Last night was pure madness...the guards had about 40 showers to do and it took them until after midnight to finish them. Then, someone else came from another pod to pass out mail, and they woke me up at about 11.30pm to sign for a Jpay letter! Then, I had to write a quick note to my chick, and crawled back into bed after that. They kept the lights on all night long, and then another crew came in with a very loud pressure washer to wash the bars in the day room...It seemed like every time I fell asleep, something else was waking me up. I had a solid bout of sleep from 5.30am until about 8am, when the mail room woke me up again to sign for a magazine...That was my night's sleep!
I had been told I was going to recreation third round so I began a letter to my girl and then, just as I was about to start on other stuff, the guards came back and told me I had been bumped up to second round! I scrambled to get ready and went to recreation, exercised, and spent the next four hours trapped...I made it back to my cell a little after 2pm, and I haven't had time to catch a breath or rest...You are probably thinking, "how busy can a person be when he's locked up all day long?" Apparently, very busy!
So, last night I also received a response to the latest grievance that I will have posted below this journal...the grievance was about the sack meals they were feeding us during the last lock down, and how they did not meet the dietary standards. To give an example, breakfast is supposed to be 600 total calories, lunch 800 calories, and I believe dinner is another 600. However, for breakfast, all that they were giving us was 3 or 4 pancakes thrown into a bag...We used to get raisins or some kind of fruit, and a PB&J sandwich. Lunch used to be a fruit item, PB&J, and another sandwich. What they've been giving us lately...the calories are barely adding up to 1100-1200, and that is being liberal with the math! Well, I lost the grievance as the kitchen said we were getting what we're suppsed to get. Sucks, but that's our life back here now.
Otherwise, I'm holding up...I've been learning a valuable lesson in communication of late, and I'm working on it! I hope to get better...
Courage. Strength. Hope and Faith.
October 28th, 2018
It's been an emotional weekend...Yesterday, I was heartbroken to hear the news of yet another mass shooting, this time at a synagogue in Pittsburgh, during a baby naming ceremony. I've been to many of those as a kid...The parents hold the baby in front of the ark of the Torah, as the Rabbi blesses and names the child.
After news of the shooting broke, Trump gave a brief statement to the press, and it sounded so empty...I challenge you to listen to the real anger and emotion of ex-President Obama, after news of a shooting, and then listen to Trump...I was put off by his empty words even more when Trump said the incident called for the death penalty. Even as a Jew, I wouldn't want that for the shooter. What gets to me even more is that Trump takes no responsibility for any of this...for his rhetoric laced with tribalism and nationalism...his legitimising of hatred and violence. He can say that American politics has no place for violence, or that no one should be attacked for their religion or ethnicity...But where were these words when he praised a Congressman who body-slammed a reporter when he refused to speak against a white nationalist protest that resulted in the death of a protester? Where were these words when he openly attacked and demonised migrants and muslims? Trump's actions have led to this...If people don't vote to put in place a check and balance on this rogue administration, it will only get worse.
This weekend, I also learned that a supporter of one of my co-defendants posted some words online that I wish to state here and now have NOTHING to do with me, nor do these views coincide with or reflect my views, or those of my friends and supporters. I disown and detatch myself from any connection or supposed notoriety attached to the label "Texas 7"...I want no part of it, and I don't lay any claim to that title. I will be forever ashamed and have the utmost regret and remorse for ever having been part of it, or associated with any of it, and I will forever ask for forgiveness... I have spent my years on death row trying to distance myself from that label/title...There is no honor in it, only shame.
In other news, many of you who read my journals will know that we have a new warden here...I've written a little about him in previous journals, but each day it seems like he's enforcing some new rule - one minute we can't have our clothes lines up, and the next, we can put them up from 6pm to 6am...Then he changes it from 6am to 10pm! He's also been swapping out the ranking officers, some of whom are okay, and now he's stocking the building with hard asses...Dudes who love to stir up trouble. They've been writing bogus cases galore! This man is determined to make both inmates and officers as miserable as possible. I've heard officers talk about quitting...I've heard inmates say they've had enough...And if he keeps at it the way he is, some of these guys won't continue to fight their appeals. Right now, we're at one of the lowest points back here...one of the worst since I've been here. I just try to keep my head full of positive thoughts, and push through it...What else can I do?
Courage. Strength. Hope and Faith!
** Warning...Contains foul language **
October 23rd, 2018
Here's how I woke up this morning...It was about 6.45am or so, and I opened my eyes and heard two officers pass by my cell. The female officer - a new one in training - yelled at the other officer, who was male, "If you try to touch me one more time, I'm reporting you!"
