For New Years it seems nothing is different. I still woke up in a cell. I went to sleep right after New Years and then woke up. They had a nice lunch, but I gave the chicken to my neighbor. He's been eating like a king ever since I moved next to him. They haven't fed us this much meat in a long time.
This year I'm going to focus on being a better person and doing more things to help people. I really am going to try to stop worrying or getting depressed over things I have no control over, also. Easier said than done, but I can get better at it, I think.
A cold, cold day and I went outside to play basketball. It was freezing, but after about three games of running I was warmed up. I felt good. After winning ten games at 'speed ball' (that's where the first person to score ten shots wins) we played a game called '21' in which you can shoot any way that you want to. The first shot is worth two points and on the rebound you have to shoot from where you catch the ball. That is worth one point. Now, the goal is not to go over 21. If you do go over 21 your score goes back down to 17. I was down three games and came back four games in a row. I'm too good. Haha. What's great is now that I'm playing in the winter most of the good players aren't, so hopefully I'll have improved over the cold months to the point I can kick some major butt when everyone starts playing again. I want to be in tip-
Right now I'm waiting around to see if I'll be moved or not. Hold on, a guard just passed by
Huh. I was just told I'll be moving to C-
That didn't take long. Fortunately the cell was really clean so all I had to do was sanitize it and unpack my things. I'm not really too excited to be on this pod. This is where all of the drama of someone getting a friend's personal information began. Tomorrow I have to put on my Sherlock Holmes hat and begin investigating the issue. Oh boy…
Fortunately it's really quiet here. I don't have a great view out of my window, but it doesn't matter. I should be back in Dallas before too long.
Man, this month is already off to a fast beginning. I hopped out of bed and exercised and then got ready to do my investigation and I feel a little more at ease that I wasn't the prime target. It has happened to several other people over here, which tells me that it originates from this pod. The guy whose name the letter to my friend was written in
swore up and down he didn't and wouldn't do something like that, and besides, he said, they got his ID# wrong too (which begs the question of why the mail room allowed a letter written with the wrong ID# to go out in the first place). Oh, well…I'll probably know for sure who was up to it, but I still believe I know who it was.
The highlight of the day was receiving a wonderful Chanukah/Christmas card, even if the mail room held onto it for like two weeks. Sheesh. It really put a smile on my face. It's always the simple things that bring happiness and sunlight to a place that can be so dark.
Peace and love.
A warm and humid Sunday. It's like 75 degrees right now and just three days ago it was in the 20's. Nuts. I'm listening to KDOL and my wonderful friend, Josef, just called in and shared with me that many people are upset I decided to shut down my myspace page. I admit it evokes mixed feelings when I think about it, but I will say that I didn't do it be-
I still do have a link to myspace via my friend Josef, so I'm sure that he will continue his work against the death penalty via that site.
Man, I'm so ready to get back to Dallas. I really feel like it's going to not only recharge my spirit but also give me new things and ideas to write about. I live a Groundhog's Day kind of life and I'm ready for a little bit of change. Everything is so stagnant right now.
Today has been long and boring. I think the humidity zaps the energy right from you. That would be a good horror story. Instead of a fog, mist or a giant monster, you could have this town that has never experienced real humidity and it's been relatively dry…then humidity settles in. There's so much moisture-
Okay, so Stephen King I ain't…
I just finished listening to NPR and they were talking about the arguments being heard by the Supreme Court against lethal injection… The case originates from Kentucky and the argument is if you can use chemicals that not even veterinarians use to euthanize animals, why then is it okay to use them on humans? They also argued that no one is
properly medically trained to administer the lethal injection without insuring that it won't cause pain and suffering… Those in support of the death penalty are arguing that this is just a back door into abolishing the death penalty altogether (well, duh). Thought it should be made clear that the Supreme Court is not deciding on the constitutionality of the death penalty. Executions will resume, be sure of this.
My realistic, honest opinion is that either the courts are going to rule that a different chemical or method be used, or that it is constitutional because there really is no way of knowing.
What I find interesting is that pretty much the same method is used for assisted suicide and that practice has been banned by the government because it is unethical and "inhu-
Well, a decision is expected by summertime so we shall see.
