April 2021 - Randy Halprin

Randy Halprin
 "We tend to see a person in the moment, not as the journey they travelled to get here."  Kat Lehmann

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Journals
April 4th, 2021

Easter Sunday...Surprisingly I woke up to the guards setting up recreation. It's what they call a 'make up day' because in the past week I've been able to get out of my cell only once, because recreation keeps getting cancelled. My friend, Jeff, asked the guards if he could go outside with me and they said it was cool, so we'll be headed outside in a little while.

It's been a pretty stressful week, but I'll get through it. I'm hoping that this next week is a little bit better. Something has to change about this year. It's been very distressing and I guess in our own distress we can often overlook, however unintentional, the hardships of others. I try not to be a selfish person, I really do. Even back here I give a lot of myself to others at times when I want to be left alone and inside my own head, but I try to listen to peoples' issues and to give or offer advice, or give material things to people in need.

But still, at times this place has a way of magnifying our own doubts, paranoia, or insecurities, and whilst we might not mean to seem like the world revolves around us back here, we can project those insecurities towards the people on the outside, losing sight of all they  might be struggling with. It's something I need to work on.

I was telling one of my friends back here that the way things have been here seem to have completely broken the majority of us. Whilst I have a strong desire to live – I want to live and I will always fight hard to live – there have been times when things get so bad that I think,

“Geeze...death would almost be more inviting than this garbage.”

I have to quickly chase the thought from my mind...

I'm watching people around me fall apart. There's a guy a few cells away literally beginning to break mentally. He's hearing voices, becoming very paranoid, and thinking that inmates and guards are conspiring against him...He used to be absolutely normal.

The COVID restrictions have a lot to do with it, but also, being kept in our cells for weeks at a time with no recreation, no information other than what we hear on the radio, no kind of stimulation...I don't know what's going to happen to us when they really begin to crank up executions again.

More than 70 people on death row have completely exhausted their appeals and are sitting in a legal limbo. Some have been for years, but already there are pro-death penalty groups, as well as the AG's office and the CCA in Texas, all saying that it's been long enough and the State needs to crank it up and get these people on the gurney. It's scary...

Death row feels like it's very close to being a broken collective...The hope giving way to despair...

I have a lot to be hopeful for, but seeing the despair in others is distressing and exhausting to my spirit. I just pray that things will eventually change.

Just returned from being outside. I needed that. It was overcast with little bursts of sunshine here and there. Birds were out, the air a little cool. Jeff and I jogged for 30 minutes and then talked, and I'm glad I could get outside.

Courage. Strength. Hope and Faith.

Peace

  
April 5th 2021

I want to clarify what I wrote yesterday...Under NO circumstances would I prefer death – even on the worst of days. It's just that this place can break a person down so miserably that sometimes you think,  

“Why am I subjecting  myself to this garbage?...Why do I allow myself to go through this?”

I don't always have an answer...

A life of all kinds of trials and tribulations, and often I can't find the purpose. But there has to be one, right? There's got to be a reason...Or so I'd like to believe.  

Today has been been slow with not a lot of chaos. It's been peaceful in terms of noise, but the guards are so lazy! I was trapped out at rec for five hours yesterday, and again, five hours today. I'm grateful for the fresh air and to be out of my cell, but I just wish that things would run smoothly sometimes.  

The prison radio station has managed to anger a bunch of guys...They're changing the day time schedules again, and going heavy on religious content. They've cut some of the album programs and the request show on Mondays. They also said we're no longer allowed to request albums. When/if an album is played, it will be selected by 'staff'...Well, at least there's the night time moves and music shows.  

I'm feeling a bit drained, and emotionally tired today. I had plenty of sleep yesterday, so it has to just be stress. I'll be fine though.  

I went outside and it was beautiful. The sun was out and there was a lovely breeze. I thought about how fortunate I am, in my life, and how I have some of the greatest people on my side in life, especially Catherine. I just want her to know how eternally grateful I am for her friendship and love.  

Courage. Strength. Hope and Faith.  

Peace.


  
April 11th, 2021

Firstly, let me start this by explaining the reason for journals not being posted recently. A little while ago there was a glitch with the editing software used for the website, and it needed some fixing which took a while to get completely right and ready to post stuff again. There are also some gaps in journals due to  missing mail – the mail situation here has been at an all time low.  

