Thirty years of prison experience, gratefully on the outside, plus the urgings of one of my Board members prompted the following musings. Those of you, who either know me personally or have read what I have written over the years, will not be surprised that I hold very definite opinions on this topic.
Although perhaps one should begin with the positives, I am going to keep the best for dessert and begin with my pet peeves on this issue. In many ways of course all that follows applies also to adult human exchange on the outside, just that with the added component of death row/prison the potential for serious damage is increased. lf you are not a family member and are thlnklng of writing to someone on death row, ask yourself why. lf the answer is that you are the kind of individual who needs heroic drama in her/his life with you in the starring role and who likes to skim the cream off the top, don't do it! There is enough drama there already without the extra you will surely inject. lf it is pity that you are feeling, be careful because pity does not make for a friendship between equals. No different from any friendship on the outside, respect for self and the other must be the corner stone.
Respect demands that behavior is adjusted to the circumstances of the friendship. Gratitude is great, but too much not only makes for inequality but easily breeds resentment. As you know, money is the root of all evil, yet none of us can do without it. This also holds true for death row. Yes, they receive food and shelter, but then there are such things as coffee, candy, even dare I say it cigarettes, which make life a little more bearable. lf you can spare a dime, as it says in the old song, it is best to be consistent so that, just like us who count on our steady income, they can too and budget accordingly. So don't ask if he needs anything, he does and it is demeaning for both once begging enters the picture.
Reliability is another aspect of respect, important on the street but even more important on the inside. If you say you wlll be there for a call, be there! A pattern for your communications is valuable, so neither one is left worrying that something untoward has happened. The same holds true for visits. Surprise visits on death row are not good. Not only is the man deprived of happy anticipation, but caught by surprise, he will most probably not be ready and precious visiting time is wasted. After all, he has to be shaven and his whites pressed for the visiting yard. And please, if you said you were coming, don't let him down and leave him anxious about what might have happened to you.
If your response on reading this is, I knew all of that, I am glad and that is your above-promised dessert! Are there no suggestions for him? Of course there are, and actually I have a lot more for you as well. Maybe another time? Meanwhile, if you keep respect in mind, respect for yourself as well as for your friend on death row, you will do well. I can guarantee that you wlll receive as much as you give. As for disappointments, don't they happen on the outside too?
GREETINGS FROM THE EDITOR'S DESK;
I have finally managed to wrestle my office back from that pesky assistant Editor, Carey Grayson.(I think he's been putting his feet up on my desk.) Speaking of Carey brings me to our most happy news; I am relieved to report that our brother Carey Grayson and Tommy Arthur have both received stays of execution due to a challenge to the execution protocol. This is wonderful news and we are so glad to still have them both with us. May the State come to it's senses and end capital punishment without further killing.
We have been encouraging our members and new guys here to write for the newsletter. This issue features some of them, as well as a list of contributors who were not printed due to a lack of space. The effort these men put into writing is recognized and appreciated. I look forward to printing more of their work in the future. Opinions, as always, are the author's own.
The big news, nation and world wide, is that the State of Texas has indeed executed an innocent man. We owe this ground shaking revelation to the investigative work of a dedicated team at Columbia University. Find the story, as well as all proofs, at: www.thewrongcarlos.net
The news about Texas OUGHT to be enough, by its self, to lead any and all fair-minded people to oppose the death penalty. However, if the United States Supreme Court requires evidence of the Nation trending away from capital punishment, then we offer the 5 states in 5 years that have done away with their death penalty. Connecticut (the 5th) abolished their death penalty on the 25th of April. Also, California (with the nation's largest death row) will likely be the next to abolish, as they have placed it on the ballot for a vote in November and all signs point to their voting it out of existence.
There are many encouraging, possibly game changing, events occurring at the moment that I don't have space to mention individually. Let us hope that the end of capital punishment is not far away. As always, please help to keep Hope alive. Until next time,
We come together with one goal: to abolish the death penalty. We've learned to resist, to join together and occasionally see a brother set free from the Row. We are motivated by knowing in our heart that we are fighting for something that's Right. We are inspired by any hint of other States abolishing their death penalty. The failures of our past are just that- our PAST. We refuse to allow our past to dominate our future. We all draw strength from one another knowing that one day we will reach our goal. Honestly, I feel privileged to be a member of Project Hope, it's my hope. So, thank you Project Hope. Thank you for what you stand for, thank you for giving me something to believe in.
