Sunday, October 24, 2010

Letters to a Future Death Row Inmate, Part 17

by Anthony Haynes #999330

Part 16 can be seen here

I don’t know your name and I guess it really does not matter since it’s not like I’m gonna get the opportunity to get to know you. But if it matters to you then I'll tell you that my name is Anthony Haynes. You may be hearing more about me and my case and all that in a couple of days because I have an execution date coming up later this week. Don’t let that fact deter you from reading what I have to say. There are many other things I could be doing with my last days but I’m choosing to spend them writing you this kite. Hopefully you’ll at least take these words to heart. Before I get into what I want to say, I’m sending you some stuff you’ll need. I’m pretty sure that you already went through the bag but just in case I'll let you know that I’m sending you 6 legal pads, 6 pens, 20 44¢ stamps, 10 98¢ stamps, 50 envelopes, a tube of toothpaste, a couple of toothbrushes, some hair grease, a brush, 20 bars of soap, a bottle of lotion, a bottle of shampoo, some shower slides, 2 bags of coffee, my radio and headphones, some ketchup, 12 soups, 12 sodas, 10 small bags of chips, 2 big bags of candy, a drinking cup, a stinger, 5 chili pouches, 5 refried beans, 1 bag of corn chips, 2 bottles of hot sauce, 2 pairs of boxers, 2 t-shirts, 2 pairs of socks, 2 packs of cookies, a new issue of "American Curves" magazine and a leather Bible. I know that it seems like a lot, and it is, but I can’t use these things where I’m going and since you have nothing you’ll need them more than me. They let me spend more money because I’m on Deathwatch and you wont have an ID card for awhile, so accept the blessing. And if you’re thinking maybe I’m giving you these things to try and take a shot at your booty, well, I might be, but I guess that dead men can’t rape you so you have no worries. Now to more important things.

I’ve been here for awhile and have learned quite a few things along the way. There are things that took me years to figure out but that I wished to God that Id known earlier. There are other things that others have passed down to me. I want to give you an impartation of knowledge and wisdom as I’ve learned, in hopes that these things will make your life in this crazy new world just a little easier. Some of these things may not make sense now but if you store them in your file cabinet in your mind, I’m positive that sooner or later you’ll be able to use them. So be open-minded. I don’t know it all but I like to think that being locked up half my life I know something. I’m kinda stupid if I’m honest with you! I say that because I had people attempt to impart wisdom to me but many times I felt I knew better on my own and paid the price for that pridefullness. I learned some of these things the hard way and I want to spare you that if I can. In the end of the day every man here had to figure out how to do his own time. I figured out how to do mine and you’ll do the same but if you listen up to what I say and take heed to these things I can assure you that they will act as a guide to lead you in the right direction.

The most important lesson I learned while being here was, perhaps, the hardest to accept, understand, and grasp. It was also by far the one that caused me the most pain trying to figure it out. Bro, keep both of your feet firmly planted in this prison. This is your world now. If you try to keep both feet out in that world, or if you attempt to keep one in here and one out there it will eventually destroy you emotionally and mentally. You can’t control what goes on out there and the sooner you accept that the better off you’ll be. Your so-called friends will mostly forsake you and you’ll be blessed if, in the end, you can even have your family. Know this up front and don’t deceive yourself. This is your world now. As much as it hurts me to say that, it is the truth.

I used to be in a drug abuse program and at the end of every meeting we’d say this prayer that said something like: "Lord grant me the serenity to accept the things that I cannot change, the strength to change the things I can change, and the wisdom to know the difference." That always stuck with me, in this environment. If you do what those say, you’ll be much better off. There will be many, many things in this place that you can’t control and that will threaten to drive you insane at times. But you have to learn that you have no power over those things. Accept that. There are other things that are within your realm of control. Figure out those things and always work to change those things for your benefit. But be wise because some back here get these two things confused. In learning to accept things, I’ve learned that indifference can be a beautiful thing! If you develop tolerance and learn to be indifferent to those things you can't change then they will cease to even bother you. Something to think about, huh?

Hope is a wonderful thing, but never lie to yourself. Be stronger than that because a false hope will, in the end, leave you in a very sad state. Understand where you are and why you are here. You’re on the TEXAS Death Row and they kill people!! Understand that you are here to die. If you can “escape” then do it but never lie to yourself about it. And more importantly, never allow the specter of death that looms over you to stop you from living your life. Learn to enjoy the life you have as much as you can. It is not much but you can still make it yours. That way, if you find yourself about to be executed at least you’ll know that you did not waste your life away. Learn something. Educate yourself. Grow as a man. Leave a legacy. Make sure that the man you are when you walk out is a much better man than the one who walked in, Live in such a way that those who know you can be proud to call you son, brother, friend, cousin, father. Be able to look in the mirror and actually love the man you see looking back at you. Live so that you can respect that man.

These people can do what they want so it is advisable not to get attached to material things. If you never get attached then if they take them it means little.

Over the years I’ve been here things have gotten progressively worse and worse. Live with a mindset that says, "it could always be worse" as opposed to one that says, "it could be so much better." In doing this you will learn the secret to enjoying what you have today to the fullest. You’ll be able to make the most of everything that you have. The alternative will make you bitter and miserable.

When it comes to the legal stuff I’ll say this: if you want to raise money to help yourself, then the first thing you should do is to hire a good investigator. They will make your state attorney do his or her job. They do not cost that much when compared to trying to save money for an appeal attorney and they will uncover things that may help you save your life. Always remember that no matter how much commissary you have, that will by no means help you save your life!! Use your money wisely if your goal is to make some attempt at escaping that needle.

