I think that the point of
Innocence is a tricky issue back here. Many men claim it. Most of these are liars. All of these do not appreciate skepticism of their claims, generally in proportion to how obviously false they are. I do not think that most of these guys realize the damage they do to the truly, actually innocent when they try to fake their way to survival. All it takes is one "innocent" to be proven guilty to poison the well for years. Judges suddenly fear going out on a limb for defendants even more than normal. The public feels abused and manipulated. Men who might have gotten hearings are denied. In short, lying about innocence kills the truly innocent. Maybe they do realize what they are doing, and just cannot help it. A cornered animal is prone to do most anything while trying to survive.
I have learned to keep my mouth shut about innocence. For one, few people care what I think on the matter. More importantly, I do not want to screw up someone’s defense of their life. So even though I am rarely vocal on the matter, it is constantly on my mind. Recently, I heard a story about one of the really decent guards here apologizing on behalf of society too a man about to be executed who also happened to be claiming innocence. It was weird how one sentence could make me feel so simultaneously disgusted and proud of our species. You never get told this, Officer Decent, but the way you carry yourself matters. It matters a lot. And these murders matter, a lot. I find myself stewing over some cases, wanting to help in some small way. I am a realist, though, above all else, and I know that I am just as powerless to stop these sorts of things as the person actually involved.
Beyond that, it really matters more to me how a man chooses to act on a daily basis in this world than what he mayor may not have done a decade ago. Or two decades ago. Or three. Some of the best men I know some of the best men I have ever known in my entire life are people who are clearly and undeniably guilty of the crimes they were convicted for. As fearsome as Polunsky Unit is, it has nothing on the determined will of a man wanting to be better today than he was yesterday. Even I am sometimes convinced of a person's innocence, though, by the character I see in their attitudes. A seed of doubt gets planted, and it grows and grows in my mind until I become a believer.
The interesting thing about every single one of the men that I believe to be truly innocent is that none of them tried to sell me on this fact. This is in direct opposition to most of the bullshitters, who are constantly selling tokens of their innocence in the dayrooms; people like Lester Bower and Will Irvan never do this. They don’t need to sell it. They are it.
The first time I met Louis "Big Lou" Perez , he made me an enormous tamale. Shot it right out to the dayroom. It was the size of a bottle of shampoo. He still does this every time I make it to his dayroom, which, by pure coincidence, I try to arrange as often as I can. We have never spoken of his case, but when I came across the facts in a newspaper editorial, they rang true. Very recently, a photographer named Tonia Kruger compiled a PHOTO ESSAY on Big Lou, which also briefly outlines some of the issues casting doubt upon his guilt. Some of these images are new to me, and are pretty illustrative to some of the larger points I have been trying to make on this site.
The photo that hit me the hardest was the one where you see that they simply put the date of death and the inmate’s number on the tombstone. No names: you are a number when you come into the system, and you are a number when you go out of it. Was mich nicht umbringt, macht mich starker. Or something.
Getting in the last word:
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