My section has a recreation 'off day' today, so I slept in until 7am, then got up and started my day. We had really lazy guards so I expected it to be a long one...
I did some laundry, cleaned my cell, and around 11am two guards showed up to tell me I had a legal visit. It was a bit of a surprise, but I've been anxious for news/updates...I was told that they filed a response to the Supreme Court on a related issue – one which won't have much of an effect on the trial court issues, should the Supreme Court deny it. Then I was told about some other shady stuff that was going on, but my attorneys are not concerned because the facts are on my side.
We both feel confident, and there is still some way to go before things even begin to start moving and shaking...I left the visit feeling very positive.
As I was waiting to return to my cell, I had a chat with another guy I was on death watch with, Abel Ochoa. He has a date in 16 days times, but is at peace and still has hope. I told him that anything can happen and to hang onto that hope. I've known Abel since 2003 when he was on the same floor as me during my trial in Dallas County, and he's a good man. I hope and pray that things work out for him, and he is spared.
I waited for over an hour and a half to get back to my cell, and it was freezing when I returned! The air/heat has been acting up lately, but it's strange that it's been out in the day time, but comes back on at night.
Apart from that, there's nothing else to report today...
Courage. Strength. Hope and Faith.
January 20th, 2020
Martin Luther King Day...We had a very good breakfast (cinnamon rolls) and fried chicken for lunch. The lunch came right on time because I went outside today, and whilst the first part of the morning was freezing, as the sun rose higher in the sky, it warmed up and so we played some basketball – I won 12-3! It was a nice run and good exercise which I really needed.
So, over the weekend I did my best to keep busy, but my neighbour is getting on my last nerve...He's really loud and annoying, and stays up all night. He also has this weird thing where he is always yelling out everything that happens, much like a sports commentator. No one is paying any attention to him and we can't understand everything he says because he doesn't have any teeth. Every so often you'll hear someone down the walkway yell out,
“Put your damn teeth in your mouth! We can't understand a single word you're saying!”
He's not a bad dude, just really annoying, and I value the sleep I can get in this place.
I've been thinking about the relationship I'm in and we've just celebrated two years together recently, yet it still feels as fresh and exciting as it did when we first set out on our journey together. We write to each other every single day, and we always have lots to talk about.
I've been in relationships before and I've loved before, but this is completely different...I think it's because we are rooted in a strong and mutual respect for one another's creative talent and intelligence, her strong sense of family and friendships, and good 'old fashioned' values. We are both very emotionally expressive and into the romantic stuff, but more than anything, we're close friends who tease one another, laugh together, and exchange and develop creative ideas. I know that no matter what, we will always remain close, and that gives me a certain freedom in my love for her. We're not clingy, and we both express ourselves independently and have a genuine love.
But what I've been thinking about today is that relationships with death row inmates are not always taken seriously, and there will always be those who want to criticise and offer their opinion. We are all different back here, and however anyone 'does' their relationship is not mine or anyone else's concern, and all relationships should be respected. Criticism doesn't matter to me because Taffy is awesome! She looks out for my best interests and I look out for hers, and we are loyal to one another. I often tell her to ignore a lot of silly stuff that goes on, take time out, breathe, and take care of herself over anything else.
I guess I can sum it all up as being amazed by 'Us', and after many toxic and failed relationships, I wondered if I'd ever find the 'right' person...I looked and looked and sadly, in looking, I broke some hearts because even when I was content with something, I wasn't happy...I felt empty...I felt awful for hurting people and it was never done with any intention of deceit or gain, but I just didn't know what I wanted at the time. Then, it hit me and I knew it immediately. I was a little overwhelmed by all of it, as she was, but we were both smitten. I just knew immediately that this is what I wanted, and I still want it just as much today as I did two years ago, and I'm still smitten! I often tease her and call her a voodoo priestess for casting spells on me, and she calls me a cheeky wizard (ha ha).
So, going into the next year with her, I'm just so grateful to have her friendship, love, support, and encouragement...To just have 'her'.
Here's to a great week!
Courage. Strength, Hope and Faith.
January 16th, 2020
Another wet and humid day...I went outside earlier and thought,
“Man, it's crazy to be outside in shorts and a tank top in the middle of January!”
