THE GRACE OF BLOCKING
This summer broke all records as far as heat went and was unbearable even for us on the outside fortunate enough to have air conditioning, nevertheless for us this will be a summer to be remembered. It was a summer of grace because executions were on hold.
No doubt all of us experienced this respite in different ways, depending on the closeness of our relationship to the men who had received a stay, but the feeling of relief was universal.
That was us, but how about the men themselves who had had the date, which the State is anxious to reset? Was this summer a time of grace for them? One of them is a Board member who calls me mom, which allows me to state yes, it was and is for him.
There are various definitions of the word grace. I use it in the sense of a gift freely given and in this case shared. The gift that this man gives himself and us who love him is the wisdom of knowing what he can change and what not. We have spoken about this on various occasions and of the importance of blocking, something in which we both believe. Some may tell you that it is not good to block, but actually it is the best invention since Seven Upl l ask you, what is the point of beating oneself up by projecting the future if one cannot change it?
It goes without saying that blocking or refusing to wallow is not just something we give ourselves, but also a way of protecting our loved ones. Blocking does not mean disconnecting from life, not at all! I would say it allows us to appreciate the good things in our life whether they be reading, writing, painting or watching Public Television even when times are hard and it would be so easy to feel sorry for ourselves. Whilst we are blocking that which we cannot change, we are free to engage in intelligent conversation, laugh and joke and be supportive of our friends. in other words, blocking allows us to hold each moment in our hands.
What does it take to be able to block? i believe it takes rational thinking, but more than that, it takes a certain generosity of spirit. I guess that is why l call it the grace of blocking. Not only is blocking a gift, which sets us free to live fully, no matter what the circumstances, but it is also a testimony to the unconquerable human spirit. And so this has indeed been a special summer, a summer which allowed us to experience firsthand the grace of blocking.
Thank you, Son!
GREETINGS FROM THE EDITOR'S DESK:
As we prepare to publish this 3rd issue of 2012's newsletter, I am pleased to report that there have been no executions in the State of Alabama to date this year, and none scheduled. This is due to the still unresolved legal issues concerning the execution protocol. Realistically, we know that this can not go on forever, but we are definitely enjoying the respite from being a leading execution State.
As a result of our program to get more of Alabama's death row population engaged in writing articles & poems etc. for the newsletter, we will be posting on FaceBook some of the submissions that do not make it into the newsletter due to a lack of space. This will allow many more voices to be heard and will also reassure the writers that their efforts will not go unpublished when possible.
In other news, one of the most important tasks we board members have is to prepare other inmates to take over from us when we leave. Among many other things, this includes editing, typing and formatting the newsletters. This issue was edited and typed by two men who have never done it before, Anthony Boyd & Anthony Tyson. There may be more typos than usual but please be kind and remember that this is their first effort in this area. And while it may look like a step backward, it is in reality a step forward.
I hope that our readers find this issue interesting, and we thank all of our family of supporters for their dedication to ending the death penalty in Alabama. Please, help us to Keep Hope alive.
As The World Watched
The competition was furious, and medals were won. Emotional backdrops were shared about people(athletes) that, had overcome so many obstacles in order to reach their goals. Heartwarming stories that could do nothing but, inspire. Everyone came with his/her own story, none greater or lesser than anyother because, each persons journey no matter how difficult was their own.
However, the world watched these people(athletes), shared in their stories, cheered them on(no matter the country they were representing), and rejoiced in their triumph whether they won, or lost...because, for many just being there was victory in itself. We watched as a double amputee ran the races of his life, and we cheered! We watched "A YOUNG WOMAN" that had her gender disputed, overcome all the turmoil, to run with grace, and her head held high.... and, we cheeredll
The 2012 Summer Olympic Games, held in London were spectacular, and thought provoking. As I watched event after event, and country after country that participated in those events, I started to think of how every four(4) years the world comes together, and actually get along for these competitions. Don't get me wrong, I know there are arguments, some aggression, and even bad blood amongst some countries. All of which are representations of what goes on in sports competitions. However, when the final bell, whistle, horn, or buzzer was sounded we watched as handshakes, hugs, and congratulations were shared between winners, and losers. They were getting along!!
