January 8, 1996

Column 9

Another year bites the dust. The holiday season is always the hardest time to be in prison and I suspect that it is even more difficult here on Death Row. Personally, I ignore it the best that I can, but it seems to get to some of the guys. They found some guy in his cell hanging. I'm not sure if it was one of the condemned or an Ad-seg guy, but it seems to happen more often at the holiday season.

I am always amused on New Years Eve. At the stroke of midnight lot of the guys will start cheering and whistling. I could never figure out why. There is a cartoon that I am reminded of whenever the guys start cheering. Its called "Mr. Boffo". A regular theme of Mr. Boffo is something called,"People Not Clear On The Concept". Whenever I hear the cheering, I think to myself; that here is the very essence of people not clear on the concept. Since time is something that we all have very little of, (on Death Row) I think that to cheer the passing of time is one of those bizarre ironies that are common in a situation like this. To be fair, maybe they are cheering the fact that they have survived for another year, or the fact that the holiday season is over with. Whatever the reason, I wish you all a Happy New Year and I hope that it will be good to all of us.

I think that it must be pretty obvious to anyone that reads these pieces that I write, that I am not a writer by any means . . . my grammar and punctuation is not the best and I tend to babble at times, but I'm just a jailbird and I hope that you can understand what I am trying to say. It gets frustrating at times because it is difficult to express myself in a clear and concise way.

I wanted to reply to some of the questions that people have sent me, but I'm going to wait and do;it another time. There is another execution scheduled here at San Quentin. It is supposed to take place on the 26th of January. If it does take place, he has chosen lethal injection, which will make him the first in the state.

I haven't decided how I feel about lethal injection yet. We are supposed to have a choice on cyanide gas or lethal injection and when asked which one I would choose if I am ever executed, I never have an answer. I think that it has been made to clean and clinical to kill someone. As a result, I think it makes it easier for juries to give the Death Penalty. As strange as it must sound, I think that they have gotten it all wrong. I think that they should make the execution as gruesome and horrible as possible, then when it comes time to carry out the execution, the jury that sentenced the person to die should have to carry out the sentence. And maybe the method of execution could be where the person is chained to a post and the jury is given clubs and have to beat the person to death. After all, if the jury feels strongly enough to sentence a person to death, they should have the same resolve in carrying out the sentence instead of having someone else do it for them. I guess that is a bit extreme, but The system has made it all too easy and too detached for you people out there to sentence someone to die. Or perhaps, if it is not the jury who carries out the sentence, then perhaps there can be a system of getting the people to carry out the sentence in the same way that a jury is selected in a trial. A computer will select people from voting lists or from the Department of Motor Vehicle records and by random selection, a pool of people will be selected to carry out the sentence that has been given to a person. But as it is now, when people sit on a jury and hand down the Death Penalty, they are made to feel that it is some sort of abstract idea that; doesn't matter much. After all, if they want a death to be carried out so badly, they should be willing to have-the death carried out by their own hands, instead of making someone else do it for them.

Another thing that worries me about the execution by lethal injection is that it might make it easier for the guys here on the Row to go ahead with it, instead of fighting for their lives. I am afraid that lethal injection might make it too easy for someone in here to just give up and let the state kill them. The idea of going to sleep and not having to be in this place any longer is too seductive.

Another thing that I wanted to talk about is something that I heard about the other day. It is where the state of California has cancelled all Media interviews with prisoners. Their reason for doing so is they say they are concerned that the Media will make stars out of convicts. The very idea of that is so ridiculous that you have to wonder if they are serious. But it seems that they are. I suspect that they real reason that they are doing this is that they do not want prisoners talking about all of the bullshit that goes on in prison. As long as the system can keep people thinking that everyone in prison is an animal and not people that were once just like you, they can go ahead and do anything they want to. Prison isn't about trying to rehabilitate people anymore, which is no secret, but prisons have become big business. As long as there are people to fill the prisons, business is good, so why would the system want to help people in prison to stay out, it wouldn't be good business. Politicians want a prison located in their area because it's good for the economy and provides jobs. If prisoners were to be rehabilitated, they would have to close down prisons . . . so jobs would be lost. There is also a lot of inmate labor that is used in prisons by big business. Inmates make circuit boards, furniture and other products that were once made by people on the outside. Paying inmates 30 cents an hour sure beats paying one of you out there $10.00 to $20.00 an hour. So, by keeping the media from any interviews with people in prison, they can keep all prisoners as faceless and none human, rather then letting you see that we are human beings and for the most part, people just like you are. It doesn't matter to me, I don't have any desire to be interviewed by the Media, but there are lot's of people in prison that have serious issues that they bring to the attention of the Media and it is the only way they have to deal with it. It will be interesting to see how it turns out.

Well, I think I have babbled enough for this one, so I'll end it here. I hope to reply to those of you that have written to me soon.