Letters from Death Row

I have been writing to M for almost five years. We were "introduced" by a mutual friend, who asked me if I would write to her pen pal, who had been on death row in Florida for almost 20 years, to give him another friend, something to do.

When M and I started communicating, I was not a writer. M had no way of knowing his letters would ever be published: in one early letter, he modestly wrote: “I have not given much thought to my letters, beyond a means to communicate with the outside world...and I never pondered whether such communication would be ‘saved’ for sentimental reasons or deemed a piece of art, to be valued or treasured, as letters of so-called great and famous people, or people of some era of war, which offered a peek into that period, conflict, or mentality.”

I am a good man, but in a bad place and horrible predicament

Florida's "state sanctioned killing machine," as M calls it on more than one occasion, is certainly a conflict worth getting a peek into in 2016. A big change occurred in January, which offers a sliver of hope for M's future. Turns out the sunshine state's way of sentencing people to death, via a judge, was unconstitutional, and that only a jury can decide whether or not to have someone killed for their crimes. The next step will be to figure out whether the judgement can be applied retroactively or not. If so, the turnaround for one of the most murderous states — whose death row inmates make up one in 10 of those nationwide — will be truly remarkable.

In M's case, according to the Tallahassee Democrat, "an unknown number of re-sentencing hearings will be needed. Many on Death Row will probably have their sentences converted to life without parole (the only alternative in first-degree murder cases), if the passage of time and loss of witnesses or evidence makes re-sentencing trials impossible in their cases." The Orlando Sentinel is less optimistic, writing, "The new ruling is likely to do nothing to help at least 150 death row inmates, those who have exhausted their appeals."

Opponents have long criticized Florida's system because it allowed the death penalty in cases in which the jury did not unanimously recommend it. More than 20 percent of death sentences imposed in the U.S. since 2010 have been the product of non-unanimous jury recommendations of death — a practice barred in all states but Florida, Alabama, and Delaware. Florida ranks second in the nation behind California in the number of death row inmates, 

I wondered for a while how best to do justice — no pun intended — to M's amazing, insightful letters, which have taught me so much, but, in the end, I decided to leave them unadulterated, for readers to get as much out of them as I have over the years. 

M gave me permission to publish his musings on death row life. I use ellipses in parentheses to mark redaction of personal content. I also have taken the liberty of including a few of M's most insightful and timely comments on the United States, politics and race. The following are exact quotes from his letters, with spelling corrected, but his grammar and punctuation left in. 

My letters are so 'rambling' at times, I do not think they make the grade for consideration, via some sort of archive, to be reviewed later, but I can admit that one could certainly glean my personality clearly, after reading my letters, as I candidly offer what I'm thinking


I do not know where to begin, via this introduction, which is awkward for whatever reason

"I am a 'music fiend' (…) In hindsight I deduce that music has helped me maintain my sanity all of these years, as such offered an outlet to distance myself from my environment, which is harsh, dark and disheartening, via the stressors one must contend with daily (I’ve had to deal with living near/around insane people, whose antics drove me mad). Music has comforted me, motivated me, entertained me and generally fills me with ‘hope,’ as such is my therapy for survival."

“I am a good man, but in a bad place and horrible predicament”

“I am in prison, but prison is not in me. I have fought hard to maintain who I am, rather than succumb to this place / subculture mentally.”

Americans should never condemn other countries, via human rights ... as it’s far worse in the USA

“Upon opening your letter, I noticed a ‘note’ from the prison mail room, which asked me to inform you that you are not to place stickers on any mail to me. This was actually a ‘nice’ warning, as they would normally return your letter to you, accompanied by a rejection notice indicating why they rejected/returned your letter (…) I know you meant no harm, however the cynical staff believes drugs are concealed underneath or embedded in stickers, so they forbid them. They are so overzealous they even pry open the edges of postcards, believing that someone might insert ‘contraband’ between the paper!”

