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Monday, May 23, 2005

May 11, 2005

Dear Sis,

Well, despite the erratic "must be global warming" weather I can confidently announce that Spring has finally arrived, at least in this little corner of Virginia. See, a few hundred yards beyond the fences there's a tall, spindly tree (of a type I've never been able to identify) which I've watched for the 5 1/2 years I've been here. Every winter, almost overnight, it suddenly drops all it's leaves and the result is a dead-looking collection of bare, sparse branches. It really is a pitiful looking tree (I think it's been hit by lightning in the past) and every winter I think it is its last one. Then, come Spring, again almost overnight, it suddenly blooms. One day I'm out in the yard and the tree is naked; the next time I go to the yard it is green and bushy and looking vibrant. This had been going on for 5 1/2 years and each time that raggedly old tree blooms again it's sort of a reaffirmation, for me, of the vitality of life...Speaking of the yard, I haven't been out in a week because we've been on a week-long lockdown. The warden locked the entire prison down for "employee appreciation week" so that all of the employees could attend a series of picnics, cookouts and parties. The guards haven't gotten a raise in years, so I guess the warden is trying to make up for that with hot dogs and hamburders... The other day this gal named Piper Roundtree was sentenced to life in prison, with parole eligibility in 15 years, following her first-degree murfder conviction for shoooting down her ex-husband in her driveway. Piper was an attorney, living in Texas, and presumably getting on with her life after divorcing her husband. The husband, living here in Virginia, was a college professor. But, for whatever reason, Piper (wearing a very bad wig and fake ID) flew from Texas to Virginia, waited in ambush, and gunned down the ex-husband in his driveway. Then she returned to Texas, but not before leaving a trail of evidence and witnesses in her wake. Anyway, my point here is that, as murders go, this was as cold, calculated and premeditated as they come. Yet she receives a life sentence and is eligible for parole in 15 years. Meanwhile, you've got people on death row convicted of homicides less agregrious than Piper's (or, as in my case, people who did not kill anyone at all). Piper's case simply illustrates the arbitrary nature of the death penalty in America. Whether a convicted murderer receives a death sentence in this country is really a matter of chance, a function of geography and/or who the local state attorney is, rather than the circumstances of the crime. At every major prison in America there are prisoners walking around in open population who have comitted crimes (murders) much more horrendous than those committed by some of the guys on the row. I know a guy down in Florida who cold-bloodedly murdered five innocent people, yet he's not on the row. I know a guy here in Virginia who murdered six people and he's walking aound in open population. When you're intimately involved in the system, as I've been for so many years, you quickly grasp the incongruities and you see how arbitrary and capricious the imposition of death sentences are. Anyone who thinks that "Justice is being done" is fooling himself. You can call it a lot of things but "Justice" isn't part of the equation.... It's past midnight and Nightline just went off, so I'm gonna wrap this up and mail it off so I can hit the hay. Keep your chin up, Sis, and keep smiling.
Love and Peace,
Bill

3 comments:

Suzy said...

Get over it .... and quit whining!


... so what if you think that
Piper Roundtree got a better deal
than you.

Anonymous said...

How can you be so insensitive, Suzy? We don't even know Bill's situation. I hope you find yourself in Bill's position someday, Suzy, and then you will realize what this man is writing about. It's clear to me that you have no capacity to understand the degree of injustices which exist in our so called "justice" system. So many innocent people are sitting on death row. Thank goodness the governor of Illinois had the sense to declare a moratorium on all executions due to the fact that so many men on death row were proven to be innocent. Please, have some compassion, you may very well be accused of a crime you didn't commit and be sentenced to death or life in prison.

Anonymous said...

Despite the fact that in America everyone is supposed to be treated equal...it's not true.
As long every state sets their own "laws" there is no treating equal.
People get "screwed" left and right just because of the State they reside in.
Regardless of commiting a serious crime or just Child support issues.