I thought long and hard before deciding to write this article and unloose this can of worms that have been squirming through my mind due to the total frustration and often times feelings of helplessness caused by my environment. I want to release some of the frustrations, stress and feelings of anger before I explode with them or them within me. On August 23, 2004 at 11:57 pm Officer Wood and Officer Nelson came to my cell (12-ec-29) and woke me up out of a sound sleep informing me that I was on their nightly shake down list. (shake downs are performed by officers on a random basis, usually every 72 hours per cell, to look for contraband, I.E. too many bars of soap, family pictures that are not suppose to be on your walls, no escape hatches being dug through the 3’ cement walls with our rubber spoons….weapons..) Now the rules state that no shake downs should be taken place after 12 midnight. Seeing we awoke at 3 am for breakfast, the powers-to-be, think that anything less than the 3 hours undisturbed sleep would be cruel! They can be so kind and considerate, eh? Our own personal Texas Nazi Concentration Camp. So the 11:57 time they came to my cell was borderline seeing that the shake down in its entirety take a good 15 minutes to complete. Second the 2 said officers were both female and elderly female at that.
Now it also states in the TDCJ directive that 2 female officers are not allowed to strip out a male prisoner, nor are 2 male officers allowed to strip out a female prisoner, sexual harassment and all. Let me explain the shade down procedure. First off anytime a death row prisoner leaves his cell he is supposed to submit to a full strip search. Completely naked, open mouth, run hands through hair, left up his testicles, turn around, lift up both feet, spread butt-cheeks, and than put his boxers on and a pair of shoes, turn around with his back to the door and squat down to place his hands behind his back and through the food slot which is just a few inches more than 2 feet of the floor. Now I’m 6’2” tall and 200 plus pounds, not very comfortable I might add. So if all procedures are followed properly we are already beyond the midnight deadline. So far the 2 officers have violated 2 rules. Now seeing that the general public believes that the states opinion and my jury’s opinion state that I am suppose to be a heartless-cold-blooded-unremorseful killer, with who puts no value on human life…why the hell are 2 female officers in their way upper 50’s or mid 60’s even escorting me anywhere for any reason?
Ok enough foreground information to the point of this article. Now we go through the procedures to get me out of my cell and than they walk me down the run and put me in the shower and uncuff me through the bean-slot in the shower door. They go back and shake down my cage for a good 10 minutes and find nothing out of place I might add. They come and handcuff me, open the shower door and put me back into my cage. I clean up their shake down efforts and lay my unhappy ass back down to sleep.
Now at roughly 2:40 am Sergeant Kennedy brings me a case for assaulting Officer Wood. A very, very serious case, not to be taken lightly. You’d think not to be given lightly either. In the case officer Wood states that when she handcuffed me to get me out of the shower my hands jerked startling her and she hit the top of her hand of the bean slot. I was standing there half asleep still and totally dumbfounded. I just said “You gotta be shitting me!” That was my statement. The next night the 34th at 9 pm they told me to pack my property, I was moving to F-Pod which is solitary confinement for death row. You get no electronics, radio, coffee pot, typewriter…no commissary purchases, really nothing but your bible, legal work, paper and pen. So I sit in F-Pod for 6 days waiting to go to court. Now if someone would have come to visit me during these 6 days they would have been refused. The only incentive to be good on death row is our visits. I mean even on level one we are kept in our cages 23 hours a day. Let me not digress on that too much here… Now seeing that I am 6’2” an over 200 lbs you’d think if I was trying to assault an elderly lady officer I would wait ‘til I was out of the shower and being escorted back to m cage, right? I’m no tough guy by any means, but I think I could deal with two 55+ year old women with my hands cuffed behinds my back, frankly readers, that just is not my style. I’ve been on the row for over 7 years and have never assaulted a female officer. Well after my 6 days of pre-hearing-detention, I received my day in TDCJ Kangaroo Court. I was found innocent of assault and the charges were dropped down to incidental contact and I was given the 7 days cage restriction…remember that 23 hours a day in the cell, with 1 hours for recreation, well I just lost my 1 hour of recreation for a week for accidentally touching Officer Wood. When the Captain running that hearing asked Officer Wood if she thought there was anyway that this was an accident, Officer Wood said “NO!” When asked why she was so sure, she said, “The way he looked at me.” Now I remind you my back is facing a solid steel door with my hands out behind my back through the bean slot, how’d she see my face? Now if she is referring to what look was on my face as I got out of the shower, minutes in a shower waiting for the cage search to be completed, yes I am very sure the look on my face was less than cheerful to say the least. Now the reason I’m making a great big mountain out of, what y’all at this point think, is a molehill is this. Now if Officer Wood would have gotten her way, and the assault case stuck, I would have been trapped down in F-Pod for at least 3 months in which time I would only be allowed 1 visit a month for 2 hours only. Now that would have been hard hit seeing that I have a very wonderful woman from Germany coming to see me at the end of this month (September) for 2 special visits which are 4 hours each. Now she already spent a lot of money to come see me, tickets not refundable. In October I have another dear friend coming all the way from Washington State for a special visit, tickets already purchased. Now in November comes the most important and special visit I can ever receive. It is when my life, my joy, my heart, my happiness, my strength, my beautiful and preciously loving 7 year old daughter comes down for a special visit all the way from Chicago with my equally loving mother.
Now since Officer Wood was upset and said she was upset about all the extra work 1st shift officers left her, she was in a bad mood, or whatever the case may be…do you think that she stopped, even for a second to consider what her vicious lies or exaggerated truths to try and be fair to her older and feeble mind, could effect and hurt so many people not to mention the financial loss? No, she was upset with 1st shift and someone was going to pay. Power abuse, vicious power abuse. Another thing, if I’m supposed to be such a vicious and cold blooded killer, why is TDCJ allowing 2 elderly women to escort me anyway? Paranoid older ladies I might add.
The sad thing is this is just one isolated incident with on officer that I had a problem with. This power abuse happens everyday here on the Polunsky Unit, just a lot of men on the row don’t have the education to write about it, nor the means to put in on the internet to get out to the masses. I would like to thank Suzanne and James Cookston for being nice enough to allow us a place to voice our opinions and concerns, it means a great deal to me. Thank you guys! Can I talk for what? Ha!Ha!Ha! I want to thank y’all for “listening” and giving me the place to vent. God Bless!!!
In Struggle I Remain,