Friday, September 23, 2011

Sept 18, 2011

Dear Sis~
   I just confirmed that a friend of mine, Russell Hudson out of Ft. Lauderdale, died last week at the UCI death row unit across the river.  He was found in his cell at breakfast time - after his neighbors heard him gasping for air earlier during the night - dead of a heart attack at age 42.  Before transferring to UCI Russ spent several years here on my floor where I got to know him well - personable, smart and a man of his word - and came to like him.  From all outward appearances Russ was healthy; he was slim and active, seemingly in good shape and not a likely candidate for sudden heart failure.  Another reminder of how fragile and fleeting life is.  An extraordinary number of D/R guys have died of "natural causes" here on Florida's row over the last 15-20 years, well over 30, and the far majority of them have been by cancer.  About 5 have died in just the past year or so, including 2 by heart attack (the others were cancer).  So many of us die by cancer that I've come to suspect that there's something carcinogenic in the water supply here.  Today's my birthday, but considering I've been drinking Florida State Prison water since 1974 (with a few years of breaks here and there) I've gotta be thankful for every B-day I get to celebrate!...
   Here's a few interesting statistics about Prison Nation (a/k/a America):  the median incarceration rate among all nations worldwide is 125 prisoners for every 100,000 people.  In England it's 153; Germany is 89; Japan is just 63.  The United States, meanwhile, incarcerates 743 per 100,000, by far the highest rate in the world.  If you include all US residents currently on probation or parole, our correctional population is 7.2 million, about one in every 31 Americans.  America incarcerates nearly 25% of the world's prisoners, even though we have only 5% of the world's population.  Just pause and consider those numbers, Sis, and ask yourself why this is...
   After several stays of executions Manny is scheduled to die on Wednesday, Sept 28th, at 4pm.  He's exhausted all of his legal issues (that I'm aware of), having been turned down all the way up the judicial ladder, including most recently the US Supreme Court.  It does not look good for Manny.  I have to bite my tongue when talking about Manny - a guy with 33 years on the row and a man who, at 61 years old, has completly turned his life around - because his execution will be as senseless and uncivilized as any I can imagine.  But the system, the death machine, is totally indifferent...
  That's it for now, Sis.  I love you, never forget that!

Monday, September 19, 2011

Manny Valle Stay

Dear Readers:

Manny Valle has gotten a 3rd stay of execution to Sept 28th...

Friday, September 02, 2011

August 27,2011

Dear Sis~
Two days ago a unanimous Florida Supreme Court rejected Manny Valle's challenge to the new lethal injection drug (pentobarbitol) and affirmed his Sept 1st execution date.  So, that's going to happen...
Well, last week you endured the earthquake centered just 40  miles from your house and now you're being pounded by hurricane Irene.  Hopefully, this is your quota of natural disasters for the year...
I just enjoyed a fine PBS program, part of their American Masters series, which is an apt title considering the subject, the great folk singer Pete Seeger (the episode is titled Pete Seeger: The Power of Song). Pete is a beautiful, old soul and the epitomy of an American Master.  The program, despite the meanness of the treatment often accorded Pete, greatly uplifted my spirit and reminded me of the best things of this nation, which is the spirit of the people and not its material wealth or greatness of power.   Hearing again all of those wonderful, powerful ballads washed me in a flood of childhood memories, even though back then in the early 1960's I was too emotionally immature and spiritually ignorant to fathom the true, deeper messages of those songs - peace, love, brotherhood, justice, equality.  Watching this moving, poignant program I felt (again) so disappointed in myself, in my failure as a youngster to be awake to the values expressed by the songs (by the times), my failure to find my better half and follow the path espoused by those songs that I mindlessly sang around the campfire.  While Pete was singing his anti-war songs in the early sixties I was fully indoctrinated by the system, foolishly and eagerly anticipating the day I'd be old enough to join the army, march off to war in Vietnam, kill those godless Commies and return home a John Wayne hero.  What a damn fool I was, shallow and superficial, unable to think for myself.  I was sure drinking the Kool-Aid back then!  Meanwhile, Pete gave his all to the values he believed in.  He spent decades being vilified and blacklisted (unable to work) by the mindless mob, the right-wing elements of the power structure - from the FBI to Congress to the Republican Party - simply because he dared to challenge the pro-war agenda then dominating our culture, because he had the temerity to suggest that peace, love, brotherhood and justice were worthy aspirations for us and our children.  Throughout it all, Pete never stopped loving our country, never doubted the essential goodness of the people.  Pete Seeger has come full circle in the autumn of his life; he's an icon, and deservedly so, exemplifying the true spirit of this nation, everything that is good and right about America.  What a beautiful spirit he is!
Love, Bill