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Volume 17 | Issue 3 | July - September 2013

THE LEAST OF THESE


I have a confession to make and I am finally ready to come clean! For years I have been seriously offended by the phrase the least of these, even though I am well aware of its origin. I am offended because the idea that deeds are meritorious because they are done to the least of these completely perverts the spirit of the message.


When we regard the poor, the homeless, those on death row as the least of these, and as an object of our charity we deny our common humanity, our brotherhood. Trust me, we are no different and there but for the grace of God go I applies to all of us. I am sure you have often heard the comment from the self righteous I would never do that/ I think you would, given the Identical heredity and history of the man you judge to be the least of these! Of course I admit that we will never know this for sure, but this is what I firmly believe.


But back to the least of these! What do I think is the true meaning of this concept and what would allow me to embrace it? Let's start with what I think it is not, and then progress to what I think was meant. It never intended to suggest that because you were fortunate enough to be born privileged and with stable mental and physical health that you were better than the man who was not. If you regard yourself as more valuable in any way, perhaps because you support so called good works and because your I.Q. is higher than the average, you have got the meaning of the least of these all wrong! My diagnosis is that you are suffering from a superiority complex, which can Indeed be fatal to one's insight, understanding and development. Would that give me permission to label you therefore as the least of these? No, because there are no least of these!


Having said what those words do not mean, what do I believe is meant? In order for me to feel at ail comfortable with those words, I believe it is imperative that they be understood as addressing the life situation in which people find themselves, which I may add it is not your business to judge. Remember from the same source the words that he who among you is without sin should cast the first stone! Yes, certain less fortunate situations in life do call on us to reach out, but we should never reach out to someone for any other reason than the realization that he is our brother or that she is our sister. We are not more and they are not less. So please, let go of the idea of the least of these lit does not exist except in your mind, while meanwhile your brothers and sisters are waiting to be embraced and acknowledged as such! A great privilege!


Esther Brown



GREETINGS FROM THE EDITOR'S DESK


I am sad to report that Alabama executed Andrew Lackey on July 25th, a mentally ill man who tried to commit suicide and then asked the State to kill him. Of course, Alabama was happy to "help". I knew Drew. This was a young man who deserved to be in a medical facility, not a max prison on death row. Drew will be missed by all who knew him here. Rest in Peace Andrew.


Our thanks go to all of those who held and attended the prayer vigils throughout the state, and also to those who took the time to write to the Governor asking him to stop the execution.


While I'm thanking people...Thank you, David Riley, for doing most of the typing for this issue. our work in training the current and future leaders of this organization continues.


Looking to the future is, at times, a dismal prospect for those on the row, where most men live in the past, but members of Hope have the privilege of planning for the future of this organization, no matter what happens in our own lives. I see that as a gift.


Part of moving the organization forward includes growing our on-line presence. In order to further that goal, we ask each of our readers to "LIKE" our FaceBook page at: https://www.facebook.com/projecthopetoabolishthedeathpenalty


As ever, thank you to our many supporters, who keep us inspired to continue. Please help keep Hope alive.


Until next time,
PEACE,


JEFF RIEBER
Z-540 H-8



THANKS, GROUP 3


My name is Anthony Tyson, Asst. coord. and law teacher for PHADP. Some of you all may have read in recent newsletters, guys thanking me or giving me kudos for helping them learn the law and other things. All of that is appreciated, but I don't do what I do for praise. I'm driven by a higher purpose. Luke 6:38 and Luke 21:15 says it best. But this article is not about me. A few weeks ago, I was summoned by our chairman to attend and assess the meeting. Because, we (the board) had been seeing and hearing some disturbing news from the leadership and the participation of Group 3. So, under strict orders, I attended the meeting to look into things. Because, we (the board) were at the point of abolishing this group all together and starting fresh. But one thing I've learned over the years with Hope is that we don't easily give up on a Brother, or Brothers. Especially, this group, cause this group is young in age and format. So, I went in with an open mind and not expecting any disappointments. Boy, was I stunned. The drive, the wisdom, and the enthusiasm coming from these young men was impressive. I was actually very entertained by their voice that seemed to have been hidden by poor leadership. I even had a tear dropping moment...I said moment now. L.O.L. Where one of the guys· was in a little disagreement with another, and later decided that he may be better off in another group. But the newly elected leader stepped up and interceded as a true leader is suppose to do, and rectified the situation. That to me, closed the front door to my visit. I was ready to report back. I left that meeting revived myself...and they too were excited about their future. Another moment that I enjoyed was when a veteran member of Hope stepped up and spoke some history into this young group. He told them, 20 years ago...I went thru and experienced the exact same thing you all are, and he told them to stick with it, because, whether you've been here 2 years or 20 1 your participation in PHADP is helpful to the advancement of Hope. So, Group 3 1 to you, I say Thank You, for fanning my flame to keep moving forward. Remember, quoted from one of my favorite poets other than T. Barksdale. "Life wasn't meant to be a journey to the grave with the goal of arriving safely in a well preserved body, but rather to the finish line, used up, totally fulfilled, and loudly proclaiming, 'Wow, what a ride.'" Thanks guys- go get'em.


