Everyone knew it was coming at any time and today it happened...the 90 day lock-
A little refresher corse: Towards the end of 2008 there was a hug cell phone scandal. An inmate by the name of richard Tabler was able to get his hands on a cell phone and decided it would be awesome idea to call a Texas State Senator and threaten him and his family. What purpose he thought this would serve is anyone´s guess, but what it brought upon death row inmates was holy hell and this place has been the worse for it ever since. From cameras being EVERYWHERE, to random shakedowns, a shakedown team, a death row designated mail room where mail is scrutinized closer than ever
(and the main reason why it takes mail about seven days on average to get off of the unit) and lock downs every 90 days. What is the old adage? It only takes one person to srew it up for everyone else...But whatever, it is here and there´s nothing anyone can say or do about it. Just prepare and hope for teh best. I just hate the shake down part. having to fit ALL (exept electronics like a radio, hot pot, fan etc.) personal property into a bread crate that is about 3 and a half feet x 2 and a half feet or so...
I´ve written about this before, but besides having almost no control over anything, I also don´t really own anything. Maybe in a quasi sense of ownership, but the trust is any guard at any time can break, throw away or confiscate any you our property. Wait, you say, they can´t do that! People bought that for you, people used their own blood sweat and tears to work for that...to pay for that! And we´re forever grateful, but the fact remains-
To add to the air of uncertainty, we have a new warden and new wardens like to make their mark. To show their authority. Each warden has their own pet peeves and how they like shake downs to happen. So, will this warden keep things as they´ve been for about the last two years or change it up.
To be continued....
A couple of things have happened today. One, as I write this we're waiting for this section to have its shake down, but the way that it is looking the guards won't make it over here until later this evening and we'll probably
have to deal with second shift and who knows how that will go...another uncertainty to worry about. My brain is filled with enough uncertainty to worry about another thing...
I really wish I had a head key ( reference to the wonderful series Locke & Key, by Joe Hill) so that I could just take the unwanted thoughts away and be worry free! Looks like I'm also going to miss Jurassic Park tonight as well. B0000!
A funny thing happened this morning. So I'm fortunate to get some comics from time to time. They usually are brought to me by the mail room in the morning and I have to go through this senseless process of signing a recieval notice and then the mail room says,
" These are being sent to Huntsville for review." Cause you know, comics are the equivalant to porn...
Every now and then they'll review them on the unit and just give them to me instead of making me wait an additional 30 plus days to get them...
So, when the mail room just handed them to me, I thought cool! I've got something to read and not wait
for. I sat down like child recieving a birthday present and began to read...
Well, it wasn't but about 30 or 40 minutes later and a different mail room lady shows up at my cell door and says,
" Halprin...you recieved some stuff this morning that wasn't reviewed? We need that back."
Now, I could've been a real asshole and put up a huge fuss, but I generally don't like getting
the mail room on my bad side. You learn several rules when you are in prison and one of those key rules is never piss of the property officer, commissary officer or mail room officer as they are crucial to a person's sanity. Screw that off and you're doing 'hard time' indeed.
I've had this happen before with the mail room and I know there are other gujys back here who would say,
" Fuck 'em! They gave it to you, don't be a dumb ass and turn it back over.
" But again, it goes back to that rule of not pissing off the mail room. Mistakes happen and I'd rather not have potential problems later down the road. So, I just handed them back and besides I had ample time to read them before giving them back. I'm confident that the people, who approve these things will give them back. I just wish they weren't so damn slow in the reviewing process...
Speaking about comics, they really are growing in popularity back here. I think that it comes down to the sheer entertainment value of them. No longer considered 'just for geeks'. The publisher, Image Comics has been nailing it in terms writing/story telling and art. They have titles in just about every genre you can think of.
Walking Dead is by far the most popular series back here and it only continues to grow. I highly suggest any friends of guys back here to consider ordering comics or graphic novels for their friends if you're hunting for material to send them. I try to do my very best to share with others and believe me, the comics that I do have get around, but it is increasingly more difficult to keep up with demand and popularity of certain series.
