New Journals - 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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September 12th, 2021

My days in Dallas are numbered...On Friday a nurse came to my door to administer a COVID test. The brain tickler! That woman shoved that thing so far up my nostril I could feel it touch the back of my eyeball! I asked her,

"Is this random?"

She told me it was to prepare me for transfer...I fully expect to leave any day now.

The weekend has been a bit slow and stressful. I kept missing calls, but I understand why and I'm worried because a close friend is in the hospital again. I just pray that they're okay and will be able to get back on their feet again.

Today was good though...I had some nice calls with my Rabbis and Cantors, and was able to say goodbye to a couple of friends, until I return for my new trial.

I wonder if tonight will be the night they tell me to pack my stuff? My investigator made the point that it would be pointless to COVID test me and wait days just so I could catch COVID. Makes sense! It would be wild to go back on my birthday, but I will enjoy the ride back as much as I enjoyed the ride getting here.

Every day now is one day closer to being back off death row and to have dreams come true and have my life to look forward to. If I do leave today, I hope to be around some guys that'll make me some birthday tacos. Yes, I will pimp out my birthday for food.

Well...we'll see what happens.

Courage. Strength. Hope and Faith.

Peace.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

 
September 7th, 2021

I spoke too soon about getting to bed early. This place exploded into a rowdy night. But I did manage to sleep in until a little after 7.30am, so I made up for a little lost sleep. All things said I don't feel exhausted today. I didn't even take a nap.

I'm a wee bit frustrated that I'm still here, but I'm sure I'll return to Polunsky soon enough. I heard they're at 68% fully vaccinated which is knocking at the door of 70%, and assuming the warden keeps his word, normal visits and special visits will be back on! It would be nice to have some of those before I come back to Dallas again.

Some Securus technicians were looking at the server again and I think this makes it the 30th time they've looked at it but never actually done anything to it. So strange. But the rumor is that Dallas County Jail will soon have tablets as well, so maybe that's what they're doing.

Otherwise, Rosh Hoshana has been peaceful and I've been reflecting upon life and the good things to come. I know they will come.

Well, just as soon as I wrote that last sentence the place erupted into chaos! Someone in general population broke a window – completely shattered it. I thought I'd get extra time with the phone but the guard came up and said,

“Time. Get off!”

Uhhhh...my time was not up in the least, but I didn't want to push it. One thing I'm not is a trouble maker and I've been blessed with time enough and will be again.

Maintenance is repairing the window now – that's fast! I joked that it would have taken weeks for the Polunsky maintenance crew to fix it.

Well, on with the evening I suppose!

Courage. Strength. Hope and Faith.

Peace.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

September 6th, 2021

It's about an hour before Rosh Hoshana begins. I expressed the importance of that today and I have so many things to pray about tonight. I remember two years ago being on Death Watch, opening my Siddur that my Rabbi had given me and reading the prayers. I remember last year when I asked the DJ of the prison radio station to play a recording of the shofar being blown over the airwaves, to bring in the New Year (he kindly did which was amazing.) And now this year, as I sit in Dallas, I will pray and bring in the New Year – sadly without an apple or honey...they gave us an orange today.

I went to recreation today and was able to get 3 hours which was great! I left my cell at around 9.11 am and when I went outside it was overcast, but the clouds soon departed and the sun came out and it was hot! Today is Labor Day so the city was quiet. There was the typical Dallas traffic to watch, but I didn't see people walking about...no uber eats deliveries...not much of anything.

When I came in I was hungry and tired. I ate a bologna sandwich and tried to take a nap without much luck. My plan for tonight is to get to bed before shift change. As of now it's relatively quiet.

Courage. Strength. Hope and Faith.

Peace.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

September 5th, 2021

It's a holiday weekend and things are moving a bit slower, but that's okay. It's been a great weekend of calls though, and a ton of wonderful things are in the works!

Sometimes life gets screwy...After my execution date and stay I felt so relieved and was ready to start living again - “Get busy living or get busy dying.” For 18 years I've wanted to live! COVID struck and turned the world upside down, and it affected life on Polunsky Unit. It affected my life and flipped it all around for so many others, and while two years later, life as we know it is still all out of whack...I have so much hope in my heart.

Even in the craziest and most topsy turvy world, G-d can give us so many blessings, and honestly, even amidst the chaos, confusion, and sometimes uncertainty, the most beautiful things can happen. And they have! I was told months ago after things in my life were down that “you never know what the future holds” and never in a thousand years would I have thought that right now, in this moment, my heart would be filled up like a balloon full of so many good luck charms of hope, love, prayers, promise, and certainty in a future that I'm able to live, to fulfill dreams (oh so many dreams and goals!)