Don’t lie to the people out there trying to help you. Most would still help you save your life even if you are completely guilty. But if you lie to them then you bind their hands. Be real with them to give them the best shot at helping you.

Never lose sight of the big picture if your goal is to get off the Row. IF that is your objective then saving your life is like your personal war. Don’t lose your life over a minor skirmish that will mean nothing tomorrow. Always keep your goal in sight. Stay focused and don’t allow anything or anyone to steal that away from you. That way, even if you do die, at least you’ll know that you gave yourself the absolute best chance to avoid that fate.

Live your life for YOU!! Live the way you see fit and not how others want or expect you to live. Many back here follow the crowd. Many act out to please those around them. You do not have to live that way. Make your own paths and be your own man. Live according to your own standards and not those of the next man.

You do not have to be a tough guy!! Be yourself and respect others and don’t be a pushover and you’ll be just fine. Do you!! Your word absolutely HAS to mean something back here!! I can’t stress that enough. A good word goes a long way in a place like this.

You’re gonna get pen friends and they will help you do your time, liven up your days, and pick up your spirits should you need. These people are out to give you something. Maybe not always of the monetary but they will give you SOMETHING. Take what each is able to offer and be true to them. Some will be flaky and fake but never stop being real and genuine. And please never stoop to the level where you feel so inadequate in yourself that you feel the need to start "running game"!! The best "game" in the world is simply being yourself. Those who are drawn to you because they see you for who you are will be with you through thick and. thin and you’ll derive much more gratification and satisfaction from a friendship like that because you know that everything is above board.

Romance can be very fulfilling, if short lived, but many times it is overrated. If you find some girl that you "love" and she loves you then go for it. Just remember where you are and understand that in most cases the romance is very short lived. Enjoy it while you have it but do not allow it to destroy you if/when you lose it.

I do not have any idea of your spiritual beliefs. I myself am a Christian and that is why I sent you that Bible. Even if you do not believe in the Bible I’d encourage you to find some higher power. The benefits are more than you’d ever believe.

Last but not least, take good care of your own health and especially your teeth!! Most of the guys you see with no teeth did not get that way through fighting!! That is bad oral hygiene! Medical help SUCKS in this place so the best thing you can do for yourself is make sure that you don’t need it

Okay, man, I hope that something I’ve said helps you along the way. Hopefully you never find yourself sitting here I am today, but if you do let it be that inside your heart you can smile as you reflect over your years here knowing that you made the most of all that you had. God bless.

Anthony Haynes #999330

PS Books can be your keys to "escaping" this hell. They can also open up new worlds in regard to educating yourself. Learn the beauty of good books!!!

© Copyright 2010 by Thomas Bartlett Whitaker. All rights reserved

Monday, October 18, 2010

Poetry by Jedidiah Murphy

I’d Save You If I Could...
by Jedidiah Murphy

The broken unwanted don't have a lot
coveting our dreams we've almost forgot
brave faces and shattered hearts we‘ve fought and fought
I'd save you if I could...
I drank my pain away each day
I begged sleep to come my way
to take me far away away
I'd save you if I could...
It's not easy to trust someone else
having been deceived of our belief
patchworked personalities of former selves
all too silent in our grief
I OD‘d on pills, I sliced my veins
never loved life like we should
35 years yet the pain remains
I'd save you if I could...
Took sobriety and prison to learn to live
to deal with facing my past
we've always wanted to come in first
reality is that Foster kids are last
I can’t take my mistakes away, or make you dreams come true
yet there's no fire I wouldn't walk through
face all your demons to save your dreams for you
and save you if I could
I'd save you if I could...

by Jedidiah Murphy

Lately I´ve been saying
That luck´s a fool man´s game;
You plant your fields and reap your crops,
And love your family through pain.
Whoever said it was easy,
Never flew like a dart to the wall;
Never sang about pain in the rain,
Or wanted to sleep through it all.
We all want sunny days,
And baby birds to fly like the wind;
Though should they get burned by the flames,
They know to come home to us again.
Sometimes we plan to walk tall,
And often times end up chopped at the knees;
For who among us plans to fail at life,
Instead of striving to succeed?
In the era of survival of the fittest,
Where we trample the weak and the lame;
Politicians praise God on Sunday,
Then kill those unfortunate in your name.
So when you say your prayers at night,
For love, for life, for family,
While down on your knees with God,
Say a few for sad poets as me…

Depression Defined
by Jedidiah Murphy

They say that loneliness is a razor that cuts the heart to shreds,
That a child has every right to dream;
That if we don´t strive to be happy now,
Most never will, it would seem.
To count the endless seconds for a horse of the apocalypse,
To turn away in fear in the eye of a twister,
The world whirling and disintegrating all around
Is the mind with mental illness as a visitor.
Whatever abyss the broken mind looked into meant,
We barely talked and appeared to feel even less;
Maybe it was fear that changed us all
Maybe we left a lot of ourselves behind to rest.
The numbing, the personal disconnection,
Was far worse than the physical injury;
Suffering from our own version of shell shock
It broke the man from the broken family,
You find yourself deeper in the canyons of despair.
Praying for relief at the bottom,
Wondering what joy there is in having,
When it´s your life that´s become the problem.
Sometimes in those worst moments of secret pain,
When you´re both judge and executioner;
You weigh your life, both loss and gain,
To decide if you even deserve a future.
If you go down deep enough in the darkness,
Nothing will ever be the same,
Outside the concrete tomb of the injured mind
We wounded fake smiles through a life of pain.
Yet even depression, we learned, can be replaced,
That even the unyielding has a span;
And though we´re scared, with love it´s restored,