ENCOURAGED,


ANTHONY TYSON
Z-641 N-17



BALANCING ACT


I used to wonder why those I correspond with would seem so amazed at my mental strength and positive attitude, Of course, I would understand their reasoning, but I just never gave much thought to this supposed "strength". I just assumed I was just coping just as everyone else. Over the years though, I have come to think more about it, and be thankful for my, I guess, sanity, if one would call it that. In fact, I've realized that life on death row is a true balancing act.


We've all heard the saying, "Do the time; don't let the time do you." I've seen a lot and done a lot in my lifetime, but life here has truly been the test. I've known people that have worn a smile everyday and have had a positive attitude. But, behind it all, it was a struggle each day. I've spoken a lot about hope over the years, and without it, one can become lost, I guess hope has been my foundation for it all, because without it, I could have lost my mind by now, hence the balancing act. There are many "hats" that have to be worn, if you are a selfless person. Often times your personal struggles take a back seat to the responsibilities you have to others.


It's like having to be multiple people at once. You are a friend, husband, father, son, and through it all, inmate. You find yourself trying to balance the many roles. Often times I've wondered if it's truly sane to be able to turn the many roles on and off, Moreso now, I seem to see guys that are on some type of medicine so that they can cope. It's a scary feeling, if one must be honest. I clinch tighter to hope for fear of losing my balance.


NICHOLAS ACKLIN
Z-648 N1-07A



ALABAMA NEWS 3RD QTR. 2013


* Esther spoke at the third annual Juneteenth Community Festival in Lanett where she was introduced as a modern day Harriet Tubman by the Reverend Dr. Randy B. Kelly, pastor of the Goodsell United Methodist Church. We thank the good Reverend Doctor for providing us with a table (from his own home) to display our information.


* Andrew Lackey was executed on July 25th. Andrew was born with a form of Autism. He asked the state to execute him.


* PHADP donated some artwork (by men here) for a silent auction, to help with a fund raiser for the upcoming Journey of Hope...From Violence to Healing tour in Indiana.


* Ex death row inmate and long time supporter Gary Drinkard's mom, Sara Love has died. Sara supported Hope and Gary to the end and we grieve with our brother over her passing.


* Esther participated in a conference call 1dth the NCADP National Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty, MVFR Murder Victim's Families for Reconciliation and MVFHR Murder Victim's Families for Human Rights where she completed a survey and discussed ways to better work together.


* Esther will attend the Annual AL NAACP conference in october in Talladega.


* Esther went to Montgomery to a CURE meeting with the National Executive Director Charlie sullivan.


* Our thanks to Sam L. Sullins of Huntsville, for writing weekly letters to Senator Cam Ward & CCing the Governor on why the death penalty should be abolished.


* Esther had a discussion with the Chair of the Mobile Amnesty Group regarding a possible speaking engagement for ex-death row inmate Gary Drinkard.


* Esther participated in a nighttime conference call with the Alabama NAACP.


* PHADP's student Rep., Petra Jackson had a birthday (15 yrs) AND her New Zealand Basketball Academy team won the Addidas Super 64 tournament in Las Vegas, the Nation's premier Summer High School basketball tournament. We are so happy and proud of you Petra!!!


* Please help us to grow our on line presence by going to: https://www.facebook.com/projecthopetoabolishthedeathpenalty



WE'RE ALL IN THIS TOGETHER


We find ourselves in this together, whether you believe it or not, Your pains and sufferings are the same as all the other left behind vagabonds of this God freed society, Unless you were born into the 3-Ps of this God freed society, you, like me, and so many countless others have been brushed aside and thought of as nothing, or collateral damage.


What are the 3-Ps of this God freed society? Privilege, Prestige, and Prominence, The privileged, prestigious and prominent ones are those who see themselves all in this together.