“It’s a rather cool morning here in our heatless living quarter, so my hands are freezing"

"I slept horribly last night, due to conversations of the staff, as they ventured in every half hour conversing as if they were outside, oblivious to our desire to sleep. That’s just a tidbit of my existence.”

“Prison life is similar to life at sea, except the building doesn’t move and one remains in the same place constantly. There is constant noise on both, however...this place is filthy in comparison, comprised of ‘thugs’ in charge, who are not professional, the food is atrocious and in short, limited — just enough to keep you alive! Rules are made, changed, broken daily via the staff yet they expect us to know and conform. A truly dark, disheartening, torturous existence. I could never have imagined this sort of place until I was sent to one. Americans should never condemn other countries, via human rights, as their penal institutions overshadow what events transpired at ‘Abu Ghraib’ in Iraq, as it’s far worse in the USA...and the government is aware of such, yet do nothing to change it."

"At the moment, things have gotten so bad they sell ‘toilet paper’ as they cannot provide enough for everyone — limiting one to one roll a cycle of 110 days, which usually run out, as living in a cage 24/7, one uses such for its intended purpose, as well as napkin, dead spider cleaner, as well as to clean up a little mess (...) They recently began ‘food parcels’ whereby one's family or friends can purchase items from a prison approved company, which will send the food parcel to us, as the prison is not feeding us enough, so this is their remedy, as budget cuts have caused the to feed us less, with no concern for our nutritional health (this is the America of the 21st century!) They created means for family and friends to purchase clothing for us, as they do not provide adequate clothing. I’ve been here since 1994 — I’ve been on a floor with heat three winters...and they do not give us thermal underclothing to keep warm — we have to purchase it from them. The uniform we wear — ‘short sleeved’...and they jacket they give us is flimsy so they sell sweatshirts. On the technological front, they’re still behind other states. We are not allowed phone calls, nor do we have access to the internet. Until 2005, we still had black and white TV. Now we can purchase TVs from them for $192 for a 13 inch color flat screen. They just began selling MP3 players for $120 for an 8gb unit. This has everyone excited (…) I could never figure out why cassettes and CDs were not allowed, which they covered under the all encompassing title/umbrella of ‘security’ concerns (…) the prison is charging $1.70 for each song, which I’m told is rather much, however, that’s what they do as they are the only ‘monopoly’ in town, so ‘buy it or don’t, someone will’...that’s how they feel about it. I saw guys go from $0.60 for cigarette tobacco to $5 for the same amount in a few years, yet they bough it, while the complained.”

“I’ve gained wisdom, despite my environment, which hinders many, as they succumb to the mentalities of this sub-culture and perpetuate the negativities of such because they believe they should because of where they are. I reject that notion, as that sort of ignorance and barbarity does not project of illustrate the sort of man I am.”

“I do not possess a criminal mentality, nor do I embrace such despite where I am, which leads to perceptions of me being ‘odd’ or even ‘suspicious,’ that’s the world I reside in.”


I was thankful to see another Christmas day

“Christmas is always rather quiet around here until the sports programs fill the TV. As for me, I awoke in a jovial mood, as I was thankful to see another Christmas day. It’s important for me to acknowledge and embrace the ‘little things’ I have and can do, rather than allow myself to focus too much attention on that I cannot change and do not have, otherwise I would succumb to depression or even embrace the darkness of anger, which would be very much unlike me, as I am difficult to anger and prefer to keep things in harmony. Thanks to someone on my floor, I had a few ‘Christmas burritos’ to treat my palate, which filled the void the Christmas meal provided by the prison did not, although it was surprisingly tasty — just not enough to fill an adult man of my size. The burritos were made using ingredients sold in the prison canteen and this guy stacked them thick and heavy, which were laden with at least 3,000-4,000 calories each...and I consumed four, which were very filling (I ate one the next day for breakfast). It’s treats like that, or food in general, which can make for an excellent day or in turn, make for a horrible day, as mood are often affected by what one eats or does not eat. The food circumstance is dire, as the prison feeds us small portions of low quality foodstuffs — no real meat of any type, only processed vegetable/soy based products, accompanied by a highly starchy diet (…) there’s not enough nutritional benefits of this diet for an active man...and I’ve found myself losing weight I do not need to lose...and I’m too thin...”

