Volume 12 | Issue 2 | April - June 2008

The question behind the question

 Children are wise and we should learn from them. They ask us questions and their response to our answers is:why! It is a shame that some of us outgrow that and are content with ready, superficial answers and even believe that it is a sign of intelligence to have a ready pat answer for life's more serious questions. One could say that it points to a refusal to grow up but that would be an insult to children who do ask and in the process often make us feel unfomfortable.

 So allow me to make you feel uncomfortable with the questions behind the question of the death penalty and I promise to leave the answers up to you. We have the death penalty because we have crime, you say and I reply why do we have crime? People are bad, you say, okay and I ask you, what makes people bad? Were they born bad? And now it gets to be a little tricky for you because you do not want to appear racist or snobbish. I take pity on you and prompt you a little by asking, why are people on death row usually indigent, 49% black and why are 80% there for a murder of a white person when more blacks are murdered than whites? Poverty you suggest, poor education and consequently no job opportunities, except perhaps Mc Donald's? Keep coming, I say. Drugs, yes, I say and I ask, would you want a court appointed, inexperienced, underpaid attorneysto represent youif, God forbid, you were picked up by the police? No, you mumble, and I tell you I understand because I wouldn't want a divorce attorney either.

 You feel relieved thinking that I am about to stop with those questions behind the question. Actually we have only just started because you still have not asked the questions behind poverty, racism, biased judges who override juries, denial of DNA testing or for that matter why we we would execute the psychiatric, the mentally retared. Makes you feel sick, doesn't?

 You see an out an ask, how about the other side, are there no questions behind the question there? So glad you asked because I have been asking myself a lot of questions why an Attorney General, for example, not only can't wait to resume executions but also feels it his mission to denigrate those he will kill? Some answers come to mind and you be the judge. Even Attorney Generals have a history, so could it be his cultural background? What am I implying? By the tone of your voice we both know what I am saying but is there not more? Yes, there is. I would question anyone's self esteem who comes across as self righteous and holier than thou. You remember the Pharisees.

 We have not had time to ask all the questions behind the death penalty and behind those who enforce it. But if this little exercise helped take you back to when you were a child and knew that there is always more than meets the eye, were not afraid to ask, then I am satisfied. Justice for all demands that we keep asking and  asking and asking.

Esther Brown


   For the past few weeks I've wracked my brain for the words to express my feelings on the loss of my best friend. Time and time again I have failed to put those feelings in ink and I am still failing. I just don't know what to say. How do you put a decade of firendship into a few paragraphs? Better yet, how do you talk to strangers about friends? I don't know what to say but I know I have to try.

   My friend's name is Danny Siebert and on April 22nd he died of cancer. I can't help but think that if he wasn't im prison he many have lived, or at least held on a little longer and been cared for better. You see, at the end, the pain was so great that death was a blessing. I can't explain to you how it felt to see a man I admired and trusted writhe on his bunk trying to ease a pain that could not be eased. I can't explain how it rfelt to hear him tell me he wished he would just die, understand that wish and agree with it.

   The only consolation I can find in his death is that he escaped the state and is finally free of this prison. Free of the pain that plagued his last days.

   Sebo and I had very little in common truth to tell. Other than a love of art and solitude we were at opposite ends of the spectrum. He was a driven man, always working or debating some point or another. I'm lazy and have little patience for debates. We would spend months without speaking to each other, both nursing some imagined wound inflicted by the other. Then one day one of us would speak, the other respond and all was well until the next bout of stupidity hit and another few months would pass in mutual hatred.

   It was an odd relationship to say the least, but it was one we were both comfortable with. Most of the time we disagreed, sometimes we were in full accord. The disagreements were of little matter in truth, the passing of time you would say. It was the times we agreed that we remembered. After all, these were the times we remembered.

