New Journals - Randy Halprin

Randy Halprin
 “Whoever  destroys a life, it is considered as if  he destroyed an entire world.  And whoever saves a life, it is considered  as if he saved an entire  world.” - The Talmud (Jewish Oral Law)  Sanhendrin 4:5)
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November 2nd, 2021

I had a rough night of sleep and was going to sleep in until around 7 or 8am but surprisingly they started running rec and everyone became excited and noise exploded. I used to be able to get to sleep so easily, but since Dallas County Jail it's like some nights I just toss and turn and have too much anxiety. Something has to change.  

I've been thinking a lot about so many things, and just...My chances for a new life bring with it so many regrets and so many wasted moments on death row, and mistakes...I've got to do better and today I've decided to just start anew and do it instead of just talking about it. I am and will. This Brandon Daniels death has really gotten to me too. Even though no one really knew the dude back here. There are rumors it was suicide, but we don't know for sure. But it goes to show how precious life is and how it shouldn't be taken for granted.  

A field minister just came by and I talked to him for a bit. He was thanking me for all of the music sent into the radio station, but I told him it was owed to friends and the kindness of others, not me. He also said that the tablet company Securus was on our building today and the projected date for tablets on the Polunsky Unit is December 1st. That's pretty amazing and has the potential to really make life a little easier back here for so many people – especially quicker communication between loved ones. That's a game changer for sure. Well, let's hope it happens. The cool thing is the tablets themselves are provided free of charge and it'll be interesting to see what 'free' services they provide...

Anyways, I'm rambling on and my thoughts are all over the place. I hope things get better in my life.  

Courage. Strength. Hope and Faith

Peace


November 1st, 2021

Happy November...I really hope this month is full of positivity and good things. I'm always excited about entering into the holiday season and already on the radio there are holiday advertisements aplenty...It's like everything was planned for this day and some radio executive said,  

“Release them now! Get 'em all out!”

I thought we'd be off lockdown today, but the guards said it would be tomorrow which is better than nothing. I'm so sick of being cooped up in the cell and I admit, it can lead to negative feelings and some anger. I just want to move about, exercise in a more open space, even get outside and enjoy the fall like weather. Friday, even though we were going through a shakedown, was so lovely because I got to play a little basketball after almost two years, and enjoy the fresh air, which I desperately needed. I can no longer allow this place to affect my spirit and I'm really trying to just get through it and look forward to the blessings that come. Blessings that I don't really deserve, but am grateful for them all the same.  

I've dropped the ball in so many ways and I'm tired of being a disappointment. Re-reading my memoir has really brought to life some of my issues and I don't know how I can both have so much introspection on a particular chapter of my life, but then lose the ability to have it in the present...I've got to do better...I feel like I've been given more chances than I deserve, and I need to start doing right by them, and I will.

On a negative note, my headphones bit the dust today. I dropped them and they went to the great junk yard in the sky...I even tried to fix them and it was a waste of hours of time. Fortunately, my neighbour had an extra pair of ear buds, and has let me borrow them for now...I sent a request to the property officer to see if she has an extra pair, so we'll see...I hope this isn't some weird sign of things to come!

Courage. Strength. Hope and Faith.  

Peace


October 17th, 2021

It's  a cool Sunday and surprisingly they're doing recreation today. I don't  think anyone was expecting that. I'm scheduled for rec fifth round which  would be night time – if I make it. But I'm hoping that the football  will cut the numbers down as guys don't want to miss the game.

It's  been a weird week...I've been happy about the Judge's ruling, but a  certain amount of guilt has settled into me as well as fear for the  future and the unknown. The guilt comes from knowing that a lot of my  friends and these guys that I've lived around for 18 years now won't  make it out alive unless people wake up and end the death penalty. It's  just a weird feeling. You don't live next to people – eating, sleeping,  sharing life and everything else, knowing what we're all here for...to be killed by the State – and just walk away and forget it all.

The  fear of the unknown....well I go through all of these various scenarios  and possible outcomes and it's scary. I guess it makes me a bit crazy  but I'll get through it.

It's been difficult to write journals of late. I can't really clear my head, but I'll try to get back on the ball soon.

Courage. Strength. Hope and Faith.

Peace


October 12th, 2021

Day  one hundred and thirty three billion without recreation, or so it feels  that way! I think as a collective, we understand that we're just  not  going to get it. What we would like is something to mitigate the lack of  recreation – an alternative...Anything!

Well,  as I write this I'm still waiting on pins and wondering what the judge  has recommended. Talk about torture! I was hoping that I would hear  something on the news yesterday, but nothing. It's 10.19am as I type  this and I've been bouncing back and forth between NPR and the Texas  State News network and there's been nothing. Heck, everyone out there  probably knows what it is, but I'm flying blind! Maybe I'll get a legal  call today.  

I'm still holding onto hope though! Gotta be positive, think positive, and hope for the best.  

You  know, I will give the Wardens this much...when I left Polunsky to go to  Dallas back in July, the food was at an all time low. Since my return,  the food has gotten much better and a bit more healthy. Well, except for  the cake we how have five days a week. It's been really good.  Breakfast, which typically is almost always pancakes, has been more  diverse...Things like eggs, biscuits, more oatmeal, grits (bleh...I'm  probably one of the few southerners that doesn't get grits. Just because  corn can turn into anything doesn't mean it should!) So, props to them  for that. But now, as I type this, they just passed out a prison version  of the 'slushy' in a styrofoam cup. Cherry flavoured...Yum!

Yes!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  The judge recommended a NEW TRIAL!!!!!!!!! PRAISE G-D!!!!!!!!! I just heard it on NPR and just WOW!!!! I'm shaking and have tears in my eyes  and I know that while I have to get past the CCA now, I can breathe a  little and start mentally preparing myself.  

I say this with humility and gratitude...EVERYONE's prayers, their  belief, their support...Thank you for all of it and for believing in me  and my case. I'm almost there and I'm so grateful! And to my attorneys:  Thank you!!! I owe you guys my life!

Now I'm in the CCA and waiting. Who knows how long that'll take, but I'm hopeful.  

Courage. Strength. Hope and Faith.  

Peace


October 10th, 2021

It's  a warm Sunday, a little after noon as I type this. I'm listening to the  movie 'Heat' and focusing on positive thoughts and energy for tomorrow,  and the possibility of the Judge's recommendation. To say I'm a little  anxious is an understatement. If I had to guess I would think I'll have a  legal call Monday or Tuesday so the legal team can tell me the news,  but it's possible I'll hear the news on the radio before then. It's a  bit twilight-zoneish that these days mirror when I was waiting and  hoping for a stay when I had an execution date two years ago. I  mean...today is the day I was supposed to be executed – it gives me the  chills!

I  had a legal visit that day and whilst I was out in the visitation room,  my Rabbi had also shown up. He met two guys from the office and then  waited on me to change booths. Typically,  minister visits or regular  visits are two hours, but I remember getting some extra time out there  and it was a joyous, celebratory time. My Rabbi had told me that he'd be  by my side whether it be to celebrate a stay, or for my execution, and  it was just wonderful to celebrate. We sang, we prayed...just a  fantastic memory to have. And here I am – ALIVE – two years later.  My Taffy was by  my side the whole way through, and I thank her and love her for everything she's done for me. There are times this year when I haven't been there for her, and dropped the ball way too many times. But she has always stayed by my side and I'm beyond grateful to have her in my life.

I really hope that tomorrow will be a day of celebration, and if things go well, I know that I'm half way there.  

A  little update on visitation..they've extended the number of people  allowed into visits to 9, two rounds a day on Tuesday/Thursday/Saturday  evenings. That's better than the five they were allowing in. However,  the main issue remains – they plan on keeping it this way going forward.   

We're still not getting rec due to staff shortages. Since September 13th when I returned from Dallas I've been outside just once.  

The hope is that the content on the tablets, whenever they arrive, they will have something for everyone's taste.  

Enough complaining! I'll spend the day praying and hoping I can breathe a sigh of relief.  