I constantly remind myself that the best and brightest from society do not seek employment with this organization

“I’d intended to respond to your letter yesterday afternoon, however...I had my exercise time, yesterday morning...and was a bit exhausted after 3 hours of basketball, in the Florida humidity, followed by the chore of scrubbing my stinky, dirty clothes clean, after bathing. I just wanted to eat something to give me some energy, while I tried to hydrate myself (…) I was also mentally exhausted, so I simply sat down and watched my clothes dry, via my fan. (That may sound a bit odd, however, we are not allowed to hang clothes up to dry, so I had to continuously take them down and put them up, when the staff/’pigs’ came on the floor. I call such ‘up and downing,’ which I did until my clothes were dry.)”

“They bring our mail late now, most times having to wake us ‘early sleepers,’ who go to bed at 2200. Your letter was mistakenly given to another, two cages away and he gave it to me, as the idiot who distributed the mail errs each night he touches the mail, yet has the audacity to become indignant at us, when we have to yell for him to return to pick up the mail he negligently/wrongly delivered to the wrong person. I constantly remind myself that the best and brightest from society do not seek employment with this organisation, for which they have extremely low standards, in every imaginable manner — it’s truly revolting to witness and endure!”

My captivity does not embody who I am

“I am a fallible man, but I make an effort to maintain a high degree of self respect and dignity. despite the atrocious circumstances I am forced to endure, as I refuse to succumb to this barbarity and dysfunction. I am stubborn and I do not feel obliged to subscribe to trends and pressures around me, to fit in or be accepted, otherwise I’d be a masturbating degenerate who ‘guns’ the female staff. That is one ‘sickness’ that I have failed to understand, but it’s prominent, within this environment (…) I try to keep my mind off that and focus more on trying to be as healthy as I can and grow, via enriching my mind with knowledge and understanding, rather than torture myself with fantasy and that which is out of my grasp.”

“Do know that my captivity does not embody who I am and only reduces my ability to some information.”

One only needs to strip one's skin to flesh and bone, for which we’ll see that we’re really the same indeed

“When I look in the mirror or think of my identity, I am simply black or African-American, as that’s what I see, as will most people. Being looked upon as an inferior race/people within this country, be it subtle or blatant, does affect people, sometimes outwardly and sometimes unconsciously, however...in most case, such usually comes from within one’s community, via ethnicity, as self-hatred, ridicule, jealousy, condemnation, etc…I often find these ‘labels’ we impose upon others the source of the problems we have, as one only needs to strip one’s skin to flesh and bone, for which we’ll see that we’re really the same indeed, so why the labels, but I do know the nefarious reasoning for continuing the labels, as it’s even profitable. (Bottom line, race/color means little to me, via people I encounter, as one’s character is the only means that affects if I wish to interact or not.)”

“The lack of respect for people in general is rampant here... (the USA) and dignity and self respect is waning throughout our society. I see it and hear it often and such saddens me, but explains a lot about our society and culture, which celebrates scandal and ridicules those who adhere to a moral discipline.


The 'Christmas spirit' I am familiar with, does not exist here — one must create it for oneself

“Christmas, here, is a rather uneventful day, besides a different meal and sports on TV. The general mood for most is rather somber throughout the day, until they get worked up watching the sports, however...the ‘Christmas spirit’ I am familiar with, does not exist here — one must create it for oneself (…) I awoke cheerful on Christmas day, as I was simply excited to be alive and healthy and sane, to see another Christmas, rather than concentrate on being in a cage, yet another year and alone.”

