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Tuesday, June 30, 2009

If I Only Had a Brain…

June 30th 2009

The prospect of writing a real entry tonight feels something on par with Hercules’ twelve labors. My recuperation is going quite well, thank you, but I am still very tired and note feeling terribly creative since I started refusing my pain meds. My reasons for doing so are a little complicated, but the logic can basically be summed up by saying that I would rather face a painful truth, than live with a blissful illusion. In all things. Remember I said that for later. All in all, my body feels pretty good. The eternal pessimist in me is slowly accepting defeat (at least on the medical issue), though he still keeps up a nearly incessant stream of ridiculous tarradiddle, just to make his presence known.

At any rate, though I feel incapable of delving into any specific subject with even a modicum of acumen, I will leave you with a few items you might find of interest. The FIRST is the psych report I promised to post. I originally offered to do this in a fit of self-effacing fervor, thinking that this was positively an action which no self-respecting narcissist would engage in. After I started thinking about it, I realized that there were other people mentioned in the report, both in name and title, and I have no right to put them out there in this fashion. I hope you understand then why I have blacked out names and descriptors which might be used to identify someone. I have always taken care to include only people who have given me permission to mention them, with the exception being public figures. (You might devote a few seconds of thought to that statement, as it will produce some rather interesting conclusions.) I had also originally planned to explain portions of the report, and had compiled a small mountain of data from the DSM-IV and other sources. In the end, I decided to let it stand, as is. I’m tired of defending myself, and it would take away from my attempt at complete openness and vulnerability if I were to hover about making comments. It is what it is, and I never professed to be anything other than broken.

In addition, I am supplying the RESULTS of a handwriting analysis completed by one of the FBI’s most experienced experts in the field. This professional was supplied with two samples of my handwriting, and came up with an absolutely staggering amount of data, most of it pretty accurate. I always believed Heraclitus when he wrote, “The nature of things is in the habit of concealing itself,” but I am afraid H never met anyone from the FBI’s Behavioral Science teams. If you think it odd that I have access to such an expert, I will only say I have some kickass friends.

For those of you with a more intellectual bent, the next three links are for you. FIRST I have provided the results of a recent study of criminologists and their views on the issue of deterrence as it relates to the death penalty. Highly instructive.

In the same vein HERE is a report by the US Department of Justice on conditions in the Harris County (Houston) jails. Gee, it’s funny how it says the exact same thing that inmates have been saying for years …(and been called liars for!).

For the more globally minded, HERE is what the United Nations says about the state of capital punishment in America, as of May 28th, 2009.

Now, most of that is kind of heavy, so I thought I would leave you with something humorous. Behold! The lunatic fringe SPEAKETH! Posted is this lady’s third of fourth letter to me, and each of these wonderful samples possessed all the wit and charm of a fallout shelter, and prove the point that while beauty may only be skin deep, ugly goes all the way to the bone. At least this particular missive doesn’t wax pathetic for six pages, like the last few. It’s kind of cute: on the inside of the envelope flap she has drawn some red pen marks dripping down, which I can only assume is supposed to represent blood. Very… um… normal… and… uh, well-adjusted… and totally not freaking psycho in any way whatsoever. You are a credit to the militant right, madam! Well done! Perhaps I will be dead in a few years, as you so clearly wish, but your tombstone was carved out years ago. For you, I can think of hundreds of fitting epitaphs to stand in lapidary brilliance for all time, but I think I will keep it simple and with W.H. Auden:
“We would rather be ruined than changed. We would rather die in our dread than climb the cross of the moment and let our illusions die.”


