Utility Menu

Volume 16 | Issue 4 | October - December 2012


For those of us who are familiar with the Christmas story those two words come to mind. In pondering them we remember that those first glad tidings were indeed for all the people, no matter where they were, on death row, in the fields keeping their sheep as well as also for you and me.
Recently I was reminded just how important glad tidings are when there was an outpouring of joy from our supporters on the news that a developmentally delayed man had his death sentence commuted. Nothing had happened that affected our friends directly, but they were glad. At the time, I made a mental note of the importance of glad tidings for all of us.
I believe that glad tidings are Indeed one of the gifts of Christmas which we should give each other. I am not sure that this is always an easy gift to give, and certainly stopping at a store or shopping on line is a whole lot simpler. And you may well ask how can you expect meto bring you glad tidings when I am on death row; In prison; In a hospital or homeless on the street? Certainly, It takes courage; the courage to say "yes" to our circumstances and it takes love. Love because it requires a conscious decision on our part to protect the other as well as ourselves the best we can from the darkness.
I wish I could promise you, our faithful friends that I will protect you from the darkness, which appears to beckon to us in 2013. I know that I can't, however I can promise you that we will continue to search for the light in our darkest hours, and that even then we will be mindful of the glad tidings which are for all the people and for all times.
We will find the glad tidings in our diverse belief systems, in your friendship and in the love that makes us of phadp say that we are family. Our Christmas present to you is that we want you to know that even in the year ahead when we have to share sad news with you, we will not lose sight of the Glad Tidings. We will remember that for those of us in the northern hemisphere, the first Christmas took place on the darkest night of the year. What a great symbol for us!
And so in closing, I wish all of us the peace, joy, love and glad tidings that are for all the people not only at Christmas but at all times.

Esther Brown


In looking forward to the coming holidays, and reflecting on the passing year, I am struck by the extreme contrast in our emotional state from the beginning part of 2012, to now, at it's very end. The year began with 2 execution dates and the very real prospect of many more to follow. Such a thing is always terrible and emotionally debilitating, but one of those execution dates had the added aspect of being for a long-time Hope board member. As our supporters know, we had just recently lost a board member to execution, and the idea of losing yet another was almost more than we could take. That was the beginning of 2012.
I can't adequately express our joy, that those two executions were not carried out. As a matter of fact, there have been NO executions by the state of Alabama, in 2012, due to a legal challenge of the execution protocol. That good news, coupled with some other favorable court rulings for various men on the row, has turned what promised to be another execution filled year, into a year of thankful gratitude and wondrous moments spent with someone who was not expected to be alive for any of them. And even though we are painfully aware that next year may bring horrors untold, we must take each piece of good news to heart, use them to sustain us and recharge our abolitionist batteries.
So it is with these things in mind that I find myself, this week before Thanksgiving, paying closer attention to the "good news" in my life both organizationally and personally. I am grateful for all of you who have never even met us, yet continue to support us in this (let's face it) unpopular cause. I am grateful for the men and woman that I work with on a daily basis, who I glean comfort from and the will to continue tilting at windmills. Personally, I'm grateful to have conneoted and reconnected with friends and family. I am humbled by the care and affection shown me by the few extraordinary friends I have been blessed with in the years I've been here.
They say hope springs eternal, and I really hope that's true. OOPs, there I go hoping. Maybe it IS true. I can say, that Today is good. I wish us all an unending supply of good todays. As ever, I ask that you all help us keep Hope alive.

