home, and so, to get my brothers to help out I'd say, “Whoever cleans up the most in the house will get to pick the movie we watch.” They'd run off in a mad dash picking up toys, as I would vacuum...In the end, I'd let them both pick a movie, It'd usually be Aladdin or the Lion King.
When I'd come back home on a school break, my brother Jimmy liked to sneak into my room...He'd want to watch a movie late at night and I'd say, “Okay, I'll put something on, but if mom or dad come into the room, you have to pretend to be asleep!” I'd put on a Disney movie and in seconds, Jimmy would be out like a light!
Well, here's to hoping I get some mail tonight!
Courage. Strength. Hope and Faith.
May 28th, 2019
Today turned out to be a real bummer. (Side note: I just laughed to myself because as a kid when I used to use the word 'bummer' my dad would tell me to 'Stop talking like a valley girl'...I don't even think I knew what that meant as a kid! I hadn't seen the Nicholas Cage movie until my teens). I was scheduled for recreation, third round A section, and thought, “this is great!” I wanted to be in my cell by the evening because I had plans to listen to “The Lion King” on my radio at 7pm. It had been over 20 plus years since I'd seen it, and growing up a huge Disney fan and having wonderful memories attached to that film, I didn't want to miss it.
Then things went KABOOM!
After the first round of recreation, the guards closed down A-section because the maintenance crew called the pod and said they had to fix something. That would push my recreation back to fourth round and I was a bit nervous...Often, fourth round stays in the day room no less than 5 hours due to shift change, and depending on the officers working second shift, they may or may not take an inmate back to their cell...I was going to chance it though 'cause I needed to exercise, and I had a plan to ask the officers (as soon as second shift came on) to please put me back in my cell so I could make it on time for the movie.
Lunch came and the guards shut down recreation to pass out the trays...The longer it took, the more it pushed the recreation schedule back, and by 1pm they still hadn't set up second round of rec. I knew then I'd never make the movie if I went to rec, so I was resigned to just skip it. It upset me a bit...Oh well...I'd take the loss of recreation to listen to the movie...
As luck would have it, though, recreation was cancelled altogether because 'pest control' was going to come on the pod and spray. We have a huge cockroach problem here, and this pod is particularly bad. They sprayed at around 2pm, then started up the showers. Then second shift came on at 5.30pm, and we had a decent crew, so they handled the the remaining showers and kept things running smoothly.
As I type this I'm listening to 'The Lion King' and geeze...I actually got a little emotional as a flood of memories came rushing back to me. I can't believe I'd forgotten so many of these songs! I mean, I still remember numbers like “Hakuna Matata,” “The Circle of Life,” and “Can You Feel The Love Tonight?” But others I'd just forgotten!
I'm waiting on mail now...My girlfriend is in Canada right now, visiting her brother who is seriously ill, and I'm hoping that she not only arrived safely, but that her brother is improving as well. The heart doctor has said he needs to become stronger before he can have some necessary surgery, so I'm hoping everything is okay with her right now. She works 7 days a week, and has to travel with her work every weekend, and now travelling back and forth to Canada as well...It sucks that we can't use a telephone in these difficult times.
No Jpays! This is happening more and more lately, and I know she would always let me know she was okay...Sigh...
Well, here's hoping everything is okay.
Courage. Strength. Hope and Faith.
May 27th, 2019
My memorial day weekend kicked off with a bang! Normally I'd be down in the dumps, depressed, and wishing I had a time machine so I could go back to the Friday evening I jumped into a taxi cab in 1995, and stop myself from putting this whole entire mess in motion...I will always believe that had I not left that day, had I not gone to Louisville, Kentucky, I would not be RIGHT HERE. That being said, I've been waiting for some big things to happen with my appeals, and I knew it was coming...I was told on the 17th that it would be filed, and it was, but I still hadn't seen the actual filing until a couple of days later...All I can say is, “Wow!” My Webmaster has posted a link to the filing on the front page of this website, so anyone can read it and come to their own conclusions. It's more obvious now than ever, that the cards were well and truly stacked against me in my own trial, and I never had a chance. Never mind having the law of parties...Never mind that I wasn't even a shooter...But to have a racist, homophobic and anti-Semitic judge presiding over my trial??
When I was adopted I hadn't really been exposed to bigotry. I can't remember any circumstances before I was adopted either. My parents raised me to love and appreciate all human beings...I had two Korean brothers who I loved and adored, and I can only recall (prior to going to school in Kentucky) one incident where I was picked on for being Jewish...There was this kid called Chance, in the 7th grade, and he constantly called me 'Jew Boy' and would say things like, “Heil Hitler” as he passed by me in the hallway. One day I'd had enough and we ended up fighting...When I was suspended, my dad was furious and went to the school to say it wasn't my fault, and the teachers were on my side as well.
