First of all: welcome to this web site.

The written word is a road map of history and a means of enjoying oneself by a roaring fire on a rainy day. It is a conduit of knowledge, as anyone who has endured the rigors of school well knows. I first dabbled in expressing myself via the written word when I was a teenager, writing poems reflecting awkward and distant crushes on teenaged girls, the dance of trees as they enjoyed the tickle of the wind, or the burble of water as it massaged the creek bed into rippled and scalloped configurations. Poetry, remedial though mine was, provided an outlet for hormonal angst and the anger imposed by the parental edict that I was worthless, and for several years I pursued the art religiously, for when there is no one to listen to one's pain his only option is to invent a method of listening to himself. But then I graduated high school and the exigencies of work and an eventual family erased the opportunities to lose myself in the creative process of writing.

I was 24 when I came to death row, and my young mind, fresh from realizing the sophistic essence of America's "fair" justice system, began to absorb the reality of deception as a means of enforcing penal tactics that if known to the public would turn its collective stomach. Families and friends of the condemned, as if their loved ones were AIDS patients, cut all ties, and this played into the hands of the prison administrators, because in their view the most manageable prisoner is he who has no support, for he is totally dependent on the system. The prison employees, from among the directors to the lowest-ranking guards, engaged in a conspiracy of dishonesty, barbarism, and tyranny that violated any acceptable level of human decency, and when questioned about their behavior exhibited contumacy and arrogance, two characteristics that are more prevalent today than before. As the Russian novelist Fydor Dostoyevsky once implied, prisons are a microcosm of the societies by which they are built, and the primary goal of people, from the drug dealer on the streets to the tech-savvy Bill Gates, in our society is control. In one form or another this is true of every prison in the world, as the chilling words of Alexander Solzhenitsyn, Nien Cheng, Joseph Brodsky, and Wole Soyinka so attest.

Observing the machinations of the Texas Prison System, particularly its Death Row section, eventually ignited within my conscience a conflagration whose flames compel me to take up my pen and note my experiences, for the most poignant fear of the unwanted and maligned is that his baptisms of despair will be forever steeped in silence. There is no shortage of atrocities about which to write, and it is the responsibility of the humanitarian dissenter to spread the word, for if within these treacherous walls the word dies, so, too, does the world.

G. Wilford Hathorn.