The life and hope to those that were damned.

by Jebediah Murphy

A faint black blur registered in the corner of my vision,
as if conjured into life by my mind.
Some haunted dreamscape staged where,
sketchy versions of reality reside.
I remember the car ride in the country,
stationwagon packed for some but not others;
my childish mind flickering hope like it should,
yet comprehending the plans of my mother.
I remember the feel of sunshine on my face,
while watching our life drive slowly away;
standing there with my brother and sister,
I lost sight to any landmark to happiness that day.
Like a wounded animal, a thing alive and breathing,
my young life tottered, broke, and crashed.
I understood at five the destruction could not be halted,
that in the ruin of betrayal, our hopes lay smashed.
Being sacrificed had a startling effect on us,
rippling like tsunami waves throughout our lives;
from jails, from suicidal places and insanity,
while those with family live, those without merely survive.
The weight of what we experienced would never leave us,
it would smother we three throughout life;
we abandoned have scars that only we can truly see,
lost to a world that never heard our cries.
There’s no light at the end of the tunnel for me...a pariah,
statistically insignificant it would seem;
professor emeritus at destroying things that matter,

beginning with my life and ending with my dreams...

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

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.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Art by David Brown

Magdalene Passage
Note:  This painting is a copy of an original

(wearing blue)
David Brown 293387
Lousiana State Prison - Death Row
Angola, LA 70712

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Letters to a Future Death Row Inmate, part 16

by Randolph "Amun" Greer #999042

Part 15 can be seen here

So whats up?

You gonna dip to night shift for awhile? Why don’t you try it out for a month or so, and if you don’t like it, you can always slide back to daylight savings time, I think you’ll enjoy the solitude, though! They say that in between the hour of midnight and 1:30AM, the universe is in harmony with itself and nature. I can really tell, especially when I am in my zone. Solitude is as needed to the imagination as society is wholesome to the character! Your first few minutes in your mornings should be spent in silence, meditating on the wonders of your Creators love, the same way it is for you, before you go to bed. Each morning you get up bruh, you should have a made up plan as to what needs to be done for the day. And everyday you wake up every fiber of your being should be focused in the direction of tryna save your life, first and foremost, and being there for that lil girl of yours, as she needs a father. I have dedicated and devoted all 19 years of my time here doing for mine. And I can truly say that it has all paid off. It’s the one thing in life that I can be proud to say, that I’ve done absolutely right. As of right now, things are still brand new for you, and I can dig that. And you’re still spending old money in which you brought with you from the county jail. I presume this was money you had from the world; either that, or you’re riding off the finances in which your family is giving you. My suggestion to you bruh is to be able to slow down your spending. I know how it is, we all want to be able to eat good, and be able to get the zoo-zoos and wham-whams sort of speak, because Lord knows, these folks that run this penitentiary don’t feed well at all. They don’t have no love for us, and they couldn’t care less about it, and that is just a fact.

Which brings me to my next subject, which is "love." Love is an action word, and during your time here, you’ll come to fully understand what I mean by this. A lot of people in our lives, or that we may come across, tend to use that word loosely, but very few actually understand it, and are willing to actually live by it, by demonstrating their love for us via sacrifices. And that includes family! Now, I know that for you, at this moment, you may find this very difficult to believe or to even consider, when it comes to your very own family. Rightfully so. I remember the days when I was the same way, as an old school cat tried to tell me the same thing. Well, I was livid; I mean I felt quite offended that one would have the audacity to tell me that as times go by, all those in whom proclaim to love me will have dwindled away. My girl, my sisters, my brother, my aunts, my friends, etc. People I’ve grown up with, broke bread with, spent most of my life with, done cried with, done fought with, done lived with. Not MY family, not MY friends, this cant be. This guy don’t know me nor any of my folks. Hell, I’m not even from Texas and neither is any of my folks. This has to be a Texas thing a down south mentality.

But the truth of the matter was, what he said was a reality. And just as that brotha tried to tell me, I’m now telling you. As time goes by, you will have figured out who truly loves you, who’s real and who’s not, who means you well, and who couldn’t care less. But until then, my suggestion to you is to start to invest with the lil finances you have, so that whenever that time has arisen, you will be self sufficient and independent. You wont have to lean as much on everyone like your mama, or sisters, or brother, or grandma, or girl friend. You’ll be able to do for them from time to time, even.

People appreciate you more when you show them you’re tryin to do for yourself. That encourages them to wanna assist in whatever ways they can. And your relationship with them, whatever it may be, will last a whole lot longer this way. But if you’re constantly leaning on them for something, you are gonna run them off.

No matter what they say to you bruh, I'm telling you from experience: if you have to rely on a person too much, you will eventually run them off, or in the least, make them shy away and they wont write as much, or don’t come see you as much as before, because they feel shame and bad because they themselves are in a bind and are unable to really do for you like they used to do, or as they would like to do.