When I went to school in Kentucky, however, I became much more aware of bigotry's ugly face...Teachers were telling me I would go to hell, and I was becoming more and more sensitive to the 'passion plays' that would spark anti-Jewish sentiment over Jesus' death, and the choice of Barabus over Jesus...Teachers and students who knew I was Jewish would ask, “Why did you kill Jesus?” I'd say in return, “I didn't kill anyone!” I was told the Star of David was a symbol used by Satanists, and so on and so on...To make things worse, I had no one to talk to about what was going on at that time because I worried my dad wouldn't believe me, thinking it was an attempt to try and get back home. I just had to deal with it.
In prison, even though I never faced physical harm, I did have to listen to anti-Jewish sentiment from White Supremacists and other groups, but the one place you should NEVER, EVER have to expect it or encounter it is in the justice system! Whilst I can never compare my experience of bigotry to any African-American's experience, you shouldn't have to deal with it in the court room, regardless of race or creed.
So, we'll see what happens, but hopefully what has happened to me will not only turn my case around, but it will also aid other defendants of color who were tried or sentenced by this particular judge...It will take a lot of time for all of this to hash out, but I have hope!
Over the weekend I've pretty much been vegging out. I cleaned my cell, listened to some radio programs, and just kicked back. On Saturday morning I was able to get out whilst the sun was shining, and I played some basketball. Unfortunately, I lost by 8 measly points, after a pretty strong winning streak!
Well, here's to hoping for good things to come, and a good week ahead...
Courage. Strength. Hope and Faith.
May 20th, 2019
I've been pretty jittery all day long...I suppose it has to do with waiting on word about the filing, and I'm hoping to hear about it tonight, in a letter - then I can finally talk about it! I've had to keep it all in for months...
The weekend was fairly quiet; I was scheduled to go outside on Saturday at 6pm, and I was stretched out and pumped up, ready to play basketball. We got outside and started our first game when the guards came right back out and said they had to shut it down due to lightening. We didn't see any lightening, but once the call goes out, that's that...I went straight to the shower and then spent some time listening to the radio.
Today, I woke up after 4am when I thought I missed breakfast - I did miss it because the guard never woke us up! I'm a fairly light sleeper and I'm programmed to wake up to certain sounds - gates slamming shut, the squeak of a chow cart's wheels...I knew they didn't wake me up! I tossed and turned until 1st shift came on, then I got out of bed, started a letter to my girl, and exercised. I thought that because A-section has an off day today, I'd get a shower early, but it's evening time now and we're - the entire section - still waiting for showers. The guards on first shift did almost no work! Pretty crazy...The whole point of the new recreation schedule was to alleviate the work load. I guess it still requires people to do their jobs properly and efficiently...Sigh...
I spent a good bit of time today looking out of my window. The wall was really warm so I know it's very hot outside. I love to look out, meditate, and day dream...All in all, it hasn't been a bad day, I just need to calm my nerves!
Courage. Strength. Hope and Faith!
May 16th, 2019
I woke up at breakfast time, which was later than usual - around 5.20am. A a really cool Nigerian guard gave me two egg trays which I was really thankful for, and it shows there are some who treat us as humans and don't let the power go to their heads. I was going to fall back to sleep, but then shift change happened and I noticed we had an extremely slow and lazy crew...I sighed, and figuring it was going to be a long day, I forced myself to remain positive.
I wasn't scheduled for recreation at first, but then they came back and told me around lunch time that I was going to E-section, 4th round. I'll probably be stuck out at rec until 2nd shift, but I have a friend over there so I can talk to him for a while - just getting out of the cell will be nice.
I'm sooooo ready for this filing to happen! I want to be able to talk about it openly, but my attorneys have said I can't speak about it until it's been filed...I have a gut feeling that this is what's going to turn things around for me. I'm not a person who reads 'signs' etc, and I don't believe in dreams, but I guess it was a strong coincidence that a very close friend back here told me the other day - out of the blue - that he had a dream that his mom told him, "Don't worry about Randy, he got off death row." I thought that was a nice thing to share and I'll take it!
Courage. Strength. Hope and Faith.