Yesterday I was moved to another cell and that was an adventure in itself...They told me I was moving and when I asked where to, the guard said,
“I don't know...Off the pod somewhere.”
I packed everything up and waited and waited until he came back and said,
“Man, I'm sorry...They said you're not moving until the morning.”
I had to unpack my hygiene stuff and bed sheets, and keep everything else packed for the morning time. I crashed out and got up the next morning a little after 5am. When 1st shift came on I asked about moving and the guard said he didn't know anything about it. I asked if he'd find out and he said he would. But I waited all day long until the afternoon just to find out that I was only moving to the next section over – something that could've been done in five minutes the night before! I was tired and frustrated, but quickly moved and scrubbed the cell down because it was quite filthy. My friend David used to say,
“I think they move you to these cells so that you can do all the cleaning.”
I think he's right!
My only complaint is that I'm wedged between two guys that stay up all night long and make a ton of noise. I didn't sleep well at all and just made a comment to one of them,
“I guess I have to change my sleep schedule around y'all...”
So, recently I've been thinking a lot about something...Since my stay in October (which I am continually grateful for) something has been bothering me. It's one of the reasons why I wrote a Statement recently for my website concerning the facts of my case, and the Law of Parties not being the primary focus at this stage.
I feel uncomfortable with my case being co-opted as part of any other agenda, and it makes me feel kind of used. I had this conversation recently with another guy back here who also received a stay last year, and he says it's happened to him as well. There is absolutely nothing wrong with fighting for people with everything you have; but when I'm told my image is appearing in a poster, or my name or my writings are being used or whatever, it doesn't sit well with me because the danger is that these things could end up alongside facts or images that aren't strictly correct. Right now, my case is at a very important stage, and all I want is to just wait.
I was discussing with a friend recently about NO two cases ever being the same, and even in Law Of Parties cases, they are all different. My case right now is very different even from my co-defendants. It's also very important to know and to be able to distinguish between the two Texas Criminal Codes used in each indictment – they are VERY different! One of the codes says you are equally as guilty just for being there, and the other says you were directly involved in the capacity of 'party to the crime'.
There are different aspects, angles, and nuances in every case; and even if two cases seem identical, they could be ruled on very differently. My case as it stands now, is focused on a biased judge who harbored anti-Semitic resentment towards me, because I am Jewish, and therefore denied me the right to a fair and unbiased trial.
So, to put my image with something that doesn't match what my case is about, makes me uncomfortable. That being said, Catherine and I don't like pointing things out to anyone, but the need to ensure that my case (and this is the same for everyone back here) is not misrepresented, is of paramount importance.
I understand and respect those who fight for someone on death row, but I've always felt it important that each friend, pen pal, or advocate, actually know the case they are speaking out about. It's very important to research and review as much as possible, including recent filings. That way, when you post something about a person being wronged by the court, or wrongfully convicted, or innocent, and you are asked,
“Explain their case to me...Why should I support this person?”
You can speak with confidence.
A blanket statement along the lines of,
“Well I don't believe in the death penalty...We fight for all the same,” isn't going to convince a person to support you in your efforts, especially if they want to hear a compelling argument. In an ideal world we would only ever have to say,
“We fight for everyone the same,” but we're not in an ideal world or situation here...
I've said this time and time again, and anyone who's been reading my journals over the years will know how strongly I feel about this...I've never wanted anyone to blindly support me. I've never wanted anyone to come to my aid purely on the basis of me saying I'm 'innocent' or 'not a killer'. The people I have in my life all know this and have done their research thoroughly. Catherine has done a wonderful job in outlining and presenting my case on my website; she knows my case inside out, and speaks regularly to my attorneys. I know that everything she posts will be accurate, and done correctly, and those who help her will follow her lead.
I'm good friends with many guys back here, and I want everyone to live...I understand the desire to be supported and to have outside support, but it's also important to have that trust and to not just take our word for it...Do the research. Believe me, the haters and people who want to see us all executed will try to counter whatever you post, and it doesn't help someone's case if you scream,
And then it comes to light that there's a confession, or a weapon with a fingerprint, or whatever the case may be.