Happy Holidays, everyone.
Jeff Rieber
Z-540 H-8

Dear Family and Friends,
Greetings and Salutations! Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays too! Well another year is behind us and with it both good and bad memories. Another year is before us and Christ willing there will be more good than bad memories ahead.
As you may know from reading my Editorials in the past, I am a "foodie" or maybe just a glutton although I prefer the former to the latter description. And as luck would have it, or as I believe, we have been blessed here at Holman with a three day KAIROS retreat. KAIROS is a non-denominational religious organization that deals in prison ministry and prisoner family ministry. In my experience they are a low pressure, high impact group that are beloved by us here on death row. The retreat's general message is Agape and this is exemplified by free world meals and fellowship. Nothing makes one feel more human and less forgotten in prison than interacting with sincere people from the outside. And the food is not bad either.
Unfortunately, I am suffering from a cold which has knocked my taste buds for a loop. I had fried chicken, sweet potatoes with pecans, cabbage with sausage, vanilla pudding with Oreo crumbles, pulled pork, and ham. And I could not taste a thing. Now this may not be the most usual of responses but, all of this just increases my eagerness for Thanksgiving, Christmas and the holiday food that comes along with it.
Under all situations it is imperative to find the positive. And though this is not always easy, when one considers the gift of grace that God grants us who believe, hope or faith in things unseen are never all that far away. We just have to take the time to look. Speaking of which, how great are buffalo chicken wings?
Remember the reason for the season, and keep Hope alive!

In Christ,
Ronald B. Smith jr.
Z-586 H-6


Every day I wake up I thank God for anotha day. I thank him for every possible thing I can think of bcuz I kno that it's bcuz of him I'm grateful.
I thank God for the older guys who sit down and talk to me so I won't have to go thru the things they went thru and wait'd so long to do it. Even tho I already kno the things they talk to me about, I still give thanks bcuz I look at it as reminders. If somebody will talk to you about the things you already kno are good, that person obviously care and don't wanna see you take the wrong path.
I got a friend who would join a conversation about money, cars, clothes and females and 5 minutes into it, he'll walk off without saying anything and start a different conversation with a different person bcuz he kno that ain't important no more. A lot of people might not see it and respect it, but I do and I thank God for workin thru him that it will have an effect on me. And it's not just him that do things that answer my questions to big things, it's a lot of the death row guys. So with that said, I wanna thank y'all too bcuz y'all help me at times and y'all don't even be knowin it. "Never stop setting examples bcuz believe me, somebody's watchin."

T. Townes
Z-782 G-13


The holiday season has once again come around. I enjoy this time of year. Everyone is jolly and so full of spirit. I ask myself, why can't it be this way all year round?
In my heart I would much rather be home with my kids and family, and I'm sur my fellow brothers on life row would agree with me. However, I'm thankful just to be healthy. Even behind these bound walls, I try to find happiness in the midst of ungodly things. And believe it or not, I do find happiness.
Some may say that because I'm on the row, I shouldn't be happy. Well, to those I say, God has already done so much for me, there is no earthly reason not to be happy. Peace and joy to all this holiday season.

Courtney Larrell Lockhart
Z-776 F-12


Throughout my life, I have been witness to the veritable death of a holiday as old as the nation. In truth, in my youth, I was no bystander in the passing of this,institution. It was my least favorite, and more hassle than joy. It was only as I grew older and watched the slow decline as the decades passed that I recognized and regretted the loss of this day's glory.
This is not my first time speaking on this subject. It is, however, the first time I've had reason to do more than lament the fading tradition. It is the first time I have had a true and binding reason to give thanks on the day given for it. And that is what I intend to do.
You see, I wasn't supposed to be alive to give thanks on Thanksgiving day. I was never supposed to see the Fall at all. (Hee Hee, I made a ryme) And for that reason alone, I will happily celebrate Thanksgiving in the manner it was meant.
I give thanks for my life. however little I have left. I give thanks for the attorneys that worked and work so hard to give me that life, for however long they manage. I give thanks for my brothers and friends who kept me sane while I walked the edge of this life. And I give thanks most of all to Mother, that took me as her own and did all in her power to make my last days peaceful and joyous. And lastly, I give thanks for all of you and those like you who support us and hold hope for the day we may all wake without fear for our lives.
On this day, in this year, in this life that I was never meant to see, I Carey Grayson give thanks. May all of us have reason to do the same next year, as the near forgotten holiday of Thanksgiving rolls around again.