I will go ahead and save you the effort of having to enter the scary world of internet searches and provide you with mine, penned by G.K. Chesterton:
“Then when this kindly world all round the mane has been blackened out like a lie; when friends fade into ghosts, and the foundations of the world fail; then when the man, believing in nothing and in no man, is alone in his own nightmare, then the great individualistic motto shall be written over him in avenging irony. The stars will be only dots in the blackness of his brain; his mothers face will be only a sketch from his own insane pencil on the walls of his cell. But over his cell shall be written, with dreadful truth, ‘He believes in himself’”


And since such statements require a little explanation, I will allow this to be undertaken by Dostoyevsky and John of Patmos.
“Whatever you say, a complete atheist still stands on the next-to-the-top rung on the ladder of perfect faith. He may take that last step; and he may not – who knows? But the indifferent, they certainly have no faith, only an ugly fear – and only the most sensitive of them have that.”

(Father Tikhon the monk in Dostoyevsky’s “The Possessed”)

“I know your deeds, that you are neither cold not hot. I wish you were either one or the other! So, because you are lukewarm – neither hot nor cold – I am about to spit you out of my mouth. You say, ‘I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.’ But you do not realize that you are WRETCHED, PITIFUL, POOR BLIND AND NAKED. I counsel you to buy from me gold refined in the fire, so you can become rich; and white clothes to wear, so you can cover your shameful nakedness; and salve to put on your eye, so you can see. THOSE WHOM I LOVE I REBUKE AND DISCIPLINE.”

Rev 3:15-19

One last note: lady, if you are pissed that I forced them to live up to the ethical guidelines decreed by statute and upon which any ethical individual would demand, you are REALLY going to hate what I have in store for the State of Texas in the coming year. Haha! On that note, I’m out.

Night!

© Copyright 2009 by Thomas Bartlett Whitaker.
All rights reserved

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Major Thomas to Ground Control

Wednesday, June 10th 2009

Greetings Earthmen.

This is just a quick message from that lofty region of space that can only be reached by a couple of Tylenol-3’s. I have just returned from two weeks spent at John Sealy Hospital where I (finally) received the fix for the original surgery on my arm. I feel…well, I find it fitting that what doctors do is called a “practice”, because I feel quite “practiced” upon. As far as the damage goes, I am now the proud owner of a brand-spanking new 9-inch scar on my left calf, where they took some bone from my fibula (*Don’t worry, you don’t even need a fibula…” apparently, millions of years of biological evolution got that wrong, at least according to UTMB Docs), and a new scar on my left hip which mirrors the one I already had on my right from the last operation. To the massive river shaped behemoth which snakes its way down from my left shoulder to my elbow, I now have a few tributaries and an alluvial plain, to continue this rather codeine-enhanced metaphor. Nevertheless, a few positives must be noted: firstly, my left arm is still my left arm, and not made of wood, which cannot be over-emphasised as a good thing. Secondly, the power of a pesky prisoner carrying a big lawsuit has triumphed over the UTMB bureaucrats, and I have claimed victory. Huzzah! Too bad, really, because I have no intention of keeping quiet about my methods. Too many hurt people around here for that. More on this to come.

It’s hard to say at this point whether the job was done right this time, as the only signals that are coming from that side of my body generally go something like, “Ok, we surrender, go ahead and cut us off, for the love of God,” but the doctors seem pleased. And since I am feeling as docile as a Burmese Tree Sloth on Xanax, I suppose I must admit I feel pleased, too. Yeah, yeah, I know, codeine isn’t exactly hard-core, but it’s been awhile since I had anything good, so lay off.

At some point they are bound to deliver all of the mail which has been accumulating here at the Villa Polunsky in my absence. I shall endeavor to get back with all of you as soon as I can figure a way to sit up comfortably. Until then, I am out of here.



© Copyright 2009 by Thomas Bartlett Whitaker.
All rights reserved.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Minutes Before Six Contributors

This page lists information about the artists and writers that currently contribute 
regularly to or have made a lasting impression on Minutes Before Six

Steve Bartholomew

“I am a writer, artist and songwriter–I either have too much creative energy or too little focus. I am inching toward a degree for which I am only a couple decades late. My sons are nine and twenty-two. I’m 42 and on the downhill side of a 22-year sentence for attempted murder. I have never been published and am flattered when anyone reads my work, especially those who are not related to me, and therefore not implicitly obligated. If you have read me, I thank you humbly.”

