January 1st, 2007
Here I am…Did you miss me? How do you miss yourself??? Happy New Year! Here's hoping that 2007 is so much better than last year. I can remember all the bad omens I was getting that first day of January -
it had all started when I tried to call my ex wife and she wasn't home. Then, things just kind of steam rolled from there. But…I've had good omens this time around. Here's to hoping for the best.
For the past two weeks I've been reflecting on the events that led me to being on death row. In a way, I wanted to just not disrespect that tragedy by writing anything upbeat or positive. I don't want it to seem that it doesn't bother me because if you knew how much it truly does…
My lawyer came about 2 weeks ago. It was a great visit. He thinks I'm in a unique position to get a retrial. I'm excited about that. I don't want to get my hopes up too high, but the odds are in my favor. He was quite pissed about the negative attention my MySpace page received, more so out of concern about my words being taken out of context. I understand that completely -
my own words were used against me during my first trial. So many things twisted and misconstrued. I told him I was only trying to put a human face to death row and I feel obligated to use whatever writing skills I have to do so. It's not really about me - yes, I use my life as an example of the possibility and hope of change, and believe me it's odd to do so at times. Especially being so open and honest about it. I feel very naked at times...But it's also why I've wanted to start telling other's stories, as I am beginning to do in various entries. So, I really can't just up and quit what I'm doing. If my words and message is misconstrued, it's a risk I have to take. In the end, I know my heart and intentions. In regards to this, my lawyer said, “The road to hell is paved with good intentions..” and that may be so, but it's an obligated good intention. Ultimately, my life falls into the hands of twelve people, should I get a retrial, and I can only hope that they have within themselves the same sparks of compassion that I write about. I would hope they would see my writings as such...and heck, even if some do find the things I write about as controversial or questionable - at least it's honest and it shows that I do have faults, that I can identify them, and admit to them. I'm only human.
I can't even begin to tell about all the things on my mind right now. I'm gearing up to participate in a hunger strike that I will begin tomorrow. I think some did it today. I want to at least go three days to show some solidarity and support. We shall see how it all goes. A funny thing happened Friday night...My neighbor is illiterate and a little mentally challenged so he has to have people read his mail to him. I guess he is married or has a girlfriend and so he wanted me to read the letter he received. I was like “Sure. I can do that for you.” There‟s a fairly big hole in the wall between our two cells and so he slid me the letter. This isn't the first time I've read letters to others who can't read and sometimes there's real personal stuff in them and so I scan the letter real quick and if I see a personal thing I make sure it's okay to read it. Some get real weird about letting other people read their private stuff, even though they have no other way to know what's in the letter...My eyes caught some very sexually graphic stuff and I was like, “Whoa! Uh, this is a sex letter. There's no way I'm reading this to another man!” He pleaded with me to read it to him and I did feel bad that he couldn't read it so I was like, “Dude, you absolutely cannot let anyone know that I read a sex letter to you!” Talk about feeling very awkward. Haha. Well, today I had to draw the line. I was helping him write a letter when he asked me to write a sexy letter to his girl for him. I told him, “Nope. Ain't happening! I don't mind helping you write a letter, but I can't write something like that to your lady.” Sheesh and he was deadly serious! He offered to pay me and all of that. I just couldn't do it. Haha. It does make me feel good to help someone out, but that's pushing it a bit!
I have to get to washing some laundry so I will wrap this up for the night. Before I close, though I wanted to share this passage from a Holocaust diary that I read a little bit ago. I found so much inspiration in this person's words, through all of her struggles. Her name was Etty Hillesum and she was killed by the Nazis in the concentration camp in Auschwitz...She wrote on June 20th 1942..
“I find life beautiful, and I feel free. The sky within me is as wide as the one stretching above my head. I believe in God and I believe in man, and say so without embarrassment. Life is hard, but that is no bad thing. If one starts taking one's own importance seriously, the rest follows. It is not morbid individualism to work on oneself. True peace will come only when every individual finds peace within himself; when we have all vanquished and transformed our hatred for our fellow human beings of whatever race into love. Although perhaps that is asking too much. It is however, the only solution. I am a happy person and I hold life dear..”
It amazes me, looking back at my old journal entries, at how we share such different experiences. Though, we both faced death...Yet, how our words are so much alike. In hopes and desires that one day things will transpire into a love of all. For all. Maybe it won't happen in my life time, but I want to believe one day, there will be this collective awakening within every single creature on earth and we'll all look at each other and say, “You know what? I love you, man. I love everyone, everything.” Life really isn't that bad. We make it what it is. Here's hoping 2007 ushers in a time of peace and humanity. It may sound hokey and utterly bleeding heart liberal of me, but I hope. You know? I really do hope.
Peace and good night.
January 2nd, 2007
It's 7:16pm, and as I write this, I'm waiting on some glue to dry for an eye glass nose piece I'm fixing for someone. Don't ask me how I became the general maintenance man around here, because I'm clueless when it comes to really truly fixing something -
though I've become a master at rigging stuff up. I surprise myself at times...
Today has been fruitful. I got up at 6:30am for a shower, and when I came back I spent two hours helping my neighbor, who is illiterate, to write out his commissary list and add it all up. I had to help him price things, give him recommendations on how to save some money and all that. No easy task, because he wanted to argue with me on things. Yeah, it's his money to spend how he wants to spend it, but I figured I'd show him how to buy more for less. He was very happy with the end result. He even said “I love you, man!” I was like, “Cool. Love ya, too, but I'm still not writing a sex letter for you!” Haha. Oh, the craziest thing happened coming back from the shower...See, going to and from anywhere back here, we're handcuffed. We have to squat down and stick our arms out a slot backwards to have the handcuffs removed. It's kind of second nature after doing it for 3 ½ years. The guard that was working seemed a little…Gay, I thought. Well, my thoughts were confirmed when I was in my cell and having the handcuffs removed. I stuck my hands out and he rubbed (like you would to a girlfriend!) his finger down my palm! I was like, “What the hell man?!?” I literally jumped. Haha. Then he smiled and looked down at my boxers, I guess wanting a little peep show. I had to say “Man, I'm not gay.” He, I assume, understood and gave a little “humph!” and walked off. I swear, this place is such a head trip at times. It's like the land of oz. Nothing, and I mean nothing ever appears as it seems! (Hold on, let me attach this nose piece to the eye glass frame now…)
Wow. I'm surprised we actually just got mail. I'm kind of…confused over a particular card. It was from my ex and it evoked a lot of emotions and well…Eh, never mind. I'm not even going to go down that road, so why can't I get these damn tears out of my eyes. Geeze.
Anyways, I spent most of the rest of the day working on my “I Am Human” project typing stuff out. Editing, etc. My friend who does all of this on my site is away doing humanitarian work in Ethiopia so I can't send it out just yet. Still, better to get caught up on the things I needed to do than to procrastinate. There's a prayer I wanted to write down that really touched me; it's by Etty Hillesum and it's taken from her diaries...
“Oh God, times are too hard for frail people like myself. I know that a new and kinder day will come. I would so much like to live on, if only to express all the love I carry within me. And there is only one way of preparing the new age, by living it even now in our hearts. Somewhere in me I feel so light, without the least bitterness and so full of strength and love. I would so much like to help prepare the new age.”
Beautiful words to be reflected on. Tonight there's a beautiful full moon and I can see it out my window. One day I want to cup the moon in my hands. Bathe in the yellow moonlight…
January 3rd, 2007
Today has been…peculiar? It's definitely been strange. I went to recreation and had a good long workout, but when I came back in I got a note from an inmate that goes by the nickname "Rainbow"... Well, the dude is a little off in the head and he's gay. Last night he was in our dayroom masturbating on another inmate. Some guys started cussing him out for doing that out in the open (I must admit it was quite funny at the time) So, he sends me a note today talking about how someone told him I was talking smack about him. Then he said he was going to kill me and “We're at war” and so on. I didn't pay it any mind. I get lots of threats, no big deal really.
I sent him a note back saying “Look, it's okay that you're gay, but to masturbate in the day room is very disgusting and disrespectful. I laughed, but did not talk bad about you. Calm down it's going to be alright! Peace, brother, peace!”
He sent a note back saying he was sorry. Well, it got me to thinking about the various types of mentally disturbed people back here. You've got aggressive and docile. Some are manically aggressive. Very boisterous, loud, rude, and unable to function on a normal level. Then you've got the slow, docile, peaceful ones. I'm not sure there's an in between. The bigger question is, if someone who has mental health issues is one of the docile people, what was the trigger that caused them to possibly commit murder? Or harm to others or themselves? I think it's got to be a neurological miswiring. Something isn't firing right in the brain. I just wish the prison system had a better mental health department. It's really archaic stuff back here. I think the Texas system needs to be less punitive and more rehabilitive. I've said all this before. Some people have no concept of punishment. It's like with the guy who was masturbating in the day room…If I had reacted aggressively, he would've not really understood and probably been more agitated than anything, but words of comfort seemed to ease him a bit.
The day went from being beautiful outside, to cold and nasty. It's raining now as well...I was hoping to catch another glimpse of the full moon. I'm waiting to find out if I'm to be moved to another pod or not. Nope. It's 9:27 p.m. and I'm still here. Got some mail about the "new look" of my site - I do agree it is is too distracting and takes away from my overall message. When my friend returns from Ethiopia I will be making the necessary changes to “Reforms” on my message. Just hold tight.
I just had my cell searched by some guards, which is pretty routine in this place. Nothing like some good ol' search and seize...I'm going to call it a day, or night. Man, it's cold!
January 4th, 2007
Man…The day has finally come to an end. It's 11:48 p.m. and I've just gotten settled into my “new” cell. Actually, I just lived in the exact same cell a week ago. Crazy.
The day was pretty boring, and I'm feeling very tired now. Why??? One of life's mysteries. Anywho… I've got to get this mailed tonight so it's a short one! After I pop this into an envelope I'm taking my butt to bed.
January 5th, 2007
They were just doing hair cuts and the funniest/most stupid thing just happened…Because I'm going bald I shave my head (yeah, I know, doesn't make sense, but I shave my head bald to keep my baldness from showing…) Well, there was this young, must be about 19 or so, new guard who is way over zealous in his job. He's forcing guys to get hair cuts per the lieutenant's orders. He comes to my cell and says “C'mon. Haircut." I look at him like "Are you kidding me?" And then I say...
"You see that I have no hair, right?
"Well, I don‟t care. The lieutenant said that everyone has to get a haircut." He replies.
“Man, I have no hair. How can I get a haircut? "Im biting my tongue from adding, "Are you retarded?‟
“The lieutenant said that I have to give everyone a hair cut -
or do you want a case?” He says.
I say “So what? You're going to walk me down to get a hair cut, sit me in the chair and walk me back? That's idiotic. I swear sometimes I wonder how you folks get hired"
"I do what I'm told" the guard says.
I strip out and then get dressed and have handcuffs put on me and then I'm escorted out of my cell to get a haircut. Well, just as I‟m walking out the lieutenant shows up. He says, “What the hell you doing with him?” I start to laugh, I couldn't help it. The young guard says "You told me to give everyone a hair cut"..."I said give a haircut to those who need one. He don't got no damn hair. Take him back to his cell. Are you retarded?" I looked at the guard like, ‟tried to tell ya‟. This place is odd sometimes.
January 7th, 2007
Not much happened yesterday or today. I think I have a stalker (long, long story) but I did have a crazy, crazy dream last night. I was in some sort of relationship. It was very realistic...Hugs, kisses, holding hands. But the woman I was with was faceless. Though, I knew her and was even kissing her, I couldn't make out her face. It was like a grayish color.
I've spent most of the day listening to the radio and nothing else. They just came to my neighbors cell and made him do a piss test for drugs. He passed.
I'll be writing more tomorrow. Just checking in.
January 8th, 2007
It's a bright and beautiful Monday afternoon as I sit here, with sunlight pouring through my little sliver of a window. I don't have much of a view in my current cell, all I can see is the back wall of another building, but still the little piece of blue I can see outside is a blessing. Can you imagine the old days when they couldn't see anything? Life can be hard here, it's far from exciting and “fun”, but still..I'm better off than some.
So, earlier this morning I had been thinking of my little brothers. They are adopted from Korea and were always very important in my life. I pretty much missed most of their life. The last time I saw them was 1995..I remember my brother Kevin's adoption the clearest. I was in the fifth grade and I remember when my mom told me that we were about to get another brother. I got real excited and was running around yelling, “Yea!!!” I don't think Wesley was too happy. He was a pretty territorial kid and someone else entering our family would get in the way of what was "his". My dad had to fly to California to pick up Kevin, who would be flown in via the Hold Adoption Agency, from Korea. Then, dad would fly back to Dallas/Ft. Worth and we would greet him there. I was so excited I could barely contain it. Whenever I got real excited in those days, I tended to get extremely clumsy and goofy (well, I still do...so mom was trying everything to chill me out. Me, Wesley, Jimmy and Mom got into the car to drive to the airport and meet dad. There were other families waiting on their newly adopted children also, so it was crowded. A few news channels were there, too.
The plane finally arrived and we waited for dad to come with Kevin down the terminal. I saw him and began to yell, “There he is! There he is!” It was practically a scream. Mom told me to calm down and I remember Wesley hitting me. “Mom! Wesley just hit me!" And she said "You boys both calm down or you'll have to go sit down. Here, Randy, take the baby bag” She said, giving me a large blue bag loaded with baby formula, diapers and other stuff. It felt like it weighed a ton. Dad showed up and I ran to him. He was holding a tiny little bundle with a blanket wrapped around him. Dad kneeled down to let me look at him and I gave the tiny little guy a kiss on the head. “Wow.” I said. Wesley was indifferent to the whole scene...Of course, with dad traveling it was always custom for him to bring us back a gift. So, we waited in anticipation for dad to hand it over. Mom took Kevin and dad dug through his travel bag and pulled out a white plastic sack. He handed it to me and said, "One for you, one for Wes.” Now, this had to be about 1988 or so and the big fad then, was the "California Raisins", so when I pulled out a t-
shirt with a cool, singing raisin on it, I flipped out..”Oh! Oh! Thank you dad! Thank you!” and I began to sing too. “I heard it from the grapevine..” dancing around with my t- shirt. Yeah, I was a nerd.
All of this was captured on video. I wish like crazy I could see/get my hands on it. We brought Kevin home and he was a delight. I miss him and I miss the crazy things he used to do...One time when he was about five, he called me into the bathroom to help him with something. I didn't know he was on the toilet and for a little 3 ½ foot kid he sure could stink up a place. I walked into the bathroom and gagged, “Kevin!” I said “ You stink!” He just started to laugh. I fell for it, little rotten booger.
When I started having girlfriends, Kevin used to always get on another phone in the house and interrupt screaming “Randy wears polka dotted underwear!” And began to laugh hysterically. Good times. You don't realize how much they mean to you until you're looking back. I hope he grew up to be a good guy. He should be about 19 now. Wow. I know his birthday is tomorrow.