May 15th, 2019
It's been a relatively peaceful day. I was working on the second chapter of my next memoir, but I stalled a bit and hope to finish it tomorrow. I'm trying to figure out how I want to move through my childhood - which memories I like to look back on, and those which bring me the most joy, as well as highlighting the positive and loving moments between me and my family. I spent the last memoir talking about how everything fell apart, and how my parents reacted to everything, and whilst it was harsh and hurt a lot, I do have many happy memories with them, and had some great experiences growing up. I also want to talk about the kind of kid I was, and how I related to my environment and the world around me as a child coming from a background of abuse, and then being adopted...I'm figuring out the structure as I move along.
A funny thing happened earlier. I like to get on my bed and look out the window occasionally, watch people go down the side walks, watch birds, nature, or even just stare at the grass and wild flowers swaying in the wind. It's meditative for me, but for some, it makes them feel depressed and they never look out of their window. I do feel a sense of longing...but it has never depressed me.
So, I'm watching some birds peck around in the grass, watching some general population inmates and guards walk around outside, when a GIANT wasp flew up to the glass and bumped into it! For a second, I forgot the glass was there, and I let out a scream of holy terror before falling backwards and almost breaking my neck...NOT COOL! Ha ha...
So, the day of the big filing is coming nearer and nearer...I'm anxious and eager to have it all out there! [Note from Webmaster: A link to the latest filing can be found on the 'Welcome' page of the site].
Courage, strength, hope and faith.
May 14th, 2019
It's been a fairly productive day...I finished up the first chapter of my new memoir and I'm sure it will be posted soon. It's set in the happier times in my life, but I found writing that first chapter a little more emotional than I first thought – especially remembering my first conversation with my adoptive grandfather. I really wish I had known him longer...He had a stroke when I was about 9, and then he passed when I was around 10 or 11. I do have some fond memories of my time with him though, and even in that brief amount of time, he made a big impression on me. Some of those memories will be worked into the memoir.
I was initially set up for recreation, 4th round, but was bumped up to 3rd round, which I was happy about. I don't mind 4th round, but 3rd is definitely the sweet spot in the recreation schedule – the guards are on a break, everyone is taking naps or busy writing letters, and there's a kind of peacefulness around that time that I really like. This new schedule is working very well so far, and I can't overstate the amount of stress it has eased throughout the whole place.
Courage. Strength. Hope and Faith.
May 13th, 2019
A bright and warm Monday...I woke up at about 6.30am, and got a jump start on the day! I wrote a letter to my girl, prayed, and then exercised. I thought the guards were going to do showers as our section wasn't going to recreation today, but they only did one round, and this particular crew will probably leave the rest for second shift. I guess even with a new and easier recreation schedule, some things just don't change...
Speaking of the new rec. schedule...They changed it again this morning. It's still similar to what we thought it was going to be, but they changed some of the days around so now I need to find out when A-section is going to rec. It seems like they made it a little more complicated than it needed to be! Cue my favourite saying: “It's not rocket science!”
Well, I'm entering into this next few weeks with a lot of hope, and I'm eager to see when the “big filing” will happen - it's due very soon, and I can't wait to be able to talk openly about it and to see all of the work my attorneys have put into it...I don't know all of the details as yet, and I cannot say too much right now, but it's BIG, and nobody will be able to say, “It wasn't a big deal!”
I'm praying...I'm always praying for mercy.
Well, it's later in the day now, and the new rec schedule seems to be working flawlessly! Just like we knew it would. This is going to ease up so much stress! I guess what I can't figure out is why it took several administrations to see it and listen to us...
Well, here's to hoping that good things are on the horizon!
Courage. Strength. Hope and Faith.
May 12th, 2019
Happy Mother's Day...regardless of whether or not you have me in your life, I do love you, mom...
The sun is finally coming out after a week of rain and storms. I love the grey, I really do...It always brings out some good writing in me, but I also crave the sunshine!
I mentioned yesterday that our recreation schedule is changing on Monday. Initially, we were supposed to get 7 days of recreation, but I knew it was going to create more problems. A few of us back here have been writing grievance forms and trying to get the warden to go back to our old recreation schedule. Under the old schedule, we had the same five days of rec, but one day for each section was an 'off' day, and it would rotate throughout the week. It also worked better when they weren't trying to cram three sections (42 people) outside, in a 15 hour period. It was impossible, and many people were losing recreation because of that.
So, we fought and fought, trying to point out the shortcomings in the more recent schedule, and on Wednesday, a new schedule was posted, and it's back to the old one! The section I currently live on is A-section, and our 'off' day is going to be Monday. Our outside days will be Wednesday and Saturday, and I'll finally be able to get some sun on my skin! I've not been in direct sunlight for over a year – no joking! I never get out in the sunlight – it's always either very early in the morning, or late at night, or sometimes not at all...This is going to change, and we're all looking forward to it. It will also be much less stressful for the officers, because on any given day they will have 14 fewer rounds of recreation to do.