But during those times, if ever such a situation should arise, you’re gonna have to just be able to ease their minds and their consciences by letting them know and showing them that its ok. Otherwise there’s always gonna be that uncomfortable space that lies between you. And when its like that, you’re gonna have to be able to exercise patience, bruh! For the two most powerful warriors in this world are "patience" and "time." And a lot of your time and energy should be spent tryna find a way off of Death Row. Because, believe me when I say this: that DA is up early every morning in their office tryna find a way to kill you, and put you in the ground. What a thing to devote a life to! And your efforts in goin about tryina save your life should be just as equal if not even more so! You feel me? And while I’m on the subject of love, caring and feelings, let me touch base with you on a few other things, concerning your penpals, because I heard you speaking with the guy that’s a few cages down from you concerning that, as you were only attempting to soak up much advice as you possibly can toward the situation.

And I know that for you right now, you don’t have but one individual with whom you’ve been writing to. Don’t feel bad bruh, look at me: for I’ve been here all this time, and out of all the people who have come into my life over the years, the only ones I have left are my adopted parents from France. That young lady in which you are writing may be very young, still in school, and may not be your ideal pen friend for right now, but don’t cut her off, because you never know who you’ll be pushing away out of your life. Hell, for all we know, your friend may one day find herself in such prestigious position that she can put an end to these barbaric and inhumane practices called "capital punishment." As far as what that guy told you, and why he no longer writes to pen pals, say bruh, don’t take that as if all people are like that. For it would be wrong to make generalized statements about all potential pen-pals; it would be just like all the people out there sayin we was all liars and killers and users, etc...which we know is far from the truth!

He may have been dragged through the wringer, and used for exposure by his pen friends; some people are like that. It happens! But it’s not the end of the world, and it’s certainly not the whole world that’s like this. You gonna have bad experiences, maybe even some painful experiences, but I guarantee you, you’ll have more good than bad, in social networking with those that are on the outside. Better than the relationships you are going to form on the inside, probably.

Remember what I told you about the walking zombies? A lot of times peoples say things because they are defeated, beaten down, and have lost all hope. And so their every breath, their every fiber of their being, gives off negative vibes, comments and insinuations. An old school playa once told me something back in the day. His name was James means, aka Jamil (rest in peace). He said, the reason we have a hard time succeeding is because of the alibis we use. If you’re somebody working to get out of the excuse-making mentality, make sure you stay around people with a similar mindset. When you see a person making excuses about everything, you need to run for the door, because that person is a dream-killer. And that’s what the guy you were wasting your time talking to us, bruh: a dream-killer!

Look at me, bruh: I am on the verge of receiving an execution date, and you don’t hear me talking like that. And here it is, he has yet to leave the state court, so what’s his excuse? You see what I’m sayin? As time goes on, and you begin to meet others in the pen, be real to them and treat your pen friends as you would family - because in all reality, they will become like family, your extended family. So don’t lie to them, don’t misuse them. Your pen pals are human beings, too, and they have feelings just like you. If it was your daughter or sister writing to someone on Death Row or even in prison, you wouldn’t want nobody mistreating yours, so always try to look at it that way, even if you have started to doubt someone you have befriended. Try to always understand where they are coming from (struggle wise), cause we all have our own individual struggle, be they internal or external. But also, do what you can in guiding them to understand what your struggles is like.

Speak your mind, bruh, and when you do, always be direct and try to articulate yourself in all that you’re attempting to convey. Leave the fly talk, the fast talk, the street talk slang where it belongs: in the streets.

And maybe one day, you’ll have the pleasure of experiencing what true love is. If you should ever meet the right lady friend. And if you ever do, bruh, don’t rush into nothing, Take your time in getting to know one another; what’s the rush? You have some time left in the old hourglass. You see, careless men fall into love; wise men wade into it!

And now to the last thing I wanted to share with you. And its concerning the statement you made about being tired (mentally and emotionally), being frustrated and wanting to give up at times.

Say bruh, its ironic how you had spoke up on that within your kite, because I had woke up feeling almost the same, which is rare. Our situation here on Death Row is a cruel dilemma indeed. We don’t want to die, but at the same time, we don’t want to continue having to live like this for the rest of our lives neither. The thought of giving up has frequented my life on several occasions. It is a natural tendency in an abnormal environment. Every element of our circumstances are bent towards breaking us. The concrete, the steel, the bland colors of our surroundings, the bitterness that accumulates amongst the men living with you, the sensory deprivation (ie: no touching or being able to just talk with someone when you want or need to), the lack of spiritual guidance, etc. The psychological blueprint of this place is meant to drive one insane, or to the point of wanting to die. That is all they want from you: insanity and then death.

Bro: I hold on for different reasons, but sometimes I hold on simply in spite of this place and these peoples intentions. I have several mantras that I hold to. One is: life is too short to be broken so soon. Sometimes this alone carries me. Acknowledging God inside of me carries me. Doing something, even the smallest thing, and being successful, carries me. Life in and of itself is a war, bro. It’s a war in which we cannot win. All that matters in the end is how well we fought and how much we’ve gained and given. And its ok to have doubts sometimes, because doubt grows with knowledge, and knowledge is knowing the right path. And wisdom is doing the right things alone the right path, never mistake knowledge for wisdom, for one helps you to make a living, while the other helps you to make a life. And understanding is knowing when you’re right and when you’re wrong...that equals righteousness, and playa$ always win in the end! ;) Keep yo head up!