Peace and love.
The day began with a little bit of sunshine coming through my window, but it didn't last very long. As I write this, it's pouring rain. There was some construction going on out-
I wasn't sure what kind of construction they were doing, but now it's obvious. About 200 yards away from my cell you can see these huge steel posts. They've already laid the cable and conduit (in the process hitting a gas line and a water main-
Just had a little bit of excitement. They were pulling a guy out of his cell to take him to recreation and he had a brace on his wrist. When we come out of our cells we have to be handcuffed, even if we're only going five feet away. So, the guard puts the handcuffs around his brace and then snaps them super tight and the inmate lets out this howl of pain. Then he starts cussing out the guard, but the guard doesn't feel that he did any-
I'll be going to recreation today kind of late. Things are moving real slow for some rea-
Yesterday was muggy and wet, while today is crisp, cool and beautiful. I went outside this morning at six to play basketball. I'll be honest, though, the guy I called out to play and trash-
so bad? I'm better than this! Obviously not better than him. Huh. Oh, well, it's the exer-
Right now I've been jotting down notes for chapters that I'll be contributing to an anti-
I wanted to also quote a passage of my friend's letter in which he carries on commenting on the article that the Dallas Morning News wrote against those who have pen pals with death row inmates. He wrote, "The article you mentioned in the Dallas Morning News about pen pals of death row inmates was interesting. All I can say is only in Texas. The true believer (in the death penalty) thinks anything, like [non-
Oddly enough, last year the Dallas Morning News' editorial board came out against the death penalty and it seems that they don't see the contradictions in their own propagan-
I suppose I've rambled on enough for this day. Peace and love.
Today began with a knock on my door from a mailroom lady. At first I thought it was a guard pestering me because I hang my towel over my cell light when I sleep because sometimes they will turn on the lights to do a physical count. There are five bright fluo-
After sleeping about forty-
So, it looks like when I do leave for Dallas I'll be gone about a month and a half. Man, I was ready to go now! I should've guessed it was bound to change again and no where
am I under the impression it is a solid schedule. In the world of legal activities nothing is set in stone.
I am kind of excited that I will be gone for a while though. It'll be a much needed break from life on death row. If anything changes be assured that I will keep you posted. Note to friends: Continue to write me here at Polunsky. I'm not going anywhere yet.
The day has been smooth. I've exercised, done laundry and some writing. The view out of my window is lovely. It looks like a beautiful spring day. The construction hasn't been resumed, though.
It's time to listen to "The Progressive Forum" on KPFT. Bye-
Peace and love.
It's Sunday and Sundays are usually the most boring day of the week. No one has recreation and we can't leave our cell for anything. Usually I do all of my laundry on this day (hand wash), catch up on writing and listen to KDOL's "Shout Out" show for some phone calls (hopefully!).
I woke up about 8:00 A.M. and crawled out of bed about 8:30. Then I worked out for an hour. I've got a hose made out of coax cable that I plug into my sink to make a shower so after my exercise I rinsed off, cleaned up my cell (there's no drain so the only down-
It's a warm day, almost 70 degrees. I listened to KDOL and then listened to the Cowboys football game with the Giants. They choked. What a gyp!
Guess I will end the day with a cup of cocoa.
Crap! I'm so freakin' upset right now… Last night they decided to do a cell search for our whole section. The guards are just going through the motions, not really making a big fuss, not really taking anything, a smooth operation in and out of the cells. Have a nice evening, Sir, blah, blah, blah. I go to sleep at 11:30 P.M. and at 4:30 A.M. there's a knock on my cell door. Surely I must be dreaming so I ignore the knock…
"Halprin, get up! I need a statement," a voice says.
"Huh?" I mumble.
"You got a case. I need your statement."
"A case? For what?" I ask, confused.
"For having tape," the sergeant says. I jump out of bed now, wide awake.
"For tape? I've never had any tape! Did the officer turn any tape into you?"
"Who wrote the case?" I ask.
"Ms. Nawlins! She was in the picket when the guards were searching cells. She can't write a case!" I say flabbergasted.
The sergeant is now shocked at this revelation. "She was in the picket?" (Picket is slang for control room.)