Courage. Strength. Hope and Faith.  

Peace


September 30th, 2021

Sometimes  this place really amuses me...So, I'm standing at my door talking to my neighbour when the food cart for lunch arrives. The food cart is this  big steel box on wheels. Sitting on top of it is a big cooler with punch  in it. As the guard is pushing it he bumps the cart into a wall and  knocks the top of the cooler and the lid splashes into the punch. Now,  this lid isn't the cleanest thing in the world either. He puts his HANDS  into the cooler to pull the lid out and then tries to snap it back into  place. At this point I say out loud,  

“Awwww, c'mon, dude...really?”

He looks up at me like he was just caught sticking his hand in the cookie jar and I say,  

“I  really shouldn't have to ask this of you, but will you take the cooler  back to the kitchen and get a new cooler? You had your hands all in it,  man!”

Look,  I know all he's going to do is push the cart back into the hallway,  wait a few minutes and push it back in. At least give me the illusion  that you changed it out.  

So...It's  been a week now since we've had recreation. I think I'm starting to  understand the staff shortage. It's a self inflicted would...He's my  theory: Every month they hire a bunch of new recruits. I believe that  most of these recruits come here wanting to work, but each recruit is  only a stop gap attempt to fill the loss in losing other guards. They  come in, they have to do double the work they would've had to do and  work longer hours because they're making up for the shortages in labor.  They get burned out, quit, and the cycle starts all over. There's really  only one real solution. TDCJ needs to start looking at using parole  more effectively and let those with non-violent crimes or low level drug  cases go...This will allow them to close prisons and transfer officers  to other units to fill the gaps. Otherwise, they will never fix this  problem. No amount of money thrown at people is going to get then to run their butts into the ground, working 16 hours a day, almost every day, with a bunch of irritated inmates that can't get recreation.  

All  that being said, I do believe once the tablets are fully implemented  throughout TDCJ it will help a little and according to the head warden  on Polunsky, during an interview on the prison radio station, level one  inmates on both restrictive housing (aka Ad Seg) and death row inmates  will be able to have tablets as well. They are fully secure and guards  will have a master key to access any tablet. All emails will be screened  24 hours in advance and the only way you can access the services both  provided for free and paid for, is through the Securus, secure server. I  think that being able to watch videos/movies, programming like church content, access to law library material at your fingertips, and music,  will settle some nerves. Still, nothing beats getting out of one's cell  to stretch your legs, exercise, or to talk to friends.  

Speaking  of the prison radio station...I really need people's help! The prison  radio station is operated through the Chaplaincy Department. The  Chaplain, Chaplain Gay (pronounced 'Guy') is accepting donations of CDs  from Amazon.com or other online sites. They can be used or new...The radio station is looking for ALL genres of music, but specifically for  their speciality shows – alternative/indie rock (which is my wheel house  and I beg you for loads of music in that category!), heavy metal/hard  rock, classic rock, country music (new and old), soul/R&B, rap (both  Christian and normal rap), hip hop, gospel/religious, electronic/dance, and live music of all  genres.

If you send music it MUST be addressed like this:

Chaplain Department/106.5 FM The Tank
C/O Chaplain Gay
Polunsky Unit
3872 FM 350 South
Livingston
TX 77351

Don't  worry about whether or not someone else sends the same music or if they  receive numerous copies – I was told it's good for them to have back  ups in case discs are scratched or damaged by either officers in a  shakedown or by inmates. So please...Let's flood the chaplaincy with  music! And hey, it's also a tax write off!

Me,  personally, I'd love you to send music like: Radiohead, The Cure, U2,  Smashing Pumpkins, The Decemberists, Firey Furnaces, Wilco, Ray  Lamontine, Big Head Todd and the Monsters, Dave Matthews Band, Massive  Attack, Joy Division, My Bloody Valentine, Spoon, The Head and the Heart, Birdie, Bat for Lashes, Vagabond, M83, Explosion in the Sky, Information Society, The Glove...to name a few...but please, please,  please send ANY genre! You would truly bring a smile and peace to  inmates of all walks of life. I have always believed that music is the  path to healing and alleviates stress. Nothing beats hearing a good  song, or a song of the past and being still, and being flooded by  memories.  

Should  this music start arriving on the radio station I'll definitely be  writing a huge thanks to everyone who has it in their heart to help us  ALL!

It's  hard to believe that it's the last day of September. By the time this  is posted I'll have had the recommendation of my Judge that I get a new  trial – I then have to wait on the CCA. Clinton Young's case gives me a  lot of hope that they will do the right thing because whilst our issues  were different, the fundamental claim of judicial bias and how that  applies to the constitution and a fair trial is essentially the same. My  case is stronger than Clinton's and I have hope! I have tons of confidence, even though you just never know with the CCA. I don't know  how many times they've had cases that are almost identical on paper and  come to two different conclusions – there are no guarantees with them,  but I do have all the hope in the world, and confidence that my case is  100% solid!

Yesterday,  it was my friend, Big Will's, birthday. I requested a favorite movie of  his to play on the radio station and they did play it last night which  was cool. He also had a day of all the music he wanted which is great.  Things like that really make my heart happy. If one person smiles back here, it can be infectious and spread like a virus. We need more happiness back here!

Courage. Strength. Hope and Faith.  

Peace


September 27th, 2021

In  my last journal entry I talked about asking to be moved from C-Pod and  on Wednesday night of last week I was. I've been moved to B-Pod 12 cell  and what was great about it was that I was moved next to my friend,  Clinton, who was just ordered a new trial. He has a judicial bias claim  as well, for different reasons, but it still gives me a bit of hope that  the CCA will do the right thing in my case, especially because I  believe my claim is even stronger than his.  

The  other thing about being near him is that I get to spend a little time  with him before he leaves and embarks on the next journey of his life. I  hope he does well in it. He's been cool and has bequeathed me his watch  as I don't have one right now, and he's going to leave me with a few  more items as well. I told him I'd leave the watch with someone else  when I get my new trial and get out of here. I have a feeling this watch  is going to have a very interesting life!

Thursday  we had rec and I was able to get out and say hello to some friends and  tell them some of my stories from Dallas County Jail. I love hamming it  up when I do this and get people laughing. I do voices and imitations of  the people I was around which always gets laughs. I think I missed my calling.   

We've not had recreation since Thursday though because of extreme staff shortages.  

So, the big issue back here is the rumors about visitation for Death Row.  Now, I write this not knowing fully what visitation is going to be like,  but I can repeat what the Captain said – even though she is leaving and  another Captain is taking over – about what they intend.  

When  I first arrived at Death Row in 2003, all six pods were filled with  Death Row inmates. There was over 400 plus inmates and because DR is  separate from the rest of prison, they set up visitation separately as  well. Visitation, up until the pandemic, had been Monday through Friday, and for people who could not make it on the weekdays, they had two Saturday night sessions that  a person would have to call in and  schedule for. Special visits, typically two consecutive days in a row were mostly scheduled for either Mondays and Tuesdays or Thursdays and  Fridays. For general population, normal visits were all day Saturday and  Sunday, with special visits being on both days as well.  

When  the pandemic struck, visitation was suspended. Then, Spring of 2021  visitation was opened up for one hour...Death Row for Tuesdays and  Thursdays and General Population on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, as  well as the weekend. Plus, the ability to schedule a video visit.

In  September, visitation was extended to two hours per visit and Death Row  was given an extra day of Saturday afternoons to schedule visits.

Going  forward with the expectation of Polunsky Unit soon reaching the 70%  threshold for vaccinations, the unit will be opening up and things will  be returning to normal, except how they plan on doing visitation. This  is where Death Row, and more importantly its visitors, are going to be  screwed unless those that visit are pro-active and begin to complain to  the TDCJ administration on both Polunsky and in Huntsville.  