I give thanks to you all,
Carey Grayson
Coordinator PHADP
Z-598 H-11


Each year, I get the same 4 gifts...and when I think of it...some of you all do too. But the good news is, that we all can share in these gifts. I love this time of year... I awaken each Christmas morning with a big smile, ‘cause I see those 4 huge gifts under the tree of my life. I open the first, and find my life filled with an awesome sense of peace; a peace you've never known before. I open the second, and experience an overpowering love for others, even those who have wronged me. I open the third, and I get energized with a faith that enables me to believe God for anything, even things some think are impossible. Finally, I open the fourth, and receive such a grace, that I can handle criticism and hurt and not want to retaliate.
Sounds far fetched, huh? Not at all. Listen, May God give peace‘to you... And love, with faith... May God's grace...be upon all who sincerely love our lord Jesus Christ. Eph. 6:23, and think, you won't have to return any of these gifts because, they're just what you need. And the best part is, God's already given them to you; all you have to do is receive them by faith, and start using them.

Anthony Tyson
Z-641 N-17


We live in a world that is created on the principle of change. If the acorn fears falling from the tree, how could the oak tree grow? The sperm goes from a small life-germ, then from a clot, the God brings you forth as a child; then you may attain your maturity, then you may be old. So many of us get accustomed to doing what we do, the same old way (status quo). I realize that changing is a challenge for a lot of people, because it pushes you out of your comfort zone. I embrace change, it is not something that's impossible to do. If you look closely at the word IMPOSSIBLE, it really tells you I'M POSSIBLE. Sometimes change means finding the courage to stand alone because not everybody will embrace the truth that everything changes, except Almighty God.

Craig Newton
Z-727 H-1


* Alabama Arise voted the death penalty moratorium initiative in as one of their issues for the coming year.
* Esther did a conference call/board meeting with "Journey of Hope".
* The Huntsville Times did a poll asking; "Should Alabama put the death penalty to a vote (referendum)? YES votes totaled: 63.16% while the NO votes totaled: 36.84%
* Esther attended the Alabama NAACP annual conference, in Huntsville. It was lots of work, long days, and very much worth it.
* Justice and Mercy (JAM) are continuing their work, with lots of plans for the coming year.
* 10—10—12 was the European Union's "World Day" against the death penalty.
* PHADP Development Officer, Brandon Fountain is attending the 2012 National Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty Abolitionist Leadership Training Institute (ALTI) November 16-18 in Washington, D.C.
* PHADP is giving a Recognition Award to Simon Jackson, for his work on two death penalty papers (including power point presentations). One was done in Idaho and the other in New Zealand Thank you, Simon, for spreading knowledge of the death penalty issue far and wide.
* University of Alabama student, Jenny Allon, of Student Arise and the UA School of Social Work contacted the PHADP office in connection with a November 14th death penalty event called "The Death Penalty from a Social Perspective". Esther was able to provide her with various printed information, in support of the event, as well as contacting our own former board member Gary Drinkard (now board member of Witness to Innocence) as a featured speaker. The event was a huge success, with several promising contacts as well as a very nice write up on Gary as featured speaker, in the University of Alabama's Crimson White newspaper. We thank Jenny and all others involved for putting on this event and raising awareness of the death penalty issue.

Another year-
has come and gone-
in this life of ping-pong-
where did something so right-
go so wrong-
and someone tell me-
when did night become so long?-
Made weak by what was meant-
to make us strong-
Another year-
has come and gone!
Emerge, spring forth and look at the world around you..With all the destruction, terror and sadness that we all have faced throughout this‘year, it's time to look at yourself and say I'm still here!
To live another year to fight another day and to take all I've learned from my many battles and be strong for another...To all the symbols of Hope I, we, say thank you and Happy Holidays...

Tony Barksdale
Z-611 F-24


I know folk don't care much to hear this kind of talk, but it's real, in what I have left in my life. It's also the truth. Even though some of us smile and try to stay positive, the fact remains the same, that this is a miserable life. Each day that goes by, we hope for some good news whether it's from watching the news and they get rid of the death penalty, to receiving some mail or something more simple, like being able to walk outside on the exercise yard that day. We have a better chance to walk than any of the others, and our chances to walk are slim. This is an every day thing for a person on death row, to hope and pray for a miracle. Each day that we do this, it takes off another day of our life, and a piece of our hope. And it gets closer and closer to the end.
Here is something new I want to add to my list of hoping daily for good news; That whoever reads this will send a prayer up to God, for us here on death row. The more prayers that go up, the more blessings that will come down. We want the death penalty off the table. Keep us up in prayer.