"Yes!" I say. "Sergeant I seriously did not have any tape. This is bogus."
"Well, she wrote eleven cases and I'll go through them all and maybe you'll slide by," she says.
Agh! If I get [another] bogus ass case for something I did not do or have I'll blow a gasket. I will not spend another three months on level 2 discipline POD for crap. I won't
know for another couple of days if the case will stick or not. Then depending on who runs the kangaroo "court" will depend on my punishment. I could get cell restriction, commis-
The day is still young. Lunch is here and I need to exercise… At least the day is bright and beautiful outside my window. Lord, please…let them throw the damn case out!
6:08 P.M. I ended up getting to go outside for recreation. It had to be about 69 degrees on so and it was lovely. The guy I went out with played some ball with me and I lost. I'm playing horribly here recently. My mojo is zapped.
I'm winding my day down and I think I'm going to go to sleep early 'cause I'm so stressed. I've got a full plate, that's for sure.
Peace and love.
Still no word on whether or not the bogus discipline case will stick. Usually after the ini-
Storms have settled in, but it hasn't been a terribly bad day. I should be getting moved to another POD tomorrow. Good. I'm ready to go.
I had the strangest dream last night. I was with my ex-
I went outside early this morning. It was cold and wet, but the cool air was very refresh-
Another theme that popped to mind is, "Sometimes courage is a quiet thing." I heard this recently. We believe that courage should be worn like a badge of honor, when sometimes the greatest courage is that inner yearning to drive on. It's not my suffering or heartache that pushes me. I don't need to feel pain to feel alive, but instead I want to heal from the wounds of my past. Yes, learn from the pain, but also heal and take with me into the next chapter or chapters, the desire to be a better human.
Random thoughts/things I want to do for 2008-
things I have no control over bringing me down and I want inner peace and the ability to let go of things that keep me from that inner peace.
Still no word on a case. We are all waiting to see if the discipline is served
Tonight I should be moved so I'm about to tidy up my cell and get my property in order.
Peace and love.
I was moved last night and it's okay here. The cell I am in is nice and clean but excep-
Still no word of a case (fingers crossed) so things look good. Maybe I've been shown some mercy.
TGIF…Not really, but I'm trying to keep the positive vibes going. Actually, in spite of the hardships I feel pretty effin' good. Maybe it's all of the exercise and stuff. I'm a mad man.
Still no word on the discipline case. I'm actually starting to think they were all thrown away. But (don't want to jinx myself) you can never be too certain in this place.
It's raining cats and dogs and cold-
Oh! Today I talked to one of my friends, Moreno, a Spanish dude, and he gave me a copy of an article that he wrote about this execution day (he was given a reprieve). Please read this. It will give you a true insight to what one goes through on his very last day:
Jose Angel Moreno, Texas Death Row-
The barbaric practice of legal execution has become so common-
Execution by any means is a torture of the psyche. It is not something I would wish any-
Allow me to introduce myself. I am Jose. I have been on death row for a little over two decades and have luckily survived four execution dates, including one this year that came within three hours of a successful lethal injection. I am not the first person to come so close and escape execution. Many more have come even closer. I personally know several lucky survivors. What we all share from this ordeal is a traumatic life-
For the majority of my life I have been a blissful agnostic, a belief (or lack of) that I can no longer hold. Over the years there have been numerous Christians that have tried to change my belief, especially during the last few months before my execution date. They see this as their last opportunity to convince me to accept Jesus so that I can die in peace. Every one of the Christians failed to reach me. On the days leading up to my ex-
That exact moment begins when Assistant Warden Billy Hirsch comes to notify me perso-
At that point I realize that I have failed to be a son that a father can be proud of. Hope-
I watch as my family is led out in tears. (Afterwards I discover that not only are my fami-
From visitation I am escorted back to 12 building, where death-
After I am loaded into a small, cramped compartment in the back of the van, it slowly starts making its way out of the unit. When I get to the end of 12 Building, I'm looking in the windows for my friends and I see a brightly colored piece of paper waving back and forth to get my attention. The van is carrying me and five prison officers, who are given AR-
Walls Unit takes about an hour because, for security reasons, they don't take a direct route.