That about does it for today.. Peace.
January 9th, 2007
Today started off on the wrong footing. We've got this real mean guard working right now. She keeps messing with the lights in the cells. My light is on, but some guys keep theirs off at all times. They can control the lighting from the control center and she keeps flicking them on and off. Everybody starts to yell “Turn off the cell lights!” and she says on the intercom system, “No! If I want the goddamn lights on, I'll keep them on! You should've thought about that before you all killed them people.” Of course, that gets a reaction of insults and curses...I just talked to the floor guard very politely and said...“Hey, she's getting these guys riled up and it's gonna blow up in your face.” You might want to ask her to chill out.. He said he was going to talk to her.
We haven't had clean clothing in the past five days, which is pretty ridiculous. I really don't like writing complaints unless I absolutely have to, but I plan on filing a grievance on this. I had a really interesting conversation today outside with a guy who has literally been all the way to Huntsville for his execution, eaten his last meal, but them got a stay. Man, talk about a true horror story. It really freaked me out. Bothered me in a profound way. The whole conversation started out by me bringing up the fact that there was an execution tomorrow and I knew the guy who was going to be killed. His name is Carlos and he was a little annoying at times, but overall an alright person. I had heard that knowing his own date of death was really causing him to lose it a little, with all the mental anguish...The guy I was talking to has a nickname, “Kilo” and Kilo surprised me by saying, “Dawg, I was there, man. I faced death. I can't even begin to describe it.” He said, that before he received his execution date he starting having weird dreams and felt that he was about to get a date. When he finally did, they pulled him out to the Major's office and served him with the papers. They then told him to pack up his items, that he'd be moving to “Death Watch”. Basically, what “Death Watch” is, is an isolated section on a pod where those with execution dates are housed until the actual time of their murder. Then, like cattle, one by one they are lead off to their deaths. “Randy, you do not know what it's like to watch a man you know, have laughed with, shared food with, cried with...You can't begin to understand how it feels to see that man taken away and never return. It just ain't right, man. It just ain't right..”
One day, Kilo was pulled out to go talk to one of the ranking officials. In the office he was told to sign papers relating to how he wanted his body “Disposed of"...Yes, that was the exact words...Kilo said that he refused to sign the paper and told the officer, “My appeals are still going on. I won't be killed. I ain't signing them.” The officer told him, “do you know how many times I hear that? Better face reality, son. We're in the business of killing.” Kilo, still refused to sign the papers and the officer became mad and said, “Get this piece of trash out of my office!” Around this time, there were some people who kept up with all executions and they begin to flood those with execution dates with hate letters that say things like, “You ready to meet your maker?” And, “You better accept Jesus now because you are going to die and you will be going to hell..” Up until the point of his incarceration, he'd never received any hate mail. Just another way to kick you when you're down. His last day came and while he still believed that he was going to get a stay and his lawyers kept assuring him of this, he said his last goodbyes in a visit. His whole family had shown up and he said it was the most heart wrenching thing he'd ever been through.
At noon, the warden showed up and told him it was time...He said his last goodbyes, choking on tears and was shackled and walked away. Now a numb sensation settled over him as he was walking to the van. A crowd of spectators of guards and people in civilian clothing gathered around him. He could see them shaking hands and laughing, much like the scene I witnessed from my window when I wrote about Gary Sterling's execution back in August of 2005. When he arrived at the death chambers in Huntsville, he was lead to a cell and was given some more papers to sign (He refused to sign those also..) and an order form for his last meal. He told them he didn't want a last meal and they begged him to have one. He continued to refuse, so one of the guards said, “Well, how 'bout we make you some cheese burgers and some other good stuff.” But Kilo said, “You can make whatever the hell you want to make. I ain't eating it.”
Shortly after, he was told he was going back to Livingston to death row, he'd been given a stay….I've got goose bumps, just writing about it...
In other news, there was an article in the January 8th edition of USA Today about Texas outsourcing it's execution team. How insane and morally disturbing is that? Yes, the article said that those who are involved in the executions here in Texas, have gone to other states to help them out on executions. A freakin' death squad is what that is! I highly suggest you google this article and read it for yourself. Look in the USA TODAY publication, you'll see it there. Well, since they didn't give us any clean laundry tonight (I use the word "clean" loosely..) I've got to get to washing my own stuff.
January 10th, 2007
Today has just been insane...Usually days that have executions scheduled are bad enough, but a guy tried to kill himself earlier as well. By all accounts it was pretty bad. Don't know if he made it or not, but the inmate had to be life flighted out (Lifeflight, is an emergency helicopter that takes those in critical condition to the hospital quicker than an ambulance can..) and this happened a section over so I witnessed much of the commotion. Some of the other inmates said there was blood everywhere. What really made everyone angry, is that the guards refused to get it cleaned up until several hours later. The blood just sat and sat. Splattered on the cell door, the cell walls, all over the walk way outside of the cells. I can't imagine having to look at that blood all day long...sick.
Then, there was an execution today which is never good. Rumors have it that Carlos Grenada, the guy to be executed refused to leave his cell and so they had to gas and use force against him to drag him to his death. Crazy stuff. You really try to block this all out, but you never get used to it. It screams wrong in every cell of my body. It's just not right. I can't fathom being carried to my own death. Clawing, screaming. Knowing that this is it...No more. Will I go peacefully? Yeah, I know I will, but they will have to carry me to my death. I would never willingly walk to my own death.
I'm tired, emotionally exhausted. Borderline depression sinking in. I'll probably have some nightmares tonight. I don't handle death too well. It's not that I'm in denial of death, or my death...It's a part of the circle. It's just knowing how and when that freaks me out…I'm rambling. Numbness sinking into me...My thoughts are running off and no longer coherent in my head. Kind of like a marble spinning around in a coffee can. That sort of, kkkkrrrrrrchunkachunkakkkrrr sound, around and around.
This place really really sucks!
Guess I'll close here.
January 11th, 2007
I'm feeling a little better today. Still a little disturbed from yesterday though. Right now I'm waiting to go to recreation. I'll probably be moved tonight, so when I finish this, I'll probably just clean up a bit, pack some of my things, and read until it's time to go.
I wish I had something to write about, I feel in light of everything yesterday, it would just be wrong. I'm thinking about a friend of mine who is to be killed next week. Whoever thinks that our lives are too easy, are truly screwed in the head.
January 16th, 2007
Man, I'm so lazy...I haven't typed anything up because I could not be botherd to rewind the correction tape...Terrible.
So, it's 9:08pm and I'm filled with mixed emotions...I'm listening to KDOL on the radio and they are doing a special “goodbye” show for a good friend of mine, Jonathan Moore. His execution date is tomorrow...Right now the stations “Minister” is telling him to accept Jesus so he won't be condemned to hell...And to be quite frank hearing all of this is really making me angry. I have nothing against Christianity. I truly don't, but I don't think this is the only way to redemption from God, or to heaven or whatever. I considered Jonathan a true and loyal friend, a kind man who dealt with his past and showed remorse in his way and.. I can't -
I won‟t - believe in a God that can turn away someone like Jonathan. Our relationship, or beliefs, should be a private matter and I don't feel it's anybody's job to be the mouth piece for G-d or whatever...I think at the very core of every soul is purity...It just tends to get coated in a shell of murkiness. We're prisoners of the body and are subjected to its frailties, its impurities, genetically, psychologically….However, I don't want this to be viewed as me knocking the station or the cause in which they are doing this in. It's beautiful and I think those who are helping out in making this show happen have wonderful hearts...I'm grateful for this "last moment" with my friend.
Jonathon and I bonded over music; the first time I met him, I was in the day room and he was talking to his neighbor about how he wished he could get “Rice University” on the radio, because the mainstream radio sucked. I asked him what kind of radio he had. “One of the old ones” He replied...
“Oooh, those are bad on FM reception. I get Rice crystal clear on my radio -
I've got one of those new ones...Say, what kind of music do you listen to?”
“Oh, The Cure, The Sundays, Cocteau Twins, Bauhaus.. Nine Inch Nails.”
“Dude! I'm a big Cure freak...I love The Sundays, and all of those bands!”
Later he bought a newer radio and I fine tuned it for him so he could listen to Rice University. He was thrilled. He shared his pictures with me and every time we talked it was like a trip back in time, talking about music and the things we used to do, the kind of girls we liked. I was always happy whenever I was moved onto his section. He had this grand plan of trying to get a low powered radio station here in Livingston to play nothing but our kind of music. Of course, it was impossible, but it would crack me up every time he talked about it, “Dude, what if we had like a pirate station and someone would drive up in their car and play our music and then burn off -
that would be kick ass!” He once said.
So, this is what I'll always remember of him. I know in my heart he‟ll be somewhere better in the end...
If this is faith
Who we are
Are we true
In the end
Do we grow?
To face our fate
Of an unknown
A great void
where we‟re never devoid
The experiences we had
The laughter tears and madness
What are our fears
Where do we go
What do we have to show
Through all of this pain
What do we leave behind
What is faith?
I hope I don't have to say goodbye...Until tomorrow, I will sit back and share this great music they're playing for Jonathan and hope that one day this madness of state sanctioned MURDER will end...
An interview with death row inmate Johathan Moore
I haven't accomplished anything. I wish I had, now looking in hindsight, I wish I had done something to get my name out there, but I didn't, so here I am now, haven't done anything with my life and now I'm going to get killed.
* * *
CourtTVnews.com reporter Emanuella Grinberg interviewed Texas death row inmate Jonathan Moore on Jan. 10 at the Polunsky Prison Unit in Livingston, Texas. He was ex-
ecuted Jan. 17. The transcript below has been edited for length and clarity.
COURTTVNEWS.COM: Can you describe a typical day on death row?
JOHNATHAN MOORE: Monotonous. I'm sure that's the answer everyone gives you guys. Just droning, same day every day, it's "Groundhog Day" here, the movie. It's hard to decipher the separate days.
CTV: How are you doing today?
MOORE: Pretty good, pretty good, really good, actually.
CTV: What makes this day so good?
MOORE: Just in general, I know how to live life and feel good about things.
CTV: What do you do to pass the time?
MOORE: Read, write, do some running. I run a lot. You have different little societies in here, groups of friends, and you got different stuff to do, play games, stuff like that.
CTV: What kind of writing do you do?
MOORE: Just pen-
pal letters to my friends and stuff.
CTV: Do you write poetry or anything like that?
MOORE: Not so much anymore. I used to, but I got out of it.
MOORE: Everybody's doing that in here. I just don't feel like it.
CTV: You said you talk with the other inmates. Are you friends with any of them?
MOORE: A couple. In prison, there's always shifting loyalties. It's a neverending chess game in here when you're dealing with people. That's why you got to look into yourself and do your own time.
CTV: Where do you fit in?
MOORE: You're playing a chess game and everybody else is playing their pieces against you, so I mean, it's never-
ending because no one ever wins. I don't know, it deals with the personalities and stuff you got in here because there's some extreme personalities in here and people are just trying to get along, and some people want to do other people's time.
CTV: Do you get mail from strangers?
MOORE: Lately, I have been. There have been Christian people coming out of the wood-
work, saying "Give your life to God," and stuff like that. I have lots of pen-pals and old friends from the streets. There's plenty of mail, I suppose.
CTV: How has life in prison changed you?
MOORE: It hasn't changed me. But I'm the same person I was when I got locked up, but I have matured in prison, because when I got locked up I was still, I was 19, thinking and acting like a 16-
year- old, emotionally immature. But I've matured since I've been in prison; I guess that's the only change, and karma, I've learned about karma, I've started learning about karma now.
CTV: What have you learned about karma?
MOORE: Just treat people the way you want to be treated and don't hassle people.
CTV: On your MySpace page, you indicate you used to be an anarchist. What made you change to fascism?
MOORE: When I was in the world, I was immature, just thinking about being anti-
government and anti- police, just had the mental process of going against everything and I called it anarchy because everybody else called it anarchy back then, little kids and spray- painting anarchy signs and all that crap. The turn to fascism is not so much to be taken literally. I just now think that in general that most men are stupid and shouldn't be able to think for themselves anymore. I'm just disgusted with society in general now.
MOORE: It's complicated. A lot of it has to do with guns and people running around, like when I was a kid running around doing stupid shit with guns. I wish I didn't have access to guns in the first place because I wasn't mature enough to handle the responsibility of it. They were all stolen anyhow. But in general, I shouldn't have had access to begin with.
CTV: What do you miss most about life on the outside?
MOORE: Just having fun, having fun with friends. And obviously the lack of women and that concept. But it's still a society in here. It's just different.
CTV: If you weren't in here, what do you think you'd be doing right now?
MOORE: When I was out in the world, I wasn't ready to go to college yet. My parents kept pushing me into college. I ended up starting three times and dropping out three times. But now I've got the will and the ambition to go to school, and I would probably go back to school and pursue a degree in engineering of some sort, electrical engineering...or at the very least, join the military because that's the easiest way out, just some type of a structured environment to get in...But I'd be doing some type of schooling now.
CTV: Wouldn't the military have conflicted with your views back then?
MOORE: Back then, yeah, but back then, I still needed structure too. I lacked the tools to survive the way society expects you to survive.
CTV: What is your happiest memory from your childhood?
MOORE: Being in a psychiatric hospital. I was in Laurel Ridge in San Antonio. Yeah, I don't know if you guys are familiar with that. All the kids in there were messed up and we all got along great. It was fun, it was a fun time for me.
CTV: What was fun about it?
MOORE: The fact that I fit in with a bunch of fucked-
up kids because at that point in time I didn't fit in with anybody. It wasn't until I got to hang out with a bunch of messed- up kids that I finally found a place to fit in.
CTV: How was your relationship with your parents?
MOORE: My mom died last year. When I was in the free world, they were pushing me into school and trying to get good grades and all that and it got to the point I wasn't hearing that any more, so there was a lot of friction on that. They were trying to make me be-
come somebody and I wasn't hearing it. I just wanted to party and have a good time and all that and that was when I got kicked out. We didn't get close close until after I got locked up and then everything came full circle and we realized we were buddies all along and got along.
CTV: As a child, what did you want to grow up to be or do?
MOORE: Until I was like 10 or 12, I was wanting to be a pilot of some sort. Actually, I took flight lessons when I was 12 out of San Antonio International. But I replaced that with skateboarding and then lost all ambition from there and never got it back.
CTV: How old were you when you went to the psychiatric institute?
MOORE: It was either late 15 or early 16. I think that was like six months.
CTV: How do you think that affected you?
MOORE: Positively, because up until then I had a real negative view on everything, but I felt pretty good coming out. It was a good thing. It was a private hospital. I don't know how people turn out from state hospitals.
CTV: What are you good at?
MOORE: Nothing really. I haven't had a chance to work with anything to become good at anything.
CTV: When you were out there, was there anything you felt you were good at?
MOORE: No. I've tried everything, I skated for years and never got good at it, played guitar and bass for years, never got good at that. So, I mean, I was a failure at everything.
