Saturday, May 23, 2009

May 14, 2009

Dear Sis~
There was an execution scheduled for last night which apparently did not occur; my understanding is that the prisoner (Marek) got a temporary stay several days ago, although I have no details. Even though we're at ground zero here, with the death chamber just 100 feet away, rumors are often our only source of information. The local media gives virtually no coverage of these matters (they barely mention when the actual executions occur). If the stay is dissolved, another execution could quickly be scheduled. The other execution is still on for 2 weeks from now, as far as I know... [note from Lisa: just get back from visiting Bill and the second execution was also stayed!!]
Two days ago Governor Crist announced that he will not be seeking another term as governor, but instead, will run for the US Senate next year (Republican Mel Martinez is retiring). Crist, orignally a conservative, has positioned himself as a moderate/populist since becomeing governor and he's fairly popular here. He faces a strong challenge in the primaries from his own fellow Republicans, specifically the conservative wing, who feels is is not sufficiently right-wing. If he survives that, he'll face whoever the Democrats nominate. The Florida Democratic party is rather lame and incompetent; in the fourth most populous state in America, they never seem to be able to mount any credible candidates, which allows Republicans to remain in power, even with their historically even less competent candidates. Still, this year they have an interesting candidate for governor, a woman named Alex Sink, who is currently the State's Chief Financial Officer. She is very intelligent and is politically adept, and she may emerge as a new rising star. Obama carried Florida, so the possibilty exists that we may go for a democratic governor, and I'm all for a woman taking over - the old, rich white men have screwed up this state (and country) enough already. Women are more pragmatic and solutions-oriented which we need more of and less stale ideology. Moreover, as a rule, they are just not into killing people like men are, which is good for someone in my position. That assumes, of course, that I survive long enought to see a new governor sworn in. Still, this political development provides me with a sliver of hope, and on death row, hope is a precious commodity. Without hope, there is nothing.
Love, Bill

Saturday, May 09, 2009

April 30,2009

Dear Sis~
I see the pig fever is back after a 33-year hiatus. Today the news announced that swine flu is now here in Florida; in just one week, it's gone from a localized event in Mexico to damn near a pandemic. I've never seen a disease spread so rapidly ( I hear it only has a 2-day incubation period) and we can be very thankful that this is not a more deadly strain or disease...
Earlier this evening they came to a guy's cell and told him to "go see the chaplain." As any seasoned convict knows, when you get the dreaded "chaplain call out" it means someone in your immediate family has died. This kid (he's about 25 but looks about 17) was too green to understand the ramifications of a night time visit with the chaplain (in reality, at this time of night, it probably just consists of an incoming phone call from a family member and it's overseen by a shift lieutenant) and he was not alarmed or apprehensive. He came back 20 minutes later, crying. I remember well, going through the same thing, at age 18, at Sumter Correctional Institute in 1972, when I was unexpectedly called to the chaplain's office and informed of Dad's death. It happened so fast, and was so unexpected, that I was too stunned to react until I stepped outside where I broke down and cried like a baby. I've seen a lot of guys get that chaplain call out over the years, and it always makes my heart ache...
I can't recall if I already told you that Govenor Crist signed two more death warrants; one guy is scheduled to die in mid-May (the 14th I believe) and the other is set to be executed two weeks later, on the 28th I think. I don;t know either of them although I've been on the row since 1984. I consulted my master list of everyone on the row here and counted 18 guys who have been here for 30 or more years, with Gary Alvord the longest, at 35 years. Four others are at the 34-year mark. The Governor does not go in chronological order though, but follows his own drummer. In Florida, the process is totally arbitrary; the governor can sign (or not sign) anybodies death warrant that he wants to, and assuming they've exhausted all their legal avenues, they'll be executed. He can pick and choose - he can sign one warrant, or ten. It's totally up to his unfettered discretion. I'm not complaining though, not at all, because the process could be much worse, like in Virginia or Texas, where it's an automated system, like a conveyor belt. Here, assuming you don't have a blood-thirsty governor, having the executive office in the middle provides a break to the death machine. Most governors, once they actually assume office (notwithstanding any election rhetoric) don't relish making that actual, definitive decision to kill someone by signing an actual death warrant...
Ok, that's enough of a depressing subject. Give the doggies a tummy rub for me!
Love, Bill