“My buddy and I chipped in and purchased the means to make ‘burritos,’ (…) We aren’t allowed the equipment to cook/heat anything, besides ‘hot water’ from the tap, so one must be creative and utilize ingenuity, in order to cook/heat food, which could land one on disciplinary confinement or blow fuses, the latter resulting in a power outage for half the floor, which could lead to others having malice for you (…) nevertheless, I did everything correct and had the wing enveloped in aromatic ecstasy, which is a real delight and change, as it normally stinks, due to poor hygiene of some. The burritos turned out well, very filling and full of much needed calories (…) I was quite content to have a full belly — one of a few things that elevates my spirits around here.”

Although I am limited here, I appreciate the beauty of the world, as I am not incarcerated in my mind, so I continue to live

“I received the ‘packet’ you sent me several days ago. As you may have presumed, the ‘origami letter’ did not reach me in tact. The mailroom, in its zeal to prevent contraband from entering the hands of nefarious minds, painstakingly unfolded each origami creation, to ensure that no incoming item, possibly hidden beneath the folds of art, made its way to me! (…) (If such zeal and initiative was directed (…) on the overall cleanliness of this place, the quality of the food, medical and dental services, and any professional aspect of their job, which falls short, which affects my quality of life! I am amazed by the amount of time wasted on trivial things!)”

“I wonder why we have such a desire to remain ‘distinct’ in identity, rather than embrace universally — that we are part of the ‘human race,’ rather than the plethora of sub groups, based upon skin color, region, geography, ethnicity, creed, religion, etc...I think ‘race’ identification is a means perpetuated to keep us divided. All one has to do is examine the culture and mentality of the USA to make that determination, whereas politics, truly polarize our country and feeds, breeds and deceives, utilizing divisiveness and deep-rooted racial discrimination, hatred and ignorance of our history, for which race was the determining factor, as to how one would live one’s life in America...and the darker one’s skin...the more limited one was.”

“As per visiting...unlike a lot of prisons across the country and movies...we have full ‘contact visitation,’ whereas we sit in a large cafeteria-type room, to visit. They have machines and a service window, whereas food can be purchased...and we sit at a table and interact. This is the safest place here, as it’s a neutral place — all ‘beefs’ end when in the visitation park and no one has ever violated that ‘unwritten rule.’ They do have an area whereas one sits behind a glass partition and communicate, basically yelling through an opening...but such is reserved for those ‘on restriction’ or if the visiting area is full, they use such for overflow. It’s a horrible way to receive a visit.”

This is not my house, nor a home of any kind, hence how I identify it as a 'cage,' as that’s what it is...and it is not mine

“I find myself up early this morning, hoping to venture outside, for a bit of a stretch, and much needed exercise, as I did not go outside last week, as rain was expected (...) the ruination of my already worn athletic shoes, which are literally held together by ‘dental floss’ I managed to procure (They stopped selling dental floss over a decade ago).”

“My comrades are asleep, therefore it’s extremely quiet. They stayed up late conversing and singing, until after midnight, which delayed my sleep. Sometimes I have to bite my tongue, to keep from demanding a bit of consideration and cordiality, however...to do so would trigger animosity, as well as inviting some institutionalized comments, for which I would have to offend the fragile egos of some, who think that it’s OK to disregard everyone, as ‘one does whatever one wishes, when in one’s assigned cage’/’house’ — the latter an absurdity and insulting mentality I refuse to embrace, as this is not my house, nor a home of any kind, hence how I identify it as a ‘cage,’ as that’s what it is...and it is not mine.”