I'm entering into a very important time in my case, and I need many, many prayers. I'm a little anxious and eager, but I know – I feel it in my gut – that this is what's going to turn everything around. I will live! I refuse to accept anything but a chance at life and redemption!
Courage. Strength. Hope and Faith.
May 11th, 2019
Vengeance...I can't wrap my head around it. I think a lot of people confuse justice with vengeance. Vengeance is repaying a bad act with a bad act, in turn – the whole 'eye for an eye' thing – whereas justice is doing the right thing, the noble thing. When people say, “We need to bring this person to justice,” what many of them mean is, “This person needs to pay for what they did.” That isn't justice...That's revenge – plain and simple!
A lot of people also say, “We need swift justice,” but I'm not quite sure that reacting quickly or swiftly, in the heat of emotion, is always the rational way to serve justice. This is especially true when a life or lives are at stake. It's one thing to react quickly in self-defence, like one country striking another, or a person under physical attack striking back...That's noble...That's 'just'. But when an accused person is condemned for a crime, and their life is at stake, I think it serves justice to be cautious...To turn over every stone, and ensure that everything is done in the interest of true justice. Without this course of action, the State, investigators, and prosecutors, find ways to bend the truth against the accused, or repay an evil act with another evil act because they believe they're on the 'right side of justice.' That's not justice...That's revenge.
I've been thinking about this a lot over the past week or so. Whether it's our own government and how they often react rashly to things, but also of course, my own case...I don't consider myself a victim in any way, and I don't ever want to play the 'victim card'...I own every single mistake and bad thing I've ever done in my life, and I'm deeply sorry for things that have hurt people. But I also know that I'm not a killer. I know the facts, and no matter how much bending, twisting or denying of those facts goes on, my story has never, ever changed. And yet, the State continues on with their campaign of revenge, with many of us back here. I don't understand how any of that can serve true justice. I will never understand how revenge could be confused with justice...I just don't understand vengeance at all.
I've never been the vengeful type...I've never thought, “This person wronged me so I'm going to do everything in my power to get them back!” I've been on death row now for almost 16 years. I was sent here on 12th June, 2003, and during that time I've been poked, prodded and screwed over by guards, and sometimes inmates, more times than I can count. Never – not one single time – have I ever thought, “I'll show them, and I'll be justified in doing so!” Have I been angry at times? Sure! I've argued with them, but never have I acted out in any sort of violence – I don't even like to cuss people out.
One of the questions a jury has to decide upon when sentencing someone to death, is 'will they be a continuing threat to society?' And they're allowed to take into account that the environment of prison is 'society' as well...So, if I'm a continuing threat, where or how have I acted out? Where have I harmed someone? The State was wrong...The jury were wrong...16 years is a long, long time.
I had a legal visit the other day, and I was talking with my attorney and telling him something someone had shared with me years ago...There are 3 types of person in prison:
1) Those who become woven into the fabric of prison...They accept that they've been titled, and they will fight, cheat and steal, and sometimes even kill.
2) Those who will do whatever it takes to survive, and if that means they have to join a gang, they will do it. If they have to pay protection to others, they will do it. They are part of the fabric because they want to survive, but they also want to make it out alive.
3) Those who are on the periphery, who try to avoid trouble, who don't see themselves as 'criminals' or even as 'inmates' and typically when they get out they try to get back to a normal life. They might have screwed up, made mistakes in life, but they aren't 'bad' people.
I know who I am...I know my heart.
So...that's what has been on my mind lately...I've also been a bit anxious of late because some verybig stuff to do with my case is in the pipe line, and will be filed soon. It's going to make heads spin, and once again prove that I didn't get a fair shake in this whole mess...That justice – the real definition – wasn't served.
There's also something good happening for us back here...After a long and hard battle to get a recreation schedule that works, we are starting a new one this coming Monday! I'll explain it all in my next journal, but it will be one less thing to stress about for sure, and I have enough stress as it is!
Finally, in closing, I want to ask people to pray for my girlfriend's brother. He recently had a serious heart attack, and as of writing this, he's very ill, but recovering slowly. Her family have been very loving and accepting of me since the very beginning, and even as her brother was recovering in his hospital bed, he still asked her about me and how I was doing...It means more than they will ever know. I'm extremely fortunate to have their support, and I'm blessed to have her love, her friendship, and everything that comes with it. She's definitely my warrior queen!