CTV: Who's Lily?
MOORE: Just a friend of mine, met her about a year ago, and just a good friend.
CTV: How did you meet?
MOORE: She found me on the Internet somehow and wrote to me. Things went from there.
CTV: When did you get that tattoo [the one on your knuckles that says Lily]?
MOORE: The day after I got my execution date, so it was six months ago.
CTV: What made you decide to get it?
MOORE: I just, it's funny because even when I got it, she and I were having an argument and she hadn't even written to me in six weeks when I got it, so I don't know. I felt it, I needed it. I wanted it there and I felt good about having it there, even though she and I were at a point where we might not even talk to each other again, but I felt, I felt I'd show her that I was thinking about her anyhow and put it on there.
CTV: Are you talking again?
MOORE: Yes, I saw her yesterday and the day before. She's down here visiting. [Note: The couple filed marriage papers two days after this interview.]
CTV: Is there any particular moment in your life that you consider a turning point?
MOORE: I guess this case, from getting locked up. When this case happened, I had zero foresight. All I could think about was today and tomorrow and not much beyond that. Had I had maturity and foresight back then, then none of this would have never happened ... it took getting locked up and sent to prison before I realized all this, so I mean, I guess that would be the only turning point I ever had.
CTV: Have you gotten any treatment since you've been in here?
CTV: Have you asked for any?
CTV: Do you feel you need any?
MOORE: No. I'm not that crazy.
CTV: I'd like to ask you some questions about your case. Why were you out robbing that evening? What did you want the money for?
MOORE: Rent and food, Iguess, that's what it boiled down to...I was living with a girlfriend and we were sharing rent on an apartment. She was paying for most of it. I was having to rob and steal all the time to catch up with her.
CTV: Why did you return to the scene of the crime?
MOORE: Stuff was left behind, a couple of firearms I think, odds and ends, but I figured we could jump in and back out, get in and get out and run away with the loot. We already had most of it but I guess we left about 10 percent of it behind. I made the decision for us to go back and get it.
CTV: Why did you kill the officer?
MOORE: The driver is out in the car. He's ducked down in the seat, and me and my buddy were in the house and the driver yelled, "There's a car coming." We dropped what we had and ran out to the car. The car coming down the road was a personal car, it wasn't a police car. It blocked us in the driveway. He got in the driveway pretty hard and quick and jumped out...pointed his weapon at our windshield. All I could see was his face and his pistol, his weapon... It wasn't until a few months ago that I started thinking about the actual situation, the timing of the situation, and trying to see some significance in it. From the time he jumped out his driver door and leveled his weapon at us to the time I shot at him, it was less then 10 seconds. I bring that up now as being significant because I didn't have time to think things through and understand what was happening, fully.
CTV: Did you think he was a police officer?
MOORE: I felt he was a police officer. And in my trial, they made a deal about him being in uniform and he was, but he also had a black jacket covering his top half. You had to understand that this neighborhood was pitch-
black. I felt he was a police officer because of the authority he was projecting: a bad- ass motherfucker taking charge of situation and shit. So I felt he weren't no ordinary man.
CTV: Were you afraid of him?
MOORE: Not so much about getting killed, but just didn't want him to alter my path that I was trying to take. I'm trying to get somewhere. I can't call it survival or, like, self-
defense, but I was scared and I wasn't about to let anybody alter my path if I could find a way out of it and that's what ultimately got him killed.
CTV: What's your biggest regret?
MOORE: Taking my firearm out with me that night. I did put myself in that position. I am responsible for his death, but the only thing that I can argue is I had two co-
defendants. One of them was found guilty of capital murder by law of parties...and I think that's wrong because he wasn't an active participant in killing anybody and neither one of them knew full well whether or not I had a pistol with me that night anyhow...The guy in the backseat had just turned 17 and the driver, Paul, uh, Pete, was about 17 and maybe 5 months.
CTV: What do you think should happen to them?
MOORE: The driver, Pete, got organized crime and a 25-
year sentence for his part in this case. I guess that's probably fair because the main result was a man getting killed and had he not gotten killed, I think a lesser sentence would've been better, but a man did get killed, so there's something more to it. And for Paul, he should've gotten same convictions, same sentence as Pete and was headed in that direction, but when we went to the county jail and they had a hard time indicting...About a year into our being locked up, they were able to return a capital murder indictment on him and this was based on new evidence from two people who were so- called witnesses ...
CTV: Which would you prefer, a death sentence or life without parole?
MOORE: I'd take life.
MOORE: Shit, you learn to deal with it, you learn to live. I enjoy life in here too. For some people it's bad. It depends on what kind of case you have and stuff like that.
CTV: Are you religious?
CTV: What do you think will happen to you after you die?
MOORE: Get cremated.
CTV: Is there an afterlife?
MOORE: I'll find out when I get there.
CTV: With less than a week until your scheduled execution, are you ready to die?
MOORE: Yeah, I can take it or leave it, I don't want to die, but it's what the state wants.
CTV: Are you afraid of death?
MOORE: No, no. It's going to happen eventually anyhow.
CTV: Is there anything you want people to know about you that they may not know already?
MOORE: Well, just about Paul Cameron. He is not guilty of capital murder. He should get some kind of relief, hopefully.
CTV: And what about you?
MOORE: No, everybody knows me, they know me. I don't hide anything. Everybody knows definitely how I feel.
CTV: What do you want to be remembered for?
MOORE: Nothing. I mean, I haven't accomplished anything. I wish I had, now looking in hindsight, I wish I had done something to get my name out there, but I didn't, so here I am now, haven't done anything with my life and now I'm going to get killed.
CTV: Have you thought about what your last words might be?
MOORE: It would be about Paul. I'm trying to help him in any way I can because capital murder, life sentence, 40-
year minimum, for a case he wasn't all the way down with in the first place is just wrong.
January 20th, 2007
I keep telling myself I really need to get back into the routine of writing a journal entry everyday, but I've just not had the desire to really do it. This past week has really been a tough, emotional one and I think I've really been affected by a few things, deep, soul wise...
On the 17th Jonathan Moore was executed. We all found out that Texas had taken him to Huntsville A DAY EARLY!!! And so he never heard his goodbye show on KDOL. TDCJ claims it was because of the weather...I'm not so sure. I think they've been concerned with the many protests and hunger strikes going on around this place. Anyways, I was quite pissed about all of that. I didn't want to do any writing, and instead, offered him a moment of silence...
Another thing that bothers me is I missed out on saying goodbye to him by only two freakin' days! I was moved to the pod where they hold death watch. I was going to unpack, clean up the cell and write a brief entry. As I began to unpack I was sent a package of sorts...The guy that gave it to me said, “Jonathan asked me to give this to you...” I was floored! I opened it up and it was a bunch of song lyrics, poems, articles a lot of Cure printouts...Many lyrics from the music they played on KDOL the eve of his murder...I just fell down crying. All executions bother me, but this one really screwed my head up. No one had ever left anything behind for me and I surely didn't expect this. We were cool, but I didn't think on such a personal level...I feel so bad for not having had the chance to say goodbye, or thank you. Friday, I was touched even more, when I read an interview he did and one question he was asked was, “If you could save one person back here, who would it be?” His answer was, “Randy Halprin.” I don't know why he felt I was important enough to give that response, but it really touched my soul.
A friend recently told me they had found one of my brothers, Jimmy, on MySpace. I was very happy, but emotionally lost it...I typed up a little message for him and I hope he will listen or read it with an open heart. If only my brothers knew how awful I feel and how truly sorry I am for not being the big brother I should've been. I feel so guilty for missing much of their lives...I hope he will respond and accept my apology.
I think from now on, I'm going to pull back from a lot of things, and my involvement in pushing certain causes. It's a long and boring melodramatic reason why, but I'll just say “Prison Politics”. You try to help others out, help fight for them and push their agendas and other things, and then you get stabbed in the back and branded certain things for doing so. I suppose there will always be haters, but man, it's so bad back here...You would think some people would be grateful, but a lot of times they're not. Or, they just think they can take advantage of your kindness and compassion and use you for their own reasons. I'm nice, but I'm not an idiot. I will always fight for what I believe is right and I will fight for others that can't fight for themselves, but those who are more than capable of helping themselves, shouldn't take advantage of others…Yeah, this is vague. I'm just thinking out loud, I suppose. Hopefully, I'll get back into the swing of things. I've just got a lot on my mind. A lot of ideas and changes for my site, and soon to be new MySpace page. Yes, we're going to try AGAIN! And there are some other projects in the pipeline too.
I might write an entry tomorrow. Might not. Sundays are usually the most boring, so we'll see.
January 21st, 2007
Sunday boring Sunday...Good news is, I'll be seeing my friend Susan tomorrow, and Josef arrived home safely from Ethiopia. I'm proud of his humanitarian efforts! What a wonderful man.
I mostly wrote and did laundry today. Such fun! I'm going to start getting back into the groove of my journal, so stay posted.
January 22nd, 2007
Another day has come and gone. It's getting close to eleven at night and I'm really tired.
I had a visit with my friend Susan today and it was really great being able to get away from this place for a bit and talk. She's a great person. Visits can be so emotionally draining. I think I explained it once before. Being in an isolated cell 23 hours out of a day and having almost no human contact, and then going to a visit..It's almost like a sensory and emotional over load. When I got back I just wanted to take a nap.
I was going to do some reading today, but never got around to it. Maybe I'll do a chapter or two before I crash out. I'm reading a book by John Grisham about some men wrongly put on Death Row. It's always interesting to read these sorts of books, because I think it helps with your over all knowledge of how the Justice System really works.
I think it's time to wash my face and brush my teeth and get ready to call it a night. I am so tired. But before I go, I have to talk about how awesome that T.V. show “Heroes” on NBC is...Wow. Really excellent to listen to. I think I‟m going to try to follow it every Monday night. I'm such a dork!
January 23rd, 2007
Today's second part of my visit went really good. Seemed to go by too fast. We spent a good amount of time talking about my parents and family. If only they knew how much I love and miss them. I will continue to pray for a reconciliation...one day soon, please God.
It was a bit crowded down there and one guard was being extremely rude to the visitors. I also noticed a guy getting his last visits with family before his execution tomorrow. Another guy who was scheduled for his execution on Thursday was given a stay, so that's always good news. Happy to hear that. Now they can take him out of that cell with the damn camera in it. Yeah, they put a camera in 2 cells for guys who are about to be killed so they can make sure they don't kill themselves. How insane is that? I think I'd walk around naked all day long everyday if I was in that cell. Haha.
Other than my visit, today was pretty uneventful. I'm going to type up some poems to mail off and relax the rest of the evening. Listen to some music and then my comedies. I'm hooked on “South Park”. I thought it was a little annoying at first, but now I can't get enough. Good night.
January 24th, 2007
Another day...Good news is the execution scheduled for today will not be happening. This guy has been given a stay of execution, so that means he's been removed off of the death watch section and taken back to another pod.
I haven't really done much of anything today. Just reading a science magazine and getting caught up on letters. I did have a good time at recreation today. I talked with a buddy, named Jeff. He's a Christian dude and tells the funniest stories. He loves to hear stories about my time at boarding school so I always tell a few. Then we got to talking about doing practical jokes and the more we came up with, the more outlandish they became. I'd go into details, but it gets pretty gross. Haha. I like the dude's sense of humor.
Mailing this out tonight, so I better get going.
January 29th, 2007
I'm getting horrible at this whole journal thing...I aim to change my bad habits though...I really need to start getting into my writing again. I don't know...I suppose this place can just literally drain your brain at times. Death row is an emotional vampire. To be honest, I can't even really tell you what's happened the past few days, or weeks for that matter. My friend, Susan, came for visits on Monday and Tuesday and it was really good being able to talk to a friend. To just get away from this place for a while. Glad for that. Glad for friends. No one has to care for a guy on death row and I'm glad that there are people who do.
There were two stays of executions this past week, which is always good news. I just always wonder why the courts wait until the very last minute to do that. I can't imagine how psychologically damaging that is. There was a guy a couple of years ago who went through that process three times - with family goodbyes and all, only to be given a stay mere moments before his execution. To be quite frank, I feel that is torture on so many levels. There is an execution scheduled for tomorrow and sadly, this one will not be given a stay...It's a volunteer execution, in which the man dropped all of his appeals. I think I've said this before, but one of my co-
defendants dropped his appeals just recently so he will be executed in about 3- 4 months. I'm pretty sure as he gets closer to his murder (or suicide depending on how you view it...) the media will start hyping it up, so I have to be ready for all of that again. Jesus, imagine having to go through that five or six times for each guy...Some people think because I “put myself out there” I like the attention, but truth is I hate it. I only do what I do to bring awareness. I definitely don't like being ridiculed...I disgress...Sorry.
Well, yesterday was great! A couple of friends called in to KDOL, which was nice. Then to cap off a good day, KDOL played a long set of Cure songs around 9, which completely surprised me. I think I scared my neighbors, 'cause I was singing very very loud. Channeling my inner Robert Smith...haha.
I'm really anxious to see if my brother, Jimmy will respond to the message I sent him. I really hope he does. It would be an answered prayer. I often find myself wondering if he remembers some of the things we'd do together. The other day, as I was thinking about him, I remembered this one video of him and he was in the bathroom and mom was trying to clean chocolate off his face. It was smeared everywhere; on his lips, chin, cheeks. It was so funny! He had this big grin, like, “What did I do?”
Right now, I'm waiting to go outside. I plan on jogging or playing some basketball. It's a little chilly, but I do need to start running again. Ever since I was on level 2, I got so lazy. I did a really intense workout yesterday and I plan on doing some lower body stuff here in a bit. I just wanted to make sure I got a little journal writing in.
Currently, I'm reading a book called Banana Republicans -
How the Right Wing is Turning America into a One- Party State...I don't think my conservative friend, David, would approve. Haha. I loathe politics, yet, I'm fascinated by it and always keep up with what's going on. Guess I'll stop here and write a little more later on tonight.
The rest of the day was nice. I went outside and played basketball for the first time in a while. I was a bit rusty, but managed to pull off a win of 6 to 5, and we had two overtime games. Another cold front began sweeping through so we had to stop and put our jackets on. It felt good to have fun though. Now, I‟m just relaxing, and thinking of things to write in the coming days.
February 4th, 2007
I need to get back to a normal sleep schedule...Ever since I was moved to F-
pod this past Wednesday I haven't been getting to bed until about 3- 4 in the morning. I've been staying up, chatting with my neighbor and such...I'm starting to feel it. I keep forgetting I'm not eighteen years old anymore. I'm almost thirty years old for crying out loud (Why does that seem so...old? Haha) I can remember when I was just a child and thinking people who were thirty were old farts...Ah yeah, life through the eyes of a child. I miss that!