“Most of the guys here have a hard time speaking ‘American English.’ (…) (Florida education system is horrible throughout the state! You should hear some people read! They basically call out words, rather than read them in a fluid manner.) I have been ridiculed for ‘speaking proper’ as if I am supposed to purposely communicated ineffectively to ‘fit in’ I suppose?!! (…) Sometimes I am told not to utilize ‘twenty-dollar words,’ which I find funny and a bit sad at times, as I am far from being an intellectual (…) I would like to help kid as I have discovered that most of the guys here had horrible childhoods, devoid of positive role models, nor someone who cared enough to steer them in a positive direction, but more importantly, they were so ignorant to that outside of their communities, for which they did not have enough diversity in their lives, therefore they were ‘stunted’ socially and attached themselves to what stereotypical (usually) mentality or circumstance before them within their communities. To hear a thirty-something man indicated that he’d never eaten cauliflower, no ever heard of it is ad. To hear a forty-something man not know the difference between Japanese and Chinese food, really had me taken aback, as he’d never been to a restaurant. To hear a sixty year old speak of all cultures from a broad stereotypical aspect, makes one want to scream, ‘where are you people from and why don’t you know this basic stuff!’”

Believe it or not, there's not a lot of violence on death row

“I heard that stabbing with pens recently led to regular pens not being sold here — only ‘security pens,’ which I hate, having large hands. It’s a four inch cartridge with a flexible, transparent sleeve around it, which cost 81 cents, compared to the regular pen, which cost 15 cents — the latter lasting for about a month or so, the security pen, if lucky, two or three letters, before it runs out of ink or dries up! (Believe it or not, but there’s not a lot of violence on death row. There might be a fist fight, here or there, when it gets hot, but I only know of two instances, when someone was ‘cut’ with a razor blade...and that was at least 8 to 10 years ago.) I have known guys to throw water at one another, usually neighbors who do not get along, but i have not heard of anyone getting burned. Perhaps water in one’s TV, causing it to short circuit...and on a rare occasion, urine or feces, however...that deed can cause the entire floor to despise you, via the smell, so it is rare to do such, in this building, however...in other buildings at this prison, it’s a regular event, targeting the staff.”

It's worse for those who work, for free...and forced to endure verbal and physical abuse, in unsafe conditions, as it they were slaves ... Many despise us on death row, because we do not work

“I awoke at 0555, wondering if I’d missed breakfast, as I woke so late. It was deadly quiet around me, except for the whirring of the many fans, in each individual cage. I sat here for a moment, wondering to myself, how I could have slept through the morning meal (…) I chose to bathe, hoping that breakfast was running very late. Well...they finally appeared at 0620, an hour late, which I presumed upset a lot of ‘Muslims,’ who are on Ramadan fast, as the sun was rising, so they could not eat (…) this is how the morning began for me on my birthday — confused and hesitant to inquire whether I’d overslept, however...my immediate concern was my old neighbor, as I give him the eggs and biscuits from my Sunday morning breakfast...and I was concerned about whether I would leave him in a rut, due to me having overslept (…) Personally, I experience holidays and birthdays ‘differently’ now, due to my appreciation of such is also different. (...) I celebrate with appreciation (...) and I enjoy getting older. I awake in a good mood...and all i wish to do is have a quiet, peaceful day, isolation myself with my music, if I have to, throwing in a treat or two, which also boosts my morale. That's how simple and meaningful a birthday or holiday, such as Christmas, means to me or affects me.”

“I appreciate you wanting to send me something for my birthday. You gave me a ‘choice,’ for which I prefer funds, as I could use some things, like shorts, socks and underwear, at the moment (...) Some people presume that prisons provide everything for us, but in reality, they do not. They feed us atrocious food, provide extremely poor medical care, and clothe us with used clothing, as well as a towel of such low quality, if I hold it up, in front of my face, I can see clearly through it, as well as they face cloth It’ really bad here...and it’s worse for the ‘slaves’ — those who work, for free...and forced to endure verbal and physical abuse, in unsafe conditions, as it they were slaves. If they refuse to work, they’re locked in a cage and all privileges suspended, however, they have power, yet they do not band together to exercise sch. I all stopped working, the prison could not function, yet they do not, as many are scared, too focused on homosexual affairs, hustling, criminal activity, crazy, and/or institutionalized, to regain power, to make life better for all, so they remain weak, forced into slavery for the duration of their time, under hardship! (Many despise us on death row, because we do not work and because we will band together for a worthwhile cause.)”

