Randy Halprin

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March 2017

Randys Journals

March 13, 2017

I crawled out of bed at about 6:00 a.m. this morning as the guards began to do showers. We're still on lockdown so our shower days are Monday, Wednesday and Friday.
I always find it odd that every single officer will ask "You going to shower today ?" on the days we can shower. Hmmm. Let me think about that one...I've not been able to scrub my nuts for the last two days and I won't be able to do so until Wednesday...Yeah, I think I'll be cool going five days without a shower ! Seriously, every single person except the mentally ill goes to the shower on the designated shower day ! It's like when the guards are passing out the juice and I'm standing at the door like Pavlovs dog with a cup in my hand eager for a tasty cool beverage (I exagerate on tasty, of course...it's definitely cool, but something more akin to squirrel piss) and they still ask "Want some juice ?" Nah, I'll pass. I just like standing at the door twirling a cup around and pretending to be Wyatt Earp. Sheesh.

So, I get up and stretch, drink a cup of coffee (gotta be careful there...rations are getting low on caffeine !) and start exercising before they get me in line for the shower.
When I checked the sink, the water was warm so after working out I was looking forward to a nice hot shower and ended up getting the exact opposite. The water was freezing ! But it woke me all the way so can't complain about that. Maybe it was from all of the showers they're doing across the building or maybe the fact that we're having a bit of a cool front today. Who knows ?

I'm guessing we'll be on lockdown for another week, because from what I know they still have to shakedown E and F pod as well as 7, 8, 10 and 11 buildings.
The unit is split up into two halves. B side is Ad-Seg/Death row, medical, pre-hearing detention, closed custody and medium custody. A side is all general population buildings.
B side is designate for more restrictive levels.

Over the weekend I spent a lot of time thinking about the Law of Parties. A friend of mine mentioned how difficult it can be to get people to support me on my behalf because while they agree that it's bad that I'm on death row for something I didn't do, I did escape from prison, robbed and was associated with the whole "Texas 7" label. And I get that. I'm aware of how the courts, politicians want nothing to do with that because it's horrible. It looks really bad...But the bigger question is if you KNOW someone didn't kill anyone why shrug your shoulders like "I don't want any part of that...too political !"

I recently read an article published in early February of 2017 and they were discussing Jeff Wood's case and the Law of Parties and how he had gone into the robbery a willing participant as the getaway driver, but because he had no way of preventing or even knowing that his friend would kill someone it would be unconscionable to kill him for something he had no control over. And the majority of Texans believe he shouldn't be executed. There's a difference between someone who actively participates in a killing, say they encourage it like "shoot his ass" or even threaten a person they'll kill them if they don't follow their demands.
However, just going into a robbery isn't enough to say "he should've known". No, statistics don't even support that argument. If you doubt that, look up the FBI's Uniform Crime Report. It's the gold standard in crime statistics. People aren't psychics. We shouldn't require them to be.

Further in the article it quoted Shannon Edmonds, with the Texas District and County Attorneys Association, as saying, "Prosecutors want to have as many tools available to them as possible in some of these heinous crimes." In reference to the Texas 7 and a reason of defending the Law of Parties. But again, if you KNOW I didn't do it, if all of my co-defendants have given statements that Patrick Murphy and myself weren't the shooters. If it's known that out of the guns found only five were fired/used...
Why is the "Law of Parties" a justification to execute me ? Here's what Ms. Shannon also failed to mention in the article: that the biggest reason prosecutors like to use the LOP as a "tool" is it is good to get co-defendants to snitch on people. By telling a group of individuals "Hey, we can kill you all...unless you start telling us who did what..."
(something I should add wasn't even an option in our case. They just wanted to get us all) I don't think is a functioning tool because people begin to point the fingers at others etc. or even lie to save their own ass. The other problem with how the LOP is applied is say you take two individuals to trial. The actual shooter can end up getting a life sentence, while the non-shooter could potentially receive death. Is that fair ? If so, how ? And don't give me the whole "Well, he did rob. He should've known !" I'm sorry but you can't turn that turd sandwich into a turkey dinner.

Forget about my initial offence. Forget about the escape. The question remains: should I be executed for something I didn't do ? Should I be killed for something I didn't anticipate, didn't want to happen ? Should I be killed because instead of joining  others in shooting Officer Hawkins, I took off running instead putting myself in the line of fire and also getting shot ? What makes my case any different from any other person sent to death row unjustly under the Law of Parties ?
Lock me up forever, I don't care...but don't sit by quietly and let them kill me for something I didn't do ! I beg of you.

It's now noon. Waiting on lunch now. My neighbor "Big White" (real name Garcia White) has been giving me his peanut butter and jelly sandwiches which I'm kind of surprised because he's a big dude and big dudes don't like giving up food ! But seriously, he's a real good dude. Big heart and I've appreciated him. I told him when we come off of lockdown I'll cook us up some hot pockets. It's the least I can do to show some gratitude.

