Friday, January 13, 2006

January 7, 2006

Hey Sis~

I'm sitting here on my bunk watching my new little 5" TV; it's a real cheap, toy-like model, but it's the only one sold in the canteen so I've gotta go with what I've got. My old 5" Phillips Magnavox lasted 6 years before it finally gave up the ghost. It was an old, cathode-ray tube type TV, but the picture quality was excellent, much better than the new flimsy flat screen I've got now.

Anyway, I'm watching the Discovery Channel, which is showing The Blue Planet series (on the world's oceans), narrated by David Attenborough. It's a great series, very educational and guaranteed to fill a viewer with awe at the majesty of this planet and the elegant workings of Mother Nature. I've always had a deep fascination for the oceans and all of its creatures; as a teenager one of my career ambitions was to be a marine biologist. Of course, since we lived in Miami that wasn't very surprising, especially considering how much time you and I spent swimming in the ocean and playing on the beaches as kids. Actually, I think it was that early 1960's TV show Flipper (remember how we eagerly watched that program every week?) that first got me thinking about marine biology as a possible career choice. Of course, all that fell by the wayside due to my juvenile delinquency, my lack of vision & self discipline, Hell, my lack of good walking around sense...

Governor Warner, the out-going governor of Virginia here, finally (after 4 years of procrastination) signed an executive order to have the DNA tested in the Gary Coleman case. Coleman was executed here about 12 years ago, for the rape/murder of his sister-in-law. At the time, there were substantial doubts about his guilt, and in the interim, advances in DNA testing technology have created the opportunity for definitive testing of the evidence. The Commonwealth has, for many years, vigorously fought to have all the DNA evidence destroyed; they do not want these tests to proceed. The anti-death penalty people have, in turn, been fighting for years to have the testing done in the hope of establishing Coleman's innocence. The authorities actually succeeded in detroying the DNA evidence in Virginia but, to their chagrin, a sample exists in a private California lab, and that lab refused to send the DNA to the Virginia state crime lab for destruction. For 4 years Gov. Warner has dithered & equivocated about ordering the tests but now, on his way out the door, he's done so. If the tests do exonerate Coleman, Warner will have to answer for why he waited so long, and whether the true killer murdered any more people in the interim. And, of course, such an exoneration would certainly undermine confidence in the administration of the death penalty in Virginia, perhaps even leading to a moratorium (which is why pro-death penalty forces have so fiercely fought against this testing). We'll know in about 6 weeks ...

That's it for now, Sis!

Love & Peace, Bill

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

December 18, 2005

Dear Sis~
It's hard to believe that 2005 is already completing its trajectory and another Christmas is again upon us, even harder to accept that it's my 18th one on the row. My own perspective is animated by the competing tensions of being weary of so many dreary years inhabiting a cage, weighed against the appreciation of just being alive. In the end, life and hope wins out. Speaking of hope, I received my copy of my certiorari petition, which was filed in the US Supreme Court on December 5th. We're raising two (2) issues/questions regarding the constitutionality and propriety of the Florida Supreme Court's last decision in my case. My lawyers have done and excellent job in putting this petition together and if I don't get any relief it won't be for lack of effort by my long-suffering pro bono Milwaukee attorneys. Although my trial and direct appeal lawyers were incompetent bums (my direct appeal attorney, you may recall, was a mentally ill crack addict who, after being convicted of possession of crack cocaine, and being repeatedly committed to the mental hospital, was suspended from practicing law by the Florida Supreme Court. It was during that time that he botched my direct appeal). My post conviction Wisconsin lawyers have been excellent, fighting tooth and nail to save my life. In this respect I've been blessed because so many death row prisoners have no lawyers at all during their final years, or are saddled with inexperienced and/or incompetent attorneys. Anyway, I should know something by February or March, as to whether or not the supreme Court will agree to review my case.

Well, the quarterly lockdown officially ends tomorrow morning. On Friday, the flying goon squad rolled into our cellblock and tore up all of our cells. Some shakedowns are worse than others, depending upon the particular guards who happen to be in your cell. On Friday I had a bad crew; they dumped all of my property out on the floor in big heaps, pawing through it all, confiscating everything they could get away with taking. But that's just one of the realities of prison life. You learn to bear it and move on. At least here in Virginia, in this particular joint anyway, the guards are reasonably professional and they aren't mean spirited or cruel. At Florida State Prison it's a different story. There, the guards are positively gleeful as they throw your property onto he floor, stomping all over it, deliberately breaking stuff, ripping up photos or legal property, stealing your valuables. They act like their entire purpose in life is to be as sadistic as possible. The difference between here and there is like day and night. Anyway, tomorrow I can once again get out into the "yard" (i.e., fenced-in dog runs) to pace for a couple of hours, and feed the birds (after two weeks of no bread they're probably pretty damn hungry. It's been very cold, and wet, which makes their foraging difficult). I've got a stack of stale bread for the sparrows and two hotdogs for the crows (they love those hot dogs!).

That's it for now, Sis. Enjoy the holidays and give the doggies a hug for me.

Love & Peace,