According  to Captain Carter visitation for Death Row will remain on Tuesdays,  Thursdays, and Saturday evenings. It will no longer be week long. If you  schedule for a special visit, unlike General Population, which will  have the back to back days of Saturday and Sunday, you will only be able  to have your special visits on Tuesday and Thursday...This is wrong for several reasons: It puts an unfair financial burden on a person who is  staying in town or nearby by forcing them to have to pay for an  additional day of hotel, rental car and other expenses. It also limits  the amount of people who can schedule special visits because there will be less days to schedule meaning that with their 'first come first  serve' scheduling system it creates an additional burden in a person  trying to schedule visits, make travel plans etc. What if, say, a person  has vacation time in the first week of December. They want to travel to  visit a friend or family on Polunsky Death Row, but other people beat  them on scheduling and now they can't come. Do you see the problems this  will create?

The  system as it was pre-pandemic was fine and it worked. It makes no sense  for the administration to try and fix something that wasn't broken. So,  we implore visitors of us to please call the Head Warden for  clarification on the visitation schedule and then complain about it.  Contact TDCJ Director Bobby Lumpkin or Regional One Director Stephen  Bryant for the same issues. Insist that visitation return to the  pre-pandemic schedule for Death Row. You can find their contact  information on the TDCJ website.  

If  you are active on social media please encourage people to do their bit  and do the same. If not, things will remain the same and it will become  more difficult to visit the person you care about. In November there are  two holidays that land on a Thursday: Thanksgiving and Veterans Day.  That means DR will be limited to just two days those weeks.  

One  more thing...if you are on overseas visitor you know that the US  borders will open to many countries, especially Europe, in November. The  website to schedule visitations, at the time of me writing this, is not  accepting overseas visitors. The official line is that they are working  on it. I suggest you please complain and demand that TDCJ fix this.  They can't keep you from visiting if you are already approved. Get  involved and get complaining to these people.  

Over the weekend I listened to some movies on the prison radio station. They did a couple of new ones like Coming to America 2 and  I was so disappointed by that one as the original is comedy gold. Now  I'm listening to KPFT and some indie music and here's a fall mix of  songs I put together:

The Last Day of Summer
Home Sick
Strange Day
Chain of Flowers
There is no If
Treasure
Plainsong
Untitled
Blood Flowers
Lullaby

Put that on one of those cool and grey days, go outside and walk around and think.  

Courage. Strength. Hope and Faith.  

Peace


September 22nd, 2021

I was hoping on recreation today, but we've now been three days without.  

Being  on C-Pod kind of sucks and I took a shot and asked the secretary in  charge of moves if she'd move me back to B-Pod to be amongst my friends,  if a cell was available. She said she'd move me in a couple of days. I  was happy for that and I can't wait. It's like the boonies down here.  The guys are great and the kindness they've shown me since I returned  from Dallas is immeasurable, but I feel out of touch. And I really want  to spend what I truly believe are the last months I will spend on Death  Row amongst my friends, because I'll never see them again and many  won't...I don't want to even mention it. G-d forbid...I will just miss  them. As it stands Death Row population is literally down to two pods  and one section. The majority of C-Pod is Ad-Seg.  

Anyway.  Happy Autumn! The best season of the entire year! We're having a real  fall front today and it's supposed to drop down into the '50s tonight.  Cocoa season for sure. It's fall and I'm glad Texas heat is on the way  out...I have to transfer that positive feeling into good things and  hope.  

Courage. Strength. Hope and Faith.  

Peace


September 20th, 2021

I  can't believe I've been back from Dallas for a week now. I go through  these emotional swings of wishing I was back to I could just talk to the  people I care about and love each day, to feeling a sense of relief  about being settled and getting into a normal routine of things. To  having a place where I can turn off the light to sleep and not worry  about chaos and noise exploding in the middle of the night and enjoying  my programs on the radio.  

It  seems we've been getting recreation about every other day. On Sunday we  went to recreation which was a bit strange, but I was glad to get out  of the cell and move around a bit. I made a vow to myself to not allow  this place to infect my spirit. It came from something happening on  Friday morning when I was going to rec and being rushed before I could  brush my teeth and fully wake up at 5.30am. I was grumbling and super  irritated when I got to the day room and I stopped myself because I knew  it would ruin the rest of the day if I allowed it to. Instead, I took a  deep breath and said,  

“Randy,  do not allow this to infect you with its poison. YOU decide whether the  day is good or not. YOU make the choice on how to face the day.”  

Once  I did that, I was immediately in a better mood and the day ended up  being really pleasant and I understood that while annoying, the guards  were actually working and just making sure they would finish the  recreation and showers and they did! They also got the mail passed out  super early on second shift.

I  spent the weekend catching up on things and last night I listened to  the Cure special on the prison radio station. THAT was really  nice and  he started the hour off with one of my favorites, The Last Day of Summer. That  particular song has a lot of meaning to me as I had requested it before  my execution date in 2019. There was a radio program on KPFT called Sound Awake and  the DJ was doing a Cure special and asked inmates to send in requests. I wrote a nice letter explaining my situation and that this was possibly  the last time I'd be hearing my favorite group and it meant a lot to me. Unfortunately, due to the slowness of the Polunsky  mail room, he didn't receive the letter in time for the show but he did say,  

“If you're here with us next week, I promise I'll play it for you. We're praying for you.”

Well, that following Friday I received my stay and then Saturday he came on air and said,  

“Randy, we're glad you're with us. Here's your song as promised.”

I  was blown away by it and so touched, and the song became very important  to me. Yeah, it's very melancholic, and the lyrics a bit...well, it  ain't an upbeat song to say the least. But it is a beautiful song – one  of The Cure's best in my opinion.  

Other songs that were played last night on the Cure special were The Walk, Let's Go To Bed, Close to Me, Love Cats, A Night Like This, Charlotte Sometimes and The Hanging Garden. It was a great hour.  

We  didn't have recreation today so I woke up, got out of bed and  exercised. Then I cleaned my cell and went to the shower. I spent the  rest of the day catching up on things I didn't get to do over the weekend, and now I'm about to read, relax, and wait on second shift. Hopefully our section will get phone calls tonight. We shall see.

Courage. Strength. Hope and Faith.

Peace


September 16th, 2021

It's  Thursday, a little after noon and I'm listening to the prison radio  station. About 30 minutes ago I talked to one of the unit 'Field  Ministers' and he was catching me up on everything that's been going on  on 12 building since I've been gone. There's going to finally be some  death row access to programs and faith based services in the coming  months, and other changes are in the works. He told me they held the  first real church services for John Ramirez and the guys on death watch -  with a full band and everything - right before his scheduled execution  date, and that it had never been allowed before. Apparently one of my close friends, Big Will, was invited and allowed to attend the service  and they took him to the Death Watch section's dayroom so he could be  there. I was really blown away by that. Very promising. When I asked if  ALL faiths would be allowed to participate in these coming events, he  said they would be. It isn't specifically Christian.

Then he told me,

"I heard you were denied on your hearing."

I scrunched my eyes and cocked my head and asked,

"Where did you hear that?"

"I think it was your co-defendant, but I can't remember for sure. Something about everyone saying you had a fair trial."

I took a deep breath because I was getting irritated by the comment and then said,

"No. There's not even been any kind of ruling yet. The Judge has to make her RECOMMENDATION to the CCA by October 11th, then the CCA will make its  ruling. I've got a ways to go. You can't go by the rumor mill back here.  Guys often don't know what they're talking about. They hear a piece of information and misinterpret it or just fill in their own facts, and the  next thing you  know, I've been run over by an 18-wheeler on the way  back to Dallas."

I  told him they probably read the Dallas Morning News article after the  hearing where the reporter was only reporting on the people who say I  had a fair trial. I explained my case and said,

"Even  if I did have a fair trial - and I didn't - the fact that the Judge  harbored anti-semitic hatred and bias towards me is enough to meet the  bar. It's a structural issue."

I  find this so frustrating back here. Guys just make stuff up and haven't  a clue what they're talking about. Next thing you know, misinformation  is all over Twitter and Facebook because nobody knows what they're  talking about. I remember when I received my stay someone said I had  been given another execution date. I was like, "WHAT??" And last summer  someone tried to put it about that Reed was about to be given another  date. I told that person,

"Dude, he still has to back to the trial court for a hearing. Stop saying things when you don't know what you're talking about."