But, more importantly, my Webmaster has been under an ungodly amount of stress and bereavement following the loss of friends and family due to COVID, as well as health issues of her own. So, if things sometimes take a little while to be posted, I hope that you, the reader, will be mindful of this, patient, and keep coming back! As much as this site is about my life, my writings, and the fight to save my life, it can only be accomplished by the help and precious time of friends and the people I love dearly, especially Catherine. She has been extremely dedicated to the fight for my life, and has fought harder than anyone else I've had in my life to see this website successful and to see me live...I'm forever grateful for that.  

And so...if there's a gap from time to time, please...be patient with us. Thank you.  

It's a lovely Sunday...Very peaceful. The sun is shining brightly through my window. I've been watching these trees bloom and the one I can see directly is fully bloomed. I can no longer see the birds nest on the branches. It's gotten quite warm here already, and I dread a very hot summer...but I'll get through it as I always do.  

Things on death row are as stressful as ever, but there are encouraging signs that things will look better even if we don't get our recreation and visitation, while limited...

Firstly, it was announced on the prison radio station that video visits are going to be established soon on Polunsky, and the DJ even said that Death Row should have access to the visits as well. I don't know how it's going to work, but I do know that the video monitors are being set up as I write this. I'd suggest monitoring the TDCJ website for further information.  

Also, the rumors about secure tablets for prisoners are growing stronger, and whilst the information is limited about who will able to use these, there is some hope that we will have the chance. There's zero reason not to...they are secure. The majority of states in the US have systems set up and have shown that it's safe and secure, so we'll see.  

I've spent most of the weekend vegging out and listening to movies on the radio.

I'm hoping the coming week will be a good one!

Courage. Strength. Hope and Faith.  

Peace.  

  
April 12th, 2021

I woke up this morning with determination and hope going into a new week. I had a really good night's rest for the first time in over a week, and my eyes popped open at 5.30am, and I jumped right out of bed. Lately, here, it's been a fight to force myself out of bed. I'm never one to just lay about because once I'm up, I'm up, and rarely take naps. But having felt so drained by this place, getting through a day – even when I've done absolutely nothing but go to rec - has zapped me of all energy. It felt good to wake up and just 'go'.

When the guard asked me if I was going to rec I was told I was set up second round outside with a friend, which was great. I went about the day and then made it outside a little after 10am. The sun was hanging high and bright, and it was perfect. We talked and then jogged, and after jogging we lay in the sun for a while. I got a little sun and turned red – a few more times of that and I won't be a ghostly pale! It was also commissary day but they were out of everything which was disappointing because a friend's birthday is this weekend and I'd promised I'd cook him something. I don't think I'm going to be able to do anything.  

So, there's a running joke of sorts that I started and which began with listening to the movie, 'Witch'. It's a weird movie, and apparently the big reveal at the end (SPOILER ALERT!) is that this family had been making deals with a demon possessed goat named 'Black Phillip'. Then, a friend said,  

“Oh it's clear that Big Will made a deal with Black Phillip!”

That brought some laughs...It's a silly inside joke. When I was outside I took a piece of soap and drew a cartoon strip of Black Phillip, this cute little goat with a furry belly and goatee beard. He was trying to convince people to sign the book and have everything their heart desires. Big Will signs the book and in the next panel you see Big Will sitting down with a ton of sodas and chips all around him, and in his hands he's holding a giant Hershey's candy bar and in his other hand he's holding a Coca Cola. He says,  

“Look at all of the goodies Black Phillip gave me!”  

I thought it was funny...

The sun completely zapped me of all energy and I'm ready to go to bed.  

Courage. Strength. Hope and Faith.  

Peace.  

  
April 13th, 2021

Woke up and got out of bed at 5.50am and got straight to it! I still have my energy and I feel a whole lot better. My hope is strong, but this crew we've had working today is something else...Lazy...Indifferent. You'd think an institution like a prison would be run with efficiency, and that things would run like a military...but you just never know what you're going to get from day to day. It's a wild pendulum swing every day!

Apparently my 'Black Phillip' cartoon offended the guys who went outside after me. One of the guys though it was insensitive, so this morning he jams me up and I'm just standing at my door dumbfounded...He says,  

“Why is he 'BLACK Phillip'?”