There was an incident here on our section that started at about 9:45am...They had just passed out lunch and a guy upstairs “jacked” the food slot. Basically, what that means is, he stuck his arm out the rectangular portal in our cell doors. This is an effective tactic to get a ranking officer down to the pod, because usually when you ask the normal floor officer, he'll refuse to get a sergeant. So this is one of the few ways to get him to come to the pod. Well, there is this real...hmmm, how do I say this nicely?? This real jerk of a sergeant, named Brown. He loves to stir up trouble and curse at people and in general just be a true ass. Very unprofessional. He comes to the pod cursing and screaming and making threats against the inmate instead of just trying to hear what the issue at hand might be…For whatever reason, sergeant Brown felt that the inmate was just trying to get moved to another cell on the other side of the pod and so he says, “Oh yeah, I'll move your fucking ass to a cell on this section, but your bitch ass ain't going anywhere else. I ain't falling for it..” Well, the inmate says, “Since you don't want to talk to me peacefully, or with any sense, I refuse to give up this slot. To make a long story short, the riot team is called and the guy is gassed and forced out of his cell. This is what I mean when I talk about how things escalate and go beyond what it needs to be. This is pretty much the standard stupidity of TDCJ and the people they place in authority positions. It's not ignorance. It's stupidity, plain and simple.
In other news, my new MySpace page is up at MySpace.com/Peace__Love__Compassion. I think it looks really good. A much different look from the original page. This one is more geared towards being an activist page for anti-
death penalty stuff. My friend did a really good job. It'll be evolving as the weeks go by and I'll bring myself back into it, but for now we're trying to keep a low profile.
The super bowl is on tonight and so I'm going to let my neighbor listen to it with me since he doesn't have a radio. I'm pulling for the Indianapolis Colts. I've got 200 push ups bet on the game. I hope they win.
February 5th, 2007
Today was a day with real jerks working. Officer M. the number one of them all. I won't use his full name because he's a real vindictive person. What I'm hoping is if TDCJ officials read this that they'll put two and two together. Anyway, he works “One card first shirt” and was on F-
pod today 2/5/07...
So, officer M. has this little “hit list” of about 10 people he hates, and it's guaranteed that if he's working the pod you can be sure that if you're on his list, you won't get recreation, a meal or a shower. He will not give them to you. What I don't get is why the ass is even allowed to work in TDCJ in the fist place, when last summer he was suspended for trying to break an inmates arm…apparently him and an inmate had words, so at lunch time when the inmate stuck his hand out with is cup to get juice, officer M. grabbed his arm and forced it down over the slot…which makes me believe that the only language TDCJ (Texas Department of Criminal Justice) knows is violence. I mean, look at the events of yesterday as a prime example. If the state hires jerks like him and others, no wonder we have prisons like Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo Bay. Violence, hatred -
they're like diseases. They are a disease that incubates and grows and spreads through weak minds...
Other than officer M. and his following toady guards, the day was quite beautiful. Sunshine poured through my window and I was pretty productive. Right now I'm just listening to the radio, waiting for mail to come…As I received none on Friday, I should hopefully get some today. Maybe something from my brother Jimmy -
I'm praying for a message from him…I really, really hope.
February 6th, 2007
Today has started off quite well…It's 8:16am, and while I've only had about 4 hours of sleep, due to a rowdy neighbor cussing out the guards, all night long, I'm in fairly good spirits anyways.
I'll be going to recreation in a few minutes; I'm going to exercise and think for a while. When I come back I want to write about a disgusting news report this news channel, CBS 11, who don't even try to disguise its blatant bias in its self righteous reporting, did a piece on the Texas parole system…Completely misleading and factually incorrect. Oh, an example of how biased this news station is -
on a report for some strip clubs the reporter began it by saying, “For some, one person's trash is another's treasure…” I was like “WHAT?” More to come when I return.
It's now 9:40 p.m, and my day got past me...I was just moved to B-
pod and so I'll have to write tomorrow. Gotta get to cleaning.. ugh.
February 7th, 2007
Yesterday, I mentioned a report on the news about the Texas Parole System...It had me really upset and I'm still fuming over the idiocy of it...Basically the report implied that TDCJ (Texas Department Of Criminal Justice) was allowing inmates to parole early. Of course every inmate released is a "Violent Criminal". Now, the way the current system works is on any violent offense i.e., robbery, assault, murder, capital murder pre-
2005, (any capital crime after 2005 is death or life with out parole) rape etc…you have to complete half or more of your sentence to be eligible for parole. So, say you went out and assaulted a person today, and you received a 30 year sentence, you would not be eligible for parole until you've served fifteen years. There's no such thing as "Good time", even though we're supposed to be able to receive it for good behavior, work, school etc. Most of the time on violent offenses you will serve no less than 80% of that sentence. However, due to over crowding and courts seemingly giving out life sentences for everything under the sun, the system is stacking up a myriad of problems forcing parole to release those who have served half of their sentence and who have behaved in prison during their time.
Unfortunately, the media can't see the forest for the trees and they want to sensationalize the story and put unnecessary fear into the hearts of good citizens, “Could you be living next to a killer? Find out at ten in our special investigative report!” Why don't they offer real solutions or how about reporting on why the state does not focus on rehabilitation or why the state continues to cut programs for drug abuse, violence or anger management. Why have they not reported how the state has limited access to chaplain services from churches and other religious organizations and programs...and don't say it's because of the ACLU, as some might do...The ACLU is not against religion, they just want equal services to all prisoners and religions…The truth of the matter is people can hollar and cry foul that too many people are being released or the sentences given to offenders aren't lengthy enough, but they never seem to think about the long term effects. How many more prisons need to be built? How do you cover the medical costs as prisoners age and are diagnosed with an alarmingly growing rate of hepatitis and type 2 diabetes? Do you just want to punish, or offer a shot at redemption and to serve the community successfully? Or you can just turn on your T.V. and watch the media frighten you with ignorance?
That's my sermon for the day...
February 8th, 2007
My attorney came today...I wasn‟t expecting a visit from him until the end of the month, and I was actually asleep when the guards came to my door to escort me to the visitation building. I hopped out of bed in a daze, half ass brushed my teeth and rinsed my face and sloppily got dressed. He came to drop off an affadavit for one of my co-
defendants for them to sign, basically saying that had my attorneys from my trial asked him to testify on my behalf, he would have. This is to show negligence from my original attorneys...Also, in the affadavit he would swear that I never pulled or shot a gun and that I didn't expect anyone to be killed. I would post it up, but right now it's confidential, but as soon as I can, I will. I just hope my co- defendant signed it. My attorneys stroked his ego (and he does have a massive meglomaniac head!) So hopefully he'll be willing to help. All in all it was a good meeting.
Much of the rest of the day has been spent reading Al Gore's book, “An Inconvenient Truth” which was also turned in a what's been touted as an excellent and shocking documentary. The book is really good and breaks down the whole global warming issue. It gives charts, pictures of seas, lakes, icebergs, glaciers, taken years ago and comparing them to now. I highly recommend reading it.
February 11th, 2007
I totally broke a radio and had to pay for it to be replaced. I had such confidence in my skills!! Now, my little Mr. Fix it bubble has been burst. I won't get into details, but know that I feel like such an idiot....
February 12th, 2007
Man...The craziest thing was just uttered by a nurse who does insulin shots for the diabetics on this pod…As she was passing down the walk way, a guy in the day room, recreating, jokingly and good naturedly said, “Hey, what about my shot?” She muttered a disgusting comment (It happened at 2:54pm as I documented the time..) “They'll give you a shot when it's time to die.” Implying the lethal injection. I don't think he understood what she said, but I understood completely and went to my cell door and said, “What is your name? How can you utter something like that when your primary job is the well being of others? You call us sick, but listen to your own words.” A guard told me to chill out, but I was so pissed! I'm gonna find out her name and once I do, I'm putting it in this journal and I'm going to ask that complaints be filed against her. I'll write a grievance also. How can you work in a medical profession and then make a comment about killing someone? Demented. That's south east Texas for you...
I went to recreation real late, but it was nice, because it was sooo quiet. I came back, showered and after I type this up I'll catch some Jay Leno and South Park. I've gotta get up at six to go outside. I can't stay up too late.
Goodnight, and Peace.
February 13th, 2007
Ugh...So tired! I just got done cleaning my cell and getting things in order in case I am to be moved in an hour or so. I'm ready to go so long as it's not E-
pod or F- pod, but I'm probably jinxing myself. For some reason or the other they're not giving us showers today. Nobody has given a legitimate explanation, but the water is just fine, as my sink water is running both hot and cold...Hmmm.
I got about four hours of sleep last night and then got up at six in the morning. I'm hooked on listening to this cartoon "South Park". It is so funny. Nothing is sacred. Sure, the humor can be infantile and potty mouthed, but some of the episodes are really a stroke of comedic brilliance.
Not much else is going on...Just waiting to see if I'm moved. If anything exciting happens I'll write more. If not, I think this is going to be it for the day. I'm really tired and I need to catch the world news...
11:15 P.M...I was moved to A-
pod. Cool section. Love it here. Next to my buddy Jeff...
February 15th, 2007
I've just been relaxing today, kind of in a writers funk. I shouldn't even be wasting my time with this entry...Yet, here I am. So much on my mind and not knowing how to get it all out. I wish I could just let it pour, but the faucet of thoughts has been turned off and tightened down with a monkey wrench.
Mail is all messed up too. Why do they keep messing with my mail?
February 18th, 2007
Wow.. We've had two days of sunshine. It's been so nice! Yesterday I went outside with Ving and we exercised for a little bit and then just enjoyed the nice weather. It's been super cold here lately and the sun sparse. I'm just glad to have had that moment out in the sun. We were going to play a little ball, but could only manage three games, as it was too cold. Today has been sort of boring. I wish I had something of substance to write about, but I really don't...I'm going to spend the rest of the evening reading so this is it for today.
February 19th, 2007
Today is a bogus holiday -
Presidents' Day. Things have been super slow, I had a really good exercise and a funny thing happened as I was jogging. I got called “The White Devil” by a dude. Crazy stuff.
This one female guard has left her post and has been hanging out with this male guard working the pod. Young love, I guess. This place is sooo high school. She's okay so I won't write negative things about the two, but still you would think with all of the various escapes and problems they'd be a little less complacent. Tax payers money hard at work.
Guess I'll close here. That's all there is to report.
February 20th, 2007
Last night I was moved to D-
pod. I keep coming back to the same cell! I've been in three cells about 6 times since I came off of level 2 back in November. I don't mind where I'm at, though there is one guy here that tends to get on my nerves. A chronic masturbator of sorts...ugh. He lives in self delusion that every female guard wants him...Sheesh.
This pod is pretty nasty and there seems to be an influx of may flies everywhere. I've seen about ten or twelve in my cell and I try to chase them out, as I really don't like squashing them anymore, but I have a strong dislike of bugs -
they freak me out. I don't know why. Childhood fear or something.
Not much else happening around here.
February 21st, 2007
Good news!!! My brother Jimmy responded to a message I wrote to him, after a friend had found him. It was awesome and wonderful to hear from him. It's been over 11 years. Most importantly, he forgives me. That means so much to me and I know the kid probably has a huge and kind heart. Awesome! I'm just so happy about this and look at it like it's one step closer to a full family reconciliation and reunion. I want for that to happen so badly. I think I would feel as if my life came full circle if that happened. Heck, just to have my father's forgiveness and for him to see who I am now. That would be many prayers answered.
Uh oh.. another may fly headed my way. LEAVE ME ALONE, I'M TRYING TO TYPE LITTLE BUG!!! Haha, as if the sucker can read this. Well, they don't seem to understand verbal warnings too well, either.
February 23rd, 2007
It's Friday and I'm sitting here just letting my mind wander. Kind of in a daze. It had been so nice the last few days and then another rain storm came in. I think spring may be here a little early. I'm sick and tired of rain. I think I already wrote this, once, but when I was younger I used to love gloomy days; I was comfortable feeling depressed, if that makes sense. In Kentucky, at school, I'd go up to my room, put on the Cure's "Disintegration" album and get lost in the music. Then, I found The Cure's "Pornography" album and talk about manic depressive music! I'd literally lay my head in between two speakers and turn out the lights...But now, living with so much gloom and doom it gets old real fast. I still like depressing music, 'cause I think a part of me will always have that (unless I was on meds. Haha) encoded in my DNA. I just want blue skies and sunshine right now! Lots of it! I tell you what.. Now that it's warming up, I'm ready to get back into the groove of playing some ball. I really need to get out and run. I'm pushing it really hard.
Guess I'll end this here. I'm just jumping around. Maybe we'll have sunshine tomorrow.
February 24th, 2007
Oh, glorious Saturday! The sun is out, it's warm and bright. I still need to go to recreation today...I think I probably will around 4pm...the day is still young. Not much happening around here. I say that a lot, huh? It's funny, because a lot of people use the movie "Ground Hog Day" as a metaphor on our lives, and I have to say it's pretty much true. It could even be considered as a syndrome, I think. Everything is the same (awww shit, damn chronic masturbator is in the day room. I've got to block my cell window for two hours so I don't see him doing his 'thing'.)
Guess I'll close here. I'm going to do some reading and maybe write on some other things. I've got a really good idea for a short story I'm going to call "Reflections" about twins, one on death row, one free...I did an outline; we'll see where it goes.
February 25th, 2007
It's a beautiful Sunday morning. I'm sitting here listening to "This American Life" and getting caught up on work. I didn't really have much to write for today. Though, I wanted to include a couple of pieces of information I found out over the past few days...
Firstly, regarding the nurse who made the pro-
death penalty comment, her name is Ms. Curry. She works for the corrections division of UTMB (University of Texas Medical Branch) which has a contract with most county jails and the Texas Department of Corrections. There are a few nurses with her attitude, and I've made it my personal goal to see that her comments are addressed. I don't know how you can be in a profession of healing and express pro- death penalty comments.
Secondly, I'm including a little interview I did in which a guy here who is my neighbor right now, and who claims he saw a brief part of a video of the execution of a guy named Gary Graham. I cannot verify this, but I'm working hard on it. Still, I found his words seemingly disturbing and very honest. Here it is:
Q: May I use your name for this little interview?
Q: Why not?
A: Because my attorneys told me not to stir any trouble up.
Q: Don't you feel it important to let it be known about this?
A: Yeah, but I'm trying to keep these guards off my back. I have a new retrial coming up.
Q: Okay. Can you describe to me how you saw this video? What was the video about?
A: It was an execution video of Gary Graham.
Q: How were you able to see it?
A: I was called out for a telephone call. When I went into the use of force room to make the call, there were some guards and rank watching it like a movie. (Note: The use of force room is where we are taken to make phone calls. It's a large room filled with riot gear, and has two desks and a T.V./VCR monitor)
Q: What did you see?
A: It fucked my head up.
Q: Describe to me what you saw, if it's not too difficult for you.
A: The dude was strapped to the table and his face looked like he was beaten up. I guess he put up a struggle before he was strapped down. I heard rumors he tried to fight before they took him to the walls. (Note: the Walls is the unit in Huntsville Texas where they take you to from Livingston, Texas, to be executed on your date.) Anyways, I saw him on that table and it looked like he was suffocating. His face changed colors and he let out a gasp and then there was some commotion.
