Wednesday, July 30, 2008

July 24, 2008

Dear Sis~
Emmett was executed an hour ago. The TV News Reporter apparently didn't think that was very newsworthy as it was about the 7th story reported, after the traffic, weather report, and story about feral cats, etc...
Anyway, Sis, I'm bummed out right now and not really in a letter-writing mood. This is the fourth execution here in 8 weeks and I'm just tired of being a part of so much death. I have not added it up, but off the top of my head I estimate that I've seen then take away and execute about 40 guys since I've been here in Viorgina. I do remember they killed 14 guys in my first 12 months here, when they were really on a tear. I promise my next letter will be more upbeat!
Light & Love.

Friday, July 18, 2008

July 16, 2008

Dear Sis~

Today I spoke on the phone with my attorney (as you know, he's in Milwaukee) who patched me in for a 3-way conversation with a well-known Florida attorney who has been very successful over the decades in getting guys off the Row. This lawyer has agreed to come on board as local counsel in my latest litigation. This is the same attorney who advised my attorney last week that my name had just appeared on he "death list" put out by the Commission on Capital Cases (this latest iteration of the list has 19 names on it, including mine. The version before that had 28 names; don't ask me how it went from 28 to 19; I can only speculate that the missing names represent guys who somehow got back into court). Anyway, as I told you before, this isn't the "official" list; that is created by and kept by the Attorney General. To emphasize this, today I was told that Governor Crist signed another death warrant last week (I believe it was for Richard Henyard) and this git was not on the list. The Florida lawyer told me that the signing of Henyard's warrant surprised everyone because he was not on the list and he's only been on the Row since 1994. There are many death-warrant eligible guys who have been on the Row a lot longer, like Gary Alvord (34 years, the longest in Florida) or Douglas Meeks, or others who have been there for 20-30 years. On the other hand, Henyard was convicted of multiple murders of a most heinous nature, which is in keeping with Governor Crist's announced criteria for signing warrants (the most heinous crimes, guys who have been on the Row the longest). The execution date is set for sometime in September. Anyway, this highlights the arbitrary nature of these signings; there's just no way to figure out whose warrant will be signed. All I can hope is that since I didn't kill anyone, I'm not high on the governor's list, and that my just-filed litigation gets me off the list, or at least until that litigation is terminated one way or another...
Sometimes I wonder how (or if) signing death warrants affects a governor; obviously everyone is different, some probably relish it, or others just bear it as a constitutional duty. And while it's easy for a governor to deflect personal responsibility, telling himself or herself that the person was convicted by a jury and sentenced to death by a judge, and therefore the governor isn't really killing the person, that's just really a matter of semantics. You are alive until the governor make a conscious and deliberate decision to have you put to death and that's a simple, unalterable fact. In his/her heart the governor knows he's putting a person to death. That can take an emotional toll on a person, depending upon the governor's mental/emotional/spiritual makeup. You'd like to think your governor would take his role seriously. I recall how, years ago, the long-time warden of the state prison in Mississippi quit his job because he just couldn't take participating in the gas chamber executions anymore. (Contrary to what most people think, the gas chamber was a violent, agonizing form of execution, nothing clinical or easy about it). He went on to become a vocal opponent of capital punishment. So, you never know).
Alright, Sis, that's it for now.
Love, Bill

Saturday, July 12, 2008

July 9, 2008

Dear Sis~
Last week the guards came in, chained up Kent Jackson (aka Memphis) and transported him to Greensville for his July 10th execution. For the past 8 weeks, Virginia has scheduled an execution every two weeks; Emmett is scheduled to die two weeks from tomorrow's execution. I confess to being more than a little despondent over being in the middle of so much killing. The State (and society) can employ all the legal euphemisms they want, but it's killing, pure and simple, and exceedingly premeditated...
I spoke to my lawyer today and learned that my name is now on the "death list" put out by Florida's Commission on Capitol Cases. This is a list of "death warrant eligible" prisoners, which are prisoners who have exhausted all their legal remedies and have no pending litigations in any court(s), thus making them eligible to have their death warrant signed by the governor. In Florida, the governor has full and unbridled discretion over whose death warrant to sign, and when to sign it. There are about 25 names on that death list (last time I checked) and a lot of them have been on the Row for a lot longer than me, and there are a lot of guys whose crimes were heinous by any definition. The fact that I did not kill the victim in my case (which the State now belatedly concedes) nor intended for him to die may or may not be significant to Governor Crist when he goes about deciding whose warrant to sign. Again, the governor can do what he wants. Recently, Governor Crist made public statements to the effect that in signing death warrants he will focus on those who have been on the Row for the longest and those convicted of the most heinous crimes. Left unanswered is the rate at which Governor Crist intends to sign warrants. He can sign 2-4 per year (like Jeb Bush used to) or he can sign 20 or more. It's totally up to him and what's in his heart. Now, by the time you read this, my lawyers will have filed, in Federal court, my final litigation (it's complicated, so I won't try to explain it here), which we've been planning for several months. I don't know if that will affect my status on "the list" (I suspect not) but we'll see. At any rate, I've been preparing for this for a long time and I'm taking it in stride...
Give the doggies a big hug for me!
Light & Love, Bill