“I don't know. Ask the people who made the movie. It's a freakin' demon possessed goat. A goat!! Could you not see his hooves and horns and little furry belly? I even used Big Will's name in the cartoon.”

Sheesh...I think because it's extremely warm in the building right now, it has everyone's nerves a bit frazzled. It's HOT!

So, about a months ago I filed a grievance about guards not wearing their masks properly, and the response I received last night said I had nothing to substantiate my claim...Really?? All they need to do is look at the surveillance cameras at the time I noted the incident, and there it is! What's the point of having cameras EVERYWHERE if they aren't used?? Drugs coming in is at an all time high, guys are being caught will cell phones all the time, and guards don't do their jobs on a regular basis...Really??

I'm getting fired up. Better simmer down.  

That's been my day! Fun times...

Courage. Strength. Hope and Faith.  

Peace.  

  
April 18th, 2021

It's been a long and boring weekend...Actually, the past three days have been a bit stressful for me. Some of it could have been mitigated by a couple of days of recreation, but once again, the prison is severely understaffed and we are trapped in our cells...

I think what gets lost in the details is that out in population and the rest of the unit, even if those men can't go outside for recreation, they can go to the dayrooms. They can play chess and dominoes, scrabble and monopoloy...They can watch television or called loved ones and friends on a regular basis.  

What is the difference between us on Death Row and guys in general population? A death sentence. That's it. Not the crime...not the behaviour (though it can be argued, and I would believe that MANY officers who work here think we are some of the most well behaved prisoners in the State – I'm willing to bet that statistics bear that out). There are people in general population for capital murder. There are people who have committed such heinous crimes that it would make your stomach heave, but because a jury sentenced us to death, we are treated much worse than they are...like dog dookie. Equal justice under the law? No way!

So, we're stuck in cells like dogs. I'm restless, I'm anxious, I'm beat down and I'm tired...Where I muster the energy to keep going, I don't know. But I will keep on.  

On Friday I met a cool inmate from General Population. TDCJ has been piloting a program called 'Field Ministers and Out Reach'. The inmates involved go through a four year college, seminary, and training/counselling course, and once they're approved they are sent to different prison units across the state. There, they are pretty much given carte blanche to move around the unit and minister or just talk to inmates that want to. It's a pretty progressive and forward thinking program.

When he introduced himself I began to chat with him. I was shocked that he was serving a capital life sentence. He told me that there was a guy going through the program right now who had been on death row! A guy I knew well. When I asked if you had to be a Christian to participate in the program, he said that any religion was welcome. I talked about being Jewish and he said that he used to be in an Aryan gang, then he got out of the gang and decided to change his life around.  

After we finished talking my mind was racing. I thought...wow...this program could be what I need! I've always wanted to give back...To counsel...And if I could change the lives of guys who have a chance of going home one day, that is what I should try to do. I don't know if they'd allow me because of the escape, but I would do my very best to show I was sincere and would do anything and everything it takes. If you've ever read my writings in their entirety, you'll know that my long term goal has been to reform AD-SEG and help the guys in solitary. This could be the way to do it. Just the mere fact that they've allowed a guy I knew who used to be back here with us, gives me hope.  

Later that evening I received a Jpay letter from a friend I've not heard from in a long time, and it was nice. I thought, 'things are turning around a bit.'

Saturday was another day of no recreation. I mostly listened to some movies and read, and tried to keep my mind occupied. I go through bouts of sadness...Going through some personal issues, but I manage to push through. I hate being trapped in the cell. Even if I complain about being stuck at recreation, at least I can move around, stretch my legs, get some fresh air.  

Today has been okay...I listened to a classic top 40 from 1985, and listened to a movie, and that was pretty much the day.  

Courage. Strength. Hope and Faith.  

Peace.  


April 19th, 2021

Another day of no recreation. I slept pretty good though, and jumped out of bed to exercise and then went to a freezing cold shower. Our water heater is out, and nothing wakes you up more than doing the polar bear dive into a freezing shower!!!

They're short staffed today...You know, this could be mitigated a bit if they'd allow us tablets or television. I'm sure some people will roll their eyes reading that, but c'mon...Every other state allows their inmates to have personal TVs, or secure and safe smart tablets. Something has to give in the state of Texas! Some kind of stimuli is necessary. Believe it or not, I don't even care that much about watching TV all day long. I'd check out some documentaries and movies, but there is nothing otherwise that really interests me. Unless a station did LOST re-runs...Yeah, I'd be there for that!