   I suppose the reason we were such good friends is that we both understood the basics of true friendship. Friends are not the people who tell you what you want to hear or show you what you want to see. They are not the people who ask for perfection or demand you change to fit their mold. Real friends are the people who see you for what you are, know you for who you are. They know your secrets and refuse to use them against you. They tell you in no uncertain terms when you're being an ass, and defend your stupidities to the world while naming you an idiot to your face. They are the ones that accept your flaws as readily as your assets.

   Sabo was my friend and all who know me know that I choose those to whom I attach carefully. There is no secret I would not trust him with, no help I would not offer him. He was my best friend and I miss him more than I can say.

                                                                    Carey Grayson


Riding a bicycle, skateboard or rollerblades without protective gear....Error in judgement?

Having sex without protection and producing a baby...Error in judgement?

Operating a motor vehicle under the influence...Error in judgement?

Crossing a busy intersection against the traffic light....Error in judgement?

A child stealing a pack of gum from a store....Error in judgement?

A human taking the life of another human....Error in judgement?

Committing suicide....Error in judgement?

Making a right turn on red against a "No right turn on red" sign....Error in judgement?

Hunting animals out of season....Error in judgement?

Mixing prescription pills with alcohol....Error in judgement?

Accepting kick backs and bribes....Error in judgement?

Failing to report income, file and pay taxes....Error in judgement?

Humans occupying planet Earth....Error in judgement?

Death is always less painful and easier than life! You speak true.

And yet we do not, day to day, choose death.

Because ultimately, death is not the opposite of life, but the opposite of choice.

Death is what you get when there are no choices left to make. Am I right?



   Staggering through this wilderness called life, lost within this downpour of chaos and confusion, feeling like the cigarette I just put out....

   Bathing in the cold tears of all those I've hurt in one way or another, wishing I could add my tears to this river for all that I've done to myself....

   Trapped in a reality, that so many think is a fantasy, and in a fantasy that so many think is reality....

   Small dreams for a big future, big dreams for a small future, needing night vision to see either...

   Surrounded by nothing, yet in the midst of it all, unseen, unheard, invisibly existing....

   Dying to grow, while growing to die, blind-folded by life, gasping for breath with each step taken on this treadmill I've been placed on....

   Why?? And what for??

                                                Tony Barksdale

                                                 Z-611  F1-12A


   Allow me to take you, the readers on a journey, that you may not know even exists. I've seen men in prison, especially on the row, go all over the world and travel throughout the United States, either through the mail, phone, or their next door neighbor. It is amazing to hear these men talk about England, Germany, the Netherlands, Austria and Brazil as though they have actually visited these places. Personally I have trouble finding some of these places on a world map. But, I hear some of these guys talk as though they grew up there. Also, it seems as though every prison or county jail has a person from Chicago, New York, Mississippi, Florida, Texas, California and Washington D.C. So, that is seven states I can journey to in about two hours just by listening to these guys talk. It is amazing to get all this travel free. Almost every county or neaby county in Alabama is represented here on death row. But there are a few I have yet to venture to such as Marengo, Fayette, Winston, Greene, Sumter, Choctaw and a few others.

   The journey doesn't end with places. You meet a vast group of people. And some of the guys become like family. You grow to really relate and trust one another. I have seen very strong bonds in prison, bonds that don't have ulterior motives. Just brotherhood or associates that you can share things with that can be too personal to share with everyone around you.

   I have learned throughout my journey that it is easier to become a friend, a big borther or an associate than to seek out those positions. And in doing so I have received blessings in return. I have to be honest. Me being who I am, to whomever, whether as a friend or a big brother, it comes from the new mind and new heart that dwells inside of me through accepting the journey through the Bible where I met the likes of Adam, Cain, Noah, Josseph, King David and King Solomon. But most importantly Jesus. So, now that I have shared my journey with you, I encourage you to share yours with someone else.

                                                                                Still travellin'

                                                                           Anthony Tyson Z642/F1-19A

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Volume 12 | Issue 2 | April - June 2008