To watch a video clip of a stunningly beautiful reading of an excerpt from Steve’s essay by Katherine Hervey, a multimedia producer, college instructor and restorative justice facilitator for incarcerated populations, click here

Art and Writing by Steve Bartholomew

Steve Bartholomew 978300
WSRU
P.O. Boxx 777
Monroe, WA 98272-0777


Michael Belt

Michael Belt is a simple man, a lover, a fighter and a full time dreamer – with a realistic sense.  He is truthful and loyal to a fault.  To quote Henry Thoreau’s Walden, “In an unjust society, the only place for a just man is in prison." And in his own words, “Never let hope die!”

Writing and Poetry by Michael Belt

Michael Belt KU8088
SCI Houtzdale
P.O. Box 1000
Houtzdale, PA 16698-1000


Jeremiah Bourgeois

Jeremiah Bourgeois has been serving a life without parole sentence since he was 14 years old. On June 25 2012, the U.S. Supreme Court determined that sentencing juveniles to mandatory life without parole sentences violates the Eight Amendment’s prohibition against cruel and unusual punishment. It is likely that he will be resentenced to a term that would allow him to be released in the future. In Fall 2013, the Ohio State Journal on Criminal Law will publish a scholarly essay written by Bourgeois, entitled “The Irrelevance of Reform: Maturation in the Department of Corrections.” In October 2013, Jeremiah had an essay published in the Ohio State University Moritz School of Law Journal, which you can read here.

Writing by Jeremiah Bourgeois

Jeremiah Bourgeois, DOC #708897
Coyote Ridge Corrections Center
P.O. Box 769
Connell, WA 99326


Christi Buchanan

Christi Buchanan was released from prison in June 2016

Writing and poetry by Christi Buchanan




Terrell Carter

Terrell Carter was born and raised in Philadelphia Pennsylvania and is currently on his 21st year of a life-without-parole sentence at Graterford Correctional Institute. His published works include Guilty Reflections (revised edition), Guilty Reflections II (War of the Soul), and coming soon, Tainted Soul. These works are available through amazon.com.

Writing by Terrell Carter

Terrell Carter BZ-5409
SCI Graterford
PO Box 244
Graterford, PA 19426-0244
Burl N. Corbett

Born 6/9/47 in Reading, PA.  Raised on a 123-acre sheep farm only three crow miles from John Updike´s famous sandstone farmhouse of “Pigeon Feathers,” The Centaur, and Of the Farm.  Graduated from Daniel Boone High School in 1965.  Ran away to Greenwich Village to become a beatnik in 1966 with only a Martin guitar and the clothes on my back.  Lived among the counterculture for 3 years, returning disillusioned to PA for good in 1968.  Worked on a mink farm; poured steel in a foundry; chased the sun as a cross-country pipeliner; drove the big rigs, baby!; picked tomatoes with migrant workers; tended bar on the old skid row Bowery; worked as a reporter, columnist, and photographer for two Southeastern Pennsylvania newspapers; drove beer truck (hic!); was a “HEY, CULLIGAN MAN!”; learned how to plaster, stucco, and lay stone; published both fiction and nonfiction in several nationally distributed magazines and literary quarterlies; got married and raised four children; got divorced and fell into the bottle; and came to prison at the age of 60 with no previous criminal offenses other than a 25 year-old DUI. The “crime”? Self-defense in my own house without financial means to hire a decent lawyer.  Since becoming the “guest” of the state in 2007, I have won four PEN Prison Writing Awards (two first and an honorable mention); the first and only prize of $500 in the 2013 Eaton Literary Agency short fiction contest; written a children/young adult book, Coon Tales, soon to be published by Xlibris; a novel of the 1967 “Summer of Love,” Dreaming of Oxen; a magic realism novel, A Redneck Ragnorak, and many short stories and memoirs.  My first novel, A Haven from Violence, is available at Xlibris.com or Amazon.com.

