New Journals - 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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July 7th, 2020

I woke up with an unusual pep in my step and energy I've not had for a while now. I saw the breakfast sack on my floor, grabbed it, and noticed two pancakes and a handful of raisins and thought,  

“I'm so sick of pancakes!”

Now, I'm not a person who likes to waste food...I feel guilty if there's something I don't want to eat or can't stomach, and normally I'd offer it to my neighbors, but they're all sick of pancakes too. What do you do? I mean, they know we're all sick of pancakes and yet, they still make them. It's a waste! They'd save far more money making a decent breakfast that won't be thrown away.  

Anyways...I decided to make a bowl of oatmeal with the raisins, and ate it before I began my work out. Once I was done I took a bird bath at my sink and then scrubbed my cell down.  

I realised as I was writing to my girlfriend that it's one year ago this week that I was moved to Death Watch...I'll never forget the day because it followed the 4th July weekend and I had my stuff all ready and packed because I knew a date had been scheduled and signed off on by a Judge. Monday passed and nothing happened...Then on Tuesday, if I remember correctly, they did one round of rec and then cancelled it for the rest of the day. I spent the day lounging around and thought I was safe for another day when second shift came on...Then, suddenly an officer came to my door and said,  

“Hey. You're moving to A-Pod, 12 cell.”

My heart and stomach dropped, and everything became dream like. I said goodbye to everyone and as I was leaving I was so moved by the support I had from all around me...Guys were yelling my name and saying I'd be back...It helped me a lot.  

It's just so difficult to believe it's been a whole year, and I feel extremely lucky to be alive. Yes, I've been depressed lately and feeling quite lethargic, but the fact remains: I'M ALIVE! So many don't make it and I wish it was different and we could all be saved.  

I was thinking last night about how it's past time for the death penalty to end, especially in this time of uncertainly. I think of all of the money wasted on an act of pure revenge. You could save so many lives in this COVID-19 pandemic by diverting that money to where it's needed most. As well as all of that, think of all the people sitting on Death Row because they are poor, or black etc, or had a bigoted judge or DA...Does anyone remember the racist emails from the disgraced Harris County District Attorney Chuck Rosenthal? Or that for decades, Dallas County used to have a jury selection guide for prosecutors that specifically advised to not pick black jurors for a death penalty case because they would more than likely vote against a death sentence? There are guys sitting on death row right now who were sentenced under those very administrations.

In the quest for equal justice under the law, there's no better time than now to demand an end to the death penalty. People talk about divestment and defunding...think of the money that is spent on a single death penalty case that could be used for a far better purpose. Is the thirst for vengeance so strong that it bypasses rationality and humanity?

Tomorrow there is a scheduled execution...It's insane that this guy is facing execution when he just barely missed the ruling by the Supreme Court that a juvenile couldn't be sentenced to death. He was just 18 years old and sentenced to death – how ugly is humanity that we can do that and think it's okay? Governor Abbott is talking daily about how the COVID crisis is hurting the Texas economy and yet, they still have hundreds of thousands of dollars to waste taking a life...How does this make any sense?

Courage. Strength. Hope and Faith.  

Peace.


July 6th, 2020

Geeze...Well, it was bound to happen! We woke up to the news that the entire unit is on a COVID-19 lockdown again...Ugh! They said they've had cases pop up all over the unit and dozens of officers have tested positive as well. We don't know how long this will last, but these sack meals have to improve. Breakfast was awful – it was a single pancake that had some kind of cheese baked onto it, and that was all. We didn't get lunch until 5pm and dinner came at 9pm. Lunch was okay, but dinner was really bad.  

They still had the movies playing over the weekend, so at least we had that. The guards said we'd only receive showers every other day, and there would be severely limited movements from both officers and inmates...Basically, we're trapped. It sucks, but what can we do about it? I worry that with the 4th July weekend and all of the people who probably went out and partied at Lake Livingston, then went back to work, the spread of the virus will be phenomenal! We're likely to see more and more cases continuously pop up.  

I'm just going to put my head down and try to get through it. It's difficult though...Really hard! But hey, I've listened to 'Rise of Skywalker' three times, and I can't complain too much.  

Courage. Strength. Hope and Faith.  

Peace.


July 5th, 2020

4th July weekend...It's been so difficult to write of late. I've been feeling quite lethargic and depressed. I've been able to function and get through the day, but everything has been foggy. As I write this we've not had rec since Friday, and we almost didn't even get that. Some people didn't. I had to take a bird bath when I came back in because they weren't doing showers at all.  