This  happens a lot, and goes all around social media. Look, if you aren't  100% certain that what you're saying is true, and that you fully  understand what you're talking about, then don't make stuff up!! We  deal with enough stress and anxiety back here and when people spread  things through gossip and rumor mill, you are affecting their stress  levels. Please stop!

If  it was my co-defendant this is the second time he's done this. He was  telling people before that I wasn't a Law of Parties case, and I had to  literally read out my charges to people to show that yes, I am a Law of  Parties case, when they questioned me about it. If you don't know what  you're saying, don't say anything.

Anyways...

It's  an overcast day and another fall-like temperature. It actually got  quite chilly last night but they won't pass out the blankets until  October or November.

I  just heard the announcements for the prison radio station that the DJ  received my letter, and because last Sunday I missed a Cure concert,  he's going to play an hour of the Cure on Sunday night for me as a late  birthday present. Woo hoo. I'm super excited abot that. Tonight's radio  movie is going to be Real Steel. I think I've listened to that before, but I'll check it out again. Most of the day time programming today is Catholic related.

One  more thing...there's a rumor going around (so, please verify if you  visit someone on Polunsky) that things are going to return to normal in  October and that visits will go back to their normal schedules. I don't  want to get too excited, but people should verify for sure. I think this  will make life a bit better for guys back here because they'll be able  to have their special visits and pictures and everything. If it's true,  it'll be awesome because I'm aiming for the end of October for some  visits. I can't wait!! It'll be amazing if all of this works out and  things are normal again. Though I don't know about pictures...I might  break the camera!

All  in all it feels good to be back and get back into a settled routine.  Yeah, I miss the phone, that is true, but I'll go back eventually. I'm  sure of it.

Courage. Strength. Hope and Faith.

Peace


September 14th, 2021

I'm  back at Polunsky and settled in after a rough and tumble return. If my  trip to Dallas could be described as peaceful and serene, my return was  anything but. I felt like a person captured off of the battlefield and  sent to Guantanamo Bay.  

Sunday  night was winding down like any other Sunday night in Dallas County  Jail. Razors were passed out at shift change and I shaved, returned my  razor, and got ready for bed. It was around 11pm and I figured if they  hadn't told me I was leaving I wouldn't be going, and so I was looking forward to using the phone the next day and getting real time birthday greetings on the phone. I stuffed toilet paper in my ears to block out  the noise, and pulled the sock off of my eyes and looked toward the door  when a guard said,  

“Hey, get up! You're leaving! Pack up your things.”

I  groaned, but got out of bed and began to shove everything into my bag  and waited to leave. Sometime after midnight I was taken to a holding  area near where I first came in to Dallas, and was told to wait until  they came and got me to leave. There was no place to lay down but the  filthy floor and it was freezing cold. I knew I wouldn't be able to  sleep.

I  began to pace around the area until I exhausted myself, and decided,  screw it, I'll try sleeping on the floor. I was just too tired to try to  stay up. A useless effort because the lights were too bright and I was  too cold. Around 3am breakfast came in the form of a bologna sandwich. I  ate it and went back to pacing around. At about 5am the deputies  arrived to take me to Huntsville and I thought to myself,  

“Well, at least I'll be in a nice comfortable car and I get a nap in.”

They  shackled me up and took me into the car port where a windowless van was  waiting on me. I was put into a steel cage inside of the van with  nothing more than a metal bench for a seat and off they went. I was  being thrown around the back of the van like I was on a boat caught in a  hurricane.  

The  van pulled into Huntsville around 7am and I was taken out, had the  shackles removed and thrown into a tiny cage, strip searched and given a  new set of clothes as I waited on another van to transport me to  Polunsky. I will say this, I was taken by surprise with how nice the  Huntsville TDCJ guards were. It was all, “Will you do this, sir...” etc  

Another guard offered me a bologna sandwich and I said,  

“No thanks. I'm sick of sandwiches.”

Around  9am I was brought out to another windowless van and taken to Polunsky.  We pulled into the unit around 10 and I was brought out and taken in,  had the shackles removed again (my ankles have been rubbed raw from the  friction of the leg irons and given a new set of clothing.  

There's  a running joke that I'm always put into cells that are filthy for the  sole purpose of cleaning them, and the one I was put in was disgusting. I  groaned and said,  

“Well, I'm not sleeping today.”

All  of the guys around me were cool though. A guy named Anthony knew it was  my birthday and he told everyone else and all of a sudden I was given  all kinds of food and snacks, writing supplies, etc, until I received my  property. It  meant a lot. I didn't have my radio so my neighbor loaned  me his extra pair of headphones and hooked me up on his radio so I could listen to the movie Little Things.

Recreation  was cancelled today and the guys told me we almost never get rec  anymore and often get screwed out of showers, so when they began showers  and I got up and went.  

Lucky  for me not forty minutes after the shower the property office brought  me my stuff and I was happy as a fat kid in a chocolate factory. I  pulled out my radio and hooked it up and it was so nice to hear music  again.  

It  actually feels like fall here today. The weather is cool and wet and  it's pretty nice. I don't have much of a view but you can't win  everything. The captain came around with the warden and said we're  getting our two hour visits back on Tuesdays and Thursdays and  Saturdays. I asked the guys about tablets and they all seem to think  we'll be allowed access to those as well whenever they arrive. We'll  see.  

Last  night I sent a letter to the prison radio station announcing I had  returned and I wanted to reclaim my co-produced status so I'm waiting to  see what the DJ says on the radio. The guys around me told me he had  played a Cure concert on Sunday night and I missed it!!! I've missed  music so much.  

All in all it's not too terrible that I'm back. I'll make the best of it that I can.  

Courage. Strength. Hope and Faith.  

Peace


September 12th, 2021

My  days in Dallas are numbered...On Friday a nurse came to my door to  administer a COVID test. The brain tickler! That woman shoved that thing  so far up my nostril I could feel it touch the back of my eyeball! I  asked her,

"Is this random?"

She told me it was to prepare me for transfer...I fully expect to leave any day now.

The  weekend has been a bit slow and stressful. I kept missing calls, but I  understand why and I'm worried because a close friend is in the hospital  again. I just pray that they're okay and will be able to get back on  their feet again.

Today  was good though...I had some nice calls with my Rabbis and Cantors, and  was able to say goodbye to a couple of friends, until I return for my  new trial.

I  wonder if tonight will be the night they tell me to pack my stuff? My  investigator made the point that it would be pointless to COVID test me  and wait days just so I could catch COVID. Makes sense! It would be wild to go back on my birthday, but I will enjoy the ride back as much as I enjoyed the ride getting here.

Every  day now is one day closer to being back off death row and to have  dreams come true and have my life to look forward to. If I do leave  today, I hope to be around some guys that'll make me some birthday  tacos. Yes, I will pimp out my birthday for food.

Well...we'll see what happens.

Courage. Strength. Hope and Faith.

Peace


September 7th, 2021

I  spoke too soon about getting to bed early. This place exploded into a  rowdy night. But I did manage to sleep in until a little after 7.30am,  so I made up for a little lost sleep. All things said I don't feel  exhausted today. I didn't even take a nap.

I'm  a wee bit frustrated that I'm still here, but I'm sure I'll return to  Polunsky soon enough. I heard they're at 68% fully vaccinated which is  knocking at the door of 70%, and assuming the warden keeps his word,  normal visits and special visits will be back on! It would be nice to  have some of those before I come back to Dallas again.

Some Securus technicians were looking at the server again and I think this makes it the 30th time they've looked at it but never actually done anything to it. So  strange. But the rumor is that Dallas County Jail will soon have tablets  as well, so maybe that's what they're doing.

Otherwise, Rosh Hoshana has been peaceful and I've been reflecting upon life and the good things to come. I know they will come.

Well,  just as soon as I wrote that last sentence the place erupted into  chaos! Someone in general population broke a window – completely  shattered it. I thought I'd get extra time with the phone but the guard  came up and said,

“Time. Get off!”