I don't know...it just seems that we don't even get what we're mandated to have and we're still not acting up. Surely that counts for something?

I'm looking outside of my window every now and then and it's so gorgeous! To have some fresh air right now would be a treat.

I'm really happy for a couple of guys back here...They've received sentence reversals from the CCA! One guy is a friend, 'Beto', and over the years he's suffered severe depression, anxiety and insomnia. He was sentenced under the Law of Parties and even the state admitted he killed no one. So, for him to have a chance at some kind of life outside of Death Row is such wonderful news!!! He told me last night that he's been having some of the best night's sleeps he's had in years...I'm just so happy for the guy.

Another guy who had been on death row for 40 plus years, and is mentally ill, was given a sentence reversal as well. Everyone is beyond happy for this man!

Seeing the courts do the right thing did give me a bit of hope. It's always the best kind of news! I'm certain more sentence reversals for other guys are in the pipeline, and I pray for all of them...Everything is going to work out how it's intended to work out.

Courage. Strength. Hope and Faith.

Peace.


April 21st, 2021

I woke up yesterday at about 5.30am for recreation. I was really happy that they were running it, and although they didn't give us much time to get ready, it doesn't take me long. Most of the time I can roll out of bed and go – I've been doing that since I was 14 years old, and it's like second nature.

It was absolutely gorgeous...a little chilly, but it warmed up fast. I did some exercising and then talked with the guy I was outside with for the rest of the time. We came in at 8am on the dot and then I went to the shower – that's when things went pear shaped and I was trapped in there for over an hour and a half. It sucks. You're in a little box smaller than a closet and the only way to breathe is through a small mesh screen. It's difficult to describe, but if you're not claustrophobic it will will make you so.

I kept busy most of the day and was in bed by 10pm. People were happy about the outcome of the George Floyd murder trial yesterday, and we were all talking about it back here. I do hope there is some kind of healing that comes from it, and that it pushes things forward in the criminal justice reform movement. I hope it wakes people up and that things truly change.

Today I woke up at 5.30 again and got my day started. I was hit by a sudden sadness but I'm pushing through it. I'm not going to get into details, as this is a private matter, but what I can say is that my girlfriend and I have decided to transition back into a friendship.  It's with  much love and respect for each other and I know things will be okay. It sucks, and yeah, the heart hurts. We are great friends and I'll always love and respect her and encourage her happiness and goals. She's a wonderful team mate and things will be fine...I'll be fine, and she'll be fine...It's all good.

It's another bright and beautiful day. I'm scheduled for recreation – third round – and things seem to be moving smoothly. I've already done most of my exercises and will jog when I'm in the day room.

For those who write prisoners, the mail room has changed its policy on sending cards to prisoners in Texas...You can now send cards on the following dates:

April 25th – May 9th
June 6th – 20th
December 11th – 25th

The envelope must have a post mark on or between these dates.

We were just asked if we want the COVID vaccine. I signed up for it and should have my first shot next week. I was quite surprised and a bit disappointed that many guys refused. Many of these guys complain about officers not wearing their masks properly...Well, I'll have mine and I'm relieved – thank G-d!

Courage. Strength. Hope and Faith.

Peace.


  
April 22nd, 2021

Woke up this morning to learn that the entire unit is on its 6 monthly lockdown/shakedown, so that means another 3 weeks of delicious sack meals and cabin fever! Woohoo!

Last night was a good night of music on the prison radio station, and I listened to the movie, 'Soul', which was pretty good. I loved the music elements and jazz throughout the movie. Later that night the prison DJ came on and jokingly announced that I am the official 'co-producer of content and ideas' at the station, because I'm always making suggestions and putting forward my ideas. I don't want to let it go to my head, but it did put a smile on my face. It goes to show you that even in a cell 24/7 a person can be effective and accomplished if they set their mind to it.  

I didn't get to sleep until around one in the morning because the music was so good. I woke back up at about 5.50am and after learning we were on lockdown I just couldn't get back to sleep. I got up, exercised, and set up the day.