Why then, does it take every four(4) years for the world to come together, and just get along? I have an idea...Maybe, every year the leaders of the world should come together, and compete in various sporting events.
That way, they can develop a better understanding, and respect for each other. As with better understanding, and respect much growth is possible. If nothing else, we(the world) could come together in shared laughter!! (SMILE)
Congratz to the worlds‘ athletes‘!!!
We(the world) all watched!
An optimist sees the glass as half-full.
A pessimist sees the glass as half-empty.
A realist knows that, sooner or later someone has to wash that damned glass.
I'm a realist.
I've been here on Death-Row now for over 18 years. Not as long as some - longer than many. I've seen guys come to death-row, and I've seen some guys lesser sentences. Some even went home. I've seen many murdered by the state. Some of whom, came to death-row long after I did.
There have been 40 executions since I arrived on death-row. I personally knew over half of them. Some I knew well, others just to talk to. Some were even close enough to call "friends".
I've seen guys die for one reason, or another — before the state got to them. And, i've even known some guys who took their own lives.
I've seen death-row stand strong - as a whole — against a wrong done to us by the administration, and I've seen death-row divided no matter the wrong.
When i came to death-row in 1993, there were only about 100 of us on the row. That number has more than doubled now.
I've spent almost half my life on death-row. I've never held, let alone used a cell phone,and the internet is as much a mystery to me as astrophysics. I fully expect to die here... despite the hard work, and optimism of my attorneys over the years. I'm a realist! I know that the state holds all the cards. Yes, my attorneys could find a really good issue or two for my appeals. Yes, the laws could change - it's done so a few times, just not enough to really benefit me. Those are realities as well, and I acknowledge them but, I also know the odds are slim that anything like that will happen before my time is up.
So, what's my point in all this rambling?
Just this : Of all the articles I've read in the Project Hope newsletter, and other such newsletters, they talk alot about what it's like here, and how they've overcome their despondency, and embraced hope. Well, some of us don't see that hope, or there's so little of it that it gets ignored. Or, we've given up an it altogether.
But, I continue to persevere.
Because, it's who I am. It's what I do. No matter what bad things have happened in my life, I keep going.
Some would say that, hope and perseverance go hand in hand, and sometimes they do but, not always.
As the King of Holland once said during the German occupation in WW2," It is not necessary to hope in order to undertake, or to succeed in order to persevere."
To most of us realist, life is neither half-full nor, half-empty...it just is! Sometimes, we accept it as it is, sometimes we try to change it but, we're always aware of the odds for and against us. I know my odds of getting off of death—row, even with just a reduced sentence. There's not much hope for me...Yet, i keep going. I do what i can, when I can. Maybe, it turns out well, maybe it doesn't...Yet, I persevere!
Sometimes, it's all that matters.
ALABAMA NEWS 3rd QTR. 2012
* The yearly comprehensive report/update to Resist, in keeping with the multi-year grant requirements, has been sent in.
* We welcome our long time friend, Diane McNaron, on to our board of Advisors.
* Esther participated in a board of Directors conference call for the Journey of Hope organization.
* PHADP development Officer, Brandon Fountain, has accepted the position of (AL) State Death Penalty Abolition Coordinator for Amnesty International. He will, of course, continue to be our development officer. This new position will help focus national and international attention on Alabama's abolition needs. He is just back from an Amnesty meeting in Washington D.C
* The chairman of the European Association for Human Rights contacted us and requested a link on our web-site and offered a link on their web-site. This is heady company to keep, and an example of grass-roots networking in action.
* Esther participated in conference calls with AL NAACP (as the Moratorium Committee chair) and the AL New South Coalition's membership meeting.
* Esther will be attending the annual AL NAACP conference, in Huntsville, this October.
* In September, Esther will attend the annual Alabama Arise meeting in Montgomery.
* Continue to find our weekly board meeting summaries, which we post on FaceBook and our web-site.
* Robin Demonia, Advisