Letter of Protest
P.O. Box 3105 Rockhampton ShoppingFair
Queensland 4701 Australia
Phone 617 49211149
Facsimile 617 49271528
19th December, 2001
RE: Unacceptable conditions prevailing at Pollunsky Unit, Texas
My name is Noel E Cain, I live in Rockhampton, Queensland, Australia. My attention has been drawn to the situation on death row , Polunsky Unit, Texas concerning a prisoner named Roy Pippin. I have also been informed of the situations surrounding two other prisoners at death row namely:- Larry Hayes and Eddie Rowton (deceased). The latter died of coronary complications after being left unaided in his cell for two days in spite of appealling for help.
You may well ask, "What has this to do with me - a foreigner " To that I say, it has to do with everybody in that the situation violates human dignity. This is even more so significant after the dreadful events of 11th September this year which in fact involved Australian citizens. I remind the reader that Australia now as in the past stands shoulder to shoulder with the United States of America in the latter's hour of need. I firmly believe that both countries share the fate of each other in this epoch.
I remind the reader of the provisions of The Eighth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States of America referring to "cruel and unusual punishments". As if the imposition of the death penalty in this enlightened age is not pernicious enough, whilst waiting execution (sometimes for well over a generation) the unfortunate individuals are subjected to sub-human treatment by the State.
As I understand it, a death row prisoner is confined in a cell 60 sq.ft in area, for 23 hours a day. During the one hour the prisoner is allowed out of this confinement, he (or she) is not allowed to speak to anybody other than guards. Two days a week, the prisoner is transported to a small outdoor run. Should the weather be cold or inclement, the prisoner could be denied this exercise. Noise is constant in the cell block continuously for 24 hours a day. Each hour all night long a guard shines a torch into the cell of the prisoner until the latter stirs. Breakfast service commences at 3 am in the morning. The most basic rules of food preservation are ignored in that hot food is not served at the correct temperature thus providing for the incubation of harmful bacteria. Pancakes cooked in rancid oil and sour milk are not uncommon. Church service is denied the death row prisoners. Television is denied. Medical attention is not available in real terms except in the most dire circumstances. IF ALL THIS DOES NOT VIOLATE THE EIGHTH AMENDMENT, PLEASE SOMEONE TELL ME WHAT DOES.
Misconduct by guards is not investigated by independant officials. Minor infractions by prisoners are often manufactured into major disciplinary breaches with the resultant inappropriate punishments being meted out.
All of the above problems amount to, in my view, cruel and unusual punishment. I urge the reader, whom I thank for taking the time to read this letter, to take steps to have these matters investigated and alleviated urgently in the name of human dignity and decency.
I served as a Queensland (Australia) policeman for over thirty years. In that time, I had to deal with the most dispicable of the criminal class. I can empathise with the authorities in the Departments of Corrections in their trials and problems in dealing with the criminal class. Never-the-less, I believe that one must not oneself become inhumane and cruel. To lower oneself into the depths most of the prisoners find themselves is counter productive and is an affront to all who have spent a lifetime defending the law and who hold law enforcement dear. Please at least consider what I say. I wish the reader a very Merry Christmas and Prosperous New Year.
(Noel E Cain)
Copies of this letter have been forwarded to:
Gov. Rick Perry
Sec. General United Nations
New York, New York
Lt. Gov Bill Ratliff
The American Correctional Association
Alfred M. Stringfellow
Chairman, Texas Board of Criminal Justice
San Antonio, Texas
Vice Chairman Texas Board of Criminal Justice
Forth Worth, Texas
Texas Board of Criminal Justice
P.O. Box 3832
San Angelo, Texas
William "Hank" Moody
General Counsel TDCJ