You can order Volumes ( typically 4-
I highly suggest ordering first, the Previews guide...it´s basically a HUGE monthly catalog that gives you a complete break down of all the titles/releases for a particular month. Midtown comis offers this for a little over three dollars each month. It will allow your friend to find titles he or she might´be interested in.
Some of the most popular titles around right now are The Walking Dead, Thief of Theives, The Tithe, Locke & Key, Rat Queens, Any super hero comic ( X-
and on... There's some really good stuff out there and I'm sure your pen friends would enjoy them.
Okay, gotta get ready for the shakedown . I hope it goes well.
Well, last night was relatively painless. Actually, it was hassle free.
They put us all in the shower, let us wash and shave and by the time we were done, they were done.
They didn't take anything from me at all. I was relieved and happy. As most guys were.
Though, some guys in the day time didn't fair well as another demon hell spawn showed up to create havoc and chaos.
A crazy world we live in. It was rumored that this particular, demon had been fired for an unauthorized use of force, but I guess those rumors were not true.
Oh well. They didn´t get us at night so again, relieved. It is one of those very peaceful days of quietness.
Not really sure what I'm going to do for the rest of the day, though.
Probably read and listen to the radio.
So, here lately with the uncertainty of appeals and all of the executions going on.
I've been thinking about how arbitrary and capricious the death penalty is. I've been focused a lot on my own mortality and others as well. Frightened is an understatement, but being pissed off is as well. With myself, there's a bit of self hatred and loathing, because as I tell people I do have to accept a certain degree of responsibility for my actions and choices throughout my younger years.
( I think people who say in life they have 'no regrets' are full of shit...how can you go through life
not regretting anything and using the addage 'well, it's shaped and guided
who I've become now.'True, but really no regrets? No relationship done differently? No, remorse towards anyone and anything you've done wrong? Is your mind a vacant jug of air and dust?
Examine your life...really sit down and examine it and surely you'll find something you wished you would've done differently) all of those things.
Yes, I do forgive myself and I do love myself, but dammit if I wouldn't like to go back to the younger version of me and say " Take your head out of your ass!" I get angry at myself because the mistakes I've made were easily avoidable.
I wake up each morning and wonder how much longer I have on this planet. I can't be one of those people who doesn't fear death. I'm too tethered to this world and I'm too afraid of the unknown. I want to believe in something greater than us, but the random chaos in this universe makes me doubtful...never mind the mathematical perfection and that whole theory of creationism...but like,
I'm setting here typing this out-
a day, a place to sleep etc. and someone who has never done anyone any harm or wrong is starving to death half way across the world.
Life makes no sense to me at times.
God makes no sense to me at times.
Maybe my own fears and doubt are not rational, I'm aware of that, because of we just die and turn to dust what does it matter, right? But...don't we all want to have had this mean something and have our lives be defined by a certain ammount of purposefulness?
Thinking about all of the recent executions, though, I can't help but zero in on Lester Bower...Almost 70 years old, an insane ammount of executions date, a legitimate innocence claim and he's dead now? Killed by the State of Texas? Really? What purpose did that serve the citizens of this state or country. How do you justify strapping a 70 year old man down and exploding his heart?
The only arguement that the pro death penalty movement has any more is based on emotion. An emotion of vengeance and fear. And like most emotions, when you strip them down to their basic function are really unrational when you think about them. Most fear based emotions are really unrational.
How do we kill a person like Lester Bower? Fear and the manipulation of it.
When you look at any death penalty case at the sentencing phase one of the 'special issues' that have to be considered is whether or not a defendent is going to bea continuing threat to society or
"Future threat of dangerousness"
If this cannot be answered 'yes' then the life must be spared. Generally, this is decided by looking at the crime. Usually heinous in its manner and based on the prosecuters assertions that even in a general population prison environment a life sentence would only allow for the oppurtunity that the defendent hurt another person.
What is the arguement then, for Mr. Bower?
Consider the facts: 30 plus years without any major disciplinary infraction.
When, in those 30 years, was Lester ever looking for the oppurtunity to hurt someone?