When we finally arrive at the Walls Unit, the transport vehicles are admitted through the first of many gates. To get from the back gate to where the execution chamber is, the transport vehicles must maneuver through a maze of narrow passageways between huge buildings.
I fell like I am being swallowed by a gigantic beast.
When the engines on the vehicles are finally turned off, we are parked right outside the death chamber. From there I hobble the few feet it takes to get to the holding area next to the execution chamber. The prison employees along the way all stop what they're doing to gawk at the condemned on his way to death. Once in the holding area, the only door in or out is locked behind me. Immediately I begin to get claustrophobic because the ceiling in the holding area is too low for its long length and to make it worse there are no windows. It feels like I am in an underground dungeon. The air has an eerie anti-
The holding area comprises a row of cells. The walkway in front of the cells has several tables of varying sizes and a few chairs, and in the room with me are about a dozen hand-
Once I've re-
It takes about ten minutes for him to arrive. All the while there is an officer sitting right in front of the cell, watching everything I do. The rest of the officers are off to each side or walking around. The other tables in the room are for refreshments and snacks. Three huge containers of hot coffee, tea, and juice. Milk is chilling in a container of ice. The one item that stands out most is a big silver platter with all sorts of sweets on it, cookies, buns, rolls, pastries, etc. This silver platter must go back a long way. It probably served hundreds of condemned prisoners. It certainly doesn't belong in a prison. Even if I wasn't terrified and was capable of eating, I probably wouldn't have wanted to touch any of the sweets on it. Not that I am offered anything. The party doesn't start until after the war-
When the Walls Unit warden shows up, he starts off by explaining to me what all is going to happen. At three o'clock they will allow me to walk into the next cell where I will be behind a screen. Then my spiritual advisor will be admitted and I can visit up to an hour. At 4 p.m. they will bring the last meal. He has a copy of my last meal request in his hands. First he comments that I have a lot of food listed (pork chops, fajitas, spicy fried chicken, beef enchiladas, refried beans, Mexican-
from inside the cell). "On the other side of that door is the execution chamber," he con-
I answer him that I am still undecided. I certainly didn't have a last statement prepared and all the jokes I contemplated saying (To hell with all of you if you all can't take a joke; I'm here to be Vincent Gutierrez's stunt double; hope I'm not too late; I hope eve-
Then he tells me that if I get a stay of execution the chaplain will come and inform me of it. Finally he asks me if I have any questions and it is at this time that I am supposed to ask for any special requests, like the telephone. The warden tells me that I can call as many people as I want but the person must live in the continental U.S. and all phone calls will stop at 5 p.m.
When the warden leaves, that's the cue for the party to start. The chaplain pours me a tea and offers me the infamous silver platter. I ask for milk instead. Then I get right on the phone. The first person I talk to is my friend of 27 years.
But I'm not doing much talking because I'm trying to choke down the sobs. Right then I am more scared than I've ever been in my whole life.
I talk on the phone for about half-
Dying is like walking through a one-
When we die, the bonds in our relationship with others are severed. You can't even count on having someone waiting for you on the other side. For an agnostic there is little to look forward to. Christians, Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus, all have something to expect. I, on the other hand, had nothing.
Everything I had done to make my final days pleasant-
State of Texas (and possibly Satan) was using to distract me, I should have been on my knees praying.
Since returning to death row at the Polunsky Unit, my hands stopped shaking after two days and my sleep returned to normal after three days. The experience of visiting the death chamber as a potential participant instead of a tourist has changed my life com-
September 22, 2007
Pretty powerful, huh? I will close today on that note. Let it sink it.
Peace and love.
I am pissed. Apparently the Supreme Court has already decided on the constitutionality of using the three poisons in an execution. No, the decisions is not published yet, but I believe a decision has been made because they've kicked out (denied) five Texas cases that were pending in the Supreme Court. That means those five men can be issued an execution date. Why would they do this if they had not already decided in favor of the constitutionality of it? Many of us think this is a sure sign that soon-
A bright and sunny but cold day. I'm sitting here listening to football and waiting on my laundry to finish soaking. All is quiet and well here today. Nothing to really report.
