Monday, April 24, 2006

April 16, 2006 Easter Sunday

Dear Sis~
Here it is, Easter Sunday, and we've got 2 executions coming up. One guy, Vince, is scheduled to be put to death in less than two weeks, on April 27th. The other guy, Bo, does not yet have an official execution date (to my knowledge) but it will be set very soon since his appeal has been denied by the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals (Federal appeals court), and the Commonwealth of Virginia always moves to set your execution date as soon as you lose your appeal in the 4th Circuit. The State doesn't even wait for (or care about) you to file your certiorari petition in the US Supreme Court. Virginia just assumes (and with justifiable confidence) that the Supreme Court is not going to grant anyone any relief. Anyway, I find the dichotomy interesting, in this ostensibly "Christian" nation, Easter Sunday (with all of its spiritual implications) on the one hand, and the State machinery relentlessly & inexorably putting men to death on the other hand. What's wrong with this picture?

Alright, Sis, this will be a short one. Everything is fine here for me (other than the fact that I'm on death row!) and I'm in good health & spirits. Tonight is my "kick back and relax" night, so the lawbooks get put away and I just spend the evening puttering around and goofing off. Tomorrow I'll be back at work!
Love & Peace ... Bill :}

Sunday, April 16, 2006

March 26, 2006

Dear Sis~
Last week the US Supreme Court declined to accept and hear my case. While it wasn't totally unexpected (the Supreme Court rejects over 99% of all petitions filed before it) it was disappointing. I'm not going to sugar coat this development, Sis. This was a substantial blow to me; this was my last really potent legal claim, the last one I could generate any real enthusiasm and confidence about.
Now, I still have two (2) other legal avenues to explore, but to be honest, they are marginal claims (both substantially and procedurally) and I can't get excited about them. This decision by the Supreme Court brings me closer to the day when I'll be executed. While I'm in no danger of being executed real soon, given the current de facto moratorium on death warrants in Florida, I can definitely feel the walls pressing in on me. Now, you know I'm a fighter and I'm not about to throw in the towel, but I'm also a realist. I'll be working hard to pull a legal rabbit out of the hat and perhaps something totally unexpected will occur in the interim - some major new decision by the US or Florida Supreme Court which will open a new door for me. Anything is possible and I'm an optimist by nature. In any event, what will be will be and I can live (or die) with whatever fate holds in store for me. Now, I've gotta get back to work, sis. I've got a big stack of cases to read and analyze as I chart my next legal course.
Love & Peace,

Saturday, April 15, 2006

March 20, 2006

Dear Sis~
Today is the Vernal Equinox, the first day of Spring, and coincidentally, we just went on quarterly lockdown. For the next 2-3 weeks the entire prison will be locked down while the shakedown crew roams from cellblock to cellblock, searching everybody's cell. This exercise in futility occurs every 90 days and is a monumental waste of time that does nothing to improve security. From a prison security perspective, there's nothing more stupid than to announce, ahead of time, that you're going to conduct a shakedown on a certain date(s). About as effective as drying ice with a towel. All it does is give prisoners time to securely stash, or discard, their contraband until the storm blows over. Luckily for this administration, though, this is a very low-key joint. There's nothing really going on here - no killings, no gang activity, no real drug activity - and the only real "contraband" is nickel & dime stuff that wouldn't even constitute contraband in most prisons. I've been in my share of hard core, old school gladiator prisons where everyone is strapped down (carrying a knife) and violence is a daily occurrence, where wine and dope is rampant and contraband means a gun, hacksaw blade, bolt cutters, machete or heroin. Places like that are a slice of the devil's pie. This joint is soft as cotton candy in comparison to say, Florida State Prison, or the Rock (Raiford). But, there's something to be said for living in a joint where you don't have to sleep with a shank under your pillow, and where they're not carrying bloody bodies down to the clinic every day...
Did I tell you that we got a new warden a couple of weeks ago? This warden is a female, and the consistent response, when I ask the guards what she is like, is "she's a real hard ass", or words to that effect (usually the description isn't that polite). Of course, that's from the guards' perspective which does not necessarily correlate to our perspective. The guards might resent her simply because she's making them actually do their jobs (she's demanding that the cellblocks be kept clean and spotless, for example) as well as the fact that she's a female. Corrections is historically a male-dominated industry with a lot of macho (and misogynistic) sensibilities. All I know is that, so far, she hasn't done anything to cause me any grief...
OK, Sis, I'm signing off. Give the doggies a big hug for me!
Love & Peace, Bill