Things transpire at their own pace sometimes and not necessarily on the path that we expect. That's why I love the balloon metaphor. You have a balloon (or many) and you wish upon that balloon for whatever it might be – a better life, a new friend (remember as kids when you'd put your name/address on a card, attach it to the balloon and let it fly?) love, happiness – anything. You let go of the balloon and watch as it flies away never to be seen again – it takes its own path. Wherever it lands the person that finds it surely wonders,

“What's the story behind this balloon? What's the story behind your heart? Where has your heart been and where is it going? What do you want in life?”

I know firmly what I want and I feel like I'm so close for it to finally begin. How amazing it is – a day away from Rosh Hoshana, the Jewish New Year that after I'm so close to beginning my new life.

“You never know what the future holds.”

No, we don't, but to be a former death row prisoner? To have so many blessings and people to guide me, to encourage me, to love me...It's a perfect dream.

Get a balloon, wish on it, let it loose, and watch dreams come true.

Courage. Strength. Hope and Faith.

Peace.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * *

September 2nd, 2021

I feel okay today. I was in bed before shift change last night and slept really good. I woke up feeling fully charged – a little disappointed I'm still here, but I can deal with it. Maybe I'll leave after the Labor Day holiday.

I was thinking it might not be so bad if the video visits here were working. They have four screens on wheels and the system has been down for months! Countless tecnicians have been here to look at it, but that's really all they do – look at it! No one is trying to fix anything.

I don't really talk to anyone here, but lately I've been talking to the guy behind me through the vent. He's young and it's the second time he's been arrested. He says he's here on a gun charge – illegally possessing a firearm because he's a felon. I asked him why he felt the need to have a gun, and he said,

“I don't know...it's just the lifestyle. I ain't got no beef with anyone. No enemies.”

When we talked before he talked about getting back to 'hustle' and I asked him why. He said he needs the money. I told him there were a thousand places willing to hire him if he was willing to do the work. I told him the 'easy money' would just put him back in jail. I told him I get angry at people who get chance after chance to redo their lives and they just keep coming back. I told him (without getting into details as to who I am) I've been waiting 21 years now (really 26 years) for my second chance. I'm fighting for my very life.

I hoped I could speak to him to really reach him and today was the first day he actually said,

“Something needs to change. I can't keep doing this shit.”

I told him he needed to put in the work. To work on himself, and even if at first the road is difficult and everyone rejects him, keep at it. Show people you're serious. Someone will give you a chance, but you've got to put in the work!

I really hope he's serious. I also know, however, that a lot of these young black men have nowhere to go and they get pulled back into the same lifestyle and cycle. Society fails them in a lot of ways too. If you truly believe there's no systemic problem then you're blind. It's not easy for these men to 'get out' because no one else is willing to accept them if they've stumbled.

I'll keep talking to him and planting seeds of hope and encouragement.

As I write this there's a spit boxing match going on. No a really witty one, it's just a bunch of cussing at one another. Some of them are really funny, and some aren't. Right now it's just a bunch of 'eff yous'.

Well, that's the day in a nutshell...At least it's gone by fairly fast.

Courage. Strength. Hope and Faith.

Peace.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

September 1st, 2021

Twelve to go before I reach 44! I had the strangest thought earlier today – a bit of a sad thought actually. I'm older now than my dad was when he turned his back on me in 1996. If I had kids I just can't imagine any scenario, no matter what my age or experience in life, where I'd ever turn my back on my son or daughter.  

The day has been okay, but a little on the slow side. I thought I was going to get screwed over on recreation because there was so much going on and I missed the sign up time. The guards have a 'you snooze you lose' policy and if you're not at your door when the rec officer comes by, well you lose out. I caught the guard a little later and asked, and he gave me a non-committal head nod, but thankfully at 9.05am I went out. Another lovely day in the city!

I keep telling myself there's a reason I'm still here. It just hasn't revealed itself yet. Really, I can't believe it's already September and I've been here two months. Now that I think of it, it was almost two months when I was here in 2010, but they really didn't want me here back then. It seems that they don't mind me now, ha ha.  

I've been reading Jane Austen's 'Pride and Prejudice' and it's a really great novel. It was written in 1813 and it's just as funny and relevant over 200 years later! I remember having a similar thought when I read Don Quixote for the first time. There are books that just transcend time!

I'm going to try and get to bed early tonight.  

Courage. Strength. Hope and Faith.  

Peace.  









August 30th, 2021

You know what's great about getting actual sunlight 3 days a week, and direct on your face Texas sun? My face no longer looks pasty...I have some color. Honestly, the past three weeks I think I've gotten more sun on my face than I've had in a year.

The city is beautiful. Today I watched countless planes taking off and landing from Lovefield airport. I watched cars and people, a cool looking Coca-Cola truck, a train that seemed to have two miles worth of trailers. The sky was clear and while it was hot, it was beautiful.