Uhhhh...my  time was not up in the least, but I didn't want to push it. One thing  I'm not is a trouble maker and I've been blessed with time enough and  will be again.

Maintenance  is repairing the window now – that's fast! I joked that it would have  taken weeks for the Polunsky maintenance crew to fix it.

Well, on with the evening I suppose!

Courage. Strength. Hope and Faith.

Peace


September 6th, 2021

It's  about an hour before Rosh Hoshana begins. I expressed the importance of  that today and I have so many things to pray about tonight. I remember  two years ago being on Death Watch, opening my Siddur that my Rabbi had  given me and reading the prayers. I remember last year when I asked the  DJ of the prison radio station to play a recording of the shofar being  blown over the airwaves, to bring in the New Year (he kindly did which  was amazing.) And now this year, as I sit in Dallas, I will pray and  bring in the New Year – sadly without an apple or honey...they gave us  an orange today.

I  went to recreation today and was able to get 3 hours which was great! I  left my cell at around 9.11 am and when I went outside it was overcast,  but the clouds soon departed and the sun came out and it was hot! Today  is Labor Day so the city was quiet. There was the typical Dallas  traffic to watch, but I didn't see people walking about...no uber eats deliveries...not much of anything.

When  I came in I was hungry and tired. I ate a bologna sandwich and tried to  take a nap without much luck. My plan for tonight is to get to bed  before shift change. As of now it's relatively quiet.

Courage. Strength. Hope and Faith.

Peace


September 2nd, 2021

I  feel okay today. I was in bed before shift change last night and slept  really good. I woke up feeling fully charged – a little disappointed I'm  still here, but I can deal with it. Maybe I'll leave after the Labor  Day holiday.

I  was thinking it might not be so bad if the video visits here were  working. They have four screens on wheels and the system has been down  for months! Countless tecnicians have been here to look at it, but  that's really all they do – look at it! No one is trying to fix anything.

I don't  really talk to anyone here, but lately I've been talking to the guy  behind me through the vent. He's young and it's the second time he's  been arrested. He says he's here on a gun charge – illegally possessing a  firearm because he's a felon. I asked him why he felt the need to have a  gun, and he said,

“I don't know...it's just the lifestyle. I ain't got no beef with anyone. No enemies.”

When  we talked before he talked about getting back to 'hustle' and I asked  him why. He said he needs the money. I told him there were a thousand  places willing to hire him if he was willing to do the work. I told him  the 'easy money' would just put him back in jail. I told him I get angry  at people who get chance after chance to redo their lives and they just  keep coming back. I told him (without getting into details as to who I am) I've been waiting 21 years now (really 26 years) for my second chance. I'm fighting for my very life.

I hoped I could speak to him to really reach him and today was the first day he actually said,

“Something needs to change. I can't keep doing this shit.”

I  told him he needed to put in the work. To work on himself, and even if  at first the road is difficult and everyone rejects him, keep at it.  Show people you're serious. Someone will give you a chance, but you've  got to put in the work!

I  really hope he's serious. I also know, however, that a lot of these  young black men have nowhere to go and they get pulled back into the  same lifestyle and cycle. Society fails them in a lot of ways too. If  you truly believe there's no systemic problem then you're blind. It's not easy for these men to 'get out' because no one else is willing to  accept them if they've stumbled.

I'll keep talking to him and planting seeds of hope and encouragement.

As  I write this there's a spit boxing match going on. No a really witty  one, it's just a bunch of cussing at one another. Some of them are  really funny, and some aren't. Right now it's just a bunch of 'eff  yous'.

Well, that's the day in a nutshell...At least it's gone by fairly fast.

Courage. Strength. Hope and Faith.

Peace


September 1st, 2021

I had the strangest thought earlier today – a  bit of a sad thought actually. I'm older now than my dad was when he  turned his back on me in 1996. If I had kids I just can't imagine any  scenario, no matter what my age or experience in life, where I'd ever  turn my back on my son or daughter.  

The  day has been okay, but a little on the slow side. I thought I was going  to get screwed over on recreation because there was so much going on  and I missed the sign up time. The guards have a 'you snooze you lose'  policy and if you're not at your door when the rec officer comes by,  well you lose out. I caught the guard a little later and asked, and he  gave me a non-committal head nod, but thankfully at 9.05am I went out.  Another lovely day in the city!

I  keep telling myself there's a reason I'm still here. It just hasn't  revealed itself yet. Really, I can't believe it's already September and  I've been here two months. Now that I think of it, it was almost two  months when I was here in 2010, but they really didn't want me here back then. It seems that they don't mind me now, ha ha.  

I've  been reading Jane Austen's 'Pride and Prejudice' with  my Taffy. It's a really  great novel, and she has introduced me to so many great books! Her knowledge of English literature amazes me. The novel was written in 1813 and it's just as funny and relevant  over 200 years later! I remember having a similar thought when I read  Don Quixote for the first tim - another novel that Taffy encouraged me to read. There are books that just transcend time!

I'm going to try and get to bed early tonight.  

Courage. Strength. Hope and Faith.  

Peace


August 30th, 2021

You know what's great about getting actual sunlight 3 days a week, and direct on your face Texas sun? My face no longer looks pasty...I have some color. Honestly, the past three weeks I think I've gotten more sun on my face than I've had in a year.  

The city is beautiful. Today I watched countless planes taking off and landing from Lovefield airport. I watched cars and people, a cool looking Coca-Cola truck, a train that seemed to have two miles worth of trailers. The sky was clear and while it was hot, it was beautiful.  

I received copies of the State's filings and the one my lawyers filed. You know, in the past when I would read something by the State I'd have a pit in my stomach. I'd get anxious and begin to worry and think,

“Geeze...while they're wrong it's written in a way that could convince a judge.”  

I felt none of that with this. Their argument that I had a fair trial was so weak! The filing is just sloppy, and some of the things they claim such as the judge had a first amendment right – religious freedom – to be a bigot and his views towards me were because I am a reprehensible person so they were justified. WTF?? I was incredulous! I felt confident even before I read ours...Ours? Point by point we made the case that not only was the judge a bigot, but he harbored those views during the trial. We pointed to evidence. We showed how, in the trial, he was biased and we put it into a longer and historically systemic picture. It was just brilliant and I'm really excited.  

I talked about the filings with my Taffy, on the phone, and her insight always eases my anxiety. She does so much for me, and I'm one lucky dude to have her by my side in life.

But yeah, we still have to get past the CCA and they're notoriously on the wrong side of history, but also the facts. Still, I just can't believe they would want to defend a proven bigot. Time will tell...

Got to keep up the positive energy and hope!  

Courage. Strength. Hope and Faith.  

Peace


August 29th, 2021

Wow...Entering into the last few days of the month – just 16 days away until I'm 44 years old! Then, my friend, Irving's, birthday is on the 17th, and Big Will's is on the 29th. People love making babies in the new year!

The weekend  has been typical; a bit slow and boring here, but the past two nights have been quiet and I slept well. Today started off quiet but now sounds like a zoo. Banging, yelling. Literal animal noises...I really believe some people are afraid of silence or their own minds. There are two types of people like that – those that pop pills to sleep the day away because they can't face it, or those that have to make  so much noise to drown out their own thoughts. Maybe if I wasn't so sensitive to sounds I could handle it, but my hearing is abnormal. I  hear too darn good! I love it for music, not so much for everything else.  

So, I've been sitting here wondering if I'll return to Polunsky this week or even soon. The last I heard, my investigator said that Dallas just has to put a transport plan together. I didn't know it takes two months to do that! It only took 3 weeks to get to Dallas.  

I caught a little of the Dallas pre-season game that the officers were watching at their desk. They were being trampled on! I hope they do better in the regular season.

I'm looking forward to recreation tomorrow assuming I'm here. I won't complain if they take me back to Livingston though. I have things I need to take care of. These days I live and think like I'm going to be soon leaving the place – alive! Even if it takes many months. I feel like my time there is coming to a happy end. Oh, how I really do hope so!