Q: Did it look like he was in pain?
A: I don't know. I just knew he was suffocating.
Q: So, you're telling me that the guards escorting you and the other guards plus ranking officials were all watching this tape?
A: Uh huh. But then Sergeant Ludwig walked into the room and he looked disturbed by it and got pissed and said, "don't ya'll ever show this shit in front of an inmate!" He walked over and turned the T.V. off.
Q: Who were the ranking officers watching this?
A: Ummm. I think Lieutenant Price and Sergeant Pool.
Q: How do I know you aren't making this up?
A: I got no reason to make this shit up. I seen it. I just got all detailed with you.
Q: Why didn't you tell someone? Why didn't you write a grievance?
A: I told you, I was about to have a retrial and I didn't want to start no shit. I'm about to have another retrial this summer and my Attorney promised to look into it after this is over.
. . . . . .
Well, like I said, I can't verify any of this. I did ask someone who knew Gary Graham, and they said he did get beat up before his execution. My theory on how the video tape was made is that they considered it a "use of force" incident and have to tape and document anything that requires force. Executions are not to be video taped, but if the were video taping a use of force, then maybe they allowed this to be taped. I don't know. I'm surprised it hasn't turned up on the internet and I know if the tape still exists, as it should unless Huntsville destroyed it, it should be accessible...I do think the guy who told me all of this is being truthful.
It's too detailed and this guy is mentally retarded and would not be able to make something like that up. He was upset in talking about it, I could hear it in his voice. Okay, I need to get to other stuff.
February 26th, 2007
Monday and a beautiful Monday at that. I really think spring is finally here. I went outside earlier and it felt great. Too bad there wasn't too much sun on my side 'cause I could use it. I'm looking like casper the friendly ghost. I was ready to play some serious ball and do some serious running though...and it was good for my mind.
I think tonight I feel like grossing people out by telling them what's in some of their wonderful food! This is from the book Fast Food Nation by Eric Schlosser. I will use two excerpts, one on food dye -
red dye to be precise and then, the other on the true definition of what a label means when an item says “Natural Flavors”.
"The Vegetarian Legal Action Network recently petitioned the FDA to issue new food labeling requirements for foods that contain natural flavors. The group wants food processors to list the basic origins of their flavors on their labels….One of the most widely used color additives, whose presence is often hidden by phrase “color additive” violates a number of religious dietary restrictions, may cause allergic reactions in susceptible people and comes from unusual sources. Cochineal extract (also known as carmine or carminic acid) is made from the desiccated bodies of female Dactlyopius coccus costa, a small insect harvested mainly in Peru and the Canary Islands. The bug feeds on red cactus berries and the color taken from the berries accumulates in the females and their unhatched larvae"
Basically, what happens next is the insect is dried and then ground into pigment. Many yogurts, fruit bars, candies, fruit fillings and juices use this pigment to color their items to look pink, red or purple. Yummy! A typical fast food milk shake contains over forty artificial flavors! McDonalds French fries are flavored with beef extract! Many fast food restaurants that claim a “natural smoke flavor” in their beef are really using a chemical extract captured when saw dust is charred. Yum yum yum. Who doesn't love the smoky taste of saw dust? I do not miss meat at all…
I guess I'll close on that wonderful and delicious note!
February 27th, 2007
Howdy do. Another wonderful day in this place. Actually, it's quite pretty outside. Plenty of sun light pouring through my window. Our section didn't have recreation today, or else I would've definitely been trying to get outside.
I've spent much of the afternoon talking to one of my neighbors and consoling him. I don't know what I know about love, myself, but he's going through much of what I went through with my ex-
wife and I can understand the pain. He's a little slow, and has many disabilities and sadly this is his very first relationship ever. It's kind of heart breaking to know that he never had any real experiences with a woman outside of death row. Because of his disabilities he has a hard time explaining how he feels and how he expresses himself. He has anger issues also. I think my best advice to him was to not react in an aggressive or violent manner. I could tell by his voice, the very sad tone, that he was going through hell. It's ironic how one of the most purest and uplifting human emotions can also be so destructive.
Mail seems to be at an all time low here. Everyone is being affected by whoever is holding up mail. Get this...a guy had to find out two freakin' weeks later that a family member had died. Not only did the unit chaplain not inform the man of the lost family member, but a letter that should've gotten to him in no more than three or four days, took two weeks. The problem is, no one knows how to solve this problem. Grievances come back with replies that say you can't complain about the mail. The mailroom says that we get it when they get it and the powers that be just don't give a damn. It's frustrating and it's affecting friends and families. Maybe they want to keep everyone purposely out of touch with the present. The point is, we need solutions and we need them fast. What's going to happen if this isn't solved is some dude back here is going to flip his lid and end up attacking someone, and that would just be a horrible outcome any way you look at it.
I'll probably be moved tonight. I hope to go somewhere decent. Who knows.
Guess I'll get ready just in case.
February 28th, 2007
Okay...I'm a little outraged right now. I was just listening to the news and they were talking about a high profile capital murder trial in Sugar Land, Texas -
a suburb of Houston. Apparently the defendant allegedly hired his two friends to murder his family for the insurance claim. Two of the family members were killed. A tragedy to say the least. Now, one of the friends directly involved with the murder, a participant, and driver of the getaway car, was given…15 YEARS!!! Just fifteen freakin' years! He was a freakin' participant and he takes a plea agreement to testify on the others for fifteen years!! For murder!
This just goes to show how messed up our system is. The law of parties is ridiculous for one, but also, to be convicted of a capital murder you have to knowingly and willingly have participated in the murder. Now, there are tons of guys on death row under the Law of Parties who face losing their life for being at the wrong place at the wrong time, or hanging around the wrong people. This guy who was given 15 years confessed! That's just mind boggling. So, he's not as dangerous? I don't get it. How is it fair that his two co-
defendants are eligible for the death penalty, but he isn't? Because he's willing to testify? I don't get it. Just another reason why the death penalty is not fair, or an acceptable answer. The system is a joke and is outrageous. Justice is crap.
March 1st, 2007
Today was a nice day. My friend, David came to visit and we had a great time. He's a wonderful friend and I love him dearly. He's been a great mentor, also. The day started of kind of crazy. I was afraid our visit was going to be cancelled because there were tornado warnings for the area. I thought, great, just my luck! Actually if a real tornado hit, I'd probably be the first screaming “Please! Just suck me up and spit me out over the gulf somewhere! Fling me to Africa! Anywhere but Livingston, Texas!!!”
Anyways, it looked real ugly outside. Fortunately visits were not affected. The day turned out to be quite warm and lovely, though. As I was walking back there were some birds pecking around on the grass alongside of the fenced side walk that leads back to the death row building. I wish I could've stopped and just watched them for a bit. I really miss the experience of watching nature and life, work around you. Most of the time I can watch the birds and other creatures outside of my window, depending on the spot I'm moved to, but nothing beats being up close and personal. Another one of those things easily taken for granted. When I got back to my cell I was pooped, but then it was time to go outside with my neighbor. We played some ball and I started off with a five game lead, but he came back and beat me ten to five. Sheesh. I'm blaming the bugs (there were millions of may flies everywhere!) and the fact I had to run in work boots, 'cause I turned my tennis shoes in to order a new pair. That's my excuse anyways! Now I'm just going to kick back and relax and get some sleep early tonight. Wow. Can't believe it's already March.
March 3rd, 2007
Saturday...no recreation, and man, it's a perfect day for ball playing. A little chill has settled in, but by all standards, perfect. I haven't done much, just started reading a book on Buddhism, written by a Jewish guy. It's about how Judaism and Buddhism can go hand in hand, and honestly, I am really into Buddhism right now, trying to find that pure inner peace. It's so hard in this environment. And while I know I've grown spiritually, and have changed for the better in trying to live compassionately and lovingly, it still is easy to get caught up in the negativity and slip into depression. I know most of depression is a genetics thing and I can't do much about that, but I think that if I could find that inner peace, I will beat it back a lot. I tend to get frustrated about the things I want to do but can't, because of my situation. I feel helpless, hopeless, at times. But it won't keep me from trying to find that path to pure inner peace.
Maybe a good movie will be on later that I can listen to.
March 5th, 2007
Today was very boring. I had intended on going outside and enjoying this beautiful spring like weather, but all of the guys down stairs turned down recreation. Mind you, I stayed up late listening to this wonderful travel show about Tokyo, on PBS until close to 2am, and I was surprised when the guard was knocking on my cell door asking if I was ready for recreation at 6:00am...I said...
"What about one row?"
"They all say it's too cold to go outside so, you're up" the guard said.
For a split second I was going to get up but then said "Nah, screw it I'm sleeping in". Now I can really tell I'm getting close to 30. I never used to sleep in! Cripes!
I've spent most of the day typing and after dinner I need to straighten up my cell. When I write I become possessed and my cell looks like crap when I wind down. Plus, I've got a feeling I'm moving tonight. Figures, too. A really good episode of "Heroes" is coming on. ..Sigh.
I think that‟s about it for the day.
March 6th, 2007
Today has been decent. Right now I'm waiting to go to recreation and do some exercising. I'm trying to get most of everything out of the way now, because I know I'll probably be moved tonight. I don't know why, but I was thinking about global warming and the effects it's been having on our earth. I read Al Gore's "An Inconvenient Truth" not too long ago and it was a very eye opening book. The rate of development and destruction of natural habitats and places is scary. I can remember as a kid in Arlington, Texas there was an area that was nothing but acres of pecan trees, we could go anywhere and find a pecan tree and pick the pecans up and take them home to eat them. Now it's nothing but shopping centers and malls. I'm a city person, I've lived in cities all my life pretty much, and I like the city, but I look back and think "geeze, the building and raping of the land has to stop somewhere." Will there ever be a time where it all peaks and we realize, hey, maybe we should tear all this crap down and let nature do it's thing again? Or will it take mother nature to strike back and wake us up? Who knows...I see earth in a weird way now, it's like a spaceship or an orb with life contained within. We can take care of it and steer it in the right way, or let it crash and burn.
Not much else has been going on around here. I seem to be in a sort of uneventful limbo of late.
March 7th, 2007
They did move me last night. I'm not in too bad an area, although the section is pretty run down...Very poorly kept. I've got decent cell neighbors, though. I don't have a whole lot on my mind today, but just a little while ago I received some Christian ministry newsletter. I usually just glance over them and toss them out, because most are full of stuff like, “Better ask for forgiveness now or you're going to BURN in the firey pits of hell..” but this one contained a few really beautiful poems from an anonymous guy on Texas Death Row, so I wanted to include one with today's entry. Here it is...
By anonymous man on death row..
while on death row
I had a wondrous experience
of nothing so uncommon as joy,
a shower with hot water, steam and soap;
in that small space
the showers scarcely larger than a closet
I thought of nothing
so common as suffering
and stood instead in awe
of the abundance of God.
afterwards, I stood before the plain
steel door, rusted to a brownish-
and marveled at the spary of water drops
which shone like the suns
scattered along the surface
of our universe-
an errant trickle slipped away
like a falling star,
a comet made of dust and ice
throwing itself into the heart
of the night.
I wondered,"What is this
darkness that shrouds our eyes
from the glorious dawn and
the light that shines
in our lives?”
There is nothing so common as the suffering;
and nothing so uncommon as the morning sun‟
which we manage to miss each morning
of our life.
Next time, please,
stand at the brink of dawn,
and watch it
Not bad at all. Loved the imagery and emotion. He described our showers exactly as they are and the desire to want more, but to trust in what God gives us.
March 8th, 2007
Just got back from seeing my attorney. First, I have to describe what an absolute gorgeous day it is! Warm and bright, I'm going to get cliched here, but man the birds were chirping and hopping around the green grass growing within the barbed wire fences. Patches of clovers and wild flowers were growing all over the prison ground. I could even smell honey suckles on the wind. It brought a smile to my face.
When I arrived at the visitation building, I went in and was told to go to a booth. I had the handcuffs removed and my lawyer showed up. Things are going well. One of my co-
defendants signed an affidavit saying I was not a shooter and I was told that another one of my co- defendants was willing to sign one on my behalf, also. The only sad note is that the latter co- defendant is dropping all his appeals and there's no talking him out of it. This means he will be given an execution date any moment. Then he will have about three months left to his life. I asked my lawyer what his demeanor was like and he said that he really seemed to be at peace. I was happy to hear that.
When I was leaving to go back to the death row building, I stopped and told the guard, “Hold on, let me enjoy the scent of these honey suckles.” Oh man, the many things we take for granted in a normal everyday life. It made me wish I could run around on the clovers and grass bare footed! It brought back a memory of being in high school...I used to be really good at picking out four leaf clovers from a patch and I would give them to my girlfriend. Haha. I was such a dork! So, all in all...Today was lovely.
March 9th, 2007
It's Friday and I really haven't done much today. I got into it with a guard this morning. I'm not a very deep sleeper and can be awoken very easily. Plus, I've pre-programmed myself to wake up at six in the morning to tell the guards I do plan on going to recreation; that way they can't say you said "No" in your sleep, as they tend to do...So, at about 6:45am the guard says, "You ready? If not you refuse recreation." I looked at him and said, "Say, you didn't ask me crap." I just got out of bed and he says, "Well, yes I did. You better get ready now." The guard replied. Then his co-
worker chimed in, "C'mon, let's refuse him. He ain't ready." So, I say, "I'm telling you right now, you're not going to take my recreation from me. Y'all didn't ask me to get ready or even if I was going. Give me ten minutes to brush my teeth and wash my face. Jesus.." Then he says "I'll be back in five minutes, and if you're not ready, I'm refusing you." I did get my recreation, but geeze, some of the crap one goes through!
The day did get better, but I know it's going to be one long weekend! I've got so much to do...Ugh. I'll close now.
March 11th, 2007
I didn't accomplish anything yesterday. Just sat in bed and wallowed in my own self pity. Now I'm playing catch up as I listen to the radio. I don't know, it just seems at times I don't want to do anything other then stare at a blank wall and watch the paint fall off (it literally does at times! In flecks..). What's odd about it is, I wont be thinking of anything. My mind will be blank. It's like watching T.V. with static. White noise. Good thing I woke up energized and ready to go. I hopped out of bed, started exercising and then did all of my laundry. Weekends really stink here. I miss the days when we could actually go to recreation on Sundays. Bah.
Guess I'll wrap this up for the day and get it ready to send out.
March 12th, 2007
7:56pm...I just came in from being outside for 3 hours. I goofed around and played some ball, I had to play bare foot, which lead to all sorts of craziness. I even managed to take a direct hit in the nuts. Talk about some unpleasantness! I fell down rolling around on the cement after my basket ball ricoched off the wall and.. wham! The guy I was outside with said, "Good thing you don't need 'em anymore". I said "Bull crap! I like to know that these puppies are still in good shape." We both laughed hysterically. Oh, and I lost today. I'm losing my mojo….I really need my new tennis shoes.