Bro Amun-Re Akhenaten

aka Randolph M Greer #999042

© Copyright 2010 by Thomas Bartlett Whitaker. All rights reserved

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Letters to a Future Death Row Inmate, Part 15

by Randolph "Amun" Greer #999042

Part 14 can be seen here

Alright bruh I’m back. You doin' alright today? Good, good. X, I’m a firm believer in horizons being unlimited, and I most certainly feel that yours are. But for you as well as for everyone, it takes discipline and hard work to attain ones dreams, and to attain unto them! And what you’ll find here on Texas Death Row is that a lot of individuals are not willing co "sacrifice" in order to reach that point, or to the goal in which we’re all professing to meet! A lot of individuals here want gold, but don’t wanna put no work into reaching that gold. They want heaven, but don’t wanna have to go through hell (struggle) in attaining it! But if there’s no struggle, there’s no progress! Those who profess to only favor freedom, yet deprecate agitation, are but men and women who want crops without the thunder and lightning storms. The struggle may be a normal one, or may even be a physical one, or it could be both, but whatever it is, it will try you. Or it wouldn’t be a straggle for real.

Just look at what we must go through on a daily, with all of the many rule/policy changing and reinforcings done randomly. Think about how we struggle to get things done back here when things are taken from us, or just never given to us at all, which we have a constitutional right to have! It’s been in the 40s outside for how many weeks now? And we aint seen no blankets or jackets yet. Think of those rare times when we actually win; it feels so good doesn’t it? Its because, you can always look back and be able to see the progress you’ve made via all of the work ethic you have put into it along the way, and it makes one feel good in being able to see its results. However.... there’s a flip side to that as well. And this is another issue I wanted to dialogue with you on, and it interrelates to "sacrificing."

Know that not always will you see nor reap the rewards and benefits of the struggle. I want you to think back to olden times, back when chattel slavery was still legal and being practiced like a religion in this land and how widely accepted it was. You see how a lot of our ancestors, and not just our ancestors, but those in whom were sympathizers toward our ancestors, fought hard side by side, and continued to do what they could to go about breaking that vicious cycle of slavery era. Many people lost their lives coming through those times, many lost their lives but didn’t have to. They lost it because they believed in the struggle: they lived for it and they ultimately died for it. They died in hopes of a better day for their children and their children’s children and so on. The point I’m making bruh is that there might be times when you get tired, or you may get discouraged, but don’t never give up bruh, even if your chances of coming out of this madness unscathed (still alive) becomes bleak: never give up, cause ultimately only one has the key to life and death, and that’s the One you prostrate yourself before Night and Day! I believe that someone was trying to convey this to you the other day when you were talking to your neighbor. I listened to the entire conversation, and I can honestly say, that your neighbor only expresses himself from a critical standpoint, and in terms that are designed to try to get you to see the possibilities beyond the trees in the forest.

Now I know what you are thinking, but I really want you to meditate on what I am about to share with you, cause this next subject is something you are going to be confronted with on a daily: racism and bigotry. Say bruh, I know how you feel about your neighbor, due to his way of thinking and his ideologies. But don’t allow yourself to get caught up in the systematic racisms that pervade these institutional walls. Don’t allow someone else’s ignorant fear of another mans identity to imprison and hinder you from being social and learning from others. Because even though your neighbor reeks of racism, and uses racial overtones, the fool has some knowledge of many subjects, and it might be good for you to know what he knows about something. We can all teach each other something. Especially try to pay attention when you get next to some cats that study every day. Usually they is older, but you got a few younger men that can open up whole new worlds for you.

In accepting constructive criticism, sometimes bruh some people do not always know how to give it in a conducive manner, but that even in those times - pay attention to the message of the criticism and see if its about something or if it is just someone trying to hate on you. Sometimes the harshest criticism could be the most potent in terms of elevating ones self, had we just taken the time to get past our emotions, and grasp the message at hand. His criticism may have been a bit harsh and also very vague, but keep in mind that he was really trying to be analytical and just couldn’t pull it off. The vagueness of it can be charged to the fact that you and him were exchanging dialogue. And I feel that, yes, we can sometimes be dogmatic whether we realize it or not. I believe that being a revolutionary (an effective one in the social revolution), one must be critical with himself most of all to ensure that in our pursuit of liberation we do not merely change the face of the oppressor to our own by tryna impose what we believe. And although I know this wasn’t your intention, this is the direction your words appear to be going in, and gave off, as you were subtly throwing out bits and pieces of what you believe in and what you feel things should be like. So, of course, this opened up the door for him to express his own barbaric and extreme eccentric views. That’s why I always say, be careful about what door you pick, cause once you’ve opened it, you’ve allowed yourself to be exposed, attacked, and assassinated...if you are not using good judgment.

But see, you would already know this, if you woulda been more on guard, and on top of your game, before you allowed yourself to even entertain such conversations. You would have seen him coming a thousand miles away atop of a 50,000 ft cliff, like the eye of an eagle staling it’s pray, the sparrow! I like to use this same analogy whenever I’m dialoguing with these ranking officials around here, whom tend to try to impose on us their own personal quirks, be exerting their authority via "so-called Policy." Policy in which they neither fully understand nor follow! I see em coming a thousand miles away, that’s why if you notice, bruh, that’s one reason I don’t have a problem in getting anything done around here when it comes to the brass. They know I know the rules. I know OUR rules, and I know the ones THEY must follow!

The other has to do with the time and the work of sacrifices I’ve put in back here, in tryna accomplish things for all of us here on Death Row, fighting this administration and its overseers as well as its central nerve command post in Austin, via the many protests and outside organizing I’ve had my hands in over the years.

