AN ADDRESS TO SOCIETY
AN ADDRESS TO THE TEXAS BOARD OF PARDONS AND PAROLES
AND THE GOVERNOR OF THE STATE OF TEXAS
FROM TEXAS DEATH ROW PRISONER GERALD LEE MITCHELL
As the countdown continues towards the day of October 22nd, which is the scheduled day of my possible execution, my psychology is running wild with considerable amount of different thoughts and emotions. What I am on right now is an out-of-control and terrifying emotional roller coaster ride. There is a lot of psychological preparation struggling to be conducted. So much confusion. So many thoughts and emotions scrambling to be sorted out. But there doesn't seem to be enough days within a month to do so properly. I'm finding myself becoming more and more unprepared psychologically to face each tomorrow, hoping that each day will be selfish and stubborn and take it's time moving on and eventually giving way to tomorrow's turn.
Though I have been incarcerated now for 16 years, beginning from the age of 17, now that the threat of death is at it's greatest; I am wondering where all the years have gone. It seems now that I have arrived at this point too quickly. Now I find myself reaching back for the years when I made the comment 'Man, I've been locked up too long'. Now I'm thinking not long enough.
At one time, I tried to daily busy myself with doing many different things, but now I find myself wanting to do very little because the busier you keep yourself, the faster the time passes by and I'm trying my best to hold on to time. To preserve as much of it as I possibly can. And there's not a lot of time left till that approaching day. Nor is there a lot that my attorney has to work with as he tries desperately and devotedly to win me a stay of execution as the days count down to the set date. He has been my attorney for the short period of 13 or so years. To his credit, he put very thoughtful and meaningful time and effort into representing me and on the human level he is my champion because he has fought, and continues to fight so relentlessly for my life. He has shown me that he cares truly; he has put so much passion into his work. Thanks Mr. Scheider.
As the days countdown to the day of my scheduled execution, other executions are taking place around me. Guys who I have come to know and care a great deal about. Guys who haven't been locked up long enough - just like myself, guys who - like myself - felt/feel that there is so much more to them than what's been presented to life during the point of their arrests. Guys who have over the years made great strides to better themselves. To right their wrongs. To kill off that character that had done so much wrong to so many people in this play called life, and replace that character with a different one. A far better one. A favorable one to society.
Just as my attorney and I, these guys had/have little to work with as they attempted/attempt to fight off their date of execution. And in the end, their lives were/are placed in the hands of the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles - under the authority of the governor of Texas.
On Saturday August 18th, 2001, I had an enimately emotional visit with my sister and mother. The visit was the first in what seemed like a century for my mother and I, but actually, it had been, I guess, 2 or 3 years less than a decade since she and I last visited. It took only the sight of my mother and my sister to kindle an eminently extensive and heightened pain within me. Their faces bore great pain and suffering, disquietude, helplessness and quavering fear. They cried. I cried. We cried 3gether.
Throughout the 2 hour visit, there were interstices of silence. Each of us being as much within our own thoughts as we were struggling to conjure up things to say. My mother asked me two of the very questions which I myself quietly ask daily, hourly. Her questions being: 1) Do you think it's really going to happen? 2) What about the Parole Board? Do you think if it all comes down to them, they will spare your life, at least until they look closer at the fact that you were just 17 years old at the time?
I was completely honest and straightforward in answering those two questions and in answering the first; I told her that I really don't know. That I hope and pray that it doesn't. That I am with faith that everything will work out favorably for me. I was honest and straightforward in telling her that I am not ready to leave this world yet. And that yes, I am with fear.
In answering the other question, I presented my mother and sister with a fact, and then I went on to share with them the consensus concerning the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles, in relation to Death Row prisoners who turn to them - after all else fails - for abatement. Of course, I informed them that this consensus is of the Death Row community and those throughout this country and around the world who are fighting for the abolition of the death penalty. The fact that I presented to them, that holds true to the best of my knowledge is that there has been but a soul to receive such abatement from the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles. And that from observation of the Parole Board, it is strongly held that they are as punitory as the court of law. That the Board members are not in possession of an agreeableness to logical ratiocination. That there is a demission of fairness and impartiality in the process of deliberation and consideration in terms of possibly granting clemency to a Death Row Prisoner. It's said that the Governor of Texas says that he acts on recommendations from the Texas Parole Board, and that the Texas Parole Board says that their higher authority - the Governor - is the one who makes the final decision. That they look for recommendations from the Governor's office and if this is true, then it's considered passing the buck - which is shifting responsibility or blame to and fro.