So, I heard that Doil Lane, a guy I've mentioned in prior entries (he has mental disabilities, like a kid trapped in a man's body) had his sentence communted to a life sentence. Thank G-d. He's been transferred from death row and into general population. I hope he'll be okay. He needs to be in protective custody, in my opinion. I hope people will pray he'll end up okay.
Not much else happened today. I'm waiting on my shower...
March 13th, 2007
Man...I just got done listening to a very powerful program on the radio about a guy who was just killed by the state, Joseph Nichols. It brought tears to my eyes...Check out the archives for the show “Earth 101” and the date 3/13/07. It was a really moving program, and they were interviewing his family...It really hit me hard.
Today is kind of blah.. It's raining and I know I'm going to be moved. I really don't have a lot to say today. Just wanted to inform people of the show I listened to.
April 1st, 2007
April Fools Day. I think we all feel like fools on Death Row so no practical jokes are played. I went to bed last night at about 2am, and woke back up to exercise at 8:30am. I was very careful not to hurt my back. If I'm here on this pod on Tuesday, my neighbor promised he'd go outside with me to play some basketball. I don't want to get too excited as he stood me up last time. I don't know why people haven't been exercising as much or wanting to play ball. It's this damn isolated environment. It's breaking people down and that's scary.
Yesterday at recreation I kept smelling the stench of urine and feces. It was awful. I asked a guy where the putrid smell was coming from and he told me the cell. There are several things that immediately upset me about it (I suppose the natural reaction would be to say "what a nasty son of a bitch" or "old dirty ass bastard", and cuss the guy out for living that way. But it goes beyond living dirty) . From other accounts I've heard about this guy, he was clean and social, and a year or two ago he “flipped” and hasn't been the same since. I see it as a psychological manifestation and deserves proper treatment. Instead, the guards don't do anything to help nor does the psychiatric department. (What a farce!) Instead, they let him live like this. That is truly disgusting. I asked a guard passing by "Why don't y'all get him in the shower and have someone scrub his cell?‟ His reply was, “Well, if he wants to live that way let him. I ain't buying that crazy shit. He ain't crazy.” All of a sudden TDCJ guards have PhD's in psychiatry around this place...So, I see a growing trend of people withdrawing and not going to recreation, not showering, not exercising, and I suspect it will continue to worsen in this segregated environment. Heck, some days I feel like crap and don't want to do anything either.
It's now 8pm, and I just finished listening to that show “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition”. What a powerful show! I can't see what the house looks like, I can't see the tears of joy on the family's face, but still the emotional punch the show throws…I get all teary eyed! Programs like this allow me and others to feel human. When society labels us monsters -
how many monsters do you know that cry listening to or watching extreme makeover? In an environment and system designed to take away our humanity, it still shows up in the oddest places. It still dwells in our hearts. We may have done bad things, but that seed of goodness still exists. It just takes the right conditions to help it grow. I'm reminded of the movie (okay I'm going to show my dorkiness…) “Return Of The Jedi” when Luke Skywalker tries to talk Darth Vader into leaving the dark side, Darth Vader replies, “It is too late for me.” Luke says something like, “No, it‟s not too late for you. I still see goodness in you” Despite the fact that Darth Vader had chopped off Luke's hand...My point is that some of us want a chance to show and prove the goodness within us. It is there, it is alive, and to me that makes the Death Penalty senseless and useless.
April 2nd, 2007
It's 6:33am...I'm about to go to recreation, but before I do I wanted to write about this dream I had before I woke up. It was very bizarre. I'm working in a large field; there were stars like diamonds in the sky and I watch myself appear maybe 200 yards away. A bright UFO like thing circling around. Then another UFO popped up and it headed straight for me watching everything. I panicked, but it suddenly flew off and disappeared. Suddenly fireworks began to explode everywhere. I mean, fourth of July style! Bright and vivid. I thought, “Why on earth are fireworks going off in the middle of the night?” A split second later (or what felt like a split second anyways). I was back at home talking to my mom and I asked what was around to eat. She told me to look in the fridge so I do. Inside is a whole bunch of T.V. dinners, frozen burritos etc. I dig around and I pull out a clear plastic baggy, but in the shape of Garfield The Cat…That's all I can remember. Strange dream. Gotta go to recreation. I shall return..
Just got back. I did a light workout and jogged for a bit, but because I didn't get up for breakfast, now I'm pretty hungry. Yummy beans! I had an idea for a story pop up while I was out at recreation based on my school years in Kentucky. It sprang from telling this guy about how we had to attend chapel services everyday during school. The sermons were boring and it would take all the will in the world to keep from falling asleep. Sometimes I'd jerk awake from the back of my head hitting the backboard of the pew, or I'd fall into whoever I was sitting next to. Sometimes I'd daydream or if I was lucky enough to sit next to a girlfriend, she'd have my attention.
Going into school breaks were just as bad. Very anticlimactic…Like, regular public school kids would watch the clock with anticipation, waiting for the school bell to ring. The end of the semester…We had a sermon that bored us to pieces. When it ended and the closing prayer was uttered you were just relieved it was over with.
Out of that, I came up with this paragraph as an opener from a story idea I had: It's fictional, but based on reality...
"Most school years end with a bell; mine ended with a sermon. I sat still trying everything I could to keep from falling asleep. I was paranoid that the president of the school had his eyes zeroed in on me as he sat in his chair next to the pastor's pulpit. I looked around the chapel to see a sea of students simplified by pure boredom as the chaplain rambled on about salvation and summer. Suddenly I imagined Jesus, the Christ, in a two piece bathing suit, long brown hair and cheeks sun kissed by the sun, swinging in an old truck tire high above a sparkling swimming hole. I began to chuckle to myself. “What‟s so funny?” A kid next to me whispered. “Nothing...Just laughing at my own irreverence.” I replied".
That's what I came up with while out on rec. I wonder if I can turn it into something? Hmmm. It's now 1:51pm, and I just came back from a nice shower, popped a butterscotch candy in my mouth and I'm about to pick up a book and read until I'm either told to pack up and move, or mail comes…
April 3rd, 2007
I went outside and played some ball with my neighbor. I think in a previous entry I mentioned how he's one of the best players on Death Row…We played for an hour and I was slaughtered. Out of 20 games I won 2. Two games! Oh well. It did feel so good to run in that cool morning air. The sun came out after we played and we got about an extra hour outside. The sun felt so nice towards the end of my recreation time. I made up my mind; as long as the guards approve it, I'm going to try to get outside more often. I figure since not as many people have been going to rec., it shouldn't be too difficult.
I've been wanting to write about a growing trend amongst Death Row prisoners who are about to be executed. More and more are refusing to walk to their deaths. Some have actually put up fights (which I don't condone, but do respect actually) some just make them carry them. People have mixed feelings about these methods, as they don't see the whole picture...They say, “Why do that? Why not go out peacefully or respectfully?” I've known true Christians who ultimately accepted their fate but still have refused to walk to their own deaths. One, it shows that you simply accept your murder and two, by carrying you to the gurney -
it makes guards that might have just watched you die - actual hands on accomplices. The psychological possibilities long term have to be astounding. Maybe this view is extreme to some, but I see it as if you don't challenge their own morals and values then you are telling them it's okay to kill you. Imagine being a guard and having to carry a man to his death….I doubt it'd be a light hearted dinner topic, unless you were just sick hearted in the first place. So, I think it's great that more and more of us aren't walking to our deaths…I know I won't be.
3:31pm...Just got back from the shower. Man it felt good! I need to wash my exercise clothing. Then get ready to move -
I have a hunch I'll be moving tonight. After I get all of that finished I'll finish reading this excellent book I started yesterday. I've only got 40 pages left. It's a coming of age story called "The Highest Tide". I found it at the bottom of my book bag. I could've sworn I had read it a while back, but didn't.
Anyways, I guess I'll close here. Oh yeah: Happy Passover!
April 8th, 2007
The weather here is insane right now...Last night I went to sleep and it was cold. In the middle of the night I had to get up and put my jacket on because it was about 30 degrees, and we had cold air coming out the air vents. Imagine sleeping in a meat locker. That's what it felt like. Just Friday it was in the '70s...Sheesh.
You know, a lot of the global warming nay sayers are retards for real...I heard this program this morning and one of these yahoos says, “Well, if it's so called global warming, why then is the country having record lows?” Because, you moron, when the atmosphere changes it sets off different reactions in the weather system. You're never going to have the same conditions all over the globe. One part might be freezing, another part unseasonably hot, another part with torrential rains, hurricanes, tornados..Various weather fronts clash..That's why it's like it is. Pick up a science book for crying out loud!
Anyways, it's still cold and a very boring day.
April 9th, 2007
Monday. Didn't do much all day long, I was waiting for a new comedy show to come on NBC so that I could listen to it and see if it was any good. Turned out to be great. But what I really wanted to listen to was a documentary on PBS about Jim Jones, the cult leader back in the '70s. That was very scary stuff. This guy recorded everything he did up to the very last minute in which he killed (murder/ suicide..) most of his followers. It was horrible to listen to all of these people screaming and crying after some had drank the kool aid. But his calm and patient voice is what freaked me out the most. All of these people are dying around him and he's calm, serene like. Frightening. I hope I don't get any nightmares...
I'm winding it down for the night. I have to get up early and go play some ball. The weather report predicted warm and sunny. I can't wait. I'll miss most of the sunshine though, as I'm going out at six. Ugh!
April 10th, 2007
Today has been cursed. I got up at six all hyped up and ready to go. I got almost a full eight hours of sleep which is rare for me. I turn on the radio, and I get ready for going outside. The weather report was still the same. What happens as soon as I step outside? It rains. The 30% chance of rain fell on us. We were stuck outside in cold rain for two hours. When I came back in I dried off and waited for my shower. I got my shower before lunch, but when lunch comes what do I do? Knock the tray off my desk, after tripping on my headphone cord and spill it all over me and my cell. Beans, cream corn and spinach everywhere. Lovely. On top of that, they tell me I'm getting moved to the ad-
seg pod. I didn't care at first, thinking it would be as calm as it was four months ago. Wrong. It's a complete mad house here. In fact, as I write this at 12:34am some dude is screaming, “Fuck you fuckers!” over and over. Why, I do not know, but I feel like I've entered an insane asylum, or the twilight zone, or something else just as crazy. Oh well. I guess I'll stuff some toilet paper in my ears and try to get to sleep. Try..
April 11th, 2007
It's loud right now. It's been loud since I first stepped on E-
pod. I was going to go to recreation, but I think I'm just going to pass for now. I'm going to ask the guard for a shower as soon as I see him. I can't believe how loud it is...I have my headphones on right now, turned all the way up and can still hear the madness…
April 13th, 2007
My attorney showed up today and things seem to be about the same. We have so much stuff that will help me out just growing and growing. I don't want to be too optimistic, because this is Texas and trust me anything can happen, but I feel good. I want to trust the system and that things will work out, but really only time will tell. I'm really tired and so I think I will take a nap.
April 15th, 2007
Yesterday was mostly a rainy day. I went to recreation and walked around and then came back in and ate some mixed nuts. I passed the day reading and then listened to a concert of the band “Garbage” on PBS. When I woke up this morning it was very chilly, but sunshine was pouring through my window. I've been cleaning out some junk, 'cause rumor has it we're going to be on lock down any day now. I should be exercising, but I keep putting it off. I'll do it later on. I mean, I've got all day, right? Really, I'm going to exercise...I mean it!
Tonight I want to listen to this documentary on PBS that‟s supposed to be really good called “America At A Cross Road” It starts off with the 9/11 incident and goes into our perception of the world and how the world perceives Americans. I'm actually looking forward to it. I love a good documentary.
Guess I'll stop here. Not much else happening around these parts.
April 16th, 2007
I'm taking a break from doing laundry right now. I've got one set (a t-
shirt and shorts) drying right now and another two shirts soaking in my sink. Since today our section doesn't recreate I figured I'd get caught up on everything. It's gorgeous outside, and if I knew what direction I was facing I'd say “out to the south or north...” Haha, but really in the distance is a green pasture where normally horses would be grazing, but I can‟t see any. There are a few hawks gliding around, probably scanning the fields for a small snack. It's pretty interesting to watch.
Last night I listened to an awesome documentary called “America At A Cross Roads” on PBS. It's going to be six parts, and it started off talking about where the roots of Al Qae-
da started. It also got into Islamic fundamentalism. Very fascinating stuff. What made it more interesting is that when the U.S. defeated the Taliban after 9/11 (which most of the Muslim world and had condemned) we had actually had the upper hand in “The war on terror.” When the U.S. invaded Iraq it was seen as a power grab and most of the world shunned the invasion. It fueled Muslim Extremism and we played into the hands of people such as Bin Laden. Tonight's second part will focus on Iraq. Some theorize that Al Qaeda's strategy now is to slowly bleed the U.S. out by stretching our fighting forces beyond capacities, because we'll chase them around anywhere, “like cowboys”, Bin Laden said. Eventually we will have no money to fight, nor the soldiers or Americans hearts. (Which is what is happening). Crazy stuff.
It's really loud right now. I just have one more day on this pod -
hopefully! I'll be glad to move. It's now 7:26pm, and at 5pm I heard the news about the 32 students killed by a shooter at Virginia Tech. University. Just horrible. What is it inside of us that causes a snap deep within? What is it that creates a fissure so deep and jagged that separates us from our true selves? As I listened to the news reports, tears streamed down my face. What is happening to our humanity, not only as a country, but as a world? Is this our fate? To separate spiritually and regress into animals? I've been there, I know what it feels like to fall apart and lash out at everyone around me. But I also faced myself and knew this wasn't who I was - an animal…Something in our society and culture needs to change. I'm all for gun control. I despise guns, but it has to be deeper than that. We have to look at ourselves in the mirror. We have to ask questions and not be afraid of the answers…
Just random thoughts bouncing around my head right now. The sun is setting; a mixture of white and grey clouds washed against a sky of orange, violet, and blue. Perfect in its beauty but underneath, God's imperfect servants waiting for sleep.
April 17th -
April 22nd, 2007 (in summary)
The past week was very boring and to be honest, depressing...
Tuesday I was moved to A-
pod and it's not too bad up here. Last summer I got into it with this guy who's my current neighbor. He's a jerk, but I was shocked when he actually apologized for what happened last year. We don't talk too much, but it's nice to not have to avoid him all together.
Wednesday, Thursday and Friday all I pretty much did was read and go to rec. The weather has been really nice all week long and I got to go outside on Thursday. It was a pretty sunrise. Friday I relaxed and listened to a movie. Saturday was long and boring. My highlight was listening to a marathon of the T.V. show “Heroes” and then some music. I was going to stay up late and listen to this midnight movie, but passed out about a quarter of the way through. I woke up, cleaned up and have been listening to the radio and doing laundry.