Therefore, we must set aside our differences of likes and dislikes about one another in order to pull ourselves up from the bottom form of this God freed society. We must uplift one another in all aspects, in a positive and supportive nature, because "WE'RE ALL IN THIS TOGETHER."


History has proven time and time again that those from the 3-Ps society have never been sentenced to death for any crime, unlike the vagabonds of this God freed society. History has shown that the "Have-nots" are under the foot of the "Haves" in every corner of this God freed society.


So I submit to you, that we must take every given opportunity to pool our resources in order to gain the Freedoms of this God Freed Society because "WE'RE ALL IN THIS TOGETHER."


IN SOLIDARITY,
CHI-TOWN 7



INSPIRED THOUGHTS


Wake up to rain falling
Hearing a child calling
The funny thing is no cloud in sight
The world is spinning endlessly at night
A question of what is justice?
one thing for sure it's not for us
Is she blind to all people
Or can it be that simple
It's hard to unde.rstand how it's fair
Looking away from an unjust glare
Are we to carry on as if the right thing has been done


Do we shout at the top of our lungs
or be quiet in our despair and disappointment
It's not our place to judge, so pray for atonement


No rain, just tears
No child, just fears


Will things ever change to Justice For All?


Who knows, it has inspired thoughts...


BY:
MARCUS B. WILLIAMS



OUTLOOK


Finding a positive perspective is a very tough thing for some of us Brothers here on death row. We can all easily sit around and find many things to complain about, but that's a negative outlook. Negativity is like a flea. Now I don't know about you, but I try to stay away from a negative minded person so that the negative flea can't jump far enough to reach me.


This is only one of the many reasons I am proud to be a part of Project Hope. Because unlike the negative a positive person, or "group" is more like a virus that we all can, and should, try to eaten. So my advice to all of you that can't find a positive factor about our situation here on death row, I highly suggest giving Project Hope a shot, But please leave your negative fleas at the door!


TUG-BOAT



A Christian Perspective


Dear Family and Friends,


Greetings and Salutations! What a long hot summer it is and has been. Nothing on the tube except reruns and "reality" T.V. (Who are they kidding?) Tempers rise with the temperature. we see examples of it everyday. Being in prison can exacerbate the feelings of frustration or turmoil. Especially with the lack of privacy. No where to escape the turmoil around us and no matter where you turn there it is staring you in the face. Different people handle this in different ways. This is exemplified in this issue of "A Christian Perspective". Prison can be loneliness in a crowd, desires unfulfilled, emotions that can't properly be expressed, beauty unappreciated, talent undiscovered or underapplied, abandonment, feelings of great loss and despair. Prison is the way we do our time. The thoughts we cultivate, the feelings we feel and the actions we take or refuse to take all affect our thoughts, feelings and actions of tomorrow. To a degree, prison is what an individual makes it or of it. This is why I am a part of Project Hope to Abolish the Death Penalty.


I want to send a message to the children and those considered "high risk youth". Love yourself. You and your life are precious. Choose to be free. take inventory of your life and where you are headed or would like to head, set goals, forgive those who hurt you. Focus on your education as it will open up doors. Heed the advice of your elders. Obey and respect authority. And very importantly pray. God loves you even when you can't love yourself. God can make a big difference. It would be so easy to say "don't follow me or do as I say and not as I do". But, I'm going to keep it real with you. Prison and especially death row. You have an opportunity to really do something. Greatness resides inside each of you. Don't blow it! Remember that the books you read, movies you watch, video games you play and the friends you hang around can all affect your thinking and way of thinking so choose wisely.


To my own son, Jonathan, I would like to just say, "I love you and I am so proud of what you have accomplished thus far. Especially without having me there. But, you are not done yet and I look forward to what you will accomplish in the future. Keep working hard and applying yourself."


In this issue of "A Christian Perspective" I have spoken about choices and the affect our choices have over our life and the lives of those around us. And it is true that our choices have consequences both good and bad. our loves or what we love can also have great affects on our live for either good or bad depending on what it is we love and how we express it. our choices decide who we are. our loves decide who we become. cool runnings and Keep Hope Alive.