"I was just trying to get a pen out of your pocket!" The male officer replied.
"Get your own fucking pen, creep!"
I got up, got ready for recreation, and started a letter to my girl...then I headed out to rec. I wanted to work out, but I was so sore from yesterday that all I did was walk around and talk for a couple of hours. I came back in, wrote a little more, then had lunch and an early shower. It's now second shift as I write this, and I'm listening to the news, waiting on dinner, and hoping I get mail relatively early.
Wow...Trump is calling himself a nationalist??? Why do I feel we're inching toward a repeat of 1933 Germany?...Jesus!
GET OUT AND VOTE ON NOVEMBER 6TH!!
[Below, you will see a copy of the grievance I filed on the cockroaches in the food carts...I guess I won??]
October 22nd, 2018
Today hasn't been a terrible day...I just came in a little while ago after playing 70 games of basketball. It was nice and cool, and I felt like I could play forever...but whilst I was beaten pretty badly, I needed the exercise! I thought 60 games on Friday was pretty impressive, but 70 games is just insane...maybe the next time we go out we'll aim for 80 games!?! I'm soooo sore and completely exhausted, and plan on getting to bed early tonight...When I came in I was able to get straight to the shower, and then I finished everything up that I needed to.
The really great thing that happened today is that both of the mentally ill guys I wrote about recently were taken off death watch. I was surprised but thrilled when Kwame Rockwell was given a stay and moved onto our section. I said, "Hell yeah!" when he walked through the gate...And I was proud of all the guys on my section as we all tried to offer Kwame some snacks and coffee or whatever else he needed, but he wouldn't respond to us...(maybe we'll try again later). I can't begin to imagine the kind of trauma he went through over there.
I'm going to wind it down for the day...it's getting quite cold and I want to get under the blanket.
GET OUT AND VOTE ON NOVEMBER 6TH!!
Courage. Strength. Hope and Faith!
October 9th, 2018
(I'm actually continuing on from my journal entry of the 8th, because when I closed out that particular entry, I just wanted to follow up with a note of thought...If you read this in the US of A and listen to NPR, I highly suggest a new program that comes on late at night - 12am Eastern/11pm Central time - it's called "America On The Line." It's a wonderful live call in program that debates in a very civil way on various political issues. I think it would be a good example to those who don't know how to engage people who have a differing opinion to their own...Just a recommendation! Goodnight people! For real this time...Peace!)
[Later this morning]
So, word on the street is that lockdown will indeed be over tomorrow! I really do hope so...I need to get back to a normal schedule because my sleep has been all off during this period. Normally, I'd start my day at around 5.30-6am, and be in bed by 10.30pm...Yeah, an "old man" schedule, but I found myself to be more productive and "fresh" with that schedule. This particular lock down I've been staying up really late at night and sleeping in until almost 8-9 the next morning, and it's got me to where I am now, which is tossing and turning when I sleep. I didn't make it to sleep until after 1 this morning...I tossed and turned, and then once I was sound asleep the guard woke me up at the 3 in the morning (after we were told earlier that evening there was no mail) to give me mail! I couldn't get back to sleep until 6 in the morning after that because I waited on 1st shift to see if we were going to either get a shower or have recreation. Neither happened so I slept until 8 and then decided to get up.
A couple of months ago I talked about how they were shifting sections over to put in the new shower doors. Well, today they are starting to shift sections again because they are putting new locks on the food slots. The ones they've had for the past century are a spring loaded bolt that requires a steel bar and a tip that looks similar to a crow bar...About a year and a half, or maybe two years ago, on another unit, an inmate snatched one of those bars out of the hand of a guard and beat him to death. It was really something awful, and now that inmate is on death row. Since then, they decided to go to a turn key style lock on the slots, and are in the process of converting all of the food slots. I don't know when they'll get to my section, but I figure it will be soon, so I'll either be going to F-section or D-section. But who knows? I can't go to B-pod or A-pod because I'm not allowed to be around my co-defendants...
As I type this, the guards are saying we are supposed to get a hot meal for dinner...Woohoo! I'm ready and starving!! Today's lunch was a hot link, peanut butter and jelly sandwich, and one slice of bread...Meal of champions, right there!
Well, so much for the hot meal we're supposed to get tonight...they just gave us one bean burrito and a PB&J sandwich...Wow!...Another meal of champions!
Anyway, remember...GET OUT AND VOTE!!! You can't complain if you don't VOTE!!!
Courage. Strength. Hope and Faith!
