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Sunday, November 6, 2011

Letters to a Future Death Row Inmate, Part 23


by Travis Runnels #999505

Part 22 can be seen here

Dear Mr Don’t Know Yet,

At this moment you're probably still wondering how you could have allowed yourself to end up in such a predicament. A piece of advice, the time for contemplating is over and living to survive has started. Grab my hand and let me welcome you to a place we call home. Never forget that no matter how depressing your surroundings may seem you have an adaptability about you that will kick in despite the hopelessness that may surround you. Steady yourself to wake up to the noise of doors slamming, men yelling obscenities at the top of their lungs at the guards who are coming around to feed breakfast at 3 AM in the morning. The same will make enough noise to wake the dead with the banging and clanking of keys, all for a tray of cold pancakes, lumpy oatmeal that’s really a solid mass, and cup of powdered milk. Say hello to prison catering.

"Offender! Offender! Do you want to take a shower? Offender?" Take a walk to a shower that you must share with a crowd of other men who leave their dirt and residue behind for the next in line to step over. You finish and try to find some form of fresh air that has been swallowed up by the steam from the shower that has no escape because the vents don’t work. Go back to a cell that is crowded with a toilet/sink combo, a table and a bunk. Sit at this table that is less than 3 feet away from the toilet you use to dispose of bodily wastes. Touch the walls that you feel closing around you 22 to 24 hours per day. Feel the pressure, suffer the aroma in the air of the humans who have come before you, who lived and breathed the same congested air. Open your hands and stroke the walls that hold the memories of the dead killed by the state in legalized murder. Your life is on the brink of being over and your surroundings will swallow you up if you are too slow to realize this. Inmates, officers, and lawyers can all be made to misuse you in your naiveté. Take a spoon of this food I offer you and taste the bitterness of a man converted into a number. We are all under the power and control of people indifferent to your cares or dreams. Watch with me as the sun goes down and take in that another day of life has passed you by. Mark it off in your soul but be ready for the sun to rise the next day because it starts all over again. The horror, the helplessness, the despair, the killings and all to do with the continuation of your confinement.

If you are not fortunate enough to have family that supports you the most important thing for you to do is gain as many penpals as you can to help support you and get others involved in your fight. Having people that believe in you that offer moral and mental support is very important for your own mind. Your hope will rise from those around you that believe in you and your right to live. So many guys are swallowed up by these cells, where they have doubts about their self worth and when there is no outside support it gets too much for them to bear.

Words are all I can give you but moving forward it comes down to you and how much strength you have within you despite how things may seem to be going. There have been those before you that were minutes from execution and never gave up and live now today to tell of the experience. So there's never a time to think that all is lost. Everyday in the outside society people are beginning to understand and realize the perils of the death penalty.

Keep your mind immersed in positive energy and people will come into your life to help you through the tough times and days that seem to go on forever. The hardest challenge you may face in life is living a life you don’t want to live, but have to live.

Travis Runnels



© Copyright 2011 by Travis Runnels and Thomas Bartlett Whitaker.
All rights reserved

5 comments:

Charlotte Betting said...

Judging by the documentary Travis wield he knife but the justice system and prison sentence signed that guards death sentence.
I'm surprised it didn't happen sooner when you suffer at the ignorance of a justice system that is supposed to reform and rehabilitate it's clear their only concern is punishment for prisoners robbing them of hope will only end in thir death or someone else's.
It's clear that Travis felt guilt. I suspect the judge that sent an 18 yr old kid for stealing a car to lifetime imprisonment which resulted in the death of the guard bears no such burden.

Charlotte Betting said...

Judging by the documentary Mind of A Murderer (which by the way always shows 'murderer's' as some sort of alien creature not human being's) Travis wielded the knife but the justice system and prison sentence signed that guards death warrant.
I'm surprised it didn't happen sooner when you suffer at the ignorance of a justice system that is supposed to reform and rehabilitate it's clear their only concern is punishment for prisoners robbing them of hope will only end in thir death or someone else's.
It's clear that Travis felt guilt. I suspect the judge that sent an 18 yr old kid for stealing a car to lifetime imprisonment which in turn resulted in the death of that guard bears no such burden.

Unknown said...

Watching this documentary really confirm their is no justice for young black men .The seventy year sentence was Texas making a horrible example of Travis Tunnels,I can only pray that an appeal of wrongful 70 year sentence will be overturned because he didn't deserve that .

TAMMY GUIDER said...

Watching this documentary really confirm their is no justice for young black men .The seventy year sentence was Texas making a horrible example of Travis Tunnels,I can only pray that an appeal of wrongful 70 year sentence will be overturned because he didn't deserve that .

dre darrough said...

Well I grew up with travis and a suburb in dallas called pleasant grove he was a good kid growing up. He had a two parent home matter of fact I my first job was us working for his dad at the age of 13. The system failed this guy by giving a 70 yr sentence.I made some mistakes also but learned from mines and know 30 yrs later Im a successful business owner and Dallas with a wife and 3 kids. I will continue to pray for Travis was made a example by the judge that gave him a 70 yr sentence.