BREAK THE BALL FROM CHAIN JUSTICE DO COME
Capital Punishment is the violent twirling iron ball unjustly bashed against the indigent and minority-classed people by the upper elite who compete to cheat for higher office by modern day human sacrifices.
Swirled and hurled from the privileged power hungry willing to coup out the Supreme Authority 10 commandments, thou shall not murder. Commemoration of this has rotted away and sunken to the bottom deep recesses of their conscious.
The rusty old chain of State's laws who practice stone age antiquity in the wet boldest of forms are frozen in a barbaric mirror that reflects an image back at them they try to cast forth on death row. The beast in the mirror is a reflection of themselves dressed in their own Law.
Their powder bones of hypocrisy doesn't hold up their own body of laws.
Unjustice is urgently fed to the legally undefended by the superpacs of incompetent trial lawyers who are more like double agents of law who seek out and destroy their client's rights of equal and fair treatment from the front doors of trial to the hallways of post conviction remedies to the back doors of the executioner's chambers of America's hell kitchens where they spend billions to feed poison from a 1 shot cocktail to a 3 course liquid death meal.
The hunger pangs of unjustice growl tall and widely from behind the bars where the innocent and unjustly convicted are buried behind brick and steel. The bones still rattle and shake loudly for justice to be heard. The Eyes of justice will see us.
The eye and ears of State justice to the Supreme courts hear and see no evil of their own making.
The dirt has yet been dusted from their hands. Capital punishment is a facade for the capital murder they are guilty of. Two fools are never right, right!
The chain of justice and righteous law must unburden itself from the monster birth-ball of Death Punishment.
Demetrius X Frazier
ALABAMA NEWS 2012 2nd quarter
* Tommy Arthur and Carey Grayson received stays of execution due to a challenge to Alabama's execution protocol.
* Esther accepted an invitation to join the board of directors for the organization "A Journey of Hope...From Violence to Healing.
* PHADP development officer Brandon Fountain spoke at Samford University to the Amnesty International Students.
* The Dothan Eagle newspaper came out against the death penalty.
* Petra Jackson has accepted PHADP‘s invitation to be our new Student Representative. Petra has been with us for most of her life. She is our honorary little sister and we love and respect her very much. We are honored to have her represent this organization.
* Our thanks go to Micah's House for holding the Good Friday Event in Birmingham again this year. PHADP alum Gary Drinkard, as well as members of J.A.M. attended and helped.
* Florence's Times Daily newspaper came out against the death penalty.
* Esther attended the quarterly meeting of the Alabama NAACP in Montgomery.
* Esther attended a fund—raiser event, in Montgomery, for the Alabama Post Conviction Relief Project.
* Esther was a guest on the New American Dream radio program on May 10th. To hear a recording of the program, just Google the program and then go to MAY 10th.
* Esther participated in a phone conference with Alabama NAACP, in her capacity as chair of the Moratorium Committee in preparation for a meeting with the Alabama Attorney General, Luther Strange.
* Esther attended the meeting with Alabama Attorney General Luther Strange where the death penalty was one of the topics of discussion. While he remains in favor of the death penalty, we find him to be a great improvement over previous Attorneys General in that he is willing to engage in meaningful dialogue on the persistent problems with capital punishment. As he once told Esther, "My door will always be open to you." He has recently proven to be a man of his word.
* Senator Cam Ward, Head of the Senate Judiciary Committee, has stated his intention to hold a full day of death penalty" related Bills next year. The hearings will be "open hearings".
I'm not a religious person, never have been. Not to say I don't believe in a God, but that is between myself and my God and is no one else's business. With that said, I'll tell you, I have read the Bible. I can't tell you what verse, any phrase or parable is in it but I can tell you for the most part, what it says. Two such phrases that have always kept my attention are the following: 1) Why is it that you pay so much attention to the splinter in your brother's eye, yet pay none to the log in your own eye? 2) one blind man can not lead another, for if they do, then surely they will both fall into a ditch.
This nation was built on the art of hypocrisy. So it only stands to reason, the so—called "Justice System" would reflect this long standing tradition.