Guess I'll do some reading now. Starting to get bored.


March 8, 2017

So much on my mind today. Not even sure where to begin...Yesterday was such a long day with emotions all over the place. I guess I'll start at 5:00 a.m.
"You okay ?", a guard asked waking me up. "Huh ? What ?" I said, pulling the sock from my eyes to keep the light out. I was sleeping so good and so the sudden interruption left me confused. "Are you okay ?" she said again. I looked at the clock on my radio and said "Well, I was until you woke me up. What the hell ?" "Oh, just checkin' on ya !
You guys are about to have your shakedown so go head and get to packin' your stuff". Why the hell was she so chipper at five in the morning and why the hell would I be chipper about facing a shakedown ? I groaned a fuuuuuccccckkkkk, kicked off my blanket and sat at the edge of my bunk. I grabbed my cup, bag of coffee and poured a little extra in just for good measure. Heated up my water and slammed it down. I noticed red onion sacks had been shoved into my door and so I grabbed them and threw them on the floor, brushed my teeth and started organizing things. Another guard came around yelling "Everything in the bags ! Legal, all property except state issued items or your electronics. Leave that in your cell !" One guy started yelling upstairs "Hey, you can't look at our legal stuff ! Are you sure that goes into the bags ?" "Yes. Everything means everything !"
The guard yelled back.

I sat down on the ground and began to pack my stuff. It is really quite the simple process for me as I'm used to moving around/packing so much. There was a time when I was doing it every two weeks. I had a system. I can pack in about 15 minutes flat. This goes there, that goes there. Wham bam. Done.

At about 6:55 a.m. guards came pouring into our section like a swarm of bees. They began to open food slots, strip inmates out, place the hand cuffs on us and take us out of our cell. Pure chaos. I wasn't sure if they'd put us outside on account of touch and go rain storms, or put us in the hallways where there are tiny little booths used for psych examinations or legal booths for meetings between approved inmates to discuss legal work.
I wasn't too thrilled about the idea of being stuck in a tiny booth, in just boxer shorts for a long time, but it turned out we were headed outside. After they moved us through the metal detector I was lead to the outside rec yard. The hand cuffs removed and I was left to wait in dread as our property was ransacked.

March 05, 2017

Man...did the media really say, the day after Trump's State of the Union Speech that this was a "correction course" and he seemed so "presidential" ??? And then...more Russian allegations with our Attorney General and this weekend Trump gets on twitter and accuses Obama of wire tapping him and then berates Arnold Schwartzenegger ? I mean, come on people ! You think that just because he can read a speech that someone else wrote for him that he suddenly changed from the buffoon he is to "presidential" in one night ? Madness ! We've got to put up with four years of this crap...

So, as I write this it is Sunday morning and a bit cool, wet and grey. We've been on lockdown for a week now and they've only finished two pods. They've got the shakedown tables and stuff on our pod but haven't started it yet. This time around they're doing it a bit different. For the past couple of years it was done with a relative speediness. They were giving us a large red crate to pack our personal property into. If you had too much property they would confiscate anything that didn't fit into the red crate. But because I move around on a regular basis my personal property is fairly limited anyways and I'm not a pack rat so outside of anything I feel is really important, I don't keep excess items. Any books I get or comics I typically just give it away to others whom want to read it.

But this time, from what we are hearing from officers is that we are to pack everything into bags. Then, they take the inmates off of their pod and hold them outside on the rec yards of another pod. This is very strange. Then, for the next three hours or so they spend time going through every single personal item, piece of paper, books - whatever you have. Once it has been thoroughly searched, they bring you back to your cell. Apparently the guards are throwing away a lot of paper work etc.

Some guys are getting really upset because they are also going through the legal work of inmates outside of their presence. Prison policy is that the guards cannot go through an inmate's legal work without having that inmate in front of them. And the guards, while allowed to "search" it, cannot read the actual content. We don't know that they're not doing that when we are taken to another pod and far away from our legal work. In theory, the rule is to protect client/attorney confidentiality.
The State (or the Defense) is entitled to the knowledge of anything filed or any evidence being presented. However, there is no entitlement to appeal or trial strategy or what we share with our attorneys in letters or verbally. That is protected by law. A few guys have filed grievances about this concern but the process takes a month and by then the lockdown will be over.

I'm not so much concerned about losing anything on a paper level as I am my electronics - those things are my sanity ! I always tell people that nothing we buy or "own" really belongs to us. The guards can take, at any time, anything we "own" for any reason or no reason at all. I have conceded this fact many years ago.

I'll know more tomorrow. To be continued !