But anyway, as I was saying, you should always be careful in what you allow to roll off your tongue, cause the tongue is like a two-edged sword. I also feel that order for any revolutionary to be successful in the struggle, he must first tackle the even tougher revolution before that: the internal struggle within himself. I am a firm believer in the "R" concept, that we are "gods", that we are creators, that there are laws of nature in existence that are affected according to what we think, say, and do. Thus in that regard we become the creators of our own realities and (in part) destinies and it only reiterates what Kahlil Gibran once said about man and life: "He who is not a friend to himself is an enemy to himself. He who is not a friend to himself is a public enemy. For life issues forth from man inner self, and not from what surrounds him."

This to me means that a man who doesn’t take time to be with himself, love himself, doesn’t take time for introspection, is a walking disaster waiting to happen, and that he will be the manifester of his disaster because of his wretched internal state. That carries over into hurting other people which also makes him a public enemy. Your internal state will automatically reflect you outer existence. This is like the law of gravity. Whoa, there goes that word again: law. It is non-negotiable, although you may not be able to see it. So, yes, I think we have to keep in mind that we must be very critical with ourselves because were we stagnate internally, we will also stagnate in the social revolution. It is automatic, cause and effect!

Which reminds me, say bruh, real anti-social narcissistic types can be very opportunistic and superficial in their conduct. You have to be able to look through them, to look over them, in order to be able to get around them. Don’t associate with them at all: find only quality people who have shown you that they are worthy of trust. This shouldn’t stop you from being a social butterfly if that is in your nature, you feel me? Be you...and don’t let nobody else "do you." As for the question you asked me concerning the cats downstairs from you, say X, if I was you, considering how long you’ve been here and why they are, I wouldn’t even waste my time and energy on that, cause truthfully speaking, I don’t really see anything coming out of that situation but drama and animosity, so let it go, it aint worth it.

Remember what I told you at the beginning of this: stay conscious of your surroundings. You are in the penitentiary and on death row, bruh! This aint the Ritz Carlton or the Hyatt Hotel. Fools make noise to be heard and seen. And whether you know it or not, a lot of them are dealing with a lot of mental illnesses and deficiencies! So to stoop to their level by making even more excessive noise, just to out-do them and to agitate them, would be rude. And rudeness is the weak mans imitation of strength! So don’t go there, alright. Stay grounded bruh! Remember what you told me, you wanted for yourself? To get back out there in that world to be with your lil girl; that should be your goal! None of these other things around here should be even able to hold a candle to that! Remember this bruh, nothing in this world is more distasteful to a man than to take the path that leads to himself.

I spent a lot of my earlier years here on death row attempting to please others, by tryina prove to them who I am, and how real I am. Forget that trash, bruh! You know who you are, and in time, others will see as well. You owe no one but your God, and that lil girl that you brought into existence. So until you are content with who you are, be wary NOT to become whom you’re perceived to be. You asked me do I think things will ever change concerning these inhumane treatments were enduring her eon death row, as well as the entire abolition of these diabolical and unethical principles? Of course, bruh, things are changin everyday. The minds and opinions of the public's eye are constantly changing. Nothing stays the same forever, youngsta! Change is inevitable. Growth, its companion, is optional.

Ok, I’m off again. I will try to finish this for ya tomorrow. Keep your head up.


© Copyright 2010 by Thomas Bartlett Whitaker. All rights reserved

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Letters to a Future Death Row Inmate, part 14

by Randolph "Amun” Greer #999042

Part 13 can be seen here

What’s going on, bruh?

Say, I received your missive yesterday afternoon. Baby-G was holding it for me when I woke up. You know, we’re on two different time schedules, so it be a lil difficult to catch up with you and Paul and Selwynn at times. Especially you, since you tend to lay it down fairly early in the evenings, its not such a bad thing, bruh, considering there’s not a whole lot that’s going on during the night; however, I think if you tried your hand at the experience in staying up a lil later, you’ll come about to understanding the difference in what all I was sharing with you on the yard before we got locked down. Say, bruh, I tend to get some of my most profound work done during the night. Its quiet, and there’s very little to no movement, of course with the exception of the laws, but that is a given. Which is yet another thing you’re gonna have to learn to adjust to. I heard about you bumping heads with that law the other night. Tate and them told me about it, plus I kinda heard a bit myself, but say, bruh, I be in my own lil world up in here. I try not to allow myself to get caught up in the drama that surrounds us, unless it can affect me in some form or fashion, or its concerning someone I really cut fa, which in this instance was the case.

But let me finish addressing the issue of the night shift before I go any further in what I wanted to say. See bruh, the reason I chose to go to night shift was basically to create more ''me time", as one would say. And being on nights allows one to really be able to think and meditate on the things which you’ve allowed to inhabit your mind. See bruh, in the daytime, so many things is going on, that your mind is unable to just relax, and when your mind have to attend to too many things, it becomes extremely difficult to process all of your thoughts. That creates a breakdown somewhere within you. And I have a feeling that is part of the reason that you get tired and sleepy a lot. I also believe that your slow progress in tryn to adjust and adapt to this environment also plays a role in your mental/physical exhaustion. This place, bruh, if you don’t know, creates depression and sensory deprivation. You may not realize this but sensory deprivation is a very serious thing. It not only exacerbates mental illnesses, which by the way many guys back here suffers from, out it causes one to become hypersensitive to external stimuli. You will find yourself tense and incapable of concentrating throughout the day, whether its because of officers slamming doors, gates, and beanslots, or cats yelling over top one another, fighting for airwave time. Or maybe even something as small as one guy in the dayroom trying to have a conversation with someone in they house. This hypersensitivity also makes it easier for ones sleep to be disturbed by blaring walkie-talkies and clicking and the slamming of these crossover doors.

