Saturday, February 18, 2006

Feb 10, 2006

Dear Sis~
The weatherman claims we'll be getting snow tomorrow, so I won't be going to the yard for awhile. We don't get any kind of cold weather clothing here, so when it gets below 40 degrees or so, I stay inside. It's no fun to go out in those pajama-like uniforms (think medical scrubs and you've got the idea) to shiver in the sleet and snow...

Earlier today I was sitting on my bunk thumbing through my latest Architectural Digest when the wing officer came around and told us that we'd all be moving tomorrow. This is the only joint I've ever seen that does this: every 90 days (in reality it's about every 4-5 months) everybody on death row is randomly moved to a new cell. Supposedly there is a "security" justification for this. But I've never been able to discern how moving us around to new cells increases security. Maybe they think we're digging through the walls and they'll move us in mid-tunnel, thus thwarting an escape. Who knows? Anyway, it's a pain in the ass. I've gotta pack up all my stuff (and after 18 years I've got a lot of stuff!)and move into a new cell. Invariably, it will be dirty, sometimes absolutely filthy, so my first task is to scrub it down, washing the floor, and the walls as far as I can reach up (when I move into a cell that was occupied by a smoker the walls are covered in a yellowish grime). I scrub the sink & toilet, and hope that everything works (toilet, lights, electrical outlets). Then I put all my stuff away. It's a major project. The other things is I end up with new neighbors. We've got a couple of certified crazy guys here; they yell & bang & flood out all the time, so needless to say, I don't want to be around them. And I don't want to move into their empty cells, either (nobody does); one of the crazy guys occasionally rubs shit and/or food on his walls and floor and his cell stinks like a sewer. I've refused to move into his cell in the past (everyone refuses to follow after him) and even the guards don't press that issue 'cuz they know how bad he smells. Anyway, that's on my agenda tomorrow...
Recently I got a big packet of letters, all from a classroom of 16-year-old students at a school in Ireland. The instructor read some story about me on the Internet (I have not read the article but I understand it was run in Europe) and he had his students, as a class project, come up with a bunch of questions for me. So, each kid wrote me a short note, telling me his name (they're all male students) and asking me a few questions (e.g., "What is life on death row like?", or "Why did you try to free your friend from the prison van?", etc...). I sat down and answered all of their questions, finding it interesting that their teacher would even propose such a project. I cannot imagine an American teacher suggesting that his class write to someone on death row. These kids are very bright and they have a refreshing and different perspective on things, especially on capital punishment, very different than your typical American response which seems to accept the idea of killing (executing) people without questioning the underlying premise. In contrast, most Europeans are baffled by the concept of the State killing its own citizens. These kids, in particular, cannot understand how I remain sentenced to death even after the State conceded and the courts have held that I did not kill anyone and did not intend for anyone to die. Well, it puzzles me, too!
Okay, sis, it's way past midnight so I'm gonna hit the hay. I'll call you tomorrow if I can get hold of a phone.

Love & Peace,