Do not presume that this cell/cage is my whole life, as I continue to think and grow, beyond this cage

“Why do you presume that you describing your freedoms should upset me?!! Believe it or not, I rather enjoy such, except if you mention food, which I miss greatly. I live vicariously through you, via your tales of adventure. Do know that I have not been here all of my life and I have lived a lot, Georgia. Also, do not presume that this cell/cage is my whole life, as I continue to think and grow, beyond this cage...and I do I try to remain abreast of many things that interest me. Unfortunately, a lot of my resources seem to get ‘confiscated,’ for trivial reasons, regarding magazines, especially ‘Rolling Stone’ magazine, ‘Wired,’ and recently ‘Popular Science.’ I actually have a travel book by ‘Lonely Planet,’ along with reference books, which offer lots of information, via other countries, history, music, art, science, etc...which has helped me greatly, though I wish I had access to a computer or the like (…) so do not feel reluctant to tell me things, as I am interested and you fuel my imagination, except with food — that’s torture! (…) although I am limited here, I appreciate the beauty of the world, as I am not incarcerated in my mind, so I continue to live.”


What can you expect in Florida — they're 20 years behind most states, via their prison... they go out of their way to be petty and small minded and cruel. I guess they’re still waiting for the south to rise again!

“They drastically changed the (Religious Dietary Program) to force us off it, due to the cost...and 75% of the individuals on it quit, as the current menu is horrible! The prison is in trouble and will go to trial in August, concerning RDP, as they violated Federal guidelines, regarding religious meals, as well as interfering with one’s ‘individual religious practice,’ via barring us from purchasing ‘non Kosher’ items from the canteen, which would result in a *punitive response* — kicked off the RDP! So, in retaliation for being in trouble...they changed the RDP menu. ‘Beans and raw cabbage’ are now daily, ‘sardines’ 5 times per week...and one piece of fruit a day! It’s really bad and caused a lot of hunger, as most, like me, only eat twice a day now (…) half the cup of beans consist of ‘liquid,’ so it’s obvious what they’re doing! There isn’t any rice, noodles/pasta, or potatoes, so you can imagine how horrible it is for an adult man...and they have zero remorse for such! The staff, here, couldn't’ believe they could be so cold and vindictive, however...what can you expect in Florida — they’re 20 years behind most states, via their prison...and they go out of their way to be petty and small minded and cruel. I guess they’re still waiting for the south ‘to rise again’! I am always amazed how they waste money on stuff they do not need, when they cannot afford to repair plumbing and lights. (I’ve been in the dark for 7 weeks, as they do not have light bulbs!...And I went 14 days, without water in the cage, which just got repaired 2 days ago!)”

“My magazine subscriptions have come to an end. I’ve had so many confiscated...it’s deplorable! I am enclosing a copy of the confiscation for I got last week, regarding my ‘popular science’ magazine, so that you can read for yourself the preposterous thinking of these people who govern my life. Simply absurd!”

“I have been moved to another cage, since we last communicated. Trust me, I had no choice in such actions/decision...and am not/was not pleased with such (…) The former occupant (…) was returned...and they decided to return him to his former housing, despite him being so frail and weak he needs a wheelchair to get around (…) meanwhile...here I am, a perfectly health, vibrant, mobile man, reassigned to a cage which is handicapped equipped! How stupid was this decision!?!! (…) I am now (...) located next to the shower, which doesn't smell very pleasing. The cage is a little wider than normal ones and the sink is separate from the toilet, but sit too close to the bunk, so each time I bathe or wash clothes I have to cover the mattress or fold it back to keep it dry. The toilet sits in the corner and is raised higher, to accommodate a wheelchair-bound person, however...the hand rail not only exists on the wall, but behind the toilet seat, protruding so far into one’s back, the possibility of sitting upright is only a pipe dream! A lowered mirror is located between the toilet and sink, which is to give the lowered individual an opportunity to view himself, however...for the upright, healthy, mobile person, it creates an awkward situation of self voyeurism whenever one relieves oneself!...And finally...as I sit here to write, at the foot of the bunk, utilizing the desktop...the camera in the hallway can see me sitting here, or whenever I come close to the bars, which I hate. The only positive thing about this cage...the sink is larger making it easier to wash my bed linen (…) They told me I can return to the last location after the guy dies, which was a bit macabre.”