That’s why I said what I said the other day about staying conscious and aware of where you are, and why you’ve been sent here! You don’t wanna become zombified! Say bruh, its a lot of individuals here that are walking zombies, but yet are not even conscious of this: They say, when its hard for one to see themselves, others discover thee most plainly! And that is true, bruh, just look around you, and play back some of the many conversations you’ve held with the individuals you’ve lived around since your short time here. Even you said it yourself one day, when you made that observation in saying "you see now you gots to watch yourself, cause some of these cats are out of control." I don’t know of lust how much you realize how true that statement is, but you’re right. You are absolutely right, bruh, it is a lot of individuals back here, and not just back here, but locked up out there in GP, that still haven’t learnt a damn thing since being locked up.

Some people, you’ll come to understand, just don’t have no rule over their lives. And it has a lot to do with their upbringing and the environments which cultivated the minds of such uncaring and chaotic attitudes that we tend to see manifest from within us, and around us, on a daily basis.

The lack of responsibility, the lack of valuing, not only your own life, but other lives as well. The total disregard for respecting others and of those in authority over you! Did I just say people of authority over you? Yes, I did, bruh. And the reason I say this is because I believe in law, bruh! And I believe that law governs all things, including the universe, which is course another discussion all in itself. I’m sure you may be a lil confused as to what I mean, and where as I stand on all of this, but say, I done have no problem with respecting authority. See, there’s a difference between those that are in authority over you, and those that are in power and oppressing you! Ahh, now do you kinda see where I’m going with this?

See bruh, word play is powerful, and its even more powerful when you are in understanding as to what you’re dealing with, which enables you to be able to utilize what it is that you know! Sometimes I spend hours studying words and their meanings. And doing introspections on myself, seeing how well I retain the knowledge that I’ve learnt. How well I understand it, for knowledge is void without implementation, which means that one should assess the know-how (knowledge) they’ve acquired, and see if it is applicable. And to understand the necessity to pinpoint a field of study that you’re interested in, and pursue it! So in order for you to drive through this system of oppression, you must understand it and the mentality that allows it to perpetuate itself.

It is a must that we remain in constant analysis, searching for solutions to our dilemmas and personal problems. I do understand that as a young student of Islam, you have a lot of learning and things you must abide by. Truly I know and understand; I've read the Qur'an, and many of its other extended literatures before, so I know quite well your struggle. My suggestion to you is to just keep searching and keep seeking for the Truth, bruh, and God will reveal it to you, if you so seek it earnestly. I urge you to be free and a creative thinker, to use the power of your mind, and let spirit of God call forth ideas from the depths of your existence, but in its end experience will no doubt be your best teacher. And I’ve had to learn quite a few lessons within my 19 year journey in this place. So if I never learn another lesson before I am to go to my grave, I know this: I can rest (spiritually) for what I, have attained. I’ve noticed You’ve got a thirst for knowledge, and you appear to enjoy reading just about anything you can get your hands on, which is good. I wish I had been more into reading when I got here, like you are now.

Its possible that I wouldn’t still be here along side you today, facing an execution date. One thing about you I like, and which may end up being one of your strongest attributes, is that you don’t have a problem being critical of what you hear and see and read, especially the latter. You are very receptive and you understand the need to assess everything as well as everyone via observation, so that you may be able to place things within their proper perspectives. I'm impressed that you understand it as a science. It’s good to be able to think critically. Dr Martin Luther King once said that anyone that isn’t capable of thinking critically isn’t worthy of living! Always recognize that all human endeavors are imperfect and incomplete. Perfection demands continuous study, growth, and constructive progress and change! Be thankful/humble for all that you have, however don’t be misled by the amounts of power and authority that is extended here on earth to you, because none here can successfully challenge nor defeat "The Truth”

Bruh, I’m going to leave off for now. I will write some more tomorrow. Sometimes when I put pen to paper, it doesn’t want to stop! Keep yourself together until then!


Admin Note: if you are interested in keeping abreast of new developments in the world of criminal justice, this site is a good place to start

© Copyright 2010 by Thomas Bartlett Whitaker. All rights reserved

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Poetry By Tim Alan Copenhaver


I have a dream of success
Now that my life has been a mess
| want to live
And I want to give
Free to go
To see the show
I am fighting to be free
I will make the world See
I am not dumb
My time will come
To pave the way
And all will say
I am right
I saw the light
In God's word
And what I heard
Jesus is the way
To save the day
Gave his life
To end our strife
Saves our soul
From the hole
So we won't miss
Eternal bliss


There is a place
That we will face
At the end
There is a friend
Who is always there
Because of his care
Unending love
From heaven above
Only believe
And you will receive
Trust and obey
There is no other way
To save the day
You will be free
When you see
God has a plan
When you understand
Explore God's word
From what you've heard
You'll see the light
That exposes the night
Give it away
To make your day


I looked up to the sky
To find out why
Way out there above
I searched for love
To meet my fate
And find my mate
I saw a light
That was out of sight
And very bright
It blinded me
I did not see
When it came
I wasn't the same
My life was new
I knew just what to do
I walked downtown
And looked around
Saw her there
She was very fair
I said hello
What do you know?
She smiled at me
And gave me her key