Ronald B. Smith Jr.
Editor/"A Christian Perspective"
Z-586/H1-6A



MOMENTS-N-MEMORIES-N-A-TIME OF STRUGGLE


Short days, long nights and dark moments. Sometimes I find it hard to call on God, but I stay focus; Putting the pen to the pad while steady hopin, I struggling in hard times, but somehow I'm still copin...Alternative resources for joy, but they leave me broke. My neighbor is on some suicide, but they think he joking. Mag screams from 5 to 9 sounding real hopeless, C.B. lost his now that's real atrocious. Smiling faces replaces friends, I know you fakin; You can't stand the testimonies about my blessings. So now you hatin, God where you at? I need your touch again just when I thought I was alone you sent Tyson and Mason to be my friends. Out of sight- out of mind, I have no ends, toss up the wheat and the chaff will blow away, huh? Now my eyes are open once again. The television captivate minds until its time to kill them all, mail call, you got 30 days to live, now you want to know the law...Freedom on my mind, my desire is to live, motivated by chosen ones, I'm on my way to the crib. Believe In, Trustin In, Depending on God, cause I'm coming home. Remember Application equals win...Just hold on. Your vision don't line up with mine, so why are you talking?? You're on some foolishness so get to walking.


RANDY LEWIS
Z-741 F-6



FOR THOSE THAT REPRESENT


As the title suggests this is an acknowledgment of the two special ladies that have taken our message to the far corners of the globe and never forgotten us no matter what was going on in their lives.


To Mrs. Hannah, the first student rep in the long history of PHADP. We could never have imagined the impact you would have on our hearts as you continuously stood up for the men you never met. Seeing blossom into the woman you have become gives us all hope for a better future. We thank you one and all for allowing us to be a part of your journey.


To Ms. Petra, Happy B-day! Watching you grow up has been a true joy. You stole our hearts with that first donation from a lil girl that just wanted to help. And you haven't disappointed in any way. we couldn't be prouder of our lil sis. the B-Ball champ. Taking NZ by storm and showin em how we do it in the us. Even with all that's going on you still manage to rep Project Hope to the fullest. We couldn't ask for a better successor to Hannah's title.


I and my Brothers, your Brothers at PHADP, wish you the best in all things. May life grant you all you wish for. Thank you our student reps. From the bottom of our hearts, Thank You.


CAREY GRAYSON
Z-598 H-11A



GIVING PROPS


The college footabll season is almost here once again. I'm really excited for it to begin. Roll Tide Roll, coming in ranked number 1 in the nation. Man that feels good although it's bitter sweet also. It's bitter because we have never won a championship in our history when we started out number 1. It's super sweet because of the many, and I do mean many championships we already have. I'm expecting one more this season and when that happens,  it will be the first timme any school has won a championship, 4 out of the last 5 years. In closing, if you're not Rolling with the Tide, just keep the hope alive for your team.


BRENT MARTIN
Z-746 N-3



While standing at my lowest point, I tend to take a look at society as well as reflect on my life, as well as others around me, And I say to myself that we may, in fact, be said to "meet with" misfortune in the same sense as mason's say that the squared stones in walls or pyramids "meet with" each other when they are being fitted closely together to make the unified whole. This mutual combination is considered a universal principle. As a myriad bodies combine into the single body which is the world, so a myriad causes combine into the single cause which is destiny. Even common people realize this when they say, "It was brought upon him." It was indeed brought upon him. That is, it was prescribed for him. So let us accept such things, then, as we accept the prescriptions of a physician. For they, too, have often a harsh flavor, yet we swallow them gladly in hope of good health. The fulfillment of nature's decrees should be viewed in the same way as we view our bodily health. Even if what befalls us is unpleasant or considered unacceptable, nevertheless always receive it gladly. For it is said to be made for the health of the universe, and even for the well being of God himself. Had it not been for the benefit of the whole, he would never have brought it upon the individual. It is not nature's way to bring anything upon that which is under her government, except what is specifically designed for its good. There are two reasons why we should willingly accept what happens to us. First, because it happening to us has been prescribed for us and concerns only ourselves, being a strand in the tapestry of primordial causation. And secondly, because every individual divine order is one of the causes of the prosperity, success, of over faith, perserverance, and hopefully everlasting life.


M. SMITH
F-2



PROCRASTINATION


It means waiting until the last minute to get something done. We've all done it at some point in our lives, maybe even on a daily basis. I know there have been times when I've spent more time and energy trying to push back a deadline than on the task itself. Maybe it's natural human behavior, or something that we learn from experience. Either way, it works, but we become dependent on these time limits. Relying on them to be able to get things done. So here is a deadline for Alabama: Abolish the death penalty BEFORE the next life is lost.


 


BART JOHNSON
Z-778 F-18



Hello,


It's that time of year again where it's HOT! Too hot some days, nevertheless, I'm thankful.