“The staff are like ‘predators’...they seek out the weak to harass more often than not, as well as the mentally ill. Remember, 99% of the people who work here are overweight, 50% obese and probably 30% of them have severe health issues, like diabetes and hypertension and heart issues. I always say, on average, one of them have 30 to 45 seconds of fight, if they had to deal with one of us who are physically active, unencumbered, via restraints, which is why they restrain our arms and legs when they jump on us/assault en masse/numbers of 2 or more.”

It's easy to kill or lock away a 'monster,’ rather than to see the soul of a human being ... The media and politicians have done a wonderful job of deluding the population

“I thank you for your kind words about me and for seeing me, via our correspondence, for the person for which I am, rather than for my circumstances, as such (the latter) is not who I am. I am very much a good person, in a horrible circumstance...and I’ve always been a decent, kind person, who would assist anyone I encountered, if they needed help — that’s just my nature, as well as how I was raised. Within this subculture, though, I am a rarity, as many fit the stereotype, though I do not think myself better than they, but instead, simply ‘different’...and I try to understand them, to broaden my understanding of those unlike myself, mentally. Incarceration creates monsters, due to the mentality of the subculture, which has its ‘unwritten rules,’ that many subscribe to blindly and carelessly, which I personally reject, as I live by the same ‘code’ I have always embraced and had instilled in me, before my demise (…) I do not subscribe to institutionalized thought, nor its culture, which is extremely demanding and dysfunctional, which most presume all within the walls must embrace, even if unconscious of such, but I understand that also. It’s easy to kill or lock away a ‘monster,’ rather than to see the soul of a human being with a conscience and feelings like everyone else. The media and politicians have done a wonderful job of deluding the population, within this country, to sell paper and get votes. (Prisons in America are very corrupt, especially in the South, whereas the staff steal, lie, sell contraband, rape, abuse, as well as kill the prisoners...and the public are not outraged by such, until it happens to their loved one...and the prisons cover it up, due to powerful family legacies, within the prison community who work here for generations!)”

“It seems that, as the rich get richer, on the backs of the poor...the ugly racist sentiment becomes more prominent, socially, as the political climates fuel the flames, via racist rhetoric and hatred for the poor, who are viewed as ‘freeloaders’ off the public coffers, but these same people who fan the flames, flaunt family values, religious faith and America first look down upon those less fortunate than themselves...and offer no solution to solve anything! That’s American conservatism!”

“I actually thought about writing my perspective, to give my family a true experience of my existence, from the point of sentencing, processing, and my daily feelings and activities, beyond the little I share, as such can be depressing, or disheartening, at times, more so in the early years, when it was really bad. There are days when it feels hopeless, as well as days when one becomes stressed, simply by seeing staff, who one knows goes out of their way to harass you, via petty stuff and outright evil intent, which they display or vocalize. (I heard one brag yesterday about how he can do whatever...and how he knows people, who will protect him, via his ill doings. Many think like that — that’s life here, via rural Florida’s prison belt.)”