When I woke up yesterday, there was a breakfast sack on my floor and it was one measly pancake, and some powdered milk in a bag. We were all grumbling and wondering what happened to the improvement we were supposed to have in our food, according to a Houston Chronicle news report. We were supposed to be getting fruit cups and sack meals were supposed to get better too – according to the TDCJ director. Not on Polunsky!

We were all wondering if we'd even receive a good meal for the holiday...When we asked what was going on with rec a guard said,  

“We are in crisis mode due to staff shortages...No one is coming to work. New officers quit within days or weeks, and no one wants to work in a prison anymore.”

The good news is that we did have a really good holiday meal – BBQ chicken, cake etc. My neighbour wanted to cook some tacos so I tagged and bagged my chicken and sent it over to him so he could use it. The tacos came out really good!  

I went back to my day and was restless and feeling a little down when at 2pm I decided to check the radio again for movies...I heard the announcement and sat up straight!!

“Movies on 106.5!”

My neighbour said,  

“Huh?”

I said,  

“Movies on...Movies on...Movies on!!!”

It turned out to be, 'Captain Marvel'.

When that movie went off there was a pause and then silence...I waited for several seconds when suddenly I heard the familiar 'Star Wars' music and I let out a cry that probably scared everyone! I yelled,  

“RISE OF SKYWALKER!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! AHHHHHH!!!!!”

Yes, I'm a geek...Can't help it!

I had tears of joy...It was an amazing movie and it tied everything up perfectly and I loved how the movie score worked its way through the movie, paying homage to the various themes throughout the decades of movies.  

Well, the movies continued well into the evening. On Saturday we heard 'Us' – a social/horror commentary on America. It was a bit difficult to follow without actually seeing it, and I was confused in places – definitely not easy to just listen to. They also played 'Glass' which is the third movie in a trilogy that began with 'Unbreakable', then 'Split'. It was pretty good, but again, one you probably had to 'see' to know what was going on. M. Night Shyamalan is very much a visual storyteller, and drops a lot of visual clues throughout his movies. After that they closed out with 'Zombieland 2' which was really funny!

Today, the movies started at 8am with 'Super 8', and then 'Aquaman'. And later they played 'Secret Life of Pets' and then an Afghan war movie before closing the day off with 'Creed 2' – surprisingly good!  

They started to replay all of today's movies again, and I'm listening to Captain Marvel as I type this, and it's really good. I don't think I've heard a Marvel movie that I haven't liked. They keep it grounded, humorous, and a perfect balance of action.  

My spirits felt lifted after all of that!

I hope everyone is doing okay and staying safe and well.  

Courage. Strength. Hope and Faith.  

Peace.


June 29th, 2020

I've been in a bit of a mild depression. It's been difficult to function on a level where outside of writing letters, I've not been able to get any writing work done satisfactorily. COVID-19 continues and because we have irresponsible governors who care more about politics and capitalism instead of saving lives, Texas has a crisis on its hands.  

Of course, out of an abundance of caution, TDCJ continues to keep things buttoned down. I do understand that, but without alternatives to keep us occupied it feels like we're on a never-ending lockdown, and even further cut off from the world.  

On death row we've not had recreation since last Wednesday due to a staff shortage on a critical level. No one is coming to work...And those who are newly hired, quit after only a few weeks. We don't get regular hot meals, and the sack lunches are at an all time low. There were reports recently that sack lunches were supposed to improve, but that hasn't happened on Polunsky yet.  

Anyway, with almost no recreation, often getting screwed out of a shower, no phone calls, and no visits...It's definitely taking its toll on all of us.  

On the good news side of things, several guys have had their death sentences overturned. Two of them had been locked up since the 1980s, and rumor has it they were given parole, which is amazing! I feel like we're on a (very slow) road to ending the death penalty. I don't even understand how it's economically feasible to carry on with it as things are, and it definitely isn't sustainable during this pandemic. How can the State even afford executions?

Well, they must have had a bunch of complaints on the prison radio station because it's suddenly become better again! They're playing some episodes from the 1980s sitcom, 'Samford and Son'...The humor still holds up! I wish they'd bring the movies back, but I'm being greedy...Maybe they will for the 4th July weekend!  

Stay safe!

Courage. Strength. Hope and Faith.  

Peace!


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