Society, for the most part, are the blind following the blind. Quick to point out everyone's faults but their own.
A Fact is, there is no such thing as justice in America. This is especially true for the average, African American and the lower income Caucasian. In this country, "Justice", and yes I use that word VERY loosely, is like everything else, FOR SALE. If you don't have a fat bankroll then you are screwed if you're accused of a crime. Particularly a "high profile case" such as murder. From the instant anyone in a uniform or anyone whom is associated with the press points you out as a suspect in a particular crime, the large majority of society perceives you as guilty, whether or not it is true or false.
Society programs us all from the time we are born, to believe what we are told by the police and media. We are told that they are our friends, and they are there to protect us. To do what they say, without question, because they know best.
All our lives we are told to be a part·of society. Follow your leaders. They only want the best for us all.
The results of this programming has proven to turn out a nation of hypocrites and blind followers who are so desperate to be a part of "Society" and be accepted by everyone that they just jump on the first bus that blows it's horn. They forget all the dirt they have thrown at others and focus only on the skeletons in your closet. All because someone told them to.
When you are accused of a capital murder, they have the audacity to sit and preach to you about murder is wrong and in the same breath tell you they are going to murder you to prove how wrong it is.
Then those whom we believed to be our friends and families, either just sit back quietly and go along with it, or turn on us altogether. And why? Because 12 people, who have never even met us say we are guilty, because some moron in a fancy suit told them we did it, and we could not afford to pay enough money to prove we did not do what we are accused of.
So, I'll leave you with two questions; 1) Is murder wrong? 2) If so, then why does Society think it's O.K. to murder us?
GOD BLESS AMERICA
We can't help but worry for our Country right now. For many of us, our patriotism is being challenged. In the news I read about the weak state of our economy. Occupy protesters are demanding change. Our military is engaged on multiple fronts over-seas.
These are marks of troubled times. Similar conditions preceded the Bolshevik Revolution in Russia, as well as the French Revolution. Contemporary examples are also plentiful: Egypt, Syria and Libya.
As dark as things seem, I believe we will overcome these obstacles.
Recently, we have gotten good news in our particular cause. States are abolishing the death penalty. Moratoriums are in process. California will vote on it in the Fall. This underlines the quality that our nation possesses that makes us strong enough to overcome obstacles. We are a self correcting Nation.
Russia, France, Egypt and Libya did not listen. They did not correct their injustices. They failed.
We self corrected to end slavery. We corrected the injustices to women and they became equal under the law. Examples abound. Our own cause in no different. We will be successful because we live in a country that loathes it's own injustices and corrects it's mistakes.
The economy, our military engagements, social injustices, the cause of Project Hope to Abolish the Death Penalty, will find the corrections they seek.
Because we are special, because we are self correcting, we will overcome all of these obstacles. I am on death row. Rut still, I am a patriot. God bless America.
JAMES SCOTT LARGIN
ONE MAN'S GROWTH
Being on death row has truly been a humbling experience for me. Because, when I first came to the row, I was a child. It has taught me how to be a man and be more mature. How to put my old way of thinking aside and how to begin a new way of thinking.
How to educate myself and my family about the death penalty. I also have learned about the law and how to do research on my case.
This whole situation has been an eye opening experience for me. I have learned things about myself I really like, and some that I don't. I have become more close with my family over the years, due to my incarceration. I think one of the reasons is, how death row is as family, makes you want to get yours that way.
Yes, just like my family on the outside, my family here on the row, we have our ups and downs but it just makes us stronger. we all know, together we stand and divided we fall. That's why I am so glad we all can come together for something that's even bigger than us, that's to abolish the death penalty.
This is how one begins to grow, by putting someone before their self. If everybody in the world did this one unselfish act to help someone else, the world would be a better place.
A Christian Perspective
Dear Family and Friends,
Greetings and Salutations! Alot of times it is difficult to come up with something positive to say and I am afraid that I allow the sea of life to toss me about before I seek the,comforting solidity of the Rock of Ages. However, recently I have been given much to rejoice about and many reasons to offer praise. My brothers Tommy and Boo were both given stays. Connecticut has repealed the death penalty. Judges in both State and Federal courts across our great land are not only finding fault but, acting favorably upon finding faults in protocols used to administer state sanction death and halting executions. And on a personal note my only child will be graduating from high school this month. And yes I am proud enough to burst. An answer to prayer for which any parent can be especially grateful. I don't know the numbers but sadly my incarceration put my son in the high risk of dropout category. His mom and grandparents, have done a very fine job raising him and I am honestly relieved, excited and humbled that he has come so far without me. And I look forward to how far he will go and all that he will achieve. He was only six months old at the time of my arrest and I have been blessed to live long enough to see him come this far. And I have been blessed to have been allowed to be a part of his life.