October 8th, 2018
I'm starting this journal entry at 10.28pm on a Monday night...I'd spent the early part of the day listening to political programs, and becoming enraged at conservative talk radio and their mock outrage at Democrats' handling of the Kavanaugh hearings, and the "political correctness" of wishing to change the named celebration of colonialism and genocide from "Columbus Day" to "Indigenous Day", and to instead celebrate the history of Noble America and its indigenous people. One AFR host and fundamentalist spat, "The Indians weren't innocent - they were savages!" Yeah, dufus, because we were killing their people and taking their land. You'd defend your home if someone was invading it and laid claim to it. Contrary to popular belief, Jesus didn't say, "Hey dudes, there's this continent across the ocean...It's free for the taking! Go for it, man!"
Later, I listened to some left wing liberal radio and found myself getting annoyed because, whilst they're still smarting over the appointment of Kavanaugh, it's time to cut their losses and move on. Focus on taking back the house, the senate. Make the argument to those Americans who feel ignored or left out, or marginalised on why they should turn out to vote.
Trump can tell his base that he's kept the vast majority of his promises, and be surprisingly truthful about it. He can create fear amongst men that "women are coming after them" or put fear into those who just need a reason to be afraid of something...
But Democrats and the left need to be making the case for what Trump and Republicans have not done:
1. They haven't solved the gun safety/gun violence problem.
2. They haven't addressed mental health in America.
3. They haven't solved the opioid crisis.
4. They haven't addressed climate change.
5. They haven't fixed our health care system.
6. They haven't fixed our education system.
7. They haven't solved the student loan/student debt crisis.
8. They haven't addressed our crumbling infrastructure problem.
9. They haven't addressed the equal pay gap between women and men.
10. They haven't (and won't) address LGBT rights issues.
So yeah, the Republicans can boast about separating illegal immigrants' families, locking up children and placing them in tent cities...They can boast about cutting regulations on clean air and coal factories so that people will have breathing problems, and have toxic chemicals dumped into rivers and lakes that people drink out of or swim in...They can boast about a miniscule tax cut that does far more for the super rich and gives a paltry few dollars to the working class...They can boast about spending almost a trillion dollars to bust up an already jacked up military...They can boast about so much! But Democrats need to start talking to the people directly...Time is running out!
Politics aside, I spent the other half of the day working on my memoir...I'm getting into Chapter 15 now; it's still 1995 for a couple of chapters, but I'm not looking forward to Part Two which will be 1996...To relive those 9 months up to September...Ugh! It was a very ugly chapter in my life...so many regrets, so much remorse...and I can't sugar coat it! I can't gloss over it! I have to face myself down...
Anyway, I'm calling it a night. May God grant me mercy!
GET OUT AND VOTE!
Courage. Strength. Hope and Faith.
October 7th, 2018
I can't say with absolute certainty, but I do believe that the lockdown is winding down. Rumors have us coming back up on Tuesday, but we'll see! They allowed the Christian Ministry service "Kairos" to come and do their ministry work for General Population this weekend, and as always, they came to death row and gave everyone cookies which is always an appreciated thing. Especially since we are on lockdown and receiving very limited food...But it's a positive sign!
This past week has been pretty much the same as any, and I do think I'm off to a good start to the month following a pretty poor ending to September...I'll take the positive out of that. My head has been full of so many different thoughts, and a lot of these thoughts were to do with the political climate we are in right now, and I feel it's given me a sense of helplessness. For months I've wanted to write an open letter to Evangelicals and Christian Fundamentalists, but more and more I find myself just wanting to speak to everyone who voted for Trump - especially those who claim to be pro-prison reform, or against the death penalty, because I find it very contradictory on the whole. In a lot of ways, those who are lamenting the fact that Texas has already executed 10 people this year (whilst the entirety of the rest of the country has only executed 6 people at the time of writing this) are the very same people responsible for the very political climate we live in right now.
I'm not trying to bash Trump supporters - I don't think that does anything to help the cause and only creates more of a divide...but I do wish those of us on the left, instead of just screaming at those on the right, would try to communicate a bit better because we're doing a horrible job of that right now. Instead, we should focus on education and SHOWING people how voting on purely single issues is not only wrong, but very dangerous...