Please...do your homework...Your homework is your armor against even the strongest of voices who challenge you. My friends have done their homework, and I trust them with my life. They are my advocates, and I couldn't be more grateful to them.
There will always be those who have their own agenda...Those who don't agree with the tactics or acknowledge the aspects and nuances of my case...And even some who feel my case should be fought exactly the same way as someone else's. But my attorneys know best, and they are fighting for my life on the basis of the issues that could actually save me - that's what matters.
I also understand it may upset some people who feel my loved ones should fight for me in a different way, or with a different agenda, and it's not my wish to upset or offend anyone. What I will say is that each death row inmate is an individual, and their loved ones, families, and friends, should be respected when they are doing things the way they've been directed by their attorneys.
As I said, in a perfect world things would be different. Everyone could fight for everyone in exactly the same way, and with the same amount of time and energy. Sadly, this world is far from perfect and a winning issue for one person, is not going to be a winning issue for all. As sad as that is, there is still always something to fight with for everyone. This is what could make a real difference to someone's case. Educating and informing ourselves are the best tools we have in this fight.
Anyway, that's what's been on my mind lately...
Courage. Strength. Hope and Faith.
December 30th, 2019
I think I'm coming down with a cold...I had a pretty good run this year without being sick, but I went to recreation yesterday and a couple of guys on A-Section were sick, so...Just my luck! I hope it doesn't last for long, and it's not too bad right now, but I can definitely feel it in my sinuses.
I can't begin to explain how chaotic these past weeks have been. I've been wanting to write a journal and wanted to do something for the Christmas holiday, but I couldn't get my mind to focus. I decided to skip recreation today and just rest and get away from the madness. When you start dreading something you used to really enjoy, you know it's time to take a break. When you leave your cell and are miserable for the two or more hours you're in the day room, it's time to take a break. And apart from going outside and getting fresh air, I've not had any kind of joy in going to recreation lately, but I'll get to that in a bit. Right now, I want to give a little recap of the past week or so.
As I mention every year, Christmas Eve is always difficult because of everything that happened and went wrong that night in 2000...I try to use that time to reflect, pray a little, and ask for forgiveness. Then, I listen to the yearly broadcast of 'It's a Wonderful Life' which has become a tradition of mine for the last 16 years. My girlfriend adopted the tradition with me in 2017, and we enjoy that time together every year. Of course, since I received the Stay in October, the movie has taken on even more significance and I'm so grateful to be here and to have so much love and support...To have people believe in my value and believe in me...To have friends who love me. My gratitude for these things cannot be underrated. I'm alive, and I try to live in the moment, but it's also nice to be able to dream of a possible future and to want to be a force for change and other good things. I'm grateful!
On Christmas Day they cancelled recreation to give the officers a 'break', so we were stuck in our cells that day. I think that's only the second time that has happened in 16 years. The food came around 11am and it was a lot! We had a dessert tray that also had cold potato salad, some black olives, and pickles piled high. The main course was brisket, onions, green breans, bread, and a few other things. Later that evening I waited for my girlfriend to call into the Christmas Special shout outs on the Prison Show...She made it in and told me about her Christmas Day and that the 'gifts' I had sent for her friends went over really well. She's had the same support and friends her entire life, and I just wanted to thank them for that. I wrote a special poem for her best friend's son – the cutest and happiest little dude I have ever seen – and I had someone back here do a painting for a couple who practically raised her in her teens when her mother died. I just wanted to show my appreciation to those people who helped shape the wonderful person she is. It felt good to hear that everyone liked the gifts.
After Christmas, things became chaotic back here...Trying to get to rec was a nightmare, and very frustrating. On Saturday I was trying to go to A-Section to talk to my friend, Irving. I was scheduled 4th round, but they didn't put 1st round in the dayroom until almost 10am. Then later, I was told I was being bumped up from 4th to 3rd, but when I got ready things just ground to a halt and recreation was cancelled for the rest of the day.
I figured they would do 'stuck out' recreation on Sunday, and I debated with myself about whether I would bother. I didn't want to be stuck in the cell, but Saturday nights I like to stay up late and listen to a music program, 'Sound Awake'. I decided to listen to the first hour then go to sleep so I could get up early on Sunday morning to go to rec, and be back in my cell in time for the Star Wars marathon that day.