He was on the Ellis Unit, before the state shipped all of those inmated to Polunsky and a more controlled and segregated/isolated environment after an escape attempt. He worked in the garment factory as a death row prisoner around heavy machinery and tools. He was the officer clerk for the officers who supervised the garment factory, had a cell mate, access to myriad 'weapons', as did the 400 plus inmates.
Where were the murders, death and mayhem that prosecuters promised a jury?
We live in a society of fear. America is built upon fear and the wholesale distrubution of it.
Fermented by ignorance, hate, prejuidice, religious ignorance and bigotries...
I´m amazed at how big, tough and badass we think we are.
With this whole ' the sky is falling' irattionality of fear.
I'm surprised more people aren't afraid of their own shadows.
You can disguise our fear in the name of Justice, but it is still only fear.
The way that our death penalty is applied in this country defies any sense of logic. I used the words arbitrary and copricious because they are the best definition for it. There's no ryhme or reason, no fair to how at is applied. It makes me mad back here when I see people who truly diserve another chance be put to death and then dude's who could be truly defined as a 'monster' get off of death row and get a second chance.
Don't misunderstand me, I'm 100% against the death penalty for any crime. I'm just using those circumstances as an example. I've read about serial killers recieve life sentences because they work out deal with the prosecuters to reveal where other bodies are and a kid who runs into a gas station, robs and accidentaly kills a person be put down like a dog. I've seen so called christian Governors talk about redemption and salvation, then turn around and mock death row prisoners who seek or have found that same salvation.
There's a christian radio station called American Family Radio. I'm a person who likes to hear all sides of an arguement or particular issue and while it is TORTURE to sit through just about any program on AFR, I do try to listen and take in what I can. I try not to generalize or condescend a person's view, or people for that matter, but one host named Brian Fisher on AFR is a real nutter. His vitriol and hate towards homosexuals, muslims, President Obama.
I can usually only stomach about 30 minutes of his voice before I want to run to the toilet and vomit...but he said something interesting the other day in regards to this Duggers family, scandal and it goes to show the general hypocracy in our society.as a whole...
I have never seen any t.v. episode of whatever program the Dugger family is on, but I have heard on various programs their outspokenness against gay marriage etc. and fundamentalist christians hold them in high regards, apparently. Well, from what I understand one of their children, who is a grown adult now
was at some point in his teens a sexual abuser...he apparently went through treatment and such and the matter was swept under the rug.
Forgive me if I don't get all' of this 100% right, I am getting somewhere with this...
When this came to light recently the Duggers were attacked and publicly shamed
and Brian Fisher, a man who says the death penalty is a righteous punishment
held up by God and the bible, came to the defense of the Dugger's and the son in question who commitea unspeakable acts against young women sighting forgiveness, salvation, rehabilitation and forgiveness
...But by Mr. Fisher's own definition of how the death penalty should be applied and his own biblical standards, the Duggers son should've been dragged to the back yard and stoned to death. Why is this same standard not applied to the hundreds of men across the nation who are currently waiting to be executed. Surely, some of those men have asked for forgiveness, have asked for any kind of rehabilitation and salvation. Why is their desire for redemption not taken seriously, but a pseudo celebrity's is?
I'm just tired and worn out...I'm too damned stubborn to throw the towel in, but as a whole, I do wish this would end...all of the fear, the anguish, the mental torment and self doubt. Doubt on God, the universe and everything... But most of all I just wish we'd stop using fear to kill each other. It has to end at some point,..Right?
Today I witnessed an amazing act of kindness. Not that acts of kindness don't happen back here, but there are rare moments when somethings are just almost too hard to put into words. I've been on death row for twelve years now and this was one of those times that literally took me aback for a few minutes and made me analyze my own definition of what goodness is...
It all started early in the mornin before first round of recreation. We had a particulary nasty guard working and he likes to screw people over on recreation. See, they have this system and paperwork that they use to set up recreation. If you say you don't want to go they consider that a verbal refusal, or " VR", which I think if you want to get grammatically technical is the wrong word usage but whatever...the point is is that the guards can use this phrase to deny an inmate all manner of things; food, recreation, shower...