There are still alot of obstacles to be overcome both in my sons life and my struggle against the death penalty but, I am thankful that today we have reason to rejoice. And I praise Him from whom all good things come. If you believe that in the end good will come, and things at the moment aren't so good then I guess it is okay to take comfort in knowing it must not be the end.
I'll keep you posted. Keep praying for me. I don't know where I'd be without them but I am sure I'd rather not find out.
Keeping Hope Alive!
Ronald B. Smith Jr.
Editor/"A Christian Perspective"
A Message To All Mothers
To all you mothers,
How are you all doing? I don't think that one day out of the year to celebrate you mothers is enough. However, though everyday is (or as you should see it) a Happy Mother's day. Think about it. You are happy for your kids. Your kids are happy for you. Your husbands are happy to have you as their wife and mother of their kids.
Both single and married mothers should (and you are by some) be recognized for; the 9 months of pregnancy and hours of pain. Sitting patiently in waiting rooms for doctor's appointments before and after pregnancy. Staying up all day and night, some times alone while caring for kids. Waking up early mornings to fix breakfast and preparing kids for school (and church). And providing love, care, food, shelter etc... Me personally, I think you all deserve an award, because being a mother (single or married) is not such an easy task.
I grew up in a single parent home with three other siblings. My grandma and granddad helped with raising us. I saw my mother go through some rough times. If not for you real women what would this world be like? A man can't substitute for the tender love and care given by a women for a child. But, though some may disagree, a woman can substitute for what a man offers to a child. My mother taught me to be a man while carrying out her womanly and motherly duties (providing for and caring for her kids).
I respect and honor you women and acknowledge you all for all that you've done, are doing and are yet to do.
Have a good one.
Happy Mother's Day!
We would like to acknowledge the men who wrote articles that did not make it into this issue due to space considerations.
We appreciate their efforts and look forward to exhibiting their work in future issues.
In three different translations or versions of the Bible, faith is associated with hope in Hebrews 11:1, the King James Version being my favorite. Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. To me hope is the fuel that keeps the engine running so the car makes it to it's detination. Hope is what gets me out of the steel rack everyday, when it is easier to just to lay there. Hope is what allows me to turn off the T.V. and study God‘s word or my case. When I could just laugh at "Meet the Browns" or lust for females on TMZ. Hope is what I hear when I talk to my kids and loved ones. Hope is what I see when I receive a picture or a visit. Hope is what allows me to visualize myself reuniting with my family outside of these prison walls. Hope is reaping the harvest God promised. Hope is taking back everything the devil stole. Hope is knowing and believing these things. Even if I don't see them right now. This is hope to me.
Losing My Mind
Yes, I exhort all Project Hope Readers to get outta your mind, go crazy, lose your way of thinking and choose Christ's way. It is truly a beautiful and powerful thing to lose your mind for God. We were all created like him, so why not learn His ways. How to walk, talk, eat and live. The scripture says, "Let this mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus." For Christ's mind to be in us, we must lose our mind to his mind. We have to constantly renew our mind with the Word of God. All things are possible with God. It is a process. It doesn't happen over night. It is work and Satan's sole purpose is to make that work harder and harder. However, Jesus whipped Satan and we must do the same thing as believers of Christ. The scriptures say, "It is a war." And I truly understand. The war is spiritual. Our God is a spirit and therefore we are spirits. Everything is traced back to the spirit. Ask yourself what side are you on? God's or Satan's? God's spirit operates in Love, Joy, Peace, Long suffering, Gentleness and Meekness. The more you study, pray and draw to God, you will walk in His spirit and produce His fruit. Likewise with Satan, the more we walk in the flesh we will produce wickedness. Lose your mind, readers and gain the mind of Christ. Until we meet again, may God bless us all!
I have never been afraid of you.
I was not afraid of you when I was lost.