Courage. Strength. Hope and Faith!
May 6th, 2019
This day has been no different than others...Chaos, and even more chaos! As I write this I'm still waiting to go outside and it's probably going to be second shift when I go out...I've been trying to get out to play ball with this other guy for the past two weeks, but because everything has been so crazy, we still haven't managed it. Oh well, life goes on...
Instead of letting it all get to me I decided to finish up the third act of a radio play I've been working on for a LONG time, about the Law of Parties...It's officially finished, and I'll get it out to my girl and she'll work her magic on it and polish it up! I'm pretty excited to see how it turns out.
It's a lovely day even if I never get to get out directly in the sun anymore – it's been well over a year since the direct sun has been on my skin, and I've kind of forgotten what it feels like. I'd probably burst into flames!
Well, onwards and upwards as they say!
Courage. Strength. Hope and Faith...
May 5th, 2019
Happy Cinco de Mayo day!
Well, the past few days have been interesting...I saw my attorney on Tuesday, and it was a good meeting, and definitely gave me some much need pep in my step! Some good things are happening – and coming – and whilst I remain cautious and grounded, I'm also extremely optimistic.
I did a little re-writing on my memoir, fine tuned the Prologue and first chapter, and once we do the final edit things will be good to go, so I'm excited about that. I'm really eager to get it out there and have to say that my girlfriend is doing a whizbang job of putting it all together for me. She's awesome! We just make a great creative team and I love that about our relationship. Even if we were just friends, we'd make a great creative team.
Next up is writing the final act of the radio play we've been working on, and then writing a new memoir about some of the happier times in my childhood – something that isn't as depressing as my first memoir! My working title for the new memoir will be, “When all I have to give is love” and that may change later, but it will be something like that anyway. I'm going to ask a friend back here to paint a cover for it. I've got an idea for how I want it to look.
The recreation problem is still bad, but recently, some guys I helped write grievances have been lucky enough to “win” and that gives me hope that things till turn around...We'll see.
Courage. Strength, Hope and Faith!
May 1st, 2019
I can't believe it's May already! We're in the fifth month of the year....Where's the time going? So, a bit of decent death row news, which is good...Someone else received a stay of execution yesterday, and they moved him to this pod in the afternoon. That takes the people on Death Watch down to two – probably the lowest number in a very long time! There are a lot of guys who have been either kicked out of the Supreme Court and waiting on dates, or like me, they are now just entering into the Supreme Court, but I think a lot of these Counties are losing their appetite for executions. The smaller Counties just can't afford them any more, and the larger Counties like Harris, Dallas, and Bexar, don't have the blood lust they once did. I think it's more the politicians and ultra right wing conservatives who are keeping it alive.
Well, we were expecting the recreation schedule to change today as the Warden had said it would, but it didn't happen...In the past few weeks (especially since they are now closing down the outside rec yards from noon until 6pm) many people are being screwed out of their recreations and showers – it happened to me twice last week! It really sucks, and I hate complaining about it...It's actually mainly why I've been avoiding writing journals of late – the place has been getting gradually worse! I'm not expecting a Disney World theme here, but for the collective sanity of the environment, and for a safe environment, recreation is crucial. People can get out of their cells, stretch their legs, exercise, and let off steam and frustration. But when you're sitting in your cell, everything builds up.
Another one of my issues is my current cell location. Whilst I'm close to one of my friends, I'm on a section full of immature idiots! One of them turns their radio speakers up all day and night, without any kind of respect or regard for the people around him. In a way, I feel sorry for him because the dude acts like a 13 year old...It's a clear case of arrested development, and people have tried to talk to him and reason with him about how disrespectful he is being towards the people around him, but he doesn't care. It seems like this whole section erupts into chaos around 9 in the morning.
I went outside early this morning and enjoyed the fresh air, but I'm needing some sunshine badly! I haven't been in direct sunlight in almost a year.
10.11am...Wonder of wonders...I actually received a shower! When I came in from recreation I asked the guards if they would put me straight into the shower as I keep everything right by the door so that they don't have to undo the handcuffs on me...My shower bag was taken in the last shake down, but I had someone make me a new one, and it hangs right there, ready to grab. They told me “No,” so I said, “So...I guess it'll be second shift, then?” I mean, that's what usually happens! But they're actually working today – amazing!
I'm going to try to focus and keep up with work...My girlfriend kind of got onto me, but I do have a reasonable excuse...Still, I will try to push through it.