I received copies of the State's filings and the one my lawyers filed. You know, in the past when I would read something by the State I'd have a pit in my stomach. I'd get anxious and begin to worry and think,

“Geeze...while they're wrong it's written in a way that could convince a judge.”

I felt none of that with this. Their argument that I had a fair trial was so weak! The filing is just sloppy, and some of the things they claim such as the judge had a first amendment right – religious freedom – to be a bigot and his views towards me were because I am a reprehensible person so they were justified. WTF?? I was incredulous! I felt confident even before I read ours...Ours? Point by point we made the case that not only was the judge a bigot, but he harbored those views during the trial. We pointed to evidence. We showed how, in the trial, he was biased and we put it into a longer and historically systemic picture. It was just brilliant and I'm really excited.

But yeah, we still have to get past the CCA and they're notoriously on the wrong side of history, but also the facts. Still, I just can't believe they would want to defend a proven bigot. Time will tell...

Got to keep up the positive energy and hope!

Courage. Strength. Hope and Faith.

Peace.


August 29th, 2021

Wow...Entering into the last few days of the month – just 16 days away until I'm 44 years old! Then, my friend, Irving's, birthday is on the 17th, and Big Will's is on the 29th. People love making babies in the new year!

The weekend has been typical; a bit slow and boring here, but the past two nights have been quiet and I slept well. Today started off quiet but now sounds like a zoo. Banging, yelling. Literal animal noises...I really believe some people are afraid of silence or their own minds. There are two types of people like that – those that pop pills to sleep the day away because they can't face it, or those that have to make so much noise to drown out their own thoughts. Maybe if I wasn't so sensitive to sounds I could handle it, but my hearing is abnormal. I hear too darn good! I love it for music, not so much for everything else.

So, I've been sitting here wondering if I'll return to Polunsky this week or even soon. The last I heard, my investigator said that Dallas just has to put a transport plan together. I didn't know it takes two months to do that! It only took 3 weeks to get to Dallas.

I did have a cool weekend talking on the phone. Took a trip to Dairy Queen, talked about a book I'm reading, talked politics and caught up a little on Ghostbusters (been listening to that for about a month now, 20 minutes at a time ha ha).

I caught a little of the Dallas pre-season game that the officers were watching at their desk. They were being trampled on! I hope they do better in the regular season.

I'm looking forward to recreation tomorrow assuming I'm here. I won't complain if they take me back to Livingston though. I have things I need to take care of. These days I live and think like I'm going to be soon leaving the place – alive! Even if it takes many months. I feel like my time there is coming to a happy end. Oh, how I really do hope so!

Courage. Strength. Hope and Faith.

Peace.


  
August 26th, 2021

Geeze...the last full week of the month! I've been here almost two months. You know, honestly, it ain't so bad. So many blessings have occurred since being here. So many wonderful things. I've been restless only because I wasn't prepared for a long stay. The only reason I even want to go back to Polunsky is to have a bit of time to say 'goodbye' to friends and to get things in order. When I leave I already plan to give/donate all of my electronics to someone who needs them. My 'valuables' are made of paper, not plastic, metal and wire. Well, that and my coffee stash! I need my coffee stash ha ha.

When I speak of wonderful things and blessings, I speak of the kindness I've experienced here. The many people who have treated me as a human being. But the real blessing is the phone...Talking to my lawyers in real time, friends, and just the loving in real time. I remember when I got here and saying 'hello' to everyone. I met a cat, 'Mr Vanilla', who seems to have taken a liking to my voice and meows whenever he hears it. To hear a friend's daughter try to say my name...apparently 'Randy' is an impossible name for anyone under 2 years old ha ha. To talk about the craziness of politics in real time, to discuss books or an Arthur Miller play, to listen to ET or a song, or to be in real time places like a beach or the lake...a restaurant or party. To have someone hand the phone over and say,  

“This is Randy, say  hello”

Or to hear a home re-modelled. We don't get that on death row. We get a hurried 5 minute phone call where there's just enough time to say,  

“Hey, how are you? I love you. Goodbye.”

And the guard ends your call. The truth is there's ever enough time with the people you care about and love.  

So, yeah, I'm stuck, but I'm okay. I'm happy – happier than I've been in a long time. Count your blessings. Take stock of what's important in your life. I gripe and complain at times, but really have been an incredibly fortunate guy.  

Courage. Strength. Hope and Faith.  

Peace.  

August 25th, 2021

I may be trapped in Dallas due to the COVID outbreak of the Delta Variant (thank you unvaccinated people!). I'll know more tomorrow, but it seems to be the reason. Dallas might not want to risk transporting people. I could go off on a tangent, but I'll spare you all today.

It's been a super slow, super boring day, but I did go outside for a couple of hours. The officer doing rec was a bit of a jerk at first, and I thought I might not make it, but I did. It was hot as blazes, but the sky was clear and the city beautiful. I love the small quiet towns, but I'll always be a city boy at heart.