Wakilii Brown


I may have lost my right to vote, but I didn't lose my voice. with my voice, I told everyone I know to vote for Obama. I was so happy to be a part of history being made that I became emotional. As I sat and began to think of all of the things my parents and grandparents had to go through in a time when they weren't allowed to vote. They were even told, if your grandparents didn't have the right to vote, then you'll never have the right to vote. Hands that pick cotton could never pick presidents.
The idea of an African American becoming president was unthinkable. Now, not only is there an African American president but he's a two term president. I would like to thank all of the people who voted for president Obama and for keeping the dreams alive that so many people dreamt of. A time when the Jim Crow way of thinking would be a thing of the past. And as long as the person is the right person to lead America, it doesn't matter what the color is, of that person's skin. Man or woman, it's about that person's ability to make America great. And everyone can see that America is the true land of opportunity In my opinion, if America would end the death penalty and stop creating laws that are designed to hurt the minorities, such as the three strikes law and mandatory sentencing, America can then without any doubt be the country the song was talking about; My country tis of thee, sweet land of liberty, of thee I sing.

Z—536 H-12


I want to begin by wishing all of our many supporters, family members and followers Happy Holidays. I'm a big Alabama football fan and it's joyful to watch that Tide Roll baby Roll. Even after a tough loss, I remain joyful, after all to win a national championship in two of the last three years...that's amazing. I also want to thank everyone who is not an Alabama football fan. It's really crowded over here, when you're the best, many want to get on board.
In closing, we will finish strong, with a victory over Auburn in the Iron Bowl and maybe another championship. I'll keep hope alive.

Brent Martin
Z-746 N-3

I want to wish all who are reading this a happy holiday season. It's truly important to remember our loved ones at this time and to reach out to all those in need, be it only a comforting hello or hug. This has been quite an up and down year for myself, with the end of it on a high note. I'm most happy that I have people in my life who are near me daily and that care for me. I'm truly blessed in many ways and I pray for all out there to find your blessings. Take care & Happy Holidays.

Jason Sharp
Z-729 I-25


Remember those who will go without this holiday season. Seems that every year, at the beginning of the season, people's houses get broken into, houses burn down, storms happen. Those on the east coast, I feel for ya. Though I didn't go through that experience with them, I'm from the bottom and I have been without. Though I never had, or lived in, a house that burned down, I have seen a few. Back in the 90's, in Collegeville, I witnessed a family's apartment burn at the beginning of winter The neighborhood came together, as usual when tragedies happen, that day. My mom offered her fire extinguisher to a neighbor who tried to go in the apartment and rescue the mother and two or three children that were inside. He ran through the front door and up the stairs before running back out and sadly realizing that he couldn't make it to the location of the kids in the house. The hood didn't give up though. We went to the back where the mother was screaming out for help. The kid she was able to reach, she had to throw out the window, and later, herself jump; The hood-soldier then went through the back window and was able to make it to the children in the front of the apartment. The kids were rescued and had to be treated immediately. .
In 2003, the house where I lived with my aunt was broken into. All of my clothes and designer glasses were stolen, and all the kids Christmas gifts. It was a hard Christmas, but we bounced back though. One time for the hood, one time for the victims, my feet are still on the ground, because I still remember and can relate.

Randy Lewis
Z-741 I-18


Focus is like your compass, it draws close to whatever your goal is. And without focus, you're easy to be tricked by something that ain't real. Your focus determines if you live or get killed, because if you lose focus, and don't keep up with your appeals, that's when I bet you wish you would focus instead of you and your family shedding tears. Because this ain't t.v., this is the real deal and the state will kill you after your last appeal. So stay focused and you've got a better chance to make it out of here.