Right now as I type this, dinner is being passed out and I've got my first batch of laundry hanging to dry. I've put my fan underneath it to speed up the process.
Guess I'll finish up here and kick back and wait on my dinner.
April 23rd, 2007
It's 7:00pm Monday night, and they're still running recreation and doing showers, though I've already had mine earlier today. The sun is setting, but it's not too spectacular tonight, as it's very grey outside. It looks like it might rain. I'm sitting here typing waiting for my favorite T.V. show to come on, “Heroes”. I can't see what's going on in it, but the story line is so good I can pretty much guess what's happening, plus I've read several magazines that help fill in the visual blanks.
I went outside today. The guy I went out with didn't want to play basketball, but would exercise with me so that's pretty much what we did for the time. I talked him into jogging with me for a bit. I said, “C'mon, just fifteen minutes. You can handle that.” He argued, “I'm only good for five. If that.” He didn't bring his watch out, but I did so I kept track of the time. He kept saying “Let me know when we get to five minutes..” As the time wore on he was pretty much squealing, “I know my time is up! Please!” I kept saying, “Almost there, almost five minutes.” When he looked like he was going to pass out I told him he ran for eleven minutes. He collapsed on the concrete and just laid there. It was so funny.
I came back in and have been reading and thinking. I heard on the radio that some guy went on a shooting spree in some apartment complex in Houston. Then, as it seems to be the standard practice after killing a bunch of folks, he killed himself. Life these days just seems to get more insane each minute. I think America in general has some real anger issues and until we can find a way to get past this and find true inner peace, then we're going to keep on having these shootings and all of this violence.
I remember reading some Sigmund Freud a while back and he was talking about how societies manifest things such as fear, and violence. He even went on so far as to say that religion was a manifested insanity of sorts, but I disagree with the latter idea. I do think our culture may indeed be manifesting this violence and anger, as it seems to be spreading like a virus. Saddening and crazy.
April 24th, 2007
I'm settling down for the night. I am so tired. About two hours ago I was moved to another cell and cleaning it up. I was pretty sure I was going to get moved earlier, so I had already packed my things up. Then at about six in the evening it was time for me to go outside and get my recreation. At the same time I was told by another guard that I was getting moved. That worked out pretty good for me.
Outside we played a couple of quick games of ball and did some exercising. It looked like it was going to pour, but the wind felt so good. I could've stayed out there all night. When I got on the next pod and right outside my cell, some guy in a real hostile voice yelled from his door, “Hey, who are you, what's your name?” The tone of the voice put up my guard, so I went to a defensive tone myself and said, “Randy.” “Randy who?” The voice said back. Now, this guy had his light out in his cell, so I couldn't see who it was. I was thinking that it must be some new guy who thought he was billy bad ass. I said, “Just Randy. What are you the police?” Then, the voice changed and he started laughing, “Calm down Randy, it's me! I'm just yanking your chain. Don't get mad!” I admit, I was getting a little irritated by the tone of the voice, but it just turned out to be a dude I was cool with. The joke was on me.
Not much has happened today. Been thinking a lot, but not been able to get things down on paper. I don't know why, but I have all of these ideas for things to write, but every time I try I just go blank. It's been like this since last August…
Guess I'll close here and brush my teeth, wash my face and go to sleep.
April 25th, 2007
Went to rec. Ate some cookies my neighbor shared with me and not much else.
Mind is blank.
April 26th, 2007
Tonight I've been thinking about a couple of things. I received a couple of emails that sent my heart and mind in two different directions. One email was from an old babysitter of me and my brother's and it brought back so many memories I had actually long forgotten. It was crazy. Even if I'm not sure if some of the memories were from the same babysitter or not. She did remind me of how she would let us stay up past our bed time watching movies and such until mom and dad got home. The way we could tell when they got home was the electric garage door. It would make this loud hum that would reverberate all through the house. That's when I'd take off running to my room and jump in bed. Shortly after I'd hear my dad and mom come in and ask how her night was. It's nice to know that people from a past that happened so long ago can actually remember you. You go through life thinking you are not even a blip on another's radar screen and turn out to be more than you thought.
The other email was a valid opinion against the death penalty, but I still feel they've got it all wrong. The only point I will concede with him on is when he said, “You can sit in prison, play ball...lay down -
anything. The other person's life taken can do nothing and their families are left with nothing.” He's absolutely correct in this sentiment. I do deal with the guilt of that, and while I'm not a killer, I often think that our complaints about life back here are not valid, because there are victims of crimes who have nothing. There are people throughout this world with nothing, and here I am with many things. I never want to portray my life as me having a grand old time, because often it plain sucks. And that's not out of feeling sorry for myself, but because it's an existence. Nothing more, nothing less. We're kept alive and frozen in time until the day it's time to go. Also, my intentions in my writings and my fight against the death penalty is not to have people feel sorry for me or anyone else on Death Row; if I've done that, then I've failed completely in my intentions. My only point is to show that we are still human beings. So, that's what's on my mind tonight.
The day has been so-
so. It would have been nice to go outside and get some sun. Instead, I just exercised in the day room and talked to a few guys on that section.
Time to get some shut eye.
April 27th, 2007
Got to go outside today. Man, did it feel nice. We played some basketball and I've really got to get good again. I lost 14 to 10. Ugh. I can't believe that I've gotten so bad. I mean, last year I was unbeatable. What happened? Either everyone got better or I just really suck. Sheesh. I think from here on out, I'm going to beg and plead the guards to get outside as much as possible. I really need to practice. I'm just going to start calling everyone I know out and challenging them. I'll trash talk everyone I know just to get them riled up so we can play...Yeah, that's what I'm going to do.
I can't believe the weekend is here already, and May is only a few days away. Craziness. So, today I heard on NPR that there's some Texas law maker trying to speed up the appeals process for anyone who's a so called “Cop Killer”. What upset me about the report is how he gave complete inaccurate statistics on the time it takes a current appeal for any inmate after about 1996. They had already stream lined the process under an anti-terrorism bill that was put into place so that they could execute Timothy McVeigh faster, after the Oklahoma City Bombings. Texas took full advantage of this law to kill it's own. If you look at the execution list from those who received the death penalty from about 1996, the appeals process has taken about 6 to 7 years tops. This guy claimed that the process takes about 12 plus years which just isn't true. Maybe on a national average, but not in Texas. Not only is this wrong, but it is only going to ensure that more innocent people will be killed. I'm hoping the other congress people of Texas will realize that.
You know, this is how blood thirsty the state of Texas is; most of the country has either abandoned the death penalty or slowed it down, while Texas is dug in and is trying to find quicker and better ways to kill people. It's sick. I mean, the Dallas Morning Newspaper has come out against the death penalty. There's a bit of a scandal going on in Harris County (Houston) in which a guy that was back here has received a new trial on grounds that none of his DNA matched the DNA of that found on the evidence...What happens when he's brought back to Harris County for the trial? The evidence that the prosecutors are sure will find him not guilty, is mysteriously gone missing and can't be found. How sickening is that? And so the Texas legislature still wants to find new ways to execute people?
April 29th, 2007
It's Sunday afternoon as I type this. It looks gorgeous out my window, with sunlight pouring into my cell. I woke up this morning at about 8:30 A.M. and started my day. I kept telling myself to exercise, but then the lazy part of my brain said, “nah, you've got all day to do it.” Finally I had to override Mr. Sloth and say, “Listen fat ass, you're going to exercise right now.” Turned out to be really good. Intense. Though, my back is a little tender right now.
Other than that, I've just been doing laundry and listening to the radio. Just thought I'd drop in and say, “Howdy” so.. Howdy.
April 30th, 2007
(Warning: contains foul language)
It's the last day of the month and then May is here. April really flew by! I'm actually looking forward to May. Don't ask me why, it just feels like it's going to be good. Many of my friends' birthdays are in May, and you've got Mothers Day, Cinco De Mayo (which always means a good meal on that day). It's when we start getting a few slices of watermelon every now and then as well. And my friend David is coming this Thursday and Friday to visit. I'm excited about the month.
Man, my brain is just going crazy with ideas today. I've been writing pretty much non-
stop since ten in the morning and it's 3:11pm right now...I've got so much more to write! Actually, I just got done writing a couple of articles for an anti dp movement. Now I'm doing my journal. I'm a mad man! I feel like a dam in my mind has been blasted open...I'm rambling...I promise I've only had one cup of coffee earlier this morning.
Right now it looks gorgeous outside. It was forecast to rain and I thought it might actually do so, because it was so overcast. It's pretty warm, too. I should turn on my fan. Rambling again.
So, today I was going to share another prison story. To be honest, I don‟t know if I've written this one in my journal or not. I've told it to a few of my friends, so maybe that's why it feels rehashed, but it's a pretty ugly, but powerful one to tell about the machinations of life in general population…I think I was about twenty years old. I'd only been on the Conally Unit for about three or four months and I was starting to get an idea of how everything really was in a real prison. A month of so earlier we had gotten off a summer long lockdown after a huge gang fight broke out in the dormitory and a couple of inmates had been killed by having their head bashed by cans of mackeral (they've since done away with all canned foods that were sold) that were placed in socks and used as weapons. I remember looking out the window of my cell and watching as a nurse walked alongside a gurney with what appeared to be a Hispanic guy, his head split open. After that incident the entire prison was placed on lock down.
My cell mate was a black guy they called “Psycho”. We actually got along fairly well and spent the time on lock down bonding and playing scrabble and “Battle Ship”. I didn't have a radio of my own, so he would let me listen to it late at night and when he took naps. I always thought that was really cool. Psycho had a few mental problems, though and I had to get used to them. It was the first time I'd ever been housed with a guy like him, but I learned to deal with it. One example of his mental health issue was that he would sprinkle cum all over the toilet seat, but then not clean it off. So if I had to use the bathroom and it was very urgent, I'd have to dance around and clean the seat of the toilet before messing myself. It got frustrating at times and I'd ask him to not do that, but what could you do? We're in prison and you can't tell another man what to do. He also used to cut words out of magazines and label things all over the cell with the various words. I drew the line at bringing spiders and other insects in from working in the fields though.
During this time that he was my cell mate, a guy had loaned a magazine to me. While I was in the dayroom watching T.V. he asked if he could get his magazine back. I said sure and went up stairs and asked Psycho to hand me the magazine. He grabbed it from under my bunk and slid it to me under the door. “preciate it, Celly.” I said and left to return it to the guy and resumed watching T.V. Not long after that, the guy that loaned me the magazine came up to me very upset. “What the fuck happened to my magazine? It's all cut up.” He said. “Dude, what are you talking about? I didn't do shit to it.” I said. “Man, I was flipping through it and it's cut up, here look at it.” He handed me the magazine and I flipped through it. I noticed that words had been cut out of various pages. My stomach dropped. “Dude, my celly did this. I'll go talk to him". I said. “No, I'll go to talk to him. He fucked up.” “Dude, it was my responsibility. I'll go ask him. Calm down.” I said.
I went back upstairs and asked my cellmate about the words being cut out. He immediately denied it. As I was talking to him, the upset guy came up behind me and started raising his voice, cussing Psycho out. From the point of the day room it looked like two white guys trying to check a black dude and a few black guys playing dominos didn't like this at all. One of them came up the stairs to ask what was going on and that two white boys wouldn't be checking a black guy. I explained to the black guy what happened and told him it was my problem. Then, I told the magazine owner that he needed to let me handle things before he started a freakin' riot. I was trying to be as calm and diplomatic about the situation as possible. This had every potential of turning into something huge and it didn't need to be like that. I was scared as hell and never had been in this situation. I wasn't street smart and if pushed too far I could easily become angry myself.
“Look, Psycho. You're the only person I know who cuts words out of magazines. Just admit it and replace the magazine. That'll be it. It's all I'm asking. This guy is very pissed right now. I'm responsible.
“I didn't do it.” He replied.
“Yeah, you did. Damn, why are you being so difficult?”
All of a sudden Psycho erupted. “Fuck you, bitch! White son of a bitch. Get the fuck away from me!” He yelled this so loud that everyone in the day room had looked up at me and a few guys whispered something amongst themselves. He had just disrespected me in front of a whole bunch of people which was not good. To be honest, I was shocked, turned around and went back downstairs. When I got back to the day room some white guys approached me.
“Say, Randy you gonna let that guy talk to you like that? What's up with that?”
“Man, don't talk to me like that. He's my celly, he's just troubled. He's having an episode.”
“Dude he just disrespected you in front of everyone. You don't check him and someone is going to think you're a punk and then next thing you know dude's will be grabbing your ass.” Said another white guy. I felt cornered. It was already hard enough being Jewish, the last thing I needed was to worry about people trying to take my ass. I had no choice. I had to fight him.
“When they roll the doors, I'll go fight him.” I said sounding unsure to myself.
“Yeah, that's good Randy. Go earn your respect.” I notice the little group of white people watching me as I walked upstairs; the black guys watched me as if thinking I had pussy, as they say.
I went back upstairs and my cell mate was pacing back and forth nervously. “Say, Psycho, when they roll the doors, just stay in the cell. We have to fight.”
“Aww, Randy, man, I apologize. Okay. I cut up the magazine. I'll replace it. Tell him I'll give him my radio.”
“Dude, I don't want to fight you either, but I have no choice. You disrespected me in front of everyone. My hands are tied.”
The cell door opened and I went into the cell. I noticed a couple of guys came upstairs to my cell and stood outside it to make sure we fought. I put up my towel in the window so no one could see inside from the control center and then I said, “C‟mon, celly, let's get this over with.” He understood and so we began to swing at each other. I remember it lasting only a minute or so and I had a busted lip. I pulled the cell door down and the guys confirmed we fought. I apologized to my cell mate and he apologized to me and we both agreed to just let it go. I told him, “Do not give that guy your radio, it's not worth that. Give him a few snacks to replace the magazine so we can squash this crap. Okay?”
About an hour later, they opened the cell doors back up and I was able to go back into the dayroom. People, whites and blacks were shaking my hand for fighting. It was the oddest thing in the world. Just an hour earlier everyone was looking at me like they wanted to kill me, now guys were saying I had their respect. I remember thinking how pitiful it was that people had to fight to be respected, but I then realized that prison is a rude awakening. I did learn an important lesson in politics, though.
Dinner has just arrived, so I will close here. I'm actually going to knock out a few exercises, take a bird bath and then eat my yummy beans. I think I've written enough for the day. Oh, before I close I'd like to suggest some required reading. This will really open your eyes on some other aspects of the death penalty. The book is called Deadly Speculation: Misleading Texas Capital Juries With False Predictions Of Future Dangerousness. You can get this book at www.texasdefender.org.
May 1st, 2007
I just got back from a shower that felt wonderful. It's been hot and muggy all day today and then I went out to play some ball, which didn't go too well. My game has really been off. I lost, I'll not tell the score. I'll just say it was pretty ugly. I even had a wipe out. I hit a wet spot from last nights rain and my feet went right from underneath me. Scared the crap out of me, because had I not landed on my butt, it would've been ugly. The guy I was playing freaked out for a second and was about to call the guards, but I got up and said I was okay.