Ever Since I was young, I wanted true love
I said a prayer to God, in heaven above
He heard my prayer, without a reply
I waited and waited, and asked him why
There was no answer, all could do was try
I asked a woman out, she shot me down
Made me feel, just like a clown
Every woman I was with, did not stay
I know somehow, true love will find a way
into my heart and soul, someday
I gotta be patient, I need to wait
For true love to find me, and meet our fate
When it does, I will know
We will meet, and we will go
Two hearts will join, deep into one
Our true love, will have won
Happy forever, under the sun


There is a place
Where we can go
That is so cool
You will know
You will never be bored
There will always be something new
With a lot of fun
And plenty to do
Come with me
I have the key
And we will see


I have a secret
You do not know
If I told you
It would show
That I was smart
I was wise
It is my secret
It is my surprise
If I told you for sure
It would not be a secret anymore


The system is dumb
The system is blind
After they locked me up
The system will find
I had time to think
Time to explore
Plans to prosper
With so much more
I have changed
I am not the same
The way I was
Before I came
Now I am ready
To challenge the world
To make a big difference
When I am finally free
I will prove them wrong
I will be strong
To live a new life
I found the way
To do my best


These are the last days
I do not care what anyone says
When we see toil
All of earth spoil
Terrible hunger
Men going under
Legalized marriage of same sex
We are all under Satan's hex
Earthquakes everywhere
People who do not care
People who do not share
In the cities, excess rain
Those on drugs, to kill the pain
Crime and murder, all around
A lot of people, who cannot be found
False religion, many preach
Tons of oil, on the beach
Those of you, full of hate
Someday soon, you will meet your fate
Almighty God, has set a date
For you will see, there is no room
The Lake of Fire, will seal your doom


There was a great Angel in heaven
The bearer of light
Above all Angels, a very great sight
Full of beauty, and very bright
Shining on all, through the dark night
He had it all, in the palm of his hand
Ruled on earth, all of the land
From the highest Mountains, to the lowest sand
All was well, leader of the band
He was so jealous of God, he wanted to rule
Went his own way, and lost his cool
Convinced one-third of his Angels, to rebel
Lost the battle, and all went to hell
Earth re-Created, and made new
God made Adam and Eve, with plenty to do
To be a new ruler, of everything
From the fish in the sea, to the birds that sing
The bearer of light decided to plan
To take Control, of Woman and man
By disguise as a Snake, telling a lie
Eve was deceived, oh my, oh my, oh my


Late at night
I saw a bright light
An awesome sight
In the sky
That caught my eye
It came down
On the ground
It lit everything, all around
Turned night into day
I did not know, what to say
It spoke to me
From a tree
It told me all, about the key
The key to live
ls to give
All I Can
To the man
Who lived without sin
So I can win
Peace and love
In heaven above
Eternal life
Without Strife

When I woke up in the morning light
I spoke a prayer to Almighty God
That he has done right
I thanked Almighty God for another day of life
I thanked Almighty God for the air breathe
| prayed that Almighty God would end my strife
I prayed that Almighty God will never leave
I prayed the Lord's Prayer
Before I began
I thanked Almighty God for his care
After I was done
I gave Almighty God my love
And thanked Almighty God for his son
Who gave his life for me
ls preparing the way
And set me free
Free to choose
And free to pray
That I Will never lose
If you take your mornings
To remember your maker
You will take Almighty God's warnings
And escape the life taker


When I was four
I made a desire
For someone more
To admire
I tried to spell friend
Without the "r"
And to my end
I lost my star
I searched all of my life
To find a friend
And all received was strife
I thought it would never end
Until one day
I realized the power of prayer
I found the way
To find the one who cares
My search is over
My search is done
I found my four-leaf clover
The one who cares
His name is Jesus-Almighty God's son
Was always there
And I have won


When I was a little Lad
My Dad took his Family to New York City
I was too young to remember how pretty
I remember we went to Ellis Island
With the Statue of Liberty on the sand
We went inside, and started to Walk
Up the steps, while we talk
I was too tired, on the way
I cried to my Dad, and I had to say
"I cannot go any further, please carry me"
My Dad picked me up, and I was free
We got to Liberty's Shoulder
The way to her Torch, was out of order
We went to her Crown, and we looked around
A big, big city
With a lot of activity


On the Day I was Sentenced
I was with my Gal
She made me a promise
That She would always be my Pal
She told me that She would wait
And have a place
For When I am Paroled
Nine Months later
All a lie
She was gone
Without telling me why
She forgot her Promise
And left me cold
When Other Men
She did hold
I was hurt and I was sad
When the One I Loved
Was very bad
When I am Released
I will be boss
And She will suffer Her loss!!!


Before left
I conceived my Son
I had won
And I know
That I love Him so
| named him Joe
After my Dad
His name is Allan
But my Cousins call him Joe
My oldest Sister
Married a Man named Harry
His middle Name is Joe
We call him Joe
My second older Sister
Married a Man named Joe
My Son's Mom
Has a middle name Jo
That's how my Son 
Got his name Joe

Tim A. Copenhaver MB2696
SCI Houtzdale
P.O. Box 1000 (229FL)
Houtzdale, PA 16698-1000
I was born on August 08, 1963 at The Lock Haven Hospital in Lock Haven, Pennsylvania. My parents are Allan & Marcia Copenhaver. I have 2 older sisters who are both happily married. 

I am 5'8" tall, with long baby-fine brown hair, & brown eyes. I have never been married. I have a 5-year old son, named Joseph Alan, who I have never me. His mother left me nine months into my incarceration.

I like a variety of activities, except for sports. I really hope you enjoy my poems and I am open to any comments, suggestions, or questions that you may have for me. I give all my thanks and love to Almighty God who has blessed me.