I read an interesting quote from the music producer, Nile Rodgers...He was a big name for disco in the '70s, and also produced some of the biggest names in music during the '80s. People like Bowie, Madonna etc. It resonated with me because I often apply a similar tactic to get through the days. He said,  

“When you're powerless, for your sanity's sake you have to just relax, understand what the situation is, and come to terms with it.”

That's pretty profound and may sound like submission, but it's actually taking control of things. When you relax and accept the situation is out of your control and you let go, that's actually when the situation no longer owns you and you can move beyond that. Sometimes that tactic doesn't work for a person that is neurotic as all get out, but still...I've found when I do that, I'm usually able to get on with the day...mostly.  

I'll make the best of the lockdown, it's really all I can do.  

Courage. Strength. Hope and Faith.  

Peace.  


April 25th, 2021

Sunday...warm, bright, sunny...but still stuck in the cell due to the shakedown/lockdown. I'm making the best of it, but they should've at least let us have a shower by now – it's been 4 days! The pod is starting to smell a little funky. More so because there's no clean up crew either, and there's a growing mound of garbage at the end of the section run where the guards keep pushing all of the trash.

It's been quiet at least. Friday afternoon we had a huge storm blow through that knocked the power out two different times. Not for long periods of time, but enough to knock out the prison radio station. Being that it was the primary station I listen to these days I thought it was going to be a very long lockdown without any good programs or music shows. Fortunately Saturday morning they were able to reboot everything. At 4pm I listened to the station premier of 'Wonder Woman: 1984'. I was excited because I really enjoyed the first one. It had action, but more importantly, the movie had a lot of heart to it. The sequel? Blew monkey chunks...It was slow, corny and soulless. I was so disappointed in it. I'm sure the visuals were great, but really...even just listening to it. Don't waste your time. What a let down. 2 ½ hours of my life I'll never get back.

The Saturday night concerts were Selena for the first hour and then U2. Now, as a lover of music and especially live music, I was excited about the U2 concert. Selena wasn't really anything I was interested in, but it was the very last concert she performed in Houston, Texas before she was murdered by her fan club manager and she's a Texas legend. Right up there with Buddy Holly,  Willie Nelson, Stevie Ray Vaughn and others. Even if you don't listen to their music, they're Texas and part of being Texan is wearing them proudly. So, I listened to here band and her powerful vocals..it was amazing and I was left a bit dizzy with excitement over the performance. What is sad about it though, is she was just getting started. I was very impressed.

U2 came on after and as the song 'Zoo Station' began I had a sense of Déjà vu...it was eerily familiar. I suddenly remembered that I had seen about 30 minutes of this concert from 1992 at boarding school. It was fall of 1992. Before I became a room monitor and a hall monitor I was a night time janitor. I had to clean a kindergarten classroom that was in Baker Hall, my dorm, and the TV room. When I was in the TV room I flipped through the channels to see that one of them had a U2 concert on. I turned the volume up and began cleaning. I knew last night that I was listening to the same one because I remember when Bono was flipping through this giant screen of television programs and he paused on Garth, from the Wayne's Word SNL skit and movie. They talked for a second over the feed and then Garth joined U2 on drums for 'Even better than the real thing'. I couldn't believe I was listening to a moment from my teenage memory. It was weird, but really cool.

The sound quality of the concert was a bit washed out, but still to hear some music you normally don't get to hear is always great.

I was in bed by 10.30pm out like a light and woke up at 5.50am. Had to shave and bird bath and have spent the day doing laundry.

Because they're so short staffed we expect this this lockdown will be really long. Something else that sucks is they're not allowing us our weekly five minute phone call until the lockdown is over...Makes no sense, but that's the way this place is.

Courage. Strength. Hope and Faith.

Peace.

  
April 26th, 2021

Does it ever feel that right when you're about to score a point some unseen force moves the goal posts of life on you?

So, yesterday afternoon I was cruising around the day. Feeling half way decent about things. Actually, all things considered I was was in a pretty good mood. I was half way through my thousandth listening of Avengers: Infinity War (that and Endgame are so freakin' good). And then the radio went dead. The clock read 0:00 and I was confused. I gave the radio a couple of good jostles (okay, in the interest of full disclosure...wacks. I gave it a good few wacks, because hey, it's worked before) and nothing. So, I opened it up, looked to see if maybe a wire was touching something or if something maybe burned out. Nothing. My heart sank and I was filled with grief. If it was the old days I would've torn my shirt, fallen to  my knees and cried to the heavens.  