I am certainly not afraid of you now thatl am bom again. Amen!
When I was lost, you were my enemy. _
Because then, Death would send me to hell.
Now that I am saved, you’re my best triend.
Because now, you will send me to everlasting life.
Death, I have pursued you daily
For over 23 years now, I’ve desired to give you a kiss.
WhenI was lost, you pursued me and oft had
me by my feet trying to drag me into the abyss.
Now that I am blood bought, Holy Ghost tilled,
living on fire, full of zeal and passion for
the kingdom of God in Christ Jesus;
where are you O Death?
Why do you run away from me now?
Please get in touch with me
I hope to see you very soon.
Hugs and Kisses,
One day at a time. Today, not yesterday, nor tomorrow. Today is good. Today, I find myself smelling the roses. Listening to the birds outside the window...free. Free as a bird. We labor and we toil for what or why? What purpose for mankind under the heavens? Life as short as yesterday and as long as tomorrow but, today is a good day. My hope is that we all will find the peace that surpasses all understanding. "Just for today."
Life is not how it is supposed to be, it is what it is. But, the importance of it is how you cope with things. Often I see others mad at the world because what life is not and what I've learned is that being like that only hurts you and your loved ones without you noticing. I feel like sometimes you need to set aside your usual things and take some time to sit down and deal with that specific area of your life because the more you ignore it the bigger it becomes and it takes over and affects your everyday living. Forgiveness and unforgiveness are two powerful words. They can either make you or break you. Unforgiveness can destroy you from the inside out and it is taking it's toll every minute. The more you learn how to forgive, no matter what it is, the more dominant you become with dealing with things. So face your problems. Instead of running from them run toward them and believe me you will conquer alot...
The Spider Web
Out of all the creatures who build a house on the face of this Earth, the spider house is the frailest. Every other creature house is stronger than the spider house. A web is only fine silk which the spider spits out of it's silk glands. It may take the spider hours to build a good web. But with the wave of a human hand it could be destroyed in a second. God teaches us valuable lessons through His signs of creation. Ask yourself, what are you building your Dreams, Hopes and Ambitions out of? How long have you been building it? Is it 100% reliable? Or, can what you have been working years on, be destroyed within a second? What is your foundation?
Holy Qur'an, Surah 29:41
Holy Bible, Job 8:13-15
"The Love of One"
The Bible teaches that love covers a multitude of sin. It only takes one to believe, to hope, to care and to love another. And there is power in "One". But most people would rather sit back and do nothing, because they may feel, "Who am I anyway, to think that I could make a difference? Is that how you feel? If it is, just be glad that Henry Ford, Martin Luther King Jr., Winston Churchhill, Abraham Lincoln, the Apostle Paul and Esther Brown didn't think like you. How many did it take to rescue the man on Jericho Road? One Good Samaritan.How many did it take to confront Pharaoh and lead the Exodus? One man, Moses. In 1645, one vote gave Oliver Cromwell control of England. In 1776 one vote gave America the English language instead of German. In 1868, one vote saved President Andrew Jackson from impeachment. We too here at PHADP are known and heard nationally by one, Esther. Our Esther! She is many things, to many people, more even than I can express in this article. She teaches us how to love one another without even saying it. It is her love for us that compels us to love and care for one another. We are all bound together by one. Esther. She teaches us how to persevere without actually seeing her travel all over the State mostly alone, from conference after conference, interview after interview. And all I have to do one day a week is walk about 50 feet from my cell to meet with the Board. How can I complain or think about giving up and she is been doing this for years. Did I mention she just turned 78 years old. I seize every minute I get totalk to her, each week. Her wisdom is awesome. Did I also mention she does all this for free? I'm just saying she is only one person. Her love would make you believe she is a committee. So, before you say you are only one person, what can I do? Remember this, you can't do everything but you can do something. I can't wait to hear from you. Smile!
My Friends, My Angels
I believe in angels
Those helpers who are near
Exactly when they're needed most,
Then seem to disappear.
I know them when I see them
Whatever their disquise they're patient and
Encouraging, resourceful, kind and wise.
Yes, I believe in Angels, the kind that
Heaven sends and I'm surrounded by every day.
By angels I call friends
God gave me someone special when He
Gave me a special friend like you.
Have a blessed day!