Courage. Strength. Hope and Faith.  

Peace


August 26th, 2021

Geeze...the  last full week of the month! I've been here almost two months. You  know, honestly, it ain't so bad. So many blessings have occurred since  being here. So many wonderful things. I've been restless only because I  wasn't prepared for a long stay. The only reason I even want to go back  to Polunsky is to have a bit of time to say 'goodbye' to friends and to  get things in order.

When  I speak of wonderful things and blessings, I speak of the kindness I've  experienced here. The many people who have treated me as a human being.  But the real blessing is the phone...Talking to my lawyers in real  time, close friends I've had for years, and of course my Taffy - I remember when I just arrived here and she was the first person I wanted to speak to...To hear a friend's daughter try to say my name - apparently 'Randy' is  an impossible name for anyone under 2 years old ha ha. To talk about books and Arthur Miller plays, with Taffy...We don't get that on death row. We get a  hurried 5 minute phone call where there's just enough time to say,  

“Hey, how are you? I love you. Goodbye.”

And the guard ends your call. The truth is there's ever enough time with the people you care about and love.  

So,  yeah, I'm stuck, but I'm okay. I gripe and complain at times, but really have been an incredibly  fortunate guy.  

Courage. Strength. Hope and Faith.  

Peace


August 25th, 2021

I may be trapped in Dallas due to the COVID outbreak of the Delta Variant (thank you unvaccinated people!). I'll know more tomorrow, but it seems to be the reason. Dallas might not want to risk transporting people. I could go off on a tangent, but I'll spare you all today.  

It's been a super slow, super boring day, but I did go outside for a couple of hours. The officer doing rec was a bit of a jerk at first, and I thought I might not make it, but I did. It was hot as blazes, but the sky was clear and the city beautiful. I love the small quiet towns, but I'll always be a city boy at heart.  

When I came in I was wiped out! I ate lunch and fell asleep. When I got up I watched a fight break out on one of the general population tanks. These tanks operate like it's the 'Lord of the Flies', and are very predatory. County jails are always like that. You'd think they'd try to prevent it, but they never do.  

Other than that I'm just relaxing and plan on going to bed early – assuming it's quiet tonight!

Courage. Strength. Hope and Faith.  

Peace


August 24th, 2021

Where  do I begin on how completely idiotic I feel this mask debate is, and  the argument that it's an 'attack on freedom' is utterly nonsensical. I  mean, I'm of the mind to say,  

“Sure, you have the right to put your own health at risk...”

But  the problem is that it's not just your life – viruses are  transmissible, and that means that you, dear anti-mask wearer, put  others' lives at risk. And don't say that masks don't work because the  proof is in the pudding and during the pandemic, cold and flu viruses  were at an all time low. So, yes, they do work. But again, the main  purpose of them is to prevent YOU – a possible carrier – from giving it  to someone else.  

An  attack on freedom? Puh-lease! Is the restaurant rule, 'No shirt, no  shoes, no service' an attack on freedom? Are school uniforms or dress  codes an attack on freedom? Are no smoking rules an attack on freedom?  Is a seat belt law or a no texting while driving law an attack on  freedom? Indecent exposure? Public intoxication? Littering? Speed  limits?

Seriously,  people cannot be that dumb! And let's admit it...if the Trump  administration had come out on day one of the pandemic and said,  

“Every American should wear their mask and be patriotic.”

A great number of the anti-maskers would have their red, made in China, MAGA face masks on, waving flags and saying,  

“You  ain't American if you ain't wearin' your mask. USA!” (No, I don't think  all Trump supporters are ignorant or red necks, but they sure can act  pretty darn stupid.)

This  shouldn't be a political issue. It's not an attack on freedom any more  than having laws against a guy in a trench coat flashing his weiner at  you in a park is. I mean, come on! It's just common sense. I don't want  some pervo flashing his pecker at me. Just like I wouldn't want anyone  to die of COVID when it could be so easily prevented. It's not  fear...It's logic. Something this country has seemed to have left on the  side of the road. The world's laughing at us...Sheesh!

Rant over...I really should stop reading newspapers!  

The  day has been a bit boring. From what I've heard so far from my Taffy about my recent legal filing, it's pretty flipping good, and that lifts my hopes up. I'd  like to get back before the CCA rules so I can get things in order, say  goodbye to friends on Polunsky etc. I just visualise the day that I'm 'Randy Halprin, former death  row inmate'. G-d willing!  

The day is winding down now. The noise isn't crazy yet, but it's not quite 10pm. Anything can happen!

Courage. Strength. Hope and Faith.  

Peace


August 22nd, 2021

As  the weekend comes to an end, I really don't have a lot to write about.  I've been sick all weekend long and pretty much lost my voice. It's  coming back, but definitely not full strength.  

My  big filing was submitted to the judge on Friday, and whilst I've not  yet seen it, I'm confident it's good. I'd like to be back on Polunsky  when the judge makes her recommendation to the CCA just in case things  move quickly after that. I don't expect the CCA to rule quickly, but you  never know. They might just want to be done with me and kick me down  the road. Regardless, everything is in motion now and I can only pray  for brighter days ahead.  

So,  other than dealing with being sick for the second time in two weeks,  I'm doing my best to get by. There are some slang terms here in Dallas  County that I really hope never make it into the Polunsky lexicon. They  are so...really irritating. I get it, I'm almost 44 years old and I'm  sure things I said at home growing up got on my parents' nerves.  Actually, my dad used to say,  

“Stop talking like a valley girl!”

But these are tiresome phrases that are like nails in a chalk board:

“On my momma” as in “I hit that fool so hard, on my momma he passed out”

“On G-d” ditto

“Nah, but for real,” as in “I bought that car for $5000 but nah for real, I did.”

“Type s**t,” (in this someone says something to the guy and the response in return is 'type s**t'. Huh?)

And the most annoying response to just about anything, and I'm not making this up, is “Skiddupp.” I don't know...it's boggling!

Courage. Strength. Hope and Faith.  

Peace


August 19th, 2021

It's so strange...Two weeks ago I had a head cold. It lasted a few days and I was fine. Last night I could feel an itchiness in the back of my throat. When I woke up I was completely stuffed up in my nasal cavity and I feel like I have a head cold. A friend suggested allergies, but as far as I know, I have none. So who knows? I don't feel sick. My energy is fine. I slept okay, and feel chipper.

I talked to my attorney today and the big filing for my appeal is due tomorrow. Everyone feels like we have the winning argument. I do continue to ask for peoples' prayers that the judge considers all of the facts and is given insight and wisdom into her decision. That I'm granted mercy and another chance.  

I think we're all thinking that the reason I'm still in Dallas is COVID related. With the surge especially high (because people won't get vaccinated) I'm guessing that either TDCJ or Dallas County Jail doesn't want to move people around the State. That seems to be the most logical explanation, but who knows really? And again, I don't mind being here, but I am not settled. I'm also worried about certain personal items I have at Polunsky. My pictures, cards, loving cards from my Taffy, books, and in particular some very special books that Taffy gave to me...All of these things have sentimental value. We'll just have to see what happens.  

Anyways, the day has been slow moving and quiet. The noise will probably explode at anytime.  

Courage. Strength. Hope and Faith.  

Peace


August 18th, 2021

I'm  so angry at myself at times....I went outside for recreation and  watched the city. It was cool and grey...absolutely perfect. That first  teasing bite of autumn, although I'm not fooled by Texas weather! We're  far from autumn, but Texas just likes to give us a little tease. Texas  weather can be a shameless hussy!

So, I'm watching the city and I think,  

“Randy,  you are such a stupid, ignorant, and impulsive jerk for escaping. Right  now, right at this very moment you'd probably be out on parole. You'd  be one of these automatons staring down at their phone, lost in life.”

I do get mad at myself and I probably would be free...September 5th I have four years left on my original offence that began when I was 18 years old, almost 19...I'm almost 44 now. Crazy.