There are many factors, which can cause people to do things...and unless one is there and have walked in their shoes, it's difficult to understand their circumstances

“I am well. I am extremely thankful to be alive, sane, and in excellent health, as I have seen so many of my comrades perish, via the ‘state-sanctioned killing machine,’ as well as succumbed to illness and disease — the latter affecting the ‘old timers’ I encountered, when I arrived here, two decades ago. The aforementioned has preoccupied my mind for the last several years...and as they take the life of those I knew well, for years...the reality of such becomes clearer, via my personal journey, as my appeal has been exhausted, therefore...I sometimes find myself in a ‘funk,’ whereas I get sad, via the evil of mankind and the hypocrisy of so many who run the country, create laws, and lead the religious orders throughout the country, as an ‘animal’ has more rights than I and more ‘sympathy’ and attention is given to a dog or a cat, compared to a human life in America, via mercy. They convince people that they are killing us in a humane manner, via ‘lethal injection,’ whereas they paralyze (medically) force one to unconsciousness, then kill the vital organs, via poison, which is torture, yet no one can see such, as one is unconscious and paralyzed, unable to tell what one is experiencing, yet they call such ‘humane,’ rather than tell the truth — they want us to suffer, which is why they keep switching drugs and keep such a secret! Truth be told, if they wanted to truly be humane, a lethal dose of morphine would be as humane as they can get, which is why they do not utilize such. My heart just aches, each time someone I know perishes, via this method. I am not one of the ‘macabre’, who track the date of each death, no discusses the ‘condemned’ case , as I am not interested in that...and I deal with everyone, via how they are with me, via interaction, rather than what they were convicted of doing, as there are many factors, which can cause people to do things...and unless one is there and have walked in their shoes, it’s difficult to understand their circumstances. I have seen people change and grow! I have seen people become barbaric animals without remorse and sympathy — filled with hate and evil...and I have seen people lose their grash of sanity and reality, as they could not deal with their past actions or current reality.”

“In October, a ‘virus’ infected my MP3 player, which (…) had me without music, until last month, when they finally restored all my music. Can you imagine what torture it was, to sit here, day in, day out, without my music to calm my head/heart/soul?!! I could not shield myself from the loud conversations, irritating personal noises, nor find the peace to calm my head before I ventured off to sleep, nor tranquility to awaken to! There’s nothing more disgusting than trying to eat one’s breakfast at 0515, than having someone start to urinate, pass gas, and hack phlegm, while one tries to heat. I used to simply flush my toilet a few times, to drown out the noises as I ate my breakfast, or simply put the food away for later, as I could not eat and enjoy such, via morning rudeness. Yet many do not have the self respect to, at the very least, flush the toilet, as one does that thing, as the toilets are very loud and will drown out most sounds, as it does voices, until my fan died three weeks ago, I turned it on to its highest speed to drown out voices and sounds, so that I could sleep/eat in peace.”

“I have witnessed a lot of progress and technological changes, however...mankind, as to how we treat one another, has declined in the time I have been alive, via protest, rioting, and civil unrest, due to second class citizenship, racial bias, divisiveness of the country, hate, police brutality, and war abroad! All of such existed when I was born, during the civil rights movement.”

I have no qualms about you publishing the truth about the dark side of America's human warehousing or the state-sanctioned killing machine

“I have no qualms about you publishing the truth about the dark side of America’s human warehousing or the state-sanctioned killing machine. Of course, the ‘new slavery’ and legal murder can be quite dark and controversial. A lot of people within this country, despite recent revelations caught/documented on camera, still believe in that old mantra ‘tough on crime’ — the platform that most politicians tout to get elected, although they do not discuss the manner in which they utilize to do so, hence the police brutality and deaths (recorded) by corrupt police officers, who lie, kill and beat unarmed citizens, leaving so many traumatized, crippled, emotionally damaged for their rest of life, oftentimes filling them with extreme fear and hatred of police, which is why so many ‘run’ from them.

Sources: teleSUR-New York Times-Tallahassee Democrat-Death Penalty Information Center-Orlando Sentinel

If you feel inspired to write to someone on death row, Human Writes and Lifelines are two of several organizations that organize pen pals for those on death row.

Cherish the life before you, young lady...and appreciate it. Do take care and write when time allows.