When I came in I was wiped out! I ate lunch and fell asleep. When I got up I watched a fight break out on one of the general population tanks. These tanks operate like it's the 'Lord of the Flies', and are very predatory. County jails are always like that. You'd think they'd try to prevent it, but they never do.

Other than that I'm just relaxing and plan on going to bed early – assuming it's quiet tonight!

Courage. Strength. Hope and Faith.

Peace.

  
August 24th, 2021

Where do I begin on how completely idiotic I feel this mask debate is, and the argument that it's an 'attack on freedom' is utterly nonsensical. I mean, I'm of the mind to say,  

“Sure, you have the right to put your own health at risk...”

But the problem is that it's not just your life – viruses are transmissible, and that means that you, dear anti-mask wearer, put others' lives at risk. And don't say that masks don't work because the proof is in the pudding and during the pandemic, cold and flu viruses were at an all time low. So, yes, they do work. But again, the main purpose of them is to prevent YOU – a possible carrier – from giving it to someone else.  

An attack on freedom? Puh-lease! Is the restaurant rule, 'No shirt, no shoes, no service' an attack on freedom? Are school uniforms or dress codes an attack on freedom? Are no smoking rules an attack on freedom? Is a seat belt law or a no texting while driving law an attack on freedom? Indecent exposure? Public intoxication? Littering? Speed limits?

Seriously, people cannot be that dumb! And let's admit it...if the Trump administration had come out on day one of the pandemic and said,  

“Every American should wear their mask and be patriotic,”

a great number of the anti-maskers would have their red, made in China, MAGA face masks on, waving flags and saying,  

“You ain't American if you ain't wearin' your mask. USA!” (No, I don't think all Trump supporters are ignorant or red necks, but they sure can act pretty darn stupid.)

This shouldn't be a political issue. It's not an attack on freedom any more than having laws against a guy in a trench coat flashing his weiner at you in a park is. I mean, come on! It's just common sense. I don't want some pervo flashing his pecker at me. Just like I wouldn't want anyone to die of COVID when it could be so easily prevented. It's not fear...It's logic. Something this country has seemed to have left on the side of the road. The world's laughing at us...Sheesh!

Rant over...I really should stop reading newspapers!  

The day has been a bit boring. From what I've heard so far about  my recent legal filing it's pretty flipping good, and that lifts my hopes up. I'd like to get back before the CCA rules so I can get things in order, say goodbye to friends on Polunsky etc. Again, though, I'm really enjoying my time on the phone. I hadn't mentioned this before but in the past 2 months I've been able to listen to 'ET' and I'm currently in the middle of 'Ghostbusters' on the phone with a friend. It takes time, but it's cool to be able to do that and share favorite music and movies on YouTube with her. Not every day, but when the time presents itself.

The ET thing came from a conversation about movies when she said she hadn't seen ET. “You haven't seen ET? It's a must!” Next thing I knew I'm listening to it with her as she watches it...20 minutes at a time. It's slow but it's cool and it makes me happy :-)

So, yeah, great conversations and cool things like that are a hard thing to give up, but I'll be back and there'll be a lot more settled feelings for sure. I just visualise the day that I'm 'Randy Halprin, former death row inmate'. G-d willing!  

The day is winding down now. The noise isn't crazy yet, but it's not quite 10pm. Anything can happen!

Courage. Strength. Hope and Faith.  

Peace.


  
August 22nd, 2021

As the weekend comes to an end, I really don't have a lot to write about. I've been sick all weekend long and pretty much lost my voice. It's coming back, but definitely not full strength.  

My big filing was submitted to the judge on Friday, and whilst I've not yet seen it, I'm confident it's good. I'd like to be back on Polunsky when the judge makes her recommendation to the CCA just in case things move quickly after that. I don't expect the CCA to rule quickly, but you never know. They might just want to be done with me and kick me down the road. Regardless, everything is in motion now and I can only pray for brighter days ahead.  

So, other than dealing with being sick for the second time in two weeks, I'm doing my best to get by. There are some slang terms here in Dallas County that I really hope never make it into the Polunsky lexicon. They are so...really irritating. I get it, I'm almost 44 years old and I'm sure things I said at home growing up got on my parents' nerves. Actually, my dad used to say,  

“Stop talking like a valley girl!”

But these are tiresome phrases that are like nails in a chalk board:

“On my momma” as in “I hit that fool so hard, on my momma he passed out”

“On G-d” ditto

“Nah, but for real,” as in “I bought that car for $5000 but nah for real, I did.”

“Type s**t,” (in this someone says something to the guy and the response in return is 'type s**t'. Huh?)

And the most annoying response to just about anything, and I'm not making this up, is “Skiddupp.” I don't know...it's boggling!

Courage. Strength. Hope and Faith.  

Peace.