March 01, 2017

I can't seem to catch any kind of break...After having a semi decent weekend of just relaxing and feeling like things were looking up a bit we woke up Monday morning to learn that we were on lockdown and this one would be a loooong one. I don't mind a short lockdown. It gives you a chance to catch up on things in relative quiet. I don't like being stuck in the cell 24/7 or having to take a bird bath out of my sink because we can't get a shower every single day, but it is tolerable...for a short period of time. The longer one is cooped up in a cell the more stir crazy you can get. You start feeling like Jack Nicholson's character on the Shining. You start seeing creepy little twins pop out of the corner of your eye...Voices start whispering to you. Next thing you know you're stripping buck naked and howling at the moon outside of your window. Okay, okay...maybe it isn't that severe, but man...it can suck !

So, here's what I know thus far about the shakedown: they're being very thorough going through every single item. The're also taking the inmates off of the pod and putting them on the outside recreation yard far away from their items being searched. Before, they would just throw us in the shower and go into our cells and search. What worries me about this current practice is you have no idea what the officer is doing with your property. You don't know what they are going to throw away or let you keep. I've always told myself that nothing that I "own" really belongs to me. The guards can take anything they want for any reason. It sucks when you have no control or real ownership over anything. But it is what it is and unfortunately part of being in prison. To be continued...

So, I was listening to the Trump State of the Union Speech last night and I'm amazed at how over enthusiastic Republicans were for a guy that constantly berates them on a daily basis or did during the primaries. I'm not a big fan of sycophants or people who kiss the ass of someone who has more power than them. I like to say to myself in a crude joke, whenever I hear it on the radio "Oh, why don't you just stick his weiner in your mouth". Not the most classy thing to blurt out, but geeze...they might as well ! What irritates me more is when Trump gives a semi-proper speech and then the media and pundits all start saying "He sounded Presidential...Trump has turned the corner and this speech marks a correction course" and then the very next day after Trump talks about how he gave the greatest speech ever in the history of mankind and how high the ratings were, goes right back to his old self and picks fights with everyone who doesn't agree with him. The media is a joke not because Trump think it is, but because they don't ever press politicians hard enough and soft ball too much shit, or they're too busy sensationalising bullshit. I don't think they're reporting fake news. They're just not reporting. I mean, how much more "proof" does a person have to put out there on this Russia issue when the press wasn't taking it serious during the primaries ? I think a majority of Americans don't trust the media not because they feel they're biased or "fake", but instead because they don't seriously report and investigate and hold politicians and people of power accountable. Whether it be Hillary, Trump - whomever. Start pushing back !

I was asked my opinion on the Supreme Court nominee and whether or not it would affect the Death Penalty or not...Well, there's two ways you can look at it. If you feel like it wouldn't matter because all he did was replace Scalia you have to hope that there's a swing vote out there and would side with the Liberal Justices IF the right case/argument was presented before the courts. That is a lot to hang hope upon and not very realistic for now. The other way to see it is on the State's rights side of things, meaning that Trump has picked a justice who is heavily in favor of state rights...This is the more likely scenario and therefor, I believe that focus should be put on fighting at the State level - and for Texas having help from people in other states fight to end it in Texas would be sway opinions on a national level because if Texas can end the Death Penalty, I promise that the rest of the country will follow.

We already know that opinions are changing in Texas and most politicians no longer have any kind of legitimate argument in support of having the death penalty. Most major counties don't even send people to death row anymore. People are beginning to wake up about the ruse that it is. What is crucial is finding a strategy that works and having the many anti death penalty activist groups, churches, etc. to all be on the same page. You can't fight strongly for one individual who you believe was treated unjustly and then let the next guy strapped to the gurney fall through the cracks unnoticed. There's a handfull of people that are at every execution in protest, but it is going to take more than a handfull. More people need to start calling and petitioning their representives. More churches need to get involved.

Another thing I think people need to do is stop trying to push the statistics on racism in the courts and other statistics. Just hear me out...average people don't want to hear the numbers or stats. People want to FEEL one way or the other about something. You start throwing out numbers and talking about racism their eyes gloss over. It is a sad but true fact. However, if you can make it personal and connect with a person on an emotional level, I believe you will be more effective in ending the death penalty and persuading people to talk to others and change their minds. In all of this noise we've forgotten to communicate. Believe me, I do my fare share of screaming in my journals, but I also know communication is the key. I don't want to have to yell at a person. Maybe we should try "Hey, can I talk to you for a second ?" Regardless of the method, if you're an abolitionist you all need to start working together and finding a common message/strategy. Putting your hopes in the courts is short sighted in this current political climate and unrealistic. The courts might rule in favor of individuals like the amazing ruling for Dwayne Buck (awesome !), but in ending it ? We've got a long way to go.

I'm so glad spring is here. I've been watching the horses outside of my window and the birds are returning and the grass is green. It sucks that I'm trapped inside, but I'm grateful for the window.


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