Sunday, July 16, 2006

June 1, 2006

Dear Sis~
This evening they brought John Muhammad, aka "The Washington DC Sniper", back here from Maryland where he was just convicted of six counts of first-degree murder and sentenced to six consecutive life sentences. He's already under a death sentence here in Virginia for one of his other murders. He was eligible for the death penalty in Maryland, under Maryland law, but according to the Maryland prosecutor they declined to seek the capital sentences because the Virginia prosecutors has somehow screwed up some evidence (apparently through mishandling the chain of custody) and thereby made any death sentence vulnerable to legal attack. From a legal perspective, that doesn't make any sense, but that was their story. If you're wondering why Maryland even bothered to prosecute him, given his Virginia death sentence, the Maryland prosecutor said it was for "insurance" in case Mohammad ever beat his death sentence here. Anyway, he's back here in cell #1, which they've set aside for him from the beginning. They won't even let anyone live in cell #2, next to him, nor in the two cells directly above him. They also don't let him go to recreation with the rest of us, (he must go to rec all by himself), and when he showers, a sergeant and two officers have to come in to escort him (in chains) to and from the shower, which is 30 feet away. They act like he's some kind of ultra-high security threat, capable of superhuman feats when, in reality, he's simply notorious. Florida used to do the same thing with guys who had very high profile cases and, in fact, they did it to me when I first went to F.S.P., treating me like Hannibal Lector. But, eventually they tire of the drama and begin treating you like any other prisoner. The truth is prison authorities like that kind of drama, at least for awhile, and they play it up. I guess it breaks the boredom nd makes their pedestrian lives feel important...
June 2nd
They just came in and chained up Percy Walton, aka "Crazy Horse" and took him to Greensville for his June 8th execution. It was a sad spectacle. Percy is genuinely and thoroughly insane, by any definition (legal or medical) and has been for the 6 1/2 years I've known him. He's oblivious to what is about to happen to him. Everyone - us, the State, the guards - knows he's crazy, but they're going to kill him anyway. It was depressing to see the State fight so hard in the courts to execute Percy, despite his mental illness, and the contemptible tactics they employed. You have to wonder about a State, and its society, which is so desperately determined to kill a man who has been so unequivocally insane for most of his life. (A couple of years ago, when Percy was also very close to execution, one of his attorneys confided in me that she was probably going to resign if the State put him to death, because she just couldn't take it anymore. This is a lawyer who has seen many of her clients executed already, but to her, Percy's case represented all that was wrong with the system. She did get Percy a stay of execution, but now the State has prevailed in its efforts to execute him).
As you know, Vince was executed a few weeks ago and we have two more executions scheduled for July. That will make 4 executions in 2 1/2 months, or 20% of our DR population here. I've gotta tell you, Sis, that after all these years, watching so many guys get put to death, it's becoming increasingly depressing to be witness to this spectacle, to be at the point of the spear in society's macabre battle to kill its own citizens...
Alright, I've gotta get back to work (legal work, that is) as I prepare my next battle plan in my own effort to avoid the executioner's sword. Give yourself a big hug for me & know that you are loved!
Love & Peace, Bill

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