August 19th, 2021

It's so strange...Two weeks ago I had a head cold. It lasted a few days and I was fine. Last night I could feel an itchiness in the back of my throat. When I woke up I was completely stuffed up in my nasal cavity and I feel like I have a head cold. A friend suggested allergies, but as far as I know, I have none. So who knows? I don't feel sick. My energy is fine. I slept okay, and feel chipper.

I talked to my attorney today and the big filing for my appeal is due tomorrow. Everyone feels like we have the winning argument. I do continue to ask for peoples' prayers that the judge considers all of the facts and is given insight and wisdom into her decision. That I'm granted mercy and another chance.

I think we're all thinking that the reason I'm still in Dallas is COVID related. With the surge especially high (because people won't get vaccinated) I'm guessing that either TDCJ or Dallas County Jail doesn't want to move people around the State. That seems to be the most logical explanation, but who knows really? And again, I don't mind being here, but I am not settled. I'm also worried about certain personal items I have at Polunsky. Electronics can easily be replaced. I intend to give that stuff away to someone that can't afford it anyway. I can think of a couple of guys right now that have little support and would love to have a hotpot, radio, night light etc. But my pictures, cards, certain books, have sentimental value. We'll just have to see what happens.

Anyways, the day has been slow moving and quiet. The noise will probably explode at anytime.

Courage. Strength. Hope and Faith.

Peace.


  
August 18th, 2021

I'm so angry at myself at times....I went outside for recreation and watched the city. It was cool and grey...absolutely perfect. That first teasing bite of autumn, although I'm not fooled by Texas weather! We're far from autumn, but Texas just likes to give us a little tease. Texas weather can be a shameless hussy!

So, I'm watching the city and I think,  

“Randy, you are such a stupid, ignorant, and impulsive jerk for escaping. Right now, right at this very moment you'd probably be out on parole. You'd be one of these automatons staring down at their phone, lost in life.”

I do get mad at myself and I probably would be free...September 5th I have four years left on my original offence that began when I was 18 years old, almost 19...I'm almost 44 now. Crazy.

But then I think, if I had remained in general population all of these years who would I be now? I'm far from perfect, but I do believe I'm a good person and kind, but would years of prison have hardened me? Would I have become angry and resentful at the world? Would I have remained angry and resentful towards the people that turned their backs on me? Who would I be?  

Without a doubt, as awful as my choices were in life and the mistakes I made, and then this 20 plus years of this roller coaster...Without them I wouldn't be who I am now. I have so many regrets and remorse for the choices I made, but I don't regret who I've become.  

After about 45 minutes it began to rain on the city and as it cleaned the air the downpour was so fresh smelling. At the hour mark it was time to return to my cell. I had lunch which was PB&J and then decided to take a  nap. I ended up sleeping for two hours! I guess I needed it.  

There's a peacefulness now. Maybe it's the rain, maybe everyone is exhausted. Who knows?  

Courage. Strength. Hope and Faith.  

Peace.

  
August 16th, 2021

Today started off on a wild note. I woke up at about 5.30am and it was already noisey. I was just relieved to have gotten some sleep the night before. I told myself I was going to push for recreation as I have not had it since I've been here, and if I'm stuck here, I want all of my privileges. At about 6.30am I talked to an officer about recreation and he was really cool about it and told me he'd talk to someone about it. Not a hot 15 minutes later he says,  

“Yeah. You can go. We just have to wait on an SRT escort to take you to the gym.”

I was really happy about that and it was hassle free – that was what I was most worried about.  

As I was waiting I started to exercise and another guy – a kid really – was going to rec when he suddenly tried to knee-kick the officer. I don't know what spurred it. They didn't seem to be arguing or anything like that, but the kid made a huge mistake. The officer was quick as lightening, dodged the kick, spun and grabbed the kid's shirt and put him on the ground! Next thing you know, other officers are piling on top of him and they have him in handcuffs, dragging him across the ground by his ankles. So crazy!

Honestly, this kid...I don't feel sorry for him. Well, let me clarify...I feel sorry that he has had a life in which he feels he needs to be a 'gangster' and act tougher than he is. I feel even worse that he's had a life in which he wears being a 'gangster' as a badge of honor...Like it's something to be proud of. It's clouded any common sense he might have and makes him act like an idiot daily. This is what I mean when I talk about having people come in from his community and mentor him and others like him, before he ends up in prison for the rest of his life.  

As as I have learned the hard way, there are repercussions for our choices and so I didn't feel bad that they dragged him off by his ankles. They didn't beat or abuse him. They were quite professional. It could've been worse for him. From my point of view, he started it. Act like a thug, you can't be surprised when you're treated like one.  