Burl N. Corbett HZ6518
SCI Albion
10745 Route 18
Albion, PA 16475-0002


Jeff C.

Jeff was released from prison in 2015.

Writing, poetry and art by Jeff C.

Jeff C.



Chris Dankovich

I am a tutor/teacher, a writer, an artist, and I have been incarcerated since I was 15. I am proud to say that I’ve helped over 100 young men earn their GED diplomas, and that I’ve been published in the Harvard Educational Review, The Periphery Magazine, The Michigan Review of Prisoner Creative Writing Volumes 3, 4, 5, and 6; won second place for essay in the 2014 PEN prison writing contest, and have been accepted to be published in FENCE magazine and placed third in non-fiction in Vidahlia Press’s 2014 prison writing contest.

Art, poetry and writing by Chris Dankovich

Chris Dankovich 595904
Thumb Correctional Facility
3225 John Conley Drive
Lapeer, MI 48446

Joseph Dole

Joseph Dole is 41 years old.  Born in Saginaw, Michigan, he moved to Illinois when he was 8 years old.  He has been continuously incarcerated since the age of 22, and spent nearly a decade of his life entombed at the notorious Tamms Supermax Prison in complete isolation (Tamms was shuttered in 2013 after an intense campaign by human rights groups, and the families and friends of prisoners who were confined and tortured there).

Mr. Dole is currently serving a life-without-parole sentence after being wrongly convicted of a gang-related, double murder.  He continues to fight that conviction pro se, and has recently uncovered evidence suppressed by the State, which proves that the State´s star witness committed perjury on the stand.

His first book A Costly American Hatred (available at  both as paperback and e-book) is an in-depth look at how America´s hatred of “criminals” has led the nation down an expensive path that not only ostracizes and demonizes an overgrowing segment of the population, but is also now so pervasive that it is counterproductive to the goals of reducing crime and keeping society safe;  wastes enormous resources; and destroys human lives.  Anyone who is convicted of a crime is no longer considered human in the eyes of the rest of society.  This allows them to be ostracized, abused, commoditized and disenfranchised.

Mr. Dole´s second book, Control Units and Supermaxes: A National Security Threat, details how long-term isolation units not only pose grave threats to inmates, but also guards who work there and society as a whole.

 He has also been published published in Prison Legal News, The Journal of Prisoners on Prisons, The Mississippi Review, Stateville Speaks Newsletter, The Public I Newspaper, Scapegoat and numerous other places on-line such as www.realcostofprisons.org and www.solitarywatch.com among others.  His writings have also been featured in the following books: Too Cruel Not Unusual Enough (ed. By Kenneth E. Hartman, 2013); Lockdown Prison Heart (iUniverse, 2004); Understanding Mass Incarceration: A People´s Gude to the Key Civil Rights Struggle of Our Time (James Kilgore, 2015); Hell is a Very Small Place: Voices from Solitary Confinement (The New Press, 2016).

Mr. Dole´s artwork has been displayed in exhibits in Berkeley, CA, Chicago, and New York.  He has also won four PEN Writing Awards for Prisoners, among others.

He is both a jailhouse journalist and jailhouse lawyer, as well as an activist and watchdog ensuring Illinois public bodies are in compliance with the Illinois Freedom of Information Act.

You can see more of his work on his Facebook Page

He will respond to all letters.

Joseph Dole K84446
Stateville Correctional Center
P.O. Box 112
Joliet Il 60434



Anthony Engles

My name is Anthony Scott Engles, born in Honolulu, Hawaii in 1965.  After a brief stint in the Navy, I pretty much roamed around the country, waiting tables and bartending.  I settled in Spokane in 1994, then got pretty heavy into survivalism and related activities.  I got in a shoot out with Stevens County Deputies in 2003 and wounded one of them.  I’m serving a 30-year sentence in Washington State, where I have done the majority of my writing.  I have one short story published and several unpublished short stories and poems.