Clayton Antwain Shanklin
Z—783 F—3

Hello, to all of our readers. I truly appreciate the love and support you bless us with. I would like to wish you all a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.
I have so much I would like to say, but due to space limits and how I would say it, it wouldn't do anyone any good. Right now, on the row, the majority of us are getting ready to order holiday packages. On this matter, to all who get a package, please be grateful. All of us know, there are some here who aren't as fortunate as others and don't have anyone to order their packages. They end up doing without.
On a brighter note, I must say, this has been a pretty good year for Alabama's death row. This year, we've been blessed /to not have to witness any of our brothers be murdered by the state. We've been blessed to witness quite a few of our brothers to leave and get off the row. We've been blessed to see some favorable court rulings to help some of our brothers here.
It took me keeping up with the Presidential election to see all this and actually figure out how to put my article together. As President Obama ran for re-election he faced so much negativity; Lies and numerous obstacles from his opponent. If we compare the election to our fight to end capital punishment, President Obama showed us what happens when we stand strong, continue to fight the fight and have faith and hope in the justness of our cause.
As Project Hope to Abolish the Death Penalty and other organizations fight to end capital punishment, we will face hard times and so much opposition, that we will feel like we're never going to win. However, just like President Obama, if we stand strong and have faith and hope, we will claim victory. Just as President Obama did in his victory speech, when asking Congress to come together and be as one to help American citizens to help the country overcome these difficult times, I ask all organizations who oppose the death penalty, all individuals who oppose the death penalty and everyone on death row across the nation and world to come together as one, put our differences to the side and present a untied front to end capital punishment.
Again, I wish you all a very happy holiday season. As you enjoy the festivities with family, friends and loved one's, please be mindful and remember those who are less fortunate than you.

Season's Greetings!
David Riley

I CHOOSE. . . ,

Much Love,
Eagle Eye


Reflecting on what I have.....my health, family, friends and the ability to dream. Many of us coast through life not knowing what we have. The saying "don't know what you got until it's gone" has become a huge reality to me. I believe this is why I've gained a new perspective on life and a great appreciation for the things I do have.
On a lighter note: Auburn Football- speaking of not knowing what one has until it's gone..... Tommy Tuberville, where art thou?? This season really makes me appreciate Auburn's 2010 National title. with that said, the holidays are creeping up. Hope everyone has a blessed Thanksgiving and Christmas. Take a moment to appreciate what you have, hold on to the things in life that are irreplaceable and be thankful no-matter the circumstances.

Tim Boyle
Z-768 O-16


As another year prepares to come to an end, it means the holiday season is upon us. So, I would like to take this time to wish everyone a peaceful, thankful, joyous and love filled holiday season. I know things have been difficult for some, and worse for others. So as the holiday season engulfs everyone, I pray that we all find something -"that one thing"- that reminds us why we continue to push through. whether it's all the wonderful aromas floating through the house as Thanksgiving dinner is cooking, all the beautiful lights to be seen from neighborhood to neighborhood during Christmas or the kiss with that special someone to bring in the new year. Strength can be and is found in some of the simplest moments. So find yours, my friends my family, and push through to the other side.
Myself, I find my strength in my mother. She's what I call a 5 foot stick of dynamite.(smile) She's my best friend in the world, my backbone and my warrior. She's the reason, no matter how difficult things are in my life, I fight, and I push throug I'm thankful for her every day, and especially so during the holidays. As it's a time when we gather with friends and family to celebrate, give thanks and remember.
with that said, as Thanksgiving approaches, I give thanks for my wonderful, supportive and strong mother. I'm so very blessed to have her. I also give thanks for my children and my granddaughter. I'm so very proud of them all, and they're such blessings.
I give thanks to have you all in my life— friends, supporters and advisors. I am better for it. To the "giant" of a woman who likes to take people to the woodshed, (you know who you are-smile) what can I truly say to make you understand how much you mean to me, to us all? Thank you just never seems to be enough for all that you are, and all_that you do. You are a true blessing and I'm thankful that you are family.
Everyone have a Happy Thanksgiving, a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year! My best wishes to you all for a very blessed holiday season and may the new year bring untold blessings with it for all of you.

Warmest thoughts, love and prayers,
Anthony Boyd Z-578 N-9