Anyhow, I got the phone and then after I made my calls they showed up to take me to recreation. It was one SRT and the rec officer. I got a 'pat down' and they walked me to the gym. At first, that initial breath of fresh air – I say 'fresh' but it was really smoggy city air - I was imediately overwhelmed by the air! It was a bit hot, a smell of exhaust fumes, and oxygen. I walked to the mesh area and looked at down town Dallas...Sky scrapers...The American Airline Center to the left of my panoramic view. The old Dallas County Courthouse...trees...people walking, oblivious to the fact that some inmate was watching them. I thought,  

“Look at them...so busy to get nowhere. Looking at their phones or talking without looking at the beautiful world around them!”

I saw Mrs Baird's bread trucks, UPS trucks, an Amazon truck...I watched as some guy stood on the side of the road as an Uber Eats car dropped off food to him. The clouds were thick, like big fluffy marshmallows in the sky. An airplane breezed across a sky scraper, taking off from the nearby Lovefield airport. It was a little humid and hot. I actually managed to have some sunlight on my face, which I didn't think I'd get.  

It's hard to describe how real and 3D everything was...Yes, obviously most of us are stereoscopic, but for me, even with two decent eyeballs, being kept in a cell all day and seeing only a limited amount of things, the environment becomes two dimensional. Walking outside and seeing a city...It's a bit like stepping into an MC Escher drawing, or seeing the matrix for what it is.  

After taking in the city for a long time I began to walk around. I think if I get to go to rec again this week, I'll jog for 30 minutes. The gym is huge and I get almost 2 hours of recreation...a true blessing.  

Now I'm completely wiped out. I hope to sleep really good! It's been a nice day, actually. Having rec kind of settled my nerves and cabin fever. Now I'm just hoping tonight stays quiet.  

Courage. Strength. Hope and Faith.  

Peace.


August 12th, 2021

Today is a bit brighter...and hopeful...I talked to someone on my legal team and was told that my filing for our 'Conclusion to the Fact Findings' to the judge has been given an extension of another week and is now due on August 20th.

That's cool. I know we have the winning argument. I think of the State's argument because of the ridiculousness of it all.

“Yeah, everything Halprin is arguing is fact and true...but it didn't affect the trial.”

I'm reminded of my actual trial when a detective on the case was asked,

“So, based on your investigation Halprin told the truth?”

“Yes.”

“And he was telling the truth when he said this...”

“Yes.”

“And he was telling the truth when he said that...”

“Yes.”

“In fact, his whole statement checks out. Is that correct?”

“Yes.”

“But?”

“But I don't believe him when he says he didn't shoot.”

CRAZINESS!!

Again, I can only pray that my judge is filled with the wisdom to discern the nonsense from the facts. No reasonable person can believe that a bigot is capable of giving a religious minority defendant a fair trial, or any minority defendant a fair trial for that matter.

So, has anyone read something so enlightening that it almost consumes your whole thought process? I mentioned I'm reading John Steinbeck's 'East of Eden' and while the entire novel is an explanation of the human heart and condition, there's a part of the book that examines the story in the book of Genesis about Cain and Abel. As the story goes, Cain slayed Abel out of jealousy, and then tried to hide it from God. Two of the characters get into a theological debate about the King James translation where God does not punish Cain but essentially tells him,

“Thou shalt rule over sin.” In American standard translation it's more forceful in that it says,

“Do this.”

After long consideration of the phrase, one of the characters takes it to Rabbis and Chinese philosophers. They examine it for two years and realise that the Hebrew root is 'timshel' - “Thou mayest.” G-d gives man a choice. G-d knows our hearts and instead of making a stern demand, G-d says you have the choice to not be ignorant. You can choose to enlighten yourself or you can be ignorant and foolish. And my brain is on fire because sometimes I think about free will and fate and I think,

“If the future's written then where does free will come from?”

And that two word statement, “Thou mayest,” to me anyways, allows both free will and fate to co-exist. It says,

“You have the choice – you may enlighten yourself in life, use the tools and the knowledge given to you to better the world, or you can choose not to. How you live is your choice."

Think about this – say you plan a vacation. You know you're going to Disney World. That part is set in stone (the future) but...how do you get there? Let's say money/expenses don't matter. That's not part of the scenario. You can fly – you know it will be less of a hassle, faster, or you can drive. The choice doesn't change the outcome it just may or may not make the trip easier.

My mind is all over the place thinking of this stuff. I can promise you that East of Eden is a book worth reading. I think when I get back to Polunsky I'm going to read 'Grapes of Wrath' again. I already have two other classics I'm going to read with a close friend – 'The Crucible' and 'Pride and Prejudice'. I'm looking forward to all of it.

The day has been peaceful and quiet. I hope I sleep as good tonight as I did yesterday. The lights were out completely. The first time since I've been here and it was so dark, I slept like a baby. May it be so tonight!

Courage. Strength. Hope and  Faith.

Peace.