Read Tony's writing here

Anthony Engles 832039
Coyote Ridge Corrections Center
P.O. Box 769
Connell, WA 99326

Dewan Evans

I am Dewan Evans, born and raised in Los Angeles California.  I´m 40 years young.  Still looking and feeling young. I´m fortunate and blessed to still be living and healthy.   I´m the only child of a single mum, though my mum didn't raise me.  My grandmother did.  My mother since died in 2011. I've been behind these cold bars for 19 years for a crime and accusations that I´m innocent of. I was railroaded by the system, betrayed by close ones I considered friends, with fabricated stories.  Despite these 19 years on lock, I´ve strived to better myself mentally, spiritually as well as physically, and with my writings I´m hoping to achieve but to be a positive aspect to the world. I´m still fighting in many ways not just for my freedom, but to remain relevant in my family´s life, to better my mind, heart and faith.   Enjoy my poetry, songs, stories and art. My books are available on Amazon: No Bully, My Daily Bread and Still Fighting.

Dewan Evans T30778
CSP Corcoran
P.O. Box 5242 
F-2-A-POD-3-4-LOW
Corcoran, CA 93212

Samuel Hawkins

Samuel Hawkins is 41 years old and has been incarcerated since age 19. State raised, he will, at age 45, finally be freed.

Click here to read Hawk's writing

Samuel Hawkins 706212
Washington State Penitentiary
1313 N. 13th Avenue
Walla Walla, WA 99362


Willie Johnson

Willie Johnson has been imprisoned on Death Row in San Quentin State Prison in California for more than 30 years.

Read Willie's writing here

Willie Johnson C35635 
San Quentin State Prison
San Quentin, CA 94974


Michael Wayne Hunter

Michael Wayne Hunter spent 18 years on Death Row at San Quentin State Prison before his sentence was commuted to Life Without Parole in 2002. He is the recipient of awards from PEN America Center for fiction and non-fiction, and the William James award for prose.

Read Michael's writing here

Michael Hunter C83600
Sierra Conservation Center
5150 O'Byrnes Ferry Road 3C-149L
Jamestown, CA 95327


Michael Lambrix

For almost 30 years now, Mike Lambrix has been in solitary confinement on Florida’s Death Row for a crime he didn’t commit (see www.southerninjustice.com). At 52 years old, Mike has long been divorced and is the father of three children and now, the proud grandfather of six. Prior to prison, Mike was a mechanic and served in the U.S. Army and is legally recognized as a disabled veteran. Mike has been writing on several blogs for years now HERE and HERE. Mike has contributed to numerous books on the death penalty and life on death row and last year released his own book, To Live And Die On Death Row by C. Michael Lambrix (available as a free download here) Mike is currently awaiting a decision by the Florida Supreme Court on a New Evidence/Actual Innocence Appeal that may result in his exoneration and release.

Read Mike's essays here

Michael Lambrix 482053
Union Correctional Institution
7819 NW 228th Street
Raiford, FL 32026-4400


Art Longworth

I have been in prison for about 30 years with a Life Without Parole sentence. I instruct a university Spanish language course for University Behind Bars, a non-profit prison education program. The Prison Diary of Arthur Longworth is available through University Beyond Bars.

This article featuring Art appeared on the front page of The Seattle Times in 2012. Concurrently, NPR did a related story on the Liz Jones Show.