A radio is one thing...radios are replaceable. But they don't sell the radios that pick up television any more and finding one to trade with someone these days is almost an impossibility because they're so rare. I'm crushed. More so because at the time I had nothing to listen to. My neighbour offered a piggy back off his (it's complicated to explain but I can tie my headphones into his) and that is temporary, but it got me through the night even if I had absolutely no idea what was going on in that movie. The imagination can fill in the blanks only so much! Time inversion, time travel, occupying to moments of space and time at the exact same time...Whoooaaa. Heady stuff.  

He let me listen to my music show at 9pm as well and then I went to sleep. I woke up at 5.50am to the sounds of an officer asking me if I wanted a shower. I rolled out of bed and zombie walked to the shower, shaking off my sleep.  

Now, last night I thought about trying to get hold of the Property Officer. But with the lockdown and everything I thought it would be next to impossible because she handles the shakedowns and confiscated property. Often, they'll have a 'loaner radio' or fan...something to replace an item that was either broken by an officer, of if a guy is indigent. So, any hopes I had of making it through a lockdown with a new radio hinged on that possibility.  

I came back from the shower and suddenly, miraculously, the property officer showed up on my section to deal with someone else. I asked if I could talk to her really quick and she told me it would have to be fast because she was busy.

“You have one minute,” she said.  

“That's all I need.”

“What's the deal”

“My radio died yesterday and I was hoping you'd have a loaner I can borrow-”

She cut me off and said,

“It won't be today, but I got you. First thing tomorrow I'll bring it.”

“Please! Thank you!”

“I got you, Halprin. I'll write it down and bring it tomorrow.”

“Thank you!”

Whew...that helps mitigate some of the heartache and sorrow of losing my beloved radio. May its electronic spirit rest in radio heaven peacefully. I won't be able to listen to TV but I have the prison radio station and they do great music and a movie every day so that helps. Plus, I won't be dependent upon someone else to listen to something.  

I've started this entry a bit early today. As I write this, they're still doing showers. Our first in five days now. Breakfast sacks were pancakes with a smear of PB&J, a cup of oatmeal and some raisins. Yummy!  

Part of the process of going through a shake down and whittling property down to what fits into a red create. Sometimes you're forced to make a choice between books, food, essentials etc. because there's only so much room in the crate. Over the past few days I've been going through things that are important and things I can give to someone else or donate to the library.  

As I was going through some old letters I was reminded of all the hard work my friends and lawyers put into the fight to save my life – to the point of physical and emotional exhaustion. I was also overwhelmed by the kindness of strangers who came to my support and aid as well. So many people! It helps me put things in perspective, but it does make me sad as well at those guys that never get the kind of support that people like myself and Rodney Reed had. Does any life have more value than the other? Sure, injustices give a person reason to rally behind, but whereas causes like George Floyd and others help bring about certain reforms and changes, when it comes to things like the death penalty, a life might be spared, but nothing really changes on the grand scale of things.

There are always those fighting the fights but it is if they're doing with one hand behind their back. They're handicapped. How many people stand outside the execution changer when there is a guy being put to death? We're always grateful for the handful there are, but shouldn't it be so much more? I think about all of the groups online, on twitter and facebook...maybe some of them are doing what they can behind the scenes, but how many of those people that pick fights with pro-death penalty people, or don't properly educate who are on the fence and just need a little guidance or convincing..how many of those people are really willing to give to the cause to end things once and for all?

I was fortunate and I know that I still have a long fight ahead, but how many others back here need the support? How many others deserve the support? It's easy to rally around the high profile cases and I intellectually understand that. I do. But there are guys back here that need the same kind of support.

I think back to when I was on death watch. There was a guy there who suffered from fetal alcohol syndrome and other things...Yes, his crime was awful, but when you consider everything else in his life that was stacked up against him and how he was raised – in a vicious cycle of violence in which beatings to him and the witnessing of family members murdered in front of him, as he was a child...is it really a surprise?

It irritates the heck out of me when people paint things in terms of black and white. Life isn't black and white. It's grey. The thing is every one knows it, but they reject it. We're human. We fail, It's how we get back up, try to correct or change things that matters.