Peace and love.
Man, where did the sunshine go? You know, last week I said I liked my cell but I changed my mind. This pod sucks! It's wet, mildewy, there's no heat and it's generally in pretty bad shape. The walls are leaking…
I went outside today and it was really chilly and damp, but it felt nice. I've always loved cold air and walking around in it. I haven't found any ballplayers around here so I'm just doing my normal exercises.
Tonight on the news they were talking about another escape that just happened nearby. I said to my neighbor, "You know, this is just going to keep on happening more and more. You know why? Because they give no one any incentive to stay. Good time doesn't count; they hand out life sentences like they are handing out candy; there are no types of rehabilitation programs and most of the guards are poorly trained. It's like, what do they expect? Unless a guy is completely content in his surroundings and has accepted that freedom comes from within. What does he have to lose? Blue Bell ice cream can only keep a person passive for so long. "Well, we don't know why he ran." Wake up! Hey, I've said this before and I'll say it now so no one misreads me or takes me out of context, but there has to be some give and take. You can't lock up over 150,000 men and not try to
rehabilitate them. If you've got a three headed monster you only chop off one of his heads, he's still got two more! It's not a solution to just lock them up and throw away the key.
I've said my piece…
Today I woke up coughing and sneezing. Living on this dungeon of a pod has gotten me sick! Ugh. I can't stop coughing now. Wonderful. I don't feel like crap yet, but it seems every few hours I get a little sicker. Well, it's been quite a while since I've been sick, so…everything in cycles, I suppose.
The day is cold and still wet. I'm about to drink some hot tea and listen to the radio and relax…such fun.
'So, alone into the cold new year without another word from her. I wrote to ask if we could maybe meet again before the spring, but weeks went by with no reply…' -
Can't get this damn song out of my head, but that particular verse keeps running around in circles
Well, I'm getting over the worst case of the flu I've ever had in my life. Heck, I think the past week was the sickest I've ever been. It was bad. It started creeping up on me Tues-
Saturday I felt well enough to try to go back to recreation and so I got out of my cell. I still had the cough (and even now I can't stop coughing!) but it felt good to get out of the cell.
I was well enough yesterday to start writing again, but I was just too lazy. Though an odd thing did happen yesterday. I was called out to see some defense investigator for a guy who is mentally ill. The investigator asked me if I'd be willing to testify that I felt he was indeed mentally ill and I said I had no problem helping out because I truly believe this guy needs help and I think it was wrong to try to put him to death. So, he made no guarantee that I would be called to testify, but I could be going to Austin for a day next month.
It's a fairly warm day today and I'm trying to play catch up. Hopefully things will get back on track from this day forward. I wanted to share a story in a book I just recently read, The Devil and Miss Prym by Paul Coelho. The story in the book is about loyalty. It reads:
"By the way, what's this place called?"
"Heaven? But the guard at the marble gateway told me that was heaven!"
"That's not heaven, that's hell."
The traveler was puzzled.
"You shouldn't let others take your name in vain, you know! False information can lead to all kinds of confusion!"
"On the contrary, they do us a great favor, because the ones who stay there are those who have proved themselves capable of abandoning their dearest friends."
(End of story)
I thought that was a pretty powerful little anecdote.
We just heard some tragic news here on death row
On that sad note I will end this for the day.
Peace and love.
Man, this day really sucked. I just got moved to E-
It's getting late and I'm finally settled into this cell. I'm off in a corner and out of every-
Peace and love.
This pod sucks! I didn't used to mind it, but they are doing everything ass backwards over here now. They are tipping majorly about recreation and showers. You can only recreate on your own section and shower on your own section. No guards are allowed to walk through the crossover doors now, so it's slowed everything down big time. You can only exit and enter from one place on the section now. We didn't get lunch until after one in the afternoon when usually it comes around nine and dinner is late now.
This morning it was storming bad. I thought that lightning would surely strike the build-
I'm about to start reading the Cormac McCarthy book No Country for Old Men. It looks like it'll be good and the movie version was nominated for an Oscar. I'll give my opinion in the next few days. I'm currently reading Infernal Angel by Edward Lee, a very weird book.