Well, this one guy Blaine Milam ( I think I spelled his name correctly) is a bit on the slow side...I don't want to say mentally retarded, but I know for certain he never went to Jr. High or High school, which is just heart breaking in itself...He gets picked on a lot because of his slowness. I guess he was sleeping in late and the guard just skipped over him. Blaine woke up later and asked about his recreation. The guard said he didn't have a, recreation, he VR'd. They went back and forth and the guard said:
" Listen you fuckin' retard, you refused. There ain't nothing you or I can do about it. You want to have recreation, go play with yourself."
After this exchange, this guy Justen hall jumps into the mix. Now, Justen is a good dude, but he speaks his mind. He saw something he didn't like and all he did was ask the guard:
" Hey, leave Milam alone...just give him his rec."
The guard turned on him and said, " How 'bout you mind your own fuckin' business."
Justen said: " This is my business. I'm an inmate and if you'll fuck him over, you'll try to fuck me, over and so we're just going to nip that in the bud right now."
" You threatning me?" The guard asked
" No...I'm just saying."
Well, the incident died down, but later in the day Blaine asked someone if
they had any food, 'cause Blaine doesn't get a whole lot of support. And coming off of the lock down, we hadn't been to commissary in a long time. Justen whooI understand has literally NO support either or pen pals had a few ramen noodles and some chips told Blaine he'd send him something. But little did either of them know that the guard was not only listening, but watching as well.
So, as I've written before, it is a rule violation to share food, books etc. They call it traffic and trading as if it is some how smuggled goods from a columbian drug lord...
Justen Hall sent Blaine some of his last food and the guard pounced like a tiger hiding in the jungles of bangladesh...
He took the food and threatened to write BOTH of them a disciplinary case...
The day passed without further incident and here was the real act of kindness. When second shift came Justen gave THE VERY LAST ITEMS OF FOOD HE HAD!!! to Blaine. When Blaine protested and said he didn't really need it Justen insisted that he keep it and he'd be okay. It is rare that. you see anyone give the last bit of what they have to anyone. Especially if it wasn!t guaranteed that one would be able to make commissary the next time we went to store...
If this doesn't show people that there are good people back here-
So, I fully expected to wake up this morning to an America in ruins. It was really quiet and I thought for a second, well, I guess this rapture thing is the real deal and I was skipped over. I climbed on my bunk and looked out
of my window and everything seemed to appear normal. No downed airplanes falling from the sky, cars in the parking lot...and what is that coming down the side walk? Prison workers? Damn... I was totally certain that after the Supreme Courts ruling upholding a gay person's right to marry that this was the end...
Okay, okay, I'm being sarcastic. Yesterdays ruling was one of the greatest things I've been fortunate enough to see in my lifetime. This past week has been a truly tremendous one for America. To hear about the taking down of confederate flags all over the south, to the upholding of affordable health care for millions of citizens across the country and to Gay marriages...Unbelievable! I really got worked up and choked up. I really try not to make my journal about politics...or force my views down other people's throats, but I do think that there are certain things in life that aren't a political belief or even a religios opinion. Some things are just the RIGHT THING TO DO...and so if you don't like what I'm about to say or have said before, you have my sympathies for having such a small bigotted brain.
For me, it was amazing to listen on the radio as gay couples told their stories about how they've been waiting for this day to come. I really got choked up. But, admittedly I did take a certain glee to hear religios fundamentalists
get all worked up and start preaching doom and gloom after the ruling came down. Even some of the guys on death row were all worked up about it. I am sitting in my cell thinkning, really? How does this affect you in any kind of way? One guy back here said and I bs you not, " Well...this countries moral foundation has officially eroded." To which I could help but blurt out
" SAYS THE GUY ON DEATH ROW!" Sheesh
For people on radio-
Ted Cruze, a Texas senator stated that this was a 'dark day' in America's history. Really Ted? And Tekas' Attorney General is calling for a direct disregard for the law as it stands saying that a Court Clerk DOES NOT have to issue a marriage license if this violates there religious View...So, I suppose if someone doesn't want to give a marriage lidense to a black person or a hindi, or muslim-
And another thing...since we're talking about religious freedoms, is a fundamental christian going to fight for the SAME religious freedoms for a muslim? I think not, because I've heard with my own ears on American Family Radio the call to remove mosques and muslims from the United States.