But  then I think, if I had remained in general population all of these  years who would I be now? I'm far from perfect, but I do believe I'm a  good person and kind, but would years of prison have hardened me? Would I  have become angry and resentful at the world? Would I have remained  angry and resentful towards the people that turned their backs on me?  Who would I be?  

Without  a doubt, as awful as my choices were in life and the mistakes I made,  and then this 20 plus years of this roller coaster...Without them I  wouldn't be who I am now. I have so many regrets and remorse for the  choices I made, but I don't regret who I've become.  

After  about 45 minutes it began to rain on the city and as it cleaned the air  the downpour was so fresh smelling. At the hour mark it was time to  return to my cell. I had lunch which was PB&J and then decided to  take a  nap. I ended up sleeping for two hours! I guess I needed it.  

There's a peacefulness now. Maybe it's the rain, maybe everyone is exhausted. Who knows?  

Courage. Strength. Hope and Faith.  

Peace


August 16th, 2021

Today  started off on a wild note. I woke up at about 5.30am and it was  already noisey. I was just relieved to have gotten some sleep the night  before. I told myself I was going to push for recreation as I have not  had it since I've been here, and if I'm stuck here, I want all of my  privileges. At about 6.30am I talked to an officer about recreation and  he was really cool about it and told me he'd talk to someone about it.  Not a hot 15 minutes later he says,  

“Yeah. You can go. We just have to wait on an SRT escort to take you to the gym.”

I was really happy about that and it was hassle free – that was what I was most worried about.  

As  I was waiting I started to exercise and another guy – a kid really –  was going to rec when he suddenly tried to knee-kick the officer. I  don't know what spurred it. They didn't seem to be arguing or anything  like that, but the kid made a huge mistake. The officer was quick as lightening, dodged the kick, spun and grabbed the kid's shirt and put  him on the ground! Next thing you know, other officers are piling on top  of him and they have him in handcuffs, dragging him across the ground  by his ankles. So crazy!

Honestly,  this kid...I don't feel sorry for him. Well, let me clarify...I feel  sorry that he has had a life in which he feels he needs to be a  'gangster' and act tougher than he is. I feel even worse that he's had a  life in which he wears being a 'gangster' as a badge of honor...Like  it's something to be proud of. It's clouded any common sense he might  have and makes him act like an idiot daily. This is what I mean when I  talk about having people come in from his community and mentor him and  others like him, before he ends up in prison for the rest of his life.  

As  as I have learned the hard way, there are repercussions for our choices  and so I didn't feel bad that they dragged him off by his ankles. They  didn't beat or abuse him. They were quite professional. It could've been  worse for him. From my point of view, he started it. Act like a thug,  you can't be surprised when you're treated like one.  

Anyhow,  I got the phone and then after I made my calls they showed up to take  me to recreation. It was one SRT and the rec officer. I got a 'pat down'  and they walked me to the gym. At first, that initial breath of fresh  air – I say 'fresh' but it was really smoggy city air - I was imediately overwhelmed by the air! It was a bit hot, a smell of exhaust fumes, and oxygen. I walked to the mesh area and looked at down town Dallas...Sky  scrapers...The American Airline Center to the left of my panoramic view.  The old Dallas County Courthouse...trees...people walking, oblivious to  the fact that some inmate was watching them. I thought,  

“Look at them...so busy to get nowhere. Looking at their phones or talking without looking at the beautiful world around them!”

I  saw Mrs Baird's bread trucks, UPS trucks, an Amazon truck...I watched  as some guy stood on the side of the road as an Uber Eats car dropped  off food to him. The clouds were thick, like big fluffy marshmallows in  the sky. An airplane breezed across a sky scraper, taking off from the  nearby Lovefield airport. It was a little humid and hot. I actually  managed to have some sunlight on my face, which I didn't think I'd get.  

It's  hard to describe how real and 3D everything was...Yes, obviously most  of us are stereoscopic, but for me, even with two decent eyeballs, being  kept in a cell all day and seeing only a limited amount of things, the  environment becomes two dimensional. Walking outside and seeing a city...It's a bit like stepping into an MC Escher drawing, or seeing the matrix for what it is.  

After  taking in the city for a long time I began to walk around. I think if I  get to go to rec again this week, I'll jog for 30 minutes. The gym is  huge and I get almost 2 hours of recreation...a true blessing.  

Now  I'm completely wiped out. I hope to sleep really good! It's been a nice  day, actually. Having rec kind of settled my nerves and cabin fever.  Now I'm just hoping tonight stays quiet.  

Courage. Strength. Hope and Faith.  

Peace


August 12th, 2021

Today is a bit brighter...and hopeful...I talked to someone on my legal team and was told that my filing for our 'Conclusion to the Fact Findings' to the judge has been given an extension of another week and is now due on August 20th.  

That's cool. I know we have the winning argument. I think of the State's argument because of the ridiculousness of it all.

“Yeah, everything Halprin is arguing is fact and true...but it didn't affect the trial.”

I'm reminded of my actual trial when a detective on the case was asked,  

“So, based on your investigation Halprin told the truth?”

“Yes.”

“And he was telling the truth when he said this...”

“Yes.”

“And he was telling the truth when he said that...”

“Yes.”

“In fact, his whole statement checks out. Is that correct?”

“Yes.”

“But?”

“But I don't believe him when he says he didn't shoot.”

CRAZINESS!!

Again, I can only pray that my judge is filled with the wisdom to discern the nonsense from the facts. No reasonable person can believe that a bigot is capable of giving a religious minority defendant a fair trial, or any minority defendant a fair trial for that matter.  

So, has anyone read something so enlightening that it almost consumes your whole thought process? I mentioned I'm reading John Steinbeck's 'East of Eden' and while the entire novel is an explanation of the human heart and condition, there's a part of the book that examines the story in the book of Genesis about Cain and Abel. As the story goes, Cain slayed Abel out of jealousy, and then tried to hide it from God. Two of the characters get into a theological debate about the King James translation where God does not punish Cain but essentially tells him,  

“Thou shalt rule over sin.” In American standard translation it's more forceful in that it says,

“Do this.”  

After long consideration of the phrase, one of the characters takes it to  Rabbis and Chinese philosophers. They examine it for two years and  realise that the Hebrew root is 'timshel' - “Thou mayest.” G-d gives man a choice. G-d knows our hearts and instead of making a stern demand, G-d says you have the choice to not be ignorant. You can choose to enlighten yourself or you can be ignorant and foolish. And my brain is on fire because sometimes I think about free will and fate and I think,  

“If the future's written then where does free will come from?”

And that two word statement, “Thou mayest,” to me anyways, allows both free will and fate to co-exist. It says,

“You have the choice – you may enlighten yourself in life, use the tools and the knowledge given to you to better the world, or you can choose not to. How you live is your choice."

Think about this – say you plan a vacation. You know you're going to Disney World. That part is set in stone (the future) but...how do you get there? Let's say money/expenses don't matter. That's not part of the scenario. You can fly – you know it will be less of a hassle, faster, or you can drive. The choice doesn't change the outcome it just may or may not make the trip easier.  

My mind is all over the place thinking of this stuff. I can promise you that East of Eden is a book worth reading. I think when I get back to Polunsky I'm going to read 'Grapes of Wrath' again. I already have two other classics I'm going to read with my Taffy – 'The Crucible' and 'Pride and Prejudice'. I'm looking forward to all of it.

The day has been peaceful and quiet. I hope I sleep as good tonight as I did yesterday. The lights were out completely. The first time since I've been here and it was so dark, I slept like a baby. May it be so tonight!  

Courage. Strength. Hope and  Faith.  

Peace


August 10th, 2021

Yesterday I felt barely alive with how exhausted I was. Coming off of a virus and then not having any sleep because all hell broke loose the night before. It was hard to sleep over all of the yelling and incessant banging...Then, early in the morning some guy trying to pull a fast one on the commissary lady set off a reaction that had the floor filled with officers...It was nuts. By evening time I was so exhausted I crashed so hard that I slept all the way until 7.30am. Had I not needed to be up and make some calls, I could've slept longer. I did feel relaxed and rested though.  