After we played we were talking about the death penalty. He's been on death row since it was reinstated in 1976. A long time, for sure. He'd never seen anyone being taken away for an execution, but last Wednesday he saw a guy lead out to the van for the first time. He said that up until that point he'd not really given his possible fate much thought until he saw that, then it sunk in. Because he's been on death row for so long and he was under the old appeals laws, he figured if they hadn't killed him yet, they probably wouldn't. I asked him if I could do an on the spot interview about it and here's his account:
Q: What do I call you in the interview?
A: Artie is fine.
Q: What pod are you on and can you explain the view that you have from your cell?
A: I'm on B-
pod. My cell faces the side walk that goes out to visitation. On the other end is a kind of sally port where buses and vans pull in. The walk way is fenced and there's a building right across from our building. I guess they have general population inmates there, cause I always see them go into this little entrance area.
Q: So, from your cell you can actually see the visitation building and also the sally port?
Q: Artie, do you mind explaining to me what you witnessed last week and also do you remember the day or date?
A: Yeah, it was Wednesday the 26th.
Q: Of April, right?
Q: Okay, explain to me what you saw.
A: Yeah, it was that white guy they call "Sleepy"...It was his date and I was looking out my window -
Q: Hold on, Sleepy is Ryan Dickson, right?
A: I think. Big kind of fat youngster?
Q: Yeah, okay continue.
A: So, I see him coming out of visitation. There are two guards beside him and a group of people behind him. He was chained up. I noticed there was about five or six guards up by where the van was waiting and they were shaking hands, laughing and giving high fives to each other. When they saw Sleepy coming down the side walk they sort of straightened up. Then, I noticed in the entrance area where the other building is, there were five or six guards dressed up in riot gear kind of hiding. My first thought was, crap, they're going to jump him, but they waited until he passed that area and then came out marching behind. I also noticed a lady with the camera. I think they thought maybe he would try to lash out or fight, but Jesus, he was chained up.
Q: So, he walked to the van. He didn't refuse or fight? You didn't see him in a wheel chair?
A: No, no, he was walking. He was very dignified.
Q: Okay, so they walk him down the side walk, there's all these people -
A: Yeah, even people in street clothes.
Q: So, they load him into the van that will drive him to Huntsville to be killed. What happened after he drove away?
A: Man, Randy it really upset me. I've never been this close to the face of death, but what made me feel so sick is seeing then hug and high five and laugh and celebrate. I even saw two guards bump chests.
Q: C‟mon Artie, you're embellishing things now.
A: No! I swear on the Lady Guadalupe, it's true.
Q: How did this make you feel, Artie? How did you feel after this about the death penalty?
A: Randy, up until now I was comfortable. I felt safe. I didn‟t think I would ever face this, but I've seen it now. It's very real to me. I prayed to the Lord and asked him for forgiveness. This has changed me.
After we finished talking I went on to tell him of the very first time I witnessed the same thing in the August of 2005. It truly is life changing stuff. I still can't wrap my head around the thought of seeing people celebrate a man's death. It's very disturbing.
Well, I'm probably going to be moved in a short while, so I need to go ahead and get ready. I've been doing this interview and time got away from me.
May 3rd, 2007
I had the first of a two day set of visits with my friend, David. It's always great seeing him. I've known him for so long now; he really has become a mentor, a friend, and family. We're from two different generations but he's great. Without him I'd have never really pursued writing. Thankfully, it was quite quiet down in visitation, so it was a really lovely visit. When I returned I took a nap and then went to recreation.
Geeze. Thursday night I can't believe the day has come to an end. I can't believe we're a week into May. This life feels like a space vacuum in a worm hold in a time warp. It definitely is slow and fast at the same time. Well, I've gotta wash some clothes before I crash out. I only plan on staying up until about 11:00 P.M. and then I'm going to get some much needed sleep. I am so pooped.
May 4th, 2007
Got up at 5:55am this morning. I had to shave before I went to recreation and my visit with my friend. I got dressed and went outside. It was very humid and wet from the storm we had last night.
About an hour and forty five minutes later two guards showed up to take me to my visit. My visit went well and is always nice to see David. We talked about all sorts of stuff. When I got back after the visit I got my shower and took a nap getting back up at 4:00pm. Then dinner came - nothing spectacular; a hot dog bun 2 slices of cheese and black eyed peas. How delicious.
There's a big growing rumor we may be getting T.V.s on death row. The Texas state legislators are supposed to have voted on a bill. I have mixed feelings about this. It's a good control device and would most definitely make the guards' workload work much easier, but then I've gone almost 6 years without one…I'd hate to turn into a zombie and get side tracked from things such as legal work, writing, etc. I think it would be easy to waste away my life on the boob tube. Then again, I do like movies so…Guess we'll find out eventually how true the rumor is.
As I'm writing this it's 7:26pm, and I'm listening to some electronic music on KTRU Rice University. The sun is setting and my cell light is off. I feel like I'm writing like they did in the old days, racing the sun. I'm a dork, I know. I'll turn my light on if I get some mail.
Not much else to do but enjoy this music, relax and think.
May 7th, 2007
A bright and beautiful day! I just talked to a guard to see if I could get outside and he said he'd keep me on the waiting list. I hope to get out and get some sun! It looks wonderful out there.
I slept so-
so. I woke up in the middle of the night, because my neighbor had a seizure and banged his head on the toilet. Everyone was yelling for a guard, because we all heard this loud crack sound. Then, we heard no response. I knocked on the wall and hollered to see if he was okay and nothing. Everyone freaked out. So, fortunately a guard came pretty quickly. Usually it takes forever to get their attention and then once you do you spend fifteen minutes arguing how important the matter is before they actually come to the section. They called a sergeant and some nurses and helped him out. When he came back from the infirmary he had a huge knot on his head. That's when we found out it was just a seizure. All of the guys on this section asked if he was okay and a few guys kept checking on him the rest of the night. Moments like this are what cement me to the belief that there are some really good guys back here. Humans.
I was just thinking about a time when I was in general population and watched a fight break out over cartoons. It was the whackiest thing I'd ever seen up to that point. I had just been coming off of work. At the time I was working on what was called 8 building where they housed Closed Custody inmates. Mostly youngsters who were rowdy and fought a lot. They were too rough to be out in general population so they were confined to a building where they were allowed to move around and have some privileges, but everything was restricted. I hated the job. When I went back to my pod after a long day of crap I expected to walk into the pod, sit down and watch some cartoons and then take a shower and nap. Instead a few young black guys were arguing with a few older black guys. In prison, generally the black guys controlled what was on the T.V. for majority purposes. If you were white you pretty much watched whatever was on, though every now and then if a sport or a program that they watched wasn't on, you could catch something you wanted to watch. I like cartoons so it wasn't a problem for me.
I sat down on a bench expecting to see some cartoons and instead watched a heated argument over whether Oprah should be on, or Pokemon -
it might've been Digimon - it was one of them. The voices grew louder and the debate hotter when someone took a swing at another and the next thing I saw was a huge fight amongst a bunch of guys arguing over cartoons or Oprah! I couldn't believe what I was seeing. All I could think about was how odd it was to see a bunch of so called “Hardened Criminals” fighting over a show geared towards females and a show for kids. I think that's when I realized that I'd stepped into another dimension. Prison is stranger than fiction.
Anyway, some guards ran into the day room and the fight stopped instantly. I got up went to my cell and took a shower. When I came back from the shower I saw that instead of Pokeman or Oprah, the show Bay Watch was on. Seems peace was made over scantily clad women running down a beach. Who would've thought Pamela Anderson would prevent a major riot from breaking out?
May 8th, 2007
I'm sitting here waiting to be moved. I'm already packed up and the guards told me I was going back to B-
pod. I was just there last week. I don't really mind. It's not the best of pods, but you do with where they take you.
Today has been long and boring. I went outside at six in the morning and exercised, came in, goofed around, read, and not much else. I didn't feel like doing anything. Yesterday afternoon I was fortunate enough to get out in the sun and be out by myself. It was nice getting to a place where I could just think and enjoy the sunshine without worrying about my thoughts being in a shouting match with all the noise around me. It was peaceful. Plus, I got a little burn which I needed, cause right now I'm deathly pale. I can't really tan, but I can get enough color so I don't look like the living dead (oh, wait I AM the living dead. My bad.) I hope to get my mail tonight before I leave. I have a sneaking suspicion that some of my mail is being tossed when I get moved. I can't prove it, but too much stuff has come up missing.
June 1st, 2007
You're probably wondering what happened to most of the month of May...Well, I decided to take a month off from every type of writing possible except writing to my friends and such. It's easy to get burned out when all your day consists of writing and reading...But I'm back for whatever it's worth, and I'll try to find something useful to write about until I get burned out again. Haha.
I went on a month long losing streak at playing basketball, then in the last weeks I went on a great winning streak finally finding my groove and effectively kicked butt. I have been fortunate enough to get out in the sun and finally bring some color to my pastey white skin...Then, the great ending to the month came two weeks ago, from my attorney who brought some very great news..It really looks like I might get a retrial. It all comes down to the Court Of Criminal Appeals, but we think the odds are in my favor. I'm excited and scared at the possibilities the future holds. Although, once again I have to deal with the emotional aspects of what a new trial or even new sentencing phase would bring. First, and most importantly old wounds of the victim's family will be torn open and I hate that they have to suffer anymore. It bothers me a lot. I wish for some sense of finality of things for them, just as much as anyone else would, but I'm not a killer, so...I just wish none of this mess would've ever happened. If only I had a time machine…Of course, I'll have to deal with the personal attacks on my character, but I can put up with it. Who knows what the future holds. Ultimately my fate is in the hands of G-d...
Today is Friday and it's been slow. I've mostly been reading a book called Target, a thriller, and listening to the radio. I figured I would start my journal back up and get back in the habit of things...
Peace and Love.
June 2nd, 2007
Saturday. Usually these are the most boring days on earth, but somehow I've been able to keep motivated. I got up this morning and went to recreation and exercised. I normally don't exercise on Saturdays, but I wanted to and it felt good. I've spent most of the rest of the day catching up on letters.
The sun is beginning to set outside and it looks quite gorgeous. One thing I really miss on weekends and especially in the summer are those wonderful sunsets where you are out in the front or back yard with family or a friend and that feeling of the cooling air kissing your cheeks, colors playing across the sky..I remember being in our swimming pool not long after dad would serve dinner. The sun going down..A lot of times I'd pass up going outside to swim to stay in and watch T.V. I think my parents took it as me being anti social, but the truth is, we weren't allowed to watch horror movies or shows in our house, and Tales From The Crypt would come on every Saturday night at 7:00pm, so, all the times I'd pass up going swimming, I'd be sneaking around to watch that show. I was just being a typical teenager, trying to be sly. I look back now, though and really regret not spending that time with my family. I think if teenagers really understood how fleeting that time being with mom and dad is, maybe they would spend more time with them. I really miss mom and dad right now, as the sun's sinking shadow plays across the walls of my cell.
If only youth and summer could last forever.
Peace and Love.
June 3rd, 2007
Another day comes to a close...It's been oddly quiet today, so I can gather it will be chaos tonight on this pod (I'm on ad-
seg and it's been nuts!).
Right now Pink Floyd's “Wish You Were Here” is playing. I don‟t know, but the last month or so I've been really getting into some classic rock. I'm not into the Southern rock sound, but a lot of the British classics are great. I'm really, really starting to like everything The Beatles did. Mom was a huge fan -
I can see why.
Anyways, it's been a slow dull week and I'm just checking in.
Peace and Love!
June 4th, 2007
I swear, I've got some bad luck! I just came in from recreation and I'm getting over the effects of being gassed. I've got a killer headache right now!
I went to recreation at 6:30am, and things were going fine until the guy in the next day room to mine decides to talk trash to the guards. The guards call a ranking officer to the pod to chill him out, he continues to make threats and is cussing the Sergeant out. They call the riot team, gas him and drag him out of the day room. Well, I'm stuck like chuck. I'm just as exposed to the gas as he is, because the dayrooms are open spaces. I begin to cough, gag, sneeze, my nose was running like a busted faucet...Why does that always seem to happen when I'm around? Everywhere I go something happens where gas is used and I'm always right in the mix.
Well, last night in my closing entries I was talking about how I was starting to really get into the Beatles, and oddly enough, in commemoration of the Fortieth Anniversary of the album “Sgt. Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band” they played the album in it's entirety. I listened to it and was completely blown away. I've heard several of the songs over the years, but to hear it all uncut, the way it was supposed to be heard...Wow. The song that really blew my mind was “Within You Without You” awesome in sound and lyrics. I really couldn't believe how good the album was. Actually, last night was an unbelievably good night for music. I heard a lot of songs I hadn‟t heard in a while. Nights like that make me miss having a CD player.
I don't have much planned for the rest of the day. I need to do some reading. Maybe a little writing. It's hot right now though, but I'm glad the sun is out. Too bad I can't get outside and some sunshine. Tomorrow is the outside day for this section. Maybe I'll get lucky.
Peace and Love.
June 28th, 2007
Last night I was moved to E-
pod. It seems - no, it is a fact - that I'm here every other week. I mean, I think it kind of defeats the purpose that if I and others who are 'escape risks', they keep moving me to the same pod and almost in the exact cell location...I admit, I don't like it down here, but I'll make the best of it. Why not? Besides, I can get art work, home made cards; all sorts of arts and crafts dirt cheap down here. Might as well take advantage. A small price to pay for lack of sleep. Haha.
Peace and Love.
June 29th, 2007
I had a feeling I was going to have an attorney visit this morning, so I hurried up and shaved just incase. When I finished shaving commissary came. I didn't get anything, but my neighbor was kind enough to get an ice cream for me. As I'm enjoying that, two guards showed up and said I had a legal visit. I would have to enjoy the melted remains at a later time. Anyways, my lawyer didn't have anything to report; everything is sitting and waiting, and while we wait for a definite answer on my appeals, they are just building up evidence and support in my favor. In fact, another one of my co-
defendants had just signed another affidavit in my favor saying I wasn't a shooter. This means a lot to me, as none of my co- defendants really likes me, so...I don't think anyone can say, "Oh, they just want to see someone get off..." Trust me, if a couple of them could kill me personally, they probably would.
Anyways, with them was an intern, and we talked for a bit...just general things like what I'm into etc. It was nice to get out of the cell for a bit. I'm slacking on reading this week. I've been wanting to start this book called "The Grays", but the cover looks creepy. It has this huge bug eyed alien head... aliens freak me out. I'll start it later, I'm sure. It's been raining off and on for forever and it's getting cold. Nobody wants to play any ball and I really need to get my cardio going. I've been doing good on my normal conditioning, but I need to run.
Peace and Love.
June 30th, 2007
I don't know, why, but I feel so drained today… I don't feel depressed, just tired. Worn out. Maybe tomorrow I'll feel better.