The power to change the death penalty is there. There's no better time than now to seize the momentum. I mean, Virginia a slave state and the seat of the confederacy just abolished the practice! Nevada is considering a bill to abolish it as I speak. Heck, even the CCA the most conservative appeals court in the country has been reversing cases every once in a while. It can be done.

Just had word that they'll begin vaccinations on Wednesday, 28th. It'll take a few days to do the entire unit, but that's something to look forward to.

Courage. Strength. Hope and Faith.

Peace.




April 27th, 2021

I woke up this morning at about 5.30am. I was a bit dazed and confused when I didn't see any kind of breakfast sack, and I thought I'd missed breakfast. Sometimes, if it's a hot meal, the guards won't announce anything and if you're sleeping, they'll pass your cell and not even wake you up. I thought  that because we did have a hot meal for lunch and dinner, maybe this was the case.

When I looked out my door, however, I could see a stack of brown paper sacks and the guard was just sitting next to them. When the guard did a security check I asked why the meals weren't being passed out and I had to shake my head at his response. He said,

“Well, I don't have a wheel chair or barrel with wheels to push them around on.”

I asked why he couldn't just carry them like most people do, and he said,

“Oh no, they're too heavy for that!”

This place...ha ha.

We finally received our breakfast, rolled around on a barrel with wheels, at around 7am. I was eagerly waiting the property officer's arrival to bring the loaner radio, but so far she hasn't showed up. I'm still hoping though. My neighbour has been more than accommodating to let me listen from his.

I heard on the news yesterday afternoon that TDCJ has updated its execution protocol to allow ministers/chaplains into the death chamber, and the news said that this paves the way for the state to execute my co-defendant, Patrick Murphy. It gave me a bit of anxiety last night because I hate hearing that kind of news, but also, I hate that when it comes to the last two of us – the actual non-shooters – all it is about now is revenge. No other reason.

The other thing I realised in hearing the news is that should he get a date, and because we're not allowed to be around one another, not even on the same pod, I'll more than likely be moved off the pod and away from some of my closest friends.

Something that's giving a lot of us anxiety (and don't be surprised if it happens) is that the State is about to issue a shocking amount of execution dates. I know of 4 people just waiting for their orders to be signed. With COVID vaccinations and Texas treating the pandemic as if it's winding down, this is inevitable. I go back to what I wrote recently and I implore people to stand up and truly throw yourselves into the fight. Not just for the Halprins and the Reeds of death row, but for the truly voiceless...

Sigh...It can be difficult at times...So difficult.

Vaccinations are supposed to begin tomorrow. I'm ready to get mine out of the way.

Courage. Strength. Hope and Faith.

Peace.


  
April 28th, 2021

It's another day on lockdown. I had to talked to the property officer again yesterday, and she said she'd bring me the loaner radio today, but still, nothing...oh well.  

I just received some legal mail from my attorneys and it looks like some things are shaking and moving. I can't really say in what kind of way, but things are on the move and my attorneys are planning the next steps. I get a bit anxious when I receive legal mail, and so I have to breathe and stay hopeful and believe that the right thing will happen.  

Something that has guys upset back here is the warden came through and said that death row would not be included in the video visitations...Some guards were upset about it as well because, as they pointed out, guys who behave badly and are on restrictive custody levels like on 7 and 8 building (medium and closed custody) are being given access to the video visits. It doesn't seem fair by any measure. But things won't change unless people on the outside voice being upset that they can't talk to their friends and loved ones back here via video chat.  

That's pretty much it for today.  

Courage. Strength. Hope and Faith.  

Peace.  


April 30th, 2021

I can't believe it's the last day of the month...It feels like we've spent the majority of it trapped in our cells due to staff shortages, and this current lockdown. I don't know...everything has felt a bit weird for me lately. I've had this unsettling feeling of anxiety just barely at the surface for a while now, and can't wrap my head around it. I really want it to pass, or for me to come to terms with it.

So, yesterday was a pretty good day – I'd say great actually. It started off on the 'this could go any way' spectrum, because the property officer had showed up to deliver something for someone else but avoided me. I admit to feeling a bit irritated and feeling like I was being given the run around, but then I told myself,

“Why are you getting upset? No one owes you anything. She's under no obligation to give you a loaner radio.”

It's true. No one owes me anything and so I let it pass and just accepted it. Well, later on she came through and brought me a loaner radio and apologised for taking so long because she was really busy. I thanked her again and again, and then felt stupid for feeling irritated because things don't happen when I expect them to.