Read Art's essays here

Arthur Longworth 299180 C-238
Monroe Correctional Complex – WSRU
P.O. Box 777
Monroe, WA 98272

Mwandishi Mitchell

Mwandishi Mitchell is an innocent man serving time at the State Correctional Institution of Graterford. After serving ten years of his wrongful conviction, Mwandishi realized he had a talent in creative writing. Besides pursuing his writing career, he continues to fight in court reverently in pursuit of overturning his wrongful conviction. A published author, Mwandishi has two books, The Prodigal Son and The Prodigal Son 2, which can be downloaded and read for free at www.prisonsfoundations.org

Mwandishi’s writing can be found here and his poetry here.

Mwandishi Mitchell GB6474
SCI Houtzdale
P.O.Box 1000
Houtzdale, PA 16698-1000


Santonio Murff

At the age of 20, Santonio was convicted of a crime he didn’t commit. “I am only guilty of investing love and loyalty in the wrong individuals,” he says. During his years of incarceration, he has educated and elevated himself and others. He founded The Righteous Movement to bury the self-destructive mentality of ride or die (kill or be killed), and to resurrect in its stead a new righteous battle cry of SURVIVE AND SUCCEED (live long and prosper)!Santonio is the winner of numerous PEN awards for essays, short stories and screenplays. His work has appears in numerous publications, including Sister-2Sister magazine.

Read San's writing here and poetry here

Santonio Murff #773394
French M. Robertson Unit
12071 FM 3522
Abilene, Texas 79601
Jedidiah Murphy

My name is Jedidiah Murphy and I have been incarcerated since October 4, 2000 on Death Row in Texas.  I was raised in Texas and was adopted twice.  I graduated High School in 1994.  I am a husband and father to two girls whom I love without limits.  I make unfathomable mistakes and most times cannot see the forest for the trees.  I am flawed, I am human and I am trying to be something more than the sum of my parts.  So far… no such luck but I am stubborn and I have faith in tomorrow.

Jedidiah's writing is here and his poetry is here

Jedidiah Murphy 999392
Polunsky Unit
3872 FM 350 South
Livingston, TX 77351


Tom Odle

I am 50 years old, with 14 years off Death Row and even though I still pretty much live a solitary life in prison because that is what prison is, I live a much different life now that hope has been restored. Hope has given me the key to life.

Tom's art can be viewed here and his writing here

Tom Odle #N66185
Dixon Correctional Center
2600 N. Brinton Avenue
Dixon, IL 61021


Miguel Angel Paredes

Miguel Paredes was executed by the State of Texas on October 28, 2015.

Miguels' writing is here and is art and poetry are here





Timothy Pauley

Incarcerated since 1980, Tim has actively pursued educational opportunities. His first book, Life in Prison; Digging in and Getting Stated, was published in 2003. Tim writes in a variety of areas including fiction, op-ed, self help, non-fiction prison commentary. Currently he is actively involved in sentencing reform and the fight against the prisonization of America. He is always seeking intelligent dialogue that will expand his consciousness beyond the prison walls.

Read Tim's essays here

Timothy Pauley #273053 
Washington State Reformatory Unit
P.O. Box 777 
Monroe, WA. 98272-0777


Louis Perez

Greetings to you all:

Thank you so much for taking the time to view my work and reading this. My name is Louis Castro Perez…I was born and raised in Austin, Texas. I have 4 wonderful children…3 boys, 1 girl – ages 32 to 23. I have 5 grandchildren as well. All beautiful…Just like their Grandpa HA!

I have never really considered myself an “artist”. I was a carpenter for many years and I loved it and was very good at my craft.

I had never tried to put pencil to paper until I was put here on Death Row 15 years ago. I started out only doing Cartoon characters, but through the years, I’ve been blessed to have been around some true artists…MP…AP…Beto Perez…Big 50…Carlos Treviño…Big Foot…and so many more…They were and still are very inspirational to me! A lot of the art I’ve seen is called Jail House Art…and it is awesome, but once I learned how to do portraits…it was all over…it’s pretty much all I do now. We all have a lot of time on our hands back here…22 hours a day in our cells. So a lot of us have come up with ways to better our art. Supplies here are not worth getting excited about, but we’ve learned to make do with what we have. There’s something about the process that makes it really satisfying to me. Like I said, we have a lot of time on our hands, and when you’re not doing anything, al there is to do is think. Well…speaking for myself…During the process of getting things ready to draw or paint something…I always think of all the good things in my life: God and family. Sometimes I’m so lost in thought, it amazes me that I don’t mess up a drawing because I don’t stop the work…I just keep going.