August 11th, 2021

Today I've been thinking about time...I've been thinking about how time, for me – and I would go out on a limb and say for most guys on death row – functions on a different dimensional path than most people, save for those who are terminally ill, in the world. Even since my first day on death row I have always been hyper-aware of time. First because I didn't think I'd live past my early 30s and  now still the unknown of what's going to happen hanging like a sword over my head.

When you're aware of time in the way that I am it causes you to live differently because you can't be oblivious to it like most people are. I can talk fantastically about what I would like to do next year, but no one can honestly say what's going to happen but again I don't have the luxury of oblivion.

And that's one reason I pray so hard and pray I get off of death row. I want that oblivion. I want to breathe. I want to live like regular people and not have time on my back like a ten ton boulder. I want to operate in the normal parameters of time. And if I fall down a flight of stairs, or get shanked by another prisoner, or have a heart attack because I eat too many chips, I can think in those last seconds,

“Crap! I didn't see that coming.”

It may sound strange to call that a luxury of normal living, but it is! Who on G-d's green earth wants to know when and how they're going to die? I sure as heck don't. But mostly, I just want to get on with my life in normal time. To breathe. To get to my goals and to helping people. That's all. I just really want to live.

I've kind of been coasting through the day...But getting by.

Courage. Strength. Hope and Faith.

Peace.

August 10th, 2021

Yesterday I felt barely alive with how exhausted I was. Coming off of a virus and then not having any sleep because all hell broke loose the night before. It was hard to sleep over all of the yelling and incessant banging...Then, early in the morning some guy trying to pull a fast one on the commissary lady set off a reaction that had the floor filled with officers...It was nuts. By evening time I was so exhausted I crashed so hard that I slept all the way until 7.30am. Had I not needed to be up and make some calls, I could've slept longer. I did feel relaxed and rested though.

I'm reading Steinbeck's 'East of Eden' right now. I wasn't sure if I was in a place mentally to take on a great classic, but I'm glad I started it because now, more than ever, I actually get it. It's filled with every facet of the human heart and condition that it almost seems fortuitous that I just randomly grabbed the book off of the cart. This is the third book I grabbed by happenchance since I've been here, that seems like the universe is literally speaking to me. Just strange...

Reading here is so different. I've always loved to read. I was a book mad kid and read at school, at home, at restaurants, under the blankets late at night with a flash light on...By the 4th grade I was reading at college level...Not bad for a kid that barely knew his ABCs at 5 ½ years old. I hated math. I hated PE. I loved history and I loved English. When I first came to prison I read about every genre written imaginable. From every Tom Clancy spy thriller, to Dean Kootz, John Grisham, Stephen King, and a myriad of horror writers. Then, I got right into the literary classics and literary fiction. I blame my friend and mentor, David, for that.

But reading at Polunsky...while I don't tear through books like I once did, it's distracting. With my radio, friends, noise etc, I'll read a chapter here, read a chapter there...I still love to read, just differently. Here in Dallas though? Unless it's noisey, that old love – the reading for the escaping into another world, and that excitement returned and I'm just reading and reading.

Courage. Strength. Hope and Faith.

Peace.

August 6th, 2021

I have a headache and my nose is stuffed up. They ended up moving the guy who was banging, after an hour. Thank G-d! It would have been a very long night.

Something interesting happened earlier today. I was sitting at my desk when, through my vent, I hear,

“Randy! Look out Randy!”

I thought,

“Who in the world knows my name here? I've not talked to a single inmate.”

I got up and went to the vent and said,

“Yeah? What's up?”

“Man, this is Jack...You don't remember me?”

“Uhhh...I don't know a 'Jack'. Sorry.”

“Yeah, you do, man. 2002, 2 East Upper. You had the walls around your cells. You were there, Woody, [AKA Abel Ochoa], that guy that killed his little girls. Those SRT's always pulled you out, and when you passed my cell, I was the guy that would tell you I'm praying for you.”

Everything flooded back to me and I said,

“Yeah! Yeah! I remember now! Wow...That was almost 20 years ago.

“I know!” What's crazy is I saw you the other day and you ain't got no hair! But you still look young,” he said.

“Yeah...I miss my hair.”

We both laughed.

“Anyways, man,” Jack said, “I just wanted to tell you I read them articles and I'm still praying for you. I hope it all works out.”

“Thank you. I really appreciate that.”

“Yeah, sure. God's got this. Trust him.”

“I do, Jack. I do.”

What a conversation...Amazing that I'm near a guy I was around 20 years ago.

Not much else going on today. It's hard to think because of my headache, and I'm blowing my nose every couple of minutes. Wouldn't it be crazy if I really had the Delta variant of COVID? With having COVID this past winter, the vaccine, and now this, I'll have a super immune system!

Nah...I doubt it's COVID. If so, everyone around me would be dropping like flies because few guys on solitary are vaccinated and we all share the same phones and ventilation system.