I woke at 5.30am and got ready for the guards to come around...but no one came. Around 7am a guard passed by and I asked,
“Are you doing stuck out recreation from yesterday?”
He looked at me and said,
“If we didn't already talk to you, then you don't have stuck out rec.
“What do you mean?” I asked him. “I didn't get recreation yesterday and I was scheduled for 3rd round. In fact, it was YOU who told me I was going 3rd round.”
“No...you verbally refused.” He said.
“I did not. I told you I was ready to go, and had my clothes folded and ready. Then, it was cancelled and YOU said it would be made up on Sunday.”
We went back and forth for a few minutes, and the things he was saying were getting more and more ridiculous. I finally said,
“Look...I'm a prisoner and I've done a dumb thing in my life, but it doesn't mean I'm an idiot. Please don't treat me like one.”
He walked off and then around 10am he came back and said,
“You still going to recreation?”
To be honest, I was a bit surprised, but I quickly grabbed my things and went out to rec. I didn't get back to my cell until 4pm which was frustrating, and whilst I was at rec, one of the trustees from the clean up crew spilled his mop bucket and water rushed into the day room...Sigh...The guard wouldn't take me out so it could be mopped up, so I spent the hours walking around in dirty mop water. I was so mad I kept telling myself,
“Serenity now! Serenity now! (ha ha).
At that point I told myself,
“You know what? If I feel the day is going to be a mess, I'm going to try and avoid the stress, get up, get a shower, and just stay in my cell and listen to the radio and get things accomplished.”
I don't like the stress and chaos and things have broken down so badly back here that there's little order anymore. I may have a neurotic mind, and worry and fuss over some things, but I don't have a chaotic mind. My girlfriend and I are both very introverted people and becoming overwhelmed in certain situations happens very easily, and can be very difficult. Things are a mess back here and it's frustrating that it appears nobody is trying to fix the situation.
Now we have a growing rumor about getting personal televisions to try and address the recreation problem. Because of the shortage of staff issues, the logic seems to be that if guys had TVs they wouldn't want to be out at rec very often, and that's actually true. I've talked to many guys here who say,
“Shoot, give me a TV and you'll never hear from me again.”
But that rumor cycles through every few years, so I'll believe it when I see it.
Today hasn't been too chaotic, but again, I stayed in my cell and made myself oblivious to anything on the other side of my door...
Well, here's to hoping that things will get better going into the New Year!
Courage, strength, hope and faith.
December 22nd, 2019
It's been a strange couple of days...It all started on Friday when I woke up to the news that there was going to be a new mail policy that begins on 1st March. It's another example of TDCJ's over-reaction to a problem, instead of trying to find an actual solution so that inmates don't get caught in the middle.
So, firstly as little background history...There's a chemically engineered drug called K2 (also know as 'spice') and apparently people have been dying because of it, in prisons right across Texas and around the country. Because it can be sprayed onto literally anything, it's the number 1 choice for people to get high on. The TDCJ claims that people on the outside are spraying it on cards and letters via lipstick kisses and/or perfume, and apparently guys are shredding the cards/letters and smoking it. Because it's so potent some guys are freaking out and either having medical problems like heart failure, or hurting themselves because of the extreme hallucinogenic effect.
Fine...That is serious and should absolutely be addressed. However, what I do know is that the MAJORITY of all drugs don't come from people's loved ones and friends, but instead they come from those working for the State. With the extreme staff shortages, it's no surprise that there would be an influx of drugs/contraband, and a break down of security.
But...the reaction/response is the following, beginning in March:
People who write to inmates in Texas prisons will no longer be able to send a greetings card or post card of ANY kind...NO holiday cards, NO birthday cards, NO Valentines cards or 'Thinking of You' cards. NOTHING.
All letters sent to inmates must be on plain white paper, and the envelopes must be plain white as well.