And even while staring at my work…I sometimes don’t even see it…I see my thoughts…I don’t know if that makes any sense?? HA! HA!! I sure hope so.

I know one thing…I could start drawing at 8:00 a.m….look up and it will be dark outside. I love it!!

I’m sure it’s different for many of the men back here with me, but my art and the process of doing my work allows me to reflect about what’s good in my life, instead of thinking about being executed!

GOD IS GOOD!! GOD BLESS YOU ALL!!!

Peace,
Big Lou

View Louis's writing and art 

Louis Perez 999328
Polunsky Unit
3872 FM 350 South
Livingston, TX 77351


Arnold Prieto Jr.

Arnold Prieto was executed by the State of Texas on January 21, 2015

Arnold's art is here and his writing is here




Eduardo Ramirez

How does your seven line bio read?

I am a dream deferred
I am hope on hold
I am soon to come
I am in progress
I am an arrow pointing true
I am human
I am you, man

Eddie's poetry is here and is writing is here
Edward Ramirez DN6284
SCI Graterford
P.O. Box 244
Graterford, PA 19426

Chuck Rienhardt

Hi. My name is Chuck Reinhardt and I am an Arizona Death Row inmate.  All the artwork and poetry you have seen and read come from the book “Dead Behind the Eyes…the Awakening”.   This is an unpublished book that I have written and illustrated including the cover in which you see.  Hopefully you are a publisher and want to help me give this kickass book to the world. I´m sitting here in this cage waiting to hear from all of you. Have a good one today.

If you like the artwork you see here, original pieces of my work can be found at www.prisonarte.com.  There's some cool ass shit there. Check it out, or contact me directly.

Respect Always, Chuck

View Chuck's poetry and art here

Chuck Rienhardt 084033
Arizona State Prison Complex - Eyman
SMU #2 Browning Wing 3-G-16
P.O. Box 3400
Florence, AZ 85132

Rosendo Rodriguez

Greetings, my name is Rosendo Rodrigues and I grew up in Wichita Falls, Texas. At 18, I studied political science and history at Texas Tech University and I served in the marine corps as an imperial storm trooper for the US Government.  I speak English and German.  I enjoy reading science fiction and playing Dungeons and Dragons and love finding hilarity wherever it may ensue.  I currently reside in a gated community on Death Row in Texas. Schreib mir auf deutsch, oder, write mein English.

Rosendo Rodriguez 999534
Polunsky Unit
3872 FM 350 South
Livingston, TX 77351


John Ruzas

John “Jackie” Ruzas has been incarcerated in New York State since 1975. His writing has been widely published and he’s won numerous writing awards, most recently, an Honorable Mention in PEN’s 2012-2013 Prison Writing Contest for his essay titled, “Tragedy 2 Trial and Beyond.”

View Jackie's writing and poetry


John Ruzas 75-CO385
Fishkill Correctional Facility
P.O. Box 1245
Beacon, NY 125087


Tommy Lynn Sells

Tommy Lynn Sells was executed by the State of Texas on April 3, 2014

View Tommy's poetry and art here


J. Michael Stanfield Jr.

I've been in prison serving a life sentence since 1993.  I'm 45 and a staunch agnostic.  I worked for The Only Voice, the prison newspaper of Turney Center Prison from 1995-2015.  In that time I was a reporter, writer and editor.