So many people are skeptical that the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles actually assembles in order to review the cases - appeals of Death Row Prisoners seeking abatement - and deliberate thoughtfully and meaningfully before they render a decision. It is strongly held that the two representatives of the Texas Parole Board members who interviews the Death Row prisoner, never actually files a report or recommendation to the other Board Members. That the decision to not grant clemency is made well in advance, even before the interviewing of the prisoner. It is held by many that the decision is made even before the Death Row inmate are given an execution date; and the final steps of the appeals resting in the hands of the Parole Board, that the reason for the representatives bothering at all to conduct the interview is to merely be in accordance with required rules and procedures and to also make it appear as if the Parole Board actually do engage in a meaningful and thoughtful process of reviewing all of the evidence and facts - appeal - before granting (or 'DENYING') the request for clemency.
That, my answer (turned discussion) to my mother's second question proved to be a very tearfully frightening revelation and the helplessness and pain that they wore on their faces became even greater. But it all had to be shared with them, not wanting to envelope their minds within the state of false hope and reckless anticipation.
Psychologically, I am in my au naturel and so I gave to my mother and my sister the naked truth. Well, I really can't say naked truth because I am not with any proof of what I have said concerning the Parole Board and it's (their) approach to Death Row prisoners and the state of appealing for clemency.
I am not in any way attacking the Parole Board Members and their representatives. I've merely put forth the opinions, beliefs, and sentiments that many people are with where the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles and Governor of Texas is concerned. I'm not being judgmental or condemning them because for all I know, it very well might be the dissemination of propaganda. It could be individuals, groups, acting out/retaliating in detrimental blind rage for what they hold is unfairness, partiality and injustice.
Speaking for myself - the only thing I can honestly hold true to - concerning the Texas Parole Board, is that again, to my knowledge, merely a soul out of hundreds of Death Row prisoners who have come before the Parole Board pleading for clemency have been granted such. It would be unwise of me to try and find fault and judge with severity for I would have for my defense merely Exhibit A, Henry Lee Lucas (May He Rest in Peace), being the sole death row prisoner to have been granted clemency. (Not every Death Row prisoner who was with an execution date met with representatives of the Parole Board for possible clemency. There were many who turned down the Interview, feeling, - I guess - that it's pointless to appeal to the Parole Board for Clemency. But I really can't speak on their reasons for not doing so because I do not know really what was going through their minds. ) Other than that, all I have is, from word of mouth, and from reading, great speculation and abstract reasoning.
Though I strongly desire my life to be prolonged for many years more, I will not beg for my life. Yes, I ask that the Parole Board and the Governor of Texas take my request for clemency under thoughtful and meaningful consideration. I am not all bad. There is so much good within me. Many positive and socially winning qualities. I have come so very long a way since that year of that mentally disturbed and unsettled 17 year old person. I have truly matured. I am so knowledgeable of life now. I am with the true understanding of the very essence of human benevolence. And just as I have changed in such a great way for the better, I hope and pray that there will soon be a change in many people's beliefs and opinions and attitudes. A less severe judgment of others. Leaving the condemnation of the soul to damnation to the Lord our Savior.
Hopefully I will be with the chance to prove my worth and value. To prove the validity of the resurrection of my spirit/soul. That in this day and age, the worst of all the prodigal sons can truly return.
It is deeply heartfelt that there are those in society and around the globe who are embedded within the folds of remission in the deepest recesses of their heart. People who are offering us a thirst quenching drink from within the psychological cup of their ever-youthful love, care, understanding and forgiveness. Those people who fight so relentlessly and courageously for the rights of all humanity. Those whose minds are not enslaved within the chains of ignorance, hatred and vengefulness, but resides within the rationalism that our mortal sins are venial.
I am a born again Christian (GLORY BE TO GOD). Yes, I continue to stumble. I am human and to err is human. But I do not use this fact for my crutch. I strive to be the very best Christian that I can humanely be. It's my duty as a Christian to inform you that JESUS LOVES YOU - AND GERALD LEE MITCHELL LOVES YOU AS WELL. It matters not at all who you are - I love you. The Texas Governor and the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles as well, as well as all of those who wished me dead.
Over the years, I have run out of hate. Never will I seek to resupply myself with any. Hate attributes to evil and evil no longer holds possession of my life. The time doesn't appear at this point to be promising for me to have the opportunity to prove my worth and value. The day of my scheduled execution is fast approaching. Every day that brings me nearer to that set date causes the light of hope to become just a little dimmer. But being a Christian, a true Believer, believing in and trusting my Father in heaven - and applying myself deeply to His teachings - I am with unending and unwavering faith. And so the lamp of the light of hope will continue to shine until my human eyes close in eternal sleep.
LIFE - I never really understood it. Never desired to truly and righteously embrace it. Never accepted the true meaning of it until that dark day when I began standing in the very center of the shadows of death.
Peace and love, caring, understanding, prosperity, bountifulness and a long-lasting life here on earth be with each and every one of us. Us being the whole of the human race.
Gerald Lee Mitchell