Sunday, February 10, 2008

February 5, 2008

Dear Sis~
The Chinese New Year is upon us; this is either the year of the Pig or the year of the Rat, I forget which, though I don't see either one as being particularly auspicious ...
As you can see from the enclosed confirmation letter, one of my short stories, Fake Identity, will be published in a book-length anthology of short stories, all written by prisoners from around the country. The book will be titled: Exiled Voices: Portals of Discovery, and will be published this Spring by the New England College Press, up in New Hampshire. My only remuneration is a couple of copies of the book, which I've asked to be sent to you, but I didn't write this for money anyway. There are some really, really excellent writers being included in this book (I'm familiar with the work of several of them) and hopefully, this book will open some eyes and educate the public to the fact that not all convicts (even most convicts) are mindless, violent brutes, notwithstanding the best efforts of the media to stereotype us as such.
There are so few positive stories coming out of the prisons, but this is one of them... There's a guy here on the row named Morrisette, been here about 7 years. Well, about 2 years ago the Court vacated his death sentence and ordered that a new penalty phase be conducted. Since then, his case has been in slow motion, with the State not being in any hurry to put another death sentence on him. So, for about 2 1/2 years, he's been sitting here on the row even though he is not sentenced to death. (he remains convicted, though). He's about 60 years old, very rarely leaves his cell and is pretty comfortable where he's at. Well, a few weeks ago, the warden started making noise about getting him sent to a regular prison (he has another regular sentence to serve besides his vacated death sentence), even bringing him some papers to sign, which he refused to do. He went into a flurry of activity, calling his lawyers daily to get them to stop his imminent transfer. He's almost in a panic and it struck me as more than a little humorous because, while the rest of us are fighting to get off death row, here is Morrisette, battling like Hell to stay on the row. I've never seen anyone scrap so hard to stay here! (See, he knows he'll be sent to a maximum security joint, probably Red Onion or Wallens Ridge, and he'll be held in solitary under harsh conditions, simply because he's ex-death row. (That's the fate of anyone who gets off the row here, although very few ever do get off in Virginia).
We finally went to outside rec today; we've only been going about once every 5 or 6 days since we moved to this building, even though the rules mandate rec five times per week. Anyway, it was beautiful outside, the sky was clear, very blue and sunny, perhaps 70 degrees. I fed my crows (hot dogs) and sparrows (cornbread); they followed me to our new building (they come when I call them). I enjoyed the day very much, and that counts for a lot; as the cliche' goes, I take it one day at a time & savor each moment above the ground.
Love, Bill

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