For those who wanted Trump in office in order to overturn Roe -v- Wade...you may well get that now, or at least the Courts will allow the States to essentially render it moot with so many regulations and restrictions. But at what cost? Watch as the Courts give more power to the Executive branch...Watch as the Courts allow Corporate America to rob the working class who work hard...Watch as the elite and wealthy Americans have more and more power, and the working class has none...Watch as the Prison Industrial Complex grows, more poor people are locked up, and private prisons reap the rewards...Do you enjoy clean air? Do you enjoy drinkable water? All of these things are in danger...Just look at what the Trump administration has done with the EPA in the last two years! And it isn't that I don't think you care...I believe, deep down, you do...but your single issue mindedness, your wish to vote straight party ticket, gets in the way. Loyalty is a good thing...but if your best friend said, "Hey, I think it's a great idea for us to jump off this cliff!" And he or she jumps...I'm pretty sure you wouldn't be THAT loyal! I'm speaking to Democrats on this issue as well - they don't have all of the solutions either, which is why communication and education is so important.
Obviously, I see things through the lens of wishing the death penalty would end...I see things through the lens of wishing prisons to change and have fewer people locked up...If I'm blessed enough to survive this mess my two primary focuses in the rest of my life will be education/ending illiteracy (especially working with those in administrative segregation/solitary confinement) and reforming the prison mental health system. These are two very important issues to me, but that being said, I also want to see people in the LGBT community be treated as equals...I want to see people have a right to better education, health care, and a clean environment. For the life of me, I don't understand how tax-payers have little problem spending almost a trillion dollars on the Military Industrial Complex, and then go ape shit crazy over the idea that it should be a basic human RIGHT for everyone to have universal or even affordable health care. If you are a person who is a pro-life supporter, it should be a no-brainer!
All I'm saying here is that you should look further than yourself...Look at the person next to you...Look at the country as a whole...Look at what is at stake...VOTE! You've got to get out and vote! Don't be a part of the problem, be a part of the solution! If you don't vote, you don't get to complain one way or the other. I'd do anything to be able to vote...
In other news, and on the execution front, I want to bring attention to a couple of guys on death watch who have little support, and who are mentally ill...Whilst all executions are a shame, these two in particular will be a very shameful day in Texas' history should they be allowed to go ahead - I'm talking about Kwame Rockwell and Emanuel Kemp...I've witnessed first hand that both are extremely mentally ill, and have no business even being on death row. Rockwell had just come back from the psychiatric hospital before he was given an execution date...People back here call him "Snake Man" because he has severe visual hallucinations, and thinks there are snakes in his cell. I wrote in February this year that whilst in the dayroom one day, he yelled at me, "Hey, you throwing snakes at me?" I replied with, "No, I hate snakes...I'd never do that to anyone!" Throughout his time on death row, he has been back and forth from the psychiatric hospital, with no real care being given to him.
As for Kemp...he has been on death row for a long, long time, and has spent many years coming back and forth from the state psychiatric hospital. His mind is that of a child..I've never seen him in the same state I've seen Rockwell, but witnessing first hand his interactions with guards and inmates alike, there is no question that he suffers with mental illness and mental retardation. I'm pleading with people to look at these two cases, and if there's any kind of mercy, any kind of humanity in your heart, support and call for an immediate stop to their executions! Please...
Well, here's to hoping that this week we'll be off lockdown. I really need to stretch my legs! To be able to get outside would be lovely as well. The past two days have been gorgeous looking. I'd love to just take a deep breath of cool and fresh air, play some basketball (heck, I'd even taken an ass whoopin' or two on the court...gladly! Just to be able to run...) and let the sun shine on my face...
Courage. Strength. Hope and Faith...
GET OUT AND VOTE!
October 1st, 2018
A new month. A New Hope...See my Star Wars reference there? They're finishing up with the shakedown of this pod today, but they've still got one more pod to do. That being said, some guards said we're expected to be on lockdown until October 15th...I really hope it isn't that long, but it's out of our control. When they passed out laundry earlier, we asked when we were going to receive our blankets because the nights have been getting a bit cooler...the officer said, “October 15th,” so...who knows?
I woke up this morning with a bit more pep in my step than last week. Trying to pump those positive vibes into the universe! I exercised, bathed from my sink, and cleaned up my cell, wrote a bit and finished another chapter of my memoir which will get mailed out tonight. Oh, and they allowed us to buy some stamps and hygiene items from the commissary, which was cool 'cause I was dangerously low on stamps!
I was still in a bit of shock after that kind act by the Officer yesterday...I asked her before their shift was finished, why she did that...She said, “I didn't want to get in trouble for having that wire out there, if a ranking officer or the warden saw it, and I know it must suck to not have control over what you want to listen to.” I thanked her again and again.
Anyway, just trying to keep positive and stay focused on good things to come. Not too much to report on today.