J. Michael Stanfield Jr. 209006
2/B TCIX
1499 R. W. Moore Memorial Highway
Only, TN 37140-4050


Isaac Sweet

Read Isaac's writing here

Isaac Sweet 752399
WSRU D-2-27
P.O. Box 777
Monroe, WA 98272-0777



Carlos Trevino

I honestly don’t feel that I am an artist. I never went to school to study art. Those of us here who know how to draw, we share tips and ideas in how to improve our skills. This is done “verbally”. For it is impossible to actually sit down and watch another prisoner draw. So, as best as we can, we explain how to work with what we have. And most of our drawing materials are hand-made. We are very limited to art supplies. All of my drawings are done with a pencil that is not meant for drawing. All of my drawings are done with a Dixon # 2/HB pencil. We don’t have access to graphite drawing pencils. I am not really sure I would know how to use them. My other drawing materials are rolled toilet paper, my own hair and a small piece of sponge. They took our pencil sharpeners and here lately my teeth and nails are part of how I sharpen my pencils. These are the only materials I have access to.

My reason for picking up a pencil was because I love art. Little did I know it helped with escaping this place. And little did I know it was also therapeutic, sitting down for hours and drawing something that captures the soul. Creating something beautiful from a death row cell makes me feel good. It’s therapeutic.

View Carlos's art here
Carlos Trevino #999235 
Polunsky Unit
3872 FM 350 South
Livingston, TX 77351


William Van Poyck

William Van Poyck was executed by the State of Florida on June 12, 2013

View Bill's writing here





Kevin Varga

Kevin was executed by the State of Texas on May 12, 2010

View Kevin's Death Watch Journals here





Christian Weaver

My name is Christian Weaver. I am currently serving a life sentence. I had been writing on and off since my youth; since prison, however, I have taken it very seriously. My first love is poetry, but, I’ve also written aphorisms, essays, opinion pieces and plays. My areas of interest are philosophy, history, anthropology, sociology, religion, literature and politics.

View Christian's poetry and writing.


Christian Weaver 271262
BCCX Site 2
14-11B
1045 Horsehead Road
Pikeville, TN 37367

Chasity West

My name is Chasity West and I’m a lifelong native of Connecticut. Prior to my arrest I worked as a licensed nurse. In 1998 I was sentenced to life without parole on a first offense. Since my imprisonment I have written dozens of short stories, memoirs, essays and poems. I have immersed myself in many projects and programs, including writing workshops, dance and yoga classes, college courses, gardening and agriculture and drama classes. I think that prison can be a catalyst for self-reform.

To read Chasity’s essays please click here.

Chasity West 266589
York Correctional Facility
201 West Main Street
Niantic, CT 06357


Thomas Bartlett Whitaker

Thomas Bartlett Whitaker started MB6 in 2007. Since then he has earned a few awards and a BA, graduating summa cum laude in 2012. He is currently working his way through a Master’s program in the Humanities. Whether all of this erudition has made him even marginally less stupid is an open question.

View Thomas's art and poetry here and his writing here 

Amazon Wish List

Donate to Thomas's education and defense fund here

Thomas Bartlett Whitaker 999522
Polunsky Unit 
3872 FM 350 South
Livingston, TX 77351



Christopher Wilkins

Christopher Wilkins was executed by the State of Texas on January 11, 2017

View his writing here and his poetry here





Donald Ray Young

Donald Ray Young is an innocent man wrongfully convicted and sentenced to San Quentin’s Death Row in 2006.  He is a certified paralegal with an Associate of Arts degree in Sociology.  He is pursing additional education including a law degree in assist in his exoneration.  His memoir will be published in 2015.  Donald advocates passionately for the oppressed people’s of the earth.  He enjoys creating art in various forms, i.e essays, painting and poetry.

Donald's writing is here and his art and poetry are here

Facebook: Donald Ray Young
Blog www.donaldrayyoung.wordpress.com
Twitter: @Donald Ray Young

Donald Ray Young E-78474
San Quentin State Prison
San Quentin, CA 94974