Also, NO WHERE in the bible does it say anything about the 'institution of Marriage', shit, Abraham and other patriarchs of the old testament had concubines and multiple wives...Also, here's something to ponder. The bible only says that man shouldn't lie with man: what about a woman and a woman?
I mean, if' we're going to treat this as a literal document...I'm just saying!
I've written about fear based logic and loaded language that politicians use and captalize on...Both sides are guilty, but more so on the right. When you use language like
" We need to take this country back. " or " America has lost its way..."
( Dude, do you really know the very dark history of the U.S.? Here's a fun fact: Before world war II, representatives of the Nazi party came to the U.S. in the 1930's to learn about our use and application of the GAS CHAMBER ) you feed into ignorance, bogotries and fear. It is a manipulation of sorts on the American people. It fuels violence and attacks. It is a dangerous game the right is playing. There's nothing wrong with pushing this country forward. Why is it so wrong for people to have equal protection under the law. Two people of the same sex has zero bearing on your life. It doesn't affect you at all! If you believe its wrong and they're going to have to answer to ' God '...let them answer to him then. How does that affect YOUR salvation? It doesn't! I think about all of the money that the right has poured into this, all of the money churches have poured into the fight against the envitable. A useless futile fight. The tide of history is and has been against you. Man has always moved forward, not back wards. It is like a guy standing at the shore on a beach and screaming at the waves to stop...You're not going to
do it, dude.
And people, really...this ruling isn't going to lead to multiple marriages
or men wanting to marry their box turtles or gerbles. That is just stupid.
I guess the ultimate question is this: What is so wrong with love?
So...I have no reading on our Supreme Court whatsoever.
They ruled this morning in a 5-
because, get this-
( I should add that vetenarians banned its use on animals...because they believe it causes the animal unnecessary pain and suffering when it is being euthanized)
as there is no way of knowing what it really does or if it even causes pain and suffering.
( Though in a desenting opinion a Justic wrote is was equivalent to being burned at the stake.) Also, the majority decision said that those arguing against its use provided no alternative method to the courts. I didn't know it was their job to say hey, this is a more effective way of killing someone! Freaking ridiculous.
So, I guess this is a set back in the anti dp movement. We just need to keep pushing forward.
On a lighter note, I was fortunate to get outside today. I went in the afternoon and was able to get a bit of sunshine, but not much. We ran 10 games of basketball and jogged a bit, but it was too hot to do much of else.
When I got back in, I was able to get straight into the shower and after that I was wiped out.
I was in bed, fast asleep by 10:30 P.M. on the dot. Getting, older sucks. Naha.
The last day of June.
These months are flying by so quick. I woke up this morning at 5:30 A.M., got ready for recreation and was out by six, started exercising around 6:15 A.M. for an hour straight and got into a comic conversation with, guy back here. He asked me why I thought they were becoming so popular back here and I said, well, for me it is just another form of escapism. He asked if I needed an image to look at or did it work the same for a novel or reading in general.
I told him I loved books equal. I've always had a love for books and reading for me is like traveling to another world in which I see the images in my minds eye. Comics are like watching t.v.. The images move in my imagination, but I'm also into a good story. If the writing isn't good and the art is, I'll check out the art, but it will be difficult to get into or follow because I need a good plot, original and clear. I need the narrative to be clear in my mind. If those elements don't all fit, I can't get into it. But honestly, I'm a bit surprised at how popular comic books
are getting back here. I definitely cannot keep up with the demand and request to share my. stuff. I hate telling people no.
Came back into my cell and rinsed off, ate lunch, looked at the world go by outside of my window. There are a lot of hawks or some sort of bird of prey circling around the prison. I'm wondering if they aren't zeroing in on the feral cats or maybe there are mice or rats roaming about. It is a nice day outside, though and I really cannot wait until the Fourth of July because I have an awesome view to catch the fireworks on saturday. I'll probably spend the rest of the day reading and chilling under the fan because it is hot!