Courage. Strength. Hope and Faith.

Peace.


August 5th, 2021

Why am I still here? Well, it took three weeks to get me here after the judge signed the bench warrant. Maybe it's the same amount of time when it comes to going back? Who knows? I just don't know what the deal is...Again, I really wouldn't care if I could “settle”, but I can't settle. Anyways...I'll get on with it.

The best part of being here (besides the chips) is the phone calls. It's a blessing...It truly is. To spend some time with friends and those you love in real time...That's more precious than gold.

I seem to be coming down with some kind of cold or something. I hope it's not the Delta variant! It feels more like a head cold than anything, but still...I hope it doesn't last long.

My investigator stopped by the jail tonight which was really great. He had to come to Dallas for other business and decided to drive up to the jail as well. Unlike Polunsky where legal visits have to be scheduled in advance, and are limited in hours, a legal visit or minister visit can come at any time, and for however long they like. So, we stayed out there until almost 10pm! I thought it was earlier than that, but next thing I know it's shift change.

Ugh! They just moved a guy into the cell next to me and he's banging on his desk...

Courage. Strength. Hope and Faith.

Peace.

August 4th, 2021

Today's been a spit boxing extravaganza! There's 4 dudes going at it right now. Worst line? Well, honestly, it's way too explicit and homophobic to repeat, but the guy basically called the other guys for being gay, and then after insulting him, asked that he perform a sexual act on him.

The response was like,

“I'm a [bleep] but you want me to [bleep...bleep...bleep]?”

Thank God there's barely any of this nonsense back on Polunsky.

The day's been okay though. If I'm still in Dallas tomorrow I should receive a legal visit. I'll be looking forward to that. Otherwise, I'm still waiting for my return to Livingston.

Courage. Strength. Hope and Faith.

Peace.


August 3rd, 2021

I had an epiphany of sorts this morning...It came from listening to the conversations of these young black men talking in the vents – mostly about their gang lives, getting back on the streets for that life, and all that comes with that.

The epiphany is this: whilst I know there are groups out in the world, who try to prevent these young men from getting involved in gangs or violence, from my own eyes the intervention (mostly) comes when they're already in prison and sometimes facing lengthy sentences. What I have almost never seen is anyone come into jails and start talking to them.

Most of these guys will eventually be released or make bond, and they go right back to the life they know. There is no alternative...No way out. The cycle of crime, or even death, continues. But if groups of community leaders, clergy and others from their communities were to come in and offer hope, eduction, be supportive in their redemption, and offer a way out...That could create positive change. I listen to these guys talk and intellectually, they are not dumb. They just lack that spark that will set them alight to see a different path.

So, they come into jail and see no other path open to them. Sometimes a person knows where the path is, but it's so dark they can't find it. It takes another to light the way for them.

I seem to be stuck in Dallas for some reason...I'm not going to harp on about it, it's been a mixture of positives and negatives. I'm just unprepared to stay such a long time. I'm doing my best to keep busy. If I'm here tomorrow I think I'm going to ask why I'm not getting recreation. I've not asked since I've been here only because I didn't expect to stay so long.

Courage. Strength. Hope and Faith.

Peace.

August 2nd, 2021

Still in Dallas...Today's been odd. First, when the commissary cart arrived I wanted to buy stamps. They sell stamped envelopes, but I need the additional postage for other things to mail. The lady said,

“We're not selling stamps anymore...” which I find ridiculous. If it's true it really hurts me because I can't write particular people. So, I'll send a request to whoever runs the commissary and ask if it's true, and if so, what are the people who need additional postage, to do? I mean, at times even legal mail requires extra postage.

Then a storm hit Dallas and the phone system went out on me mid-call. Later, the craziest thing happened...I'm pacing in my cell and doing exercises, when an officer comes up and says,

“You trippin'?”

I said,

“What?”

I was confused. He asks,

“You in here smoking?”

I blurted,

“Hell no!!”

“Well, I'm gonna go in there and check,” he said.

“Okay.”

I'm really confused, but concerned. 100 things begin going through my head...Is he going to call the SRTs? Am I being set up? I don't smoke and never have. It's freakin' repugnant! Even when I did drugs when I was a youngster, I found smoking disgusting.

Second shift comes and I ask the guard working if he knew why this happened to me, and he says,

“Don't worry about it. They saw your arms moving around and didn't know what you were doing.”

“I was exercising! I'm in the fight for my life and would never do anything so dumb...”

“No. You're right about that.”

And that was that.

Really, that's been my day...Extremely boring. I could rant about COVID being on the rise and it being mostly unvaccinated people filling up hospitals. Actually, one comment I'll make...I didn't know that so many Conservatives have suddenly turned into pro-choice.

“My body, my health.”

People, who would've thought that would happen? Just sayin'...

Courage. Strength. Hope and Faith.

Peace.

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