No letter may contain ANY stickers, perfume, lipstick kisses, or even any kind of drawing by crayon, coloured pencils, or paint. (I know some people get drawings from their kids or nephews/nieces). So, when you write beginning in March, be aware of this because if you send a letter via a card or post card, or on colored paper and envelopes, the letter will be denied and destroyed...If it happens more than a couple of times from the same person, they will be banned from writing to inmates.
If you mail photographs, you are only allowed to send 10 photos per envelope, at a time.
Now, this part is really important! Sometimes Amazon.com will use personal carriers to deliver books etc. TDCJ will no longer accept ANY packages/books that do not come directly from UPS/Federal Express or the United States Postal Service...If you order books for someone, it's very important that you specify delivery via one of those services, and not by an individual carrier.
And now for those who visit inmates...Please be aware that TDCJ is saying that visitors are going to be subject to drug dogs sniffing them. If they smell ANY drug (including marijuana) then that visitor, and ALL visitors in their party, will be turned away from visiting that individual. If it happens a second time, the visitor will be banned from EVER seeing the inmate again. Now, I know some people smoke weed at home, or in the car...Please keep in mind that the smell sticks to your clothing! So, even if you don't have anything on you or in your car at the time you visit, that scent is on you and the drug dogs will sniff it out, and you will be turned away – regardless of whether it's on your person or not. Think smart, people! It might be legal in some States now, but it's still not legal in Texas.
Sigh...I'm really upset at the card thing because I enjoy sending cards to my girlfriend, and to my friends. I really enjoy receiving cards from my girlfriend who is an amazing crafter, designer, and artist, and recently she's been making some amazingly beautiful handmade cards, and it sucks to now have to lose that...
Anyways, when I know more about these rules, and if by chance they're amended in any way, I will talk about it again. I personally hope they get push back on the cards because a lot of organizations and churches send inmates cards on their birthdays and the holidays – it really helps to lift our spirits up.
Well, the weirdness continued when my radio had just stopped working...I was sick to my stomach!! I fiddled with it all Friday afternoon, giving up around 10pm. I told myself I'd mess with it again on Saturday after some sleep – I did not want to miss my girlfriend's shout out to me on Christmas night! I didn't expect us to have recreation because I had heard we wouldn't be off lock down until Monday...I went to sleep feeling sad and sick.
When I woke up the following day, they were setting up rec. I told myself I'd go to rec and then after a shower I would start trying to fix my radio again. Well, rec and showers were soon cancelled due to staff shortages...again! I got to work on my radio and it came back to life and I was relieved. I settled into a Star Wars marathon on the radio, and then listened to a music program called, 'Live From Here' that comes on NPR every Saturday night...This is date time with my girlfriend, and it's a special thing we've been doing for over two years now.
After the show was over I went back to Star Wars, then I heard a review of the new movie! I was excited because the critics (not that I listen to them anyways, but still...) say it's good. I can't wait to read the book and all the material along with it, which my girlfriend is sending to me!
This morning I was still fast asleep at 6.45 when an officer asked if I was going to rec. I said, “When?” and she said, “Right now.” I asked her to give me some time to get up as I hadn't expected recreation on a Sunday because it's typically an 'off' day for the building. It was nice to get up and get out and I caught up with my friend, Blaine, who had recently received some really good appeal news. I'm so happy for him and hope it turns into something really positive!
I am looking forward to the coming week, and Chanukah begins tonight! Happy Chanukah to all of my Jewish brothers and sisters...My girlfriend made a beautiful cardboard Menorah for me so that I could color in the flames and candles each night, but the mail has let us down and it hasn't arrived yet...[A picture is attached below]. The black and white picture I saw attached to a Jpay was enough to show me how lovely it is and to imagine 'lighting' it in my mind.
And of course, there'll be some decent holiday food on Christmas Day, for everyone. I'm going to make some food for my friends on one of these Chanukah days. I've not picked a day out yet, but more than likely Friday or Saturday. (I know it will be Shabbos, but still....ha ha).
Anyways, happy holidays to everyone, and as always:
Courage. Strength. Hope and Faith!
December 11th, 2019
Another day...Day 8 on lock down, to be precise. I am making do as best I can but it sucks because we're all running out of supplies and we haven't been to commissary for some time. The lock down just pushed it away even further...I'm hungry, but not starving, thanks to my neighbour who has raisins and prunes and always offers some to me which is very kind.
