CONDITIONS AT TERRELL UNIT - DEATH ROW, TEXAS

I can say with all honesty since learning of the conditions under which the men in the Terrell Unit are living it hasn't left my concious thought.  Time and again the point comes home that if any of us were to keep an animal in this manner we would be rightfully charged with cruelty and negelect.  The rights of pets are more enforceable than the rights of the condemmed.

The state of Texas has the legal right, unfortunately, to take the lives of these men....nowhere is it written that they have the right to take their sanity and human rights.

The motive of treating these men as less than human is presumably their crimes, whatever they may be (or not be in the case of the wrongfully convicted).  But if their crimes are the excuse for the crimes perpetrated against them where does it end?  Regardless of the reason any of the men are in Terrell, they are in fact, men.  Not inanimate objects to be shelved until called for for disposal.  They are men.

How can it be that agents of the state are measuring humanity by degrees?  These men are fed because they are human beings yet they are not fed adequately because they are condemmed.   The dichotomy is not only illogical but it is deliberate and systemic cruelty.  Their humanity cannot be taken from them in increments.  They have no voices from where they are so we cannot be silent about this.

The most "normal" among us would quickly deteriorate if locked away from all human contact in a room smaller than the average bathroom, fed little and badly, what contact we did have with people was violent, degrading, sexually humiliating.  I don't believe any among us could remain unaffected in the face of that.

If the prison and government officials cannot bring themselves to intervene on behalf of these men then maybe they should do it for the family and friends who love these men.  Loved the little boys they once were and love them still....hard as it is to stand by them it would be impossible to walk away.  If they cannot find a reason for compassion by looking into the eyes of these men then perhaps they should look into the eyes of their mothers.

Assault, theft, sexual harassment, battery...these are illegal in our society.  Why are they less illegal behind bars?

This isn't a lobby for the trivial.  This is about physical safety, an adequate diet,  sanitary conditions, prompt and sufficient medical care, personal dignity (there is no reason a female guard or SECRETARY should be present for a strip search. Ever.), work for productivity, and basic human contact.  Aren't these just the very basics of civilization?  to do otherwise is inhumane, cruel and unusual in the language of the law.

The treatment of these men is done in our name as americans, under the politically popular guise of being "tough on crime".  The rhetoric is very soothing for a justifiably fearful public.  This has been expertly done by every popular political figure bent on the extermination of a segment of society.  We cannot afford to forget that.

Sissel Egeland  denmark@online.no
Connie Nash   connienash2000@hotmail.com