It's a symptom of this place; we tend to not understand that life doesn't stop for us when we need it to. People have lives; people have jobs; they have things to do. I guess that's where the sense of frustration comes in because if I had the ability to do things on my own, for myself, and not be dependent upon others...I wouldn't be frustrated. I would love to take care of myself, provide for myself, fight for myself, and be the one that takes the hit when things go bad, but I can't. It can be difficult to accept.

Anyways...so that was cool. They began vaccinations yesterday and stopped around 3pm, so I'm hoping to get mine some time today. I want to get it over with. The guys around me are saying that it's the Pfizer vaccination, and that you also receive a card that you have to carry around if someone asks for it. I'm cool with that.

It really was a good day, and then my neighbor was given the news via Jpay, that the CCA shot him down. He was upset, but I told him,

“The fight isn't over. Don't lose hope.”

Seems like empty words, I know...but that's really all we can do around here. When you lose hope and stop believing, it's a horrible feeling. Often my appeals feel like the world's worst roller coaster ride, and like the carriage could go flying off the tracks at any time. But you hold on for dear life and pray you get to the finish alive. You have to! That's where the phrase 'Courage, strength, hope and faith' comes from...It's my mantra. Someone blessed me with those words.

In a recent WIRED magazine (a tech publication) there was an article about a couple trying to adopt a child, and they posted their journey online which led to them being viciously trolled by these groups of anti-adoption people. I didn't even know those kinds of groups existed!! Who wouldn't want a child to end up in a safe and loving home? I just don't understand the logic or benefit of bullying anyone. I've stated before that I don't agree with cancel culture because it completely excludes the possibility of educating or rehabilitating a thought process or behaviour...it excludes forgiveness or a chance at redemption – something I feel American culture desperately needs. Our justice system often fails because it's a legal form of cancel culture.

The thing about bullying, especially in today's era, is that it's often done with anonymity or without societal repercussions. A person or group of people can get on their computers and have their way, but again...why? It's like when celebrity couples break up and you hear about the fans of a male star viciously attacking the woman he was dating. Why?? People break up all the time...It happens. Often it's no one's fault and it just might be the circumstances of life. Life can really stink sometimes, but it's not a reason to attack people.

I just don't get the need for such vitriol because someone has a different political opinion than your own, or they have a lifestyle that differs from yours, or they don't agree with your way of tackling an issue or whatever. If you have a hateful comment about something, what is the benefit of expressing it or attacking someone with it? Can you honestly say it makes you feel better?

Let me go back to the article I read...I couldn't wrap my head around the idea of this anti-adoption group attacking the couple for just wanting to have a family. If their argument is that a lot of adoption organisations are wishy washy and often CPS yanks a child away from a family before the parent has a chance of drug counselling or treatment, or that it's like a puppy mill, why not approach the family in kindness and say,

“Hey, we understand your desire to adopt and have a family, and that's beautiful. But here's why we think under current practice that's not such a good idea. Just consider it.”

Why attack them??

It seems to be no different in other areas of life as well. I've made friends with people whose opinions are the polar opposite of my own. I don't tolerate certain things like racism, or jokes about racism, period. What I try to do is say,

“Hey, I'm Jewish. Why do you hate me or hate black or Latino people?”

If I go in all fired up they just dig their heels in and this somehow gives them justification for their belief systems. I don't believe you just magically make something go away with love and kindness, but I do believe changing just one person's mind or heart about something has the potential to start a chain reaction. No one should ever expect a person to see eye to eye on everything. There are things with my own closest friends that we might not agree with, for example, the man who was my mentor and the closest person to me in my life (may he rest in peace) was a die hard Republican. He voted for Trump and didn't agree with homosexuality, but we never screamed at one another. I told him my views, he shared his...sometimes I could see a point he made, and he could see some point I made. We weren't at each other's throats and we loved one another.

I guess my whole point in this tangent is to say that I really wish people would stop being undercover bullies, or bullies in general.

So, today I woke up to lightening and thunder. We were hoping on getting a shower but that doesn't seem to be happening. I went ahead and exercised in my cell, and I'll be taking a bird bath in my sink in a minute or two. I'll make it a decent day.

Courage. Strength. Hope and Faith.

Peace!

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