I was listening to a Trump rally last night and as he was talking I couldn't help but wish I had access to a computer and some cool film editing software. I'd love to put Trump's voice over scenes from Star Wars and Darth Sidious (aka the Emperor). I think the juxtaposition would be seamless and quite funny! Maybe it's already been done, but if not, please...somebody do it. It would be hilarious!!
I didn't sleep very well last night because we had a jerk of an officer working our pod. Besides waiting until almost 11pm to pass out mail, he kept turning the lights in the cells on and off just to irritate people. He seemed to get a kick out of it. I stayed up late listening to late night talk shows...One of the best is Seth Myers. His 'A Closer Look' is one of his best segments, and whilst being humorous, he really breaks down a political issue and gets to the heart of the matter in a really informative way. His break down of the Trump impeachment was spot on and he showed how the Republican's were spinning and misrepresenting Trump's actions. I think both he and Samantha Bee are the best at getting to the meat of the issue.
I finally fell asleep and got out of bed close to 8am. The sun was out whilst still being cold, and the guards said they're shaking down on D-Pod which means that they might be here on Friday or Monday?? I hope so!
Sadly there's another execution today...I'm really trying not to think about it and I won't be listening to Execution Watch tonight...After the way I felt following Justen Hall's execution, I'm just not emotionally strong enough...I was over there with those guys and it feels too close to home...
Courage. Strength. Hope and Faith.
December 9th, 2019
I woke up and laid in bed until around 7.40am...I couldn't believe how quickly the month was moving – nine days into December already??
Well, we're still on lock down. They shook down E-Pod today (and Ad-Seg) and I expect they'll do D and C-Pods tomorrow, which means they could be here where I am by Thursday or Friday. They should be done with 12 building by Monday or Tuesday, but I still don't expect them to be finished with the unit until the week of Christmas.
We learned today that there was a death on F-Pod on Friday night/early Saturday morning. Apparently the man died of natural causes. It's another thing that should raise eyebrows as we seem to have a death on 12 building every few months because of either natural causes or suicides, and then there's the recent murders...
The thing about F-Pod is I know for a fact that many of these men are often starved by the guards, as a further means of punishment. F-Pod is commonly used as the discipline pod – or the 'dungeon' as we refer to it. The food trays are bad enough, but if you piss off a guard they often refuse to give a person any food...Over time, this can lead to malnutrition.
Because F-Pod is in the very back of the building and the 'supervisors' never go down there unless there's a use of force, the guards get away with starving and abusing tactics. So, I wouldn't be surprised if the man who died of natural causes was malnourished...Of course, this will be another death that'll go unreported and the public will never hear about it...
Courage. Strength. Hope and Faith.
December 8th, 2019
It's a grey Sunday morning and quite chilly. Whenever it's like this I'm always taken back to the fall/winter of 1994 when I was obsessed with Morrissey's album, 'Viva Hate'. I was a huge fan of the Smiths, and my friend and guitarist, Dan, told me I should really give that particular album a chance. I liked it straight away! There was something about the atmosphere of the album that fit that particular season.
So, we've been on lock down since Tuesday last...There were rumors that we could possibly go on lock down, especially with the recent murders in general population and another attempted murder of an inmate who was found stabbed in his cell. The guards got him to hospital quickly enough to save him, thank goodness.
Most people think they will wait until after Christmas to start shaking us down, but it's going to be a long and tough one, especially with the incredible staff shortages we have right now. I think they'd still allow us a Christmas meal, but I feel bad for the guys in general population because their holiday season is ruined. We're used to being trapped in our cells all the time on death row, so it doesn't change anything for us...But for them...I do feel sorry for them.
I guess what I find so mind blowing about all of this is how it's being kept under wraps and out of the media. TDCJ's propaganda and misinformation campaigns are really effective, I guess. I mean, how are several murders not a big deal? How are dangerously low staff shortages not a big deal in the media? The media has been turning a blind eye to the alarming rate of suicides, and attempted suicides – we're used to that! We're used to the fact that no one really seems to be disturbed by the growing prison mental health crisis, but you'd think that murders would shake some people awake. But then again, they're just inmates, so who cares?