I know that I have not written for the newsletter in quite awhile however I don't want my absence to be mistaken for complacecy. I've never heard anyone promise that life would be easy. Some people have lots of money and have no worries, but they are unhappy. Others have no money and worry about paying their bills. Although, in spite of this, they are happy.


In the years I have been on this earth, I've learned that everyone has their own opinion on life and how to live life. This frustrates me in my struggles because I try to just treat everyone the same, and not be influenced by anyone or their actions.


I guess what I'm trying to say is, YOLO, so do it to the fullest and stay true to God and self.


PEACE AND LOVE,
COURTNEY LOCKHART
Z-776 F-25



WAITING TO DIE


You know I'm just waiting to die. It's not that I want to die because I don't. It just looks like I don't have no say in it. Yes, I know they "say" you do, but we all know that's not true. Because for all the justice there isn't any true justice. Well maybe 25% if you have money. But I'm still sitting in this HOT room waiting to die. But will I die is the question Well, will the state kill me is the true question, cause we all die. It's how· you go that matters, and I don't want to go out like this. You know, needle in the arm kinda way. I guess what I'm saying is, have fun, cause you never know when you'll make a mistake and the state wants you dead.


JESSIE M.D.Y. PHILLIPS
Z-785 G-9



THANK YOU


The positive thinker is a hard-headed, tough-minded and factual realist. He sees all the difficulties clearly...which is more than can be said for the average negative thinker. But he sees more than difficulties- he tries to see solutions of those difficulties.


I thank God for all of you positive thinkers. You see clearly the death penalty is wrong and the system is flawed. When you see injustices, you speak out against it. That's what it takes to bring about change.


Although the roads are rough, please continue to be positive hard headed and tough-minded. Because you are are factual reaiist who wants to do your part to make this world better than you found it. I would like to take this time and say thank you, and God bless.


FROM,
de'BRUCE



ARE YOU A REAL MAN OR JUST A FOOL?


Proverbs 28:13- says, "People who conceal their sins will not prosper, but if they confess and turn from them, they receive mercy."


It is human nature to hide our sins or mistakes, but it is hard to learn from a mistake you don't acknmqledge making. What good is a mistake if it doesn't teach you something? To learn from an error, you must admit it, confess it, analyze it and make adjustments so that it doesn't happen again, Everybody makes mistakes; only fools repeat them.


I'm not here to down no man on the row or take credit or boast at anything I've accomplished. We all are facing the same fight. Whatever we've been convicted of, the Alabama political judicial system wants to kill all of us.


We can bash the state and point out all their hypocritical ways and mistakes all day, For example, a recent move that will effect everyone on the row, the state is pushing to cut our appeal process. They feel they may save a couple dollars by shortening our appeals. What the state isn't telling is in our appeals we only have 2 courts that automatically review our cases. One of those, the trial court, majority of the time automatically denies they made any mistakes. In reality, we only have one court. My understanding is that's the one the state wants to take away, I could go on with all the flaws of the death penalty.


What about our own hypocritical ways? So many men here are so quick to gossip and talk about another Brother here. We're too slow to do anything good that could help us later. We hardly ever do anything to benefit others when it doesn't benefit us, We're quick to get mad or jealous when another Brother receives God's blessing of a new trial or chance to get off the row. We fail to understand we are our own road block to receiving those same blessings, Maybe, if we do something positive, good may come to you.


The few who have dedicated their time to Project Hope is a great example, We know only by the grace of God, will we ever witness the abolishment of the death penalty. We also know, we do what we do, knowing we may never see the blessing we work so hard for. Yet, we don't give up. We continue on our mission, hoping our dedication and commitment pays off for the next man.


To everyone on the row, I call you out and challenge you, I challenge you to put your selfish attitude and laziness in the toilet and flush it, I challenge you to get off your rack and do something that can help someone else even if you don't benefit. Share your thoughts and ideas, become active with Project Hope, Don't feel sorry for yourself but show you're real instead of just saying it, Everyone here is facing death. Anyone can pick up a tone or iron to defend themselves. A real man on the other hand, will have learned from the past mistakes; violence gets us no where, Instead, we need to use our heads and the brains God has graciously blessed us with. To prove the state is lying once again when they call us monsters, that we can't be rehabilitated. Project hope needs your creativity and dedication to keep this movement rolling, Laying back doing nothing only makes you look like the fool the state claims you are!!


DAVID RILEY
Z-738 F-22