I'm reading Steinbeck's 'East of Eden' right now. I wasn't sure if I was in a place mentally to take on a great classic, but I'm glad I started it because now, more than ever, I actually get it. It's filled with every facet of the human heart and condition that it almost seems fortuitous that I just randomly grabbed the book off of the cart. This is the third book I grabbed by happenchance since I've been here, that seems like the universe is literally speaking to me. Just strange...

Reading here is so different. I've always loved to read. I was a book mad kid and read at school, at home, at restaurants, under the blankets late at night with a flash light on...By the 4th grade I was reading at college level...Not bad for a kid that barely knew his ABCs at 5 ½ years old. I hated math. I hated PE. I loved history and I loved English. When I first came to prison I read about every genre written imaginable. From every Tom Clancy spy thriller, to Dean Kootz, John Grisham, Stephen King, and a myriad of horror writers. Then, I got right into the literary classics and literary fiction. I blame my friend and mentor, David, for that.  

But reading at Polunsky...while I don't tear through books like I once did, it's distracting. With my radio, friends, noise etc, I'll read a chapter here, read a chapter there...I still love to read, just differently. Here in Dallas though? Unless it's noisey, that old love – the reading for the escaping into another world, and that excitement returned and I'm just reading and reading.  

Courage. Strength. Hope and Faith.  

Peace


August 6th, 2021

I have a headache and my nose is stuffed up. They ended up moving the guy who was banging, after an hour. Thank G-d! It would have been a very long night.  

Something interesting happened earlier today. I was sitting at my desk when, through my vent, I hear,  

“Randy! Look out Randy!”

I thought,  

“Who in the world knows my name here? I've not talked to a single inmate.”

I got up and went to the vent and said,  

“Yeah? What's up?”

“Man, this is Jack...You don't remember me?”

“Uhhh...I don't know a 'Jack'. Sorry.”

“Yeah, you do, man. 2002, 2 East Upper. You had the walls around your cells. You were there, Woody, [AKA Abel Ochoa], that guy that killed his little girls. Those SRT's always pulled you out, and when you passed my cell, I was the guy that would tell you I'm praying for you.”

Everything flooded back to me and I said,  

“Yeah! Yeah! I remember now! Wow...That was almost 20 years ago.  

“I know!” What's crazy is I saw you the other day and you ain't got no hair! But you still look young,” he said.  

“Yeah...I miss my hair.”  

We both laughed.  

“Anyways, man,” Jack said, “I just wanted to tell you I read them articles and I'm still praying for you. I hope it all works out.”

“Thank you. I really appreciate that.”

“Yeah, sure. God's got this. Trust him.”

“I do, Jack. I do.”

What a conversation...Amazing that I'm near a guy I was around 20 years ago.

Not much else going on today. It's hard to think because of my headache, and I'm blowing my nose every couple of minutes. Wouldn't it be crazy if I really had the Delta variant of COVID? With having COVID this past winter, the vaccine, and now this, I'll have a super immune system!

Nah...I doubt it's COVID. If so, everyone around me would be dropping like flies because few guys on solitary are vaccinated and we all share the same phones and ventilation system.  

Courage. Strength. Hope and Faith.  

Peace


August 5th, 2021

Why am I still here? Well, it took three weeks to get me here after the judge signed the bench warrant. Maybe it's the same amount of time when it comes to going back? Who knows? I just don't know what the deal is...Again, I really wouldn't care if I could “settle”, but I can't settle. Anyways...I'll get on with it.  

The best part of being here (besides the chips) is the phone calls. It's a blessing...It truly is. To spend some time talking with long time friends and of course, my Taffy. That's more precious than gold.  

I seem to be coming down with some kind of cold or something. I hope it's not the Delta variant! It feels more like a head cold than anything, but still...I hope it doesn't last long.  

My investigator stopped by the jail tonight which was really great. He had to come to Dallas for other business and decided to drive up to the jail as well. Unlike Polunsky where legal visits have to be scheduled in advance, and are limited in hours, a legal visit or minister visit can come at any time, and for however long they like. So, we stayed out there until almost 10pm! I thought it was earlier than that, but next thing I know it's shift change.  

Ugh! They just moved a guy into the cell next to me and he's banging on his desk...

Courage. Strength. Hope and Faith.  

Peace


August 4th, 2021

Today's been a spit boxing extravaganza! There's 4 dudes going at it right now. Worst line? Well, honestly, it's way too explicit and homophobic to repeat, but the guy basically called the other guys for being gay, and then after insulting him, asked that he perform a sexual act on him.  

The response was like,  

“I'm a [bleep] but you want me to [bleep...bleep...bleep]?”

Thank God there's barely any of this nonsense back on Polunsky.  

The day's been okay though. If I'm still in Dallas tomorrow I should receive a legal visit. I'll be looking forward to that. Otherwise, I'm still waiting for my return to Livingston.  

Courage. Strength. Hope and Faith.

Peace


August 3rd, 2021

I had an epiphany of sorts this morning...It came from listening to the conversations of these young black men talking in the vents – mostly about their gang lives, getting back on the streets for that life, and all that comes with that.

The epiphany is this: whilst I know there are groups out in the world, who try to prevent these young men from getting involved in gangs or violence, from my own eyes the intervention (mostly) comes when they're already in prison and sometimes facing lengthy sentences. What I have almost never seen is anyone come into jails and start talking to them.

Most of these guys will eventually be released or make bond, and they go right back to the life they know. There is no alternative...No way out. The cycle of crime, or even death, continues. But if groups of community leaders, clergy and others from their communities were to come in and offer hope, eduction, be supportive in their redemption, and offer a way out...That could create positive change. I listen to these guys talk and intellectually, they are not dumb. They just lack that spark that will set them alight to see a different path.  

So, they come into jail and see no other path open to them. Sometimes a person knows where the path is, but it's so dark they can't find it. It takes another to light the way for them.  

I seem to be stuck in Dallas for some reason...I'm not going to harp on about it, it's been a mixture of positives and negatives. I'm just unprepared to stay such a long time. I'm doing my best to keep busy. If I'm here tomorrow I think I'm going to ask why I'm not getting recreation. I've not asked since I've been here only because I didn't expect to stay so long.  

Courage. Strength. Hope and Faith.  

Peace


August 2nd, 2021

Still in Dallas...Today's been odd. First, when the commissary cart arrived I wanted to buy stamps. They sell stamped envelopes, but I need the additional postage for other things to mail. The lady said,  

“We're not selling stamps anymore...” which I find ridiculous. If it's true it really hurts me because I can't write particular people. So, I'll send a request to whoever runs the commissary and ask if it's true, and if so, what are the people who need additional postage, to do? I mean, at times even legal mail requires extra postage.  

Then a storm hit Dallas and the phone system went out on me mid-call. Later, the craziest thing happened...I'm pacing in my cell and doing exercises, when an officer comes up and says,  

“You trippin'?”  

I said,  

“What?”

I was confused. He asks,  

“You in here smoking?”

I blurted,  

“Hell no!!”

“Well, I'm gonna go in there and check,” he said.  

“Okay.”

I'm really confused, but concerned. 100 things begin going through my head...Is he going to call the SRTs? Am I being set up? I don't smoke and never have. It's freakin' repugnant! Even when I did drugs when I was a youngster, I found smoking disgusting.  

Second shift comes and I ask the guard working if he knew why this happened to me, and he says,  

“Don't worry about it. They saw your arms moving around and didn't know what you were doing.”

“I was exercising! I'm in the fight for my life and would never do anything so dumb...”

“No. You're right about that.”

And that was that.  

Really, that's been my day...Extremely boring. I could rant about COVID being on the rise and it being mostly unvaccinated people filling up hospitals. Actually, one comment I'll make...I didn't know that so many Conservatives have suddenly turned into pro-choice.  

“My body, my health.”

People, who would've thought that would happen? Just sayin'...

Courage. Strength. Hope and Faith.

Peace


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