“Let them all kill themselves” is what some people probably think. But what do you tell the family of the murdered inmate? Aren't they victims too? Aren't they deserving of the same sympathy that any other victims' families receive? What has happened to the world???
Speaking of the world...I've been ignoring politics for a while because I am just so sick and tired of the incessant 'Trump coverage'. During my time on death watch I was purposely avoiding all things political, but with the 2020 elections on the horizon, I was thinking,
“Well, it's time to get back on my soap box for a bit...”
Not that anyone will listen, but I do need to vent and will do so in future journals. I bet you're all looking forward to that! (ha ha)
Courage. Strength. Hope and Faith.
December 2nd, 2019
It's been hard to write
anything of late, but I feel like I'm returning to normal. I hadn't
been able to read anything outside of something like magazines or
articles, and over the weekend I read two books, so my concentration
is returning. I suppose I hadn't really understood how much Death
Watch had affected all levels of my emotional health.
Something I've been
doing recently – and it's not really a conversation a person wants
to have back here – is thinking about those who are facing
execution dates with exhausted appeals, and how I can help them to
mentally prepare for being on death watch. It isn't like it used to
be over there when those facing execution were treated with a little
bit of humanity; and if you had an issue that needed to be addressed,
it would be handled. Those days are gone, and people need to be
prepared for that. Also, they need to be prepared for the emotional
toll it takes to watch someone leave to be executed.
Conditions on death
watch are at an all time low, but it's also a whole Unit
thing...There's been two murders by inmates killing each other,
saying they were “pushed by the conditions of this unit.” Whilst
that really is backwards logic, and not a way to fix anything, one of
the trustees recently told me (as he was mopping the floor),
“I'm sick of this
place. They've taken everything away from me...The food is shit...The
previous administration at least let us watch movies on the
holidays...We had something to look forward to! Sometimes I feel like
punching someone to take my frustrations out on something.”
“Don't do that – it
just makes it worse!”
“Yeah, I know. I'm
blowing steam, but a ton of us don't know what else to do.”
murders in general population when there had been none for years,
should be raising alarms...Suicides and attempted suicides across
State prisons should be raising alarms...Guards quitting in droves no
matter how much money the State throws at them to make them stay,
should be raising alarms...And yet, everything is 'out of sight, out
I had decided over the
weekend to pull back from things and focus on my own well being. I
will go to recreation when I feel like it, but no longer let it work
me up or get stressed over it. If I feel things look iffy, I'll just
get my day on the road and do what I want to do. I'm creating my own
Thanksgiving was an
okay day, but I skipped recreation. We did have a good meal
though...Our dessert tray had three pieces of cake, and pie. Lunch
was a giant biscuit, beans, corn, green bean salad, stuffing,
cranberry sauce, and a slice each of turkey and chicken breast.
You'll hear no complaints from me on that – I was quite stuffed!
For dinner we received a sack meal with two sandwiches, and an apple
The rest of the weekend
I relaxed. I went outside on Friday with my neighbour, and felt bad
for him. He's being ostracised for some kind of filing he made with
the whistle-blower act, and he's been labelled as a 'snitch' and guys
have been cutting him off. He tried to explain it to me outside and I
stopped him and said,
“I don't care...Guys
create these pseudo-moral standards that they don't even apply to
themselves, so I could not care less what anyone has to say about you
or if you did something or not. When they apply their own standards
to themselves and their friends, maybe I'll start listening. But this
is a bunch of grown men being childish. We're not in the fourth
Ostracising or cutting
someone off like that is just plain mean and unnecessary. It's okay
to talk about things reasonably with someone when you don't agree
with them...It's okay to be pissed at someone for the choices they
made, but nobody needs to be cruel or mean about things.
Saturday I had my usual
'date time' with my girlfriend. We listen to the same program on the
radio (even though she falls asleep ha ha) because it's nice to think
of one another and just 'be' in real time together.
Sunday I vegged out...
Today I went to
recreation a little after 6am, and exercised. I've been waiting on a
shower ever since. Meanwhile, I'm trying to keep myself busy.