Dear Dad and Janie,
Hey! How’s it going? I have been doing incredibly well this monthin getting my letters completed and sent out. This one alone is the 42nd and I still have 9 days left in the month? I’ve gone through so many stamps, envelopes, pens and paper that Staples wants to call me their number one customer. I got ready to write a letter yesterday and could not find my paper. I had used it all up. I went on the hunt and found 100 pages, can’t have too much of that.
So, today is Monday, President’s Day, and the cause of why I still don’t know what the court has done. They held the conference Friday so all weekend I have been intensely aware that my fate has already been decided. It’s infuriatingly insane to be at the mercy of others, to have nocontrol over my life. And as each minute treks off the fear is compounded. For the court to accept the appeal I only need four justices to agree, but I would need a majority to get relief. And it’s all stupidly simple. To accept means I live, to deny means I die. I just cannot dwell on it. And that’s partly the reason I’m so consumed by these letters. They absorb large portions of my day.
But I’m torn between wanting to know and not wanting to.
The Sunday before an execution they take that person to Unit 17. It’s an abandoned unit where theexecution occurs. Four thirty arrives and they have not come to get Smed which is great news because the execution is of. He gets to hang around for a little while. He had been able to convince a federal judge that a serious mental issue existed and could be strengthen by additional testing. He laid a foundation that encompassed that Smed had accumulated 19 inches of psych records before he ever came to prison. He had been committed to Whitfield twice. He had extensive history with substance abuse, even huffing gas. He tried to commit suicide with a .270. He succeeded in messing his face up. Painful and debilitating reconstruction ensued. He had real issues. And they persisted here. He was never not on meds. He was depressed, paranoid, anddelusional. So the judge told them to conduct the psych testing and get an FMRI. Then report back to the court on February 20th. With that order in hand the attorneys were to work schedulingthe tests. But the A. G. appealed the stay of execution to a higher federal court. He found a favorable panel that overruled the stay.
We learned as Smed did, that the execution was back on in seven hours before it was to occur. He was told he had an attorney call. When he got the phone the lines were off because we were on Institutional Lockdown for his execution! I am intimately aware of the fear. But I can only imagine the horror he felt. He awoke that morning assured he would not die. And then suddenly he willin a matter of hours. I was sick! My buddy was going to be killed. I scoured the news toying to find any ray of hope. But the later it got it was less promising. He was moved to Unit-17. He got to see his family one final time. He ate his last meal of porterhouse steak, fried shrimp, salad with Russian dressing, Twizzlers and iced tea. It was so sad to learn at his death that he liked Twizzlers. Then the news reported that he was killed and pronounced dead at 6:21 pm February 8th. You know mama’s birthday is that day. His mom’s birthday was February 9th.
He made the 12th execution since I got here. And now I fear I’ll ne 13th or 14th. There’s been so much death. I hate this place and all it stands for. I wish and pray that I could write lettersthat were not so depressing. I want to write some that are cheerful and loaded with good news. And tomorrow will be the tell. It’s less than 24 hours now that I’ll learn my fate. What a horrible experience.
Okay, let me change gears. Janie, I totally forgot your birthday. I apologize for that. I shouldhave paid more attention to the day. Happy Belated Birthday!
I have picked up a good book that I have to recommend before I even finish it. It’s fascinating. The Immortal Life of Henrietta lacks by Rebecca Sktot.
Shoot, lots more to write so I have to end. Please tell all those good people at church that I am deeply grateful for their prayers. “Thank you!” You two take care. Be good and stay outta trouble.
When I first saw parole as a theme topic I immediately discounted it as an essay subject for me. Since I am on death row, parole is in no way a consideration. But the more I thought about it the more it seemed viable. Reality is rarely potent enough to dispel dreams. Parole is not a legal option for me, but its equivalent–release from prison some other way–still remains intensely desirable.
I have met several people that have experienced parole and returned. I am always curious as to what went wrong. My hope is to learn what mistakes occurred, and given the chance at freedom I may avoid them myself. The word parole is etymologically traced to a Late Latin term, parabola, meaning speech. When a person is paroled they give their word, a promise, conversely a speech, that they will follow stated rules in order to leave prison. A man’s word, a.k.a. ‘speech’, is usually the last thing someone, prison for this example, can take from him. This in turn becomes a sense of pride for a man to make his word mean something, not only to himself but before others as well. “Mean what you say, say what you mean.” Sadly for some, once released, their ‘speech’ appears to become static hence the recidivism.
For me the only real option is to leave death row for a new trial and hopefully move on to the free world from there. Whatever the route, mentally, I have fast-forwarded through these steps to dream about what I would do given the opportunity. I want to do something with my hands. I want to go to school and learn not one trade but several and go to work building, constructing, and devising something, anything. All these years of idleness have caused a jumpy eagerness to do something. Once some semblance of financial stability has occurred I want to move on to traveling. I have to see the world. An 8’x10′ cell shrink wraps your world and traveling for me is going to open the world up like a spring blossom
I hope that each person can look at parole as a new chance at life and actually make it happen. In my case I hope that freedom can be a new beginning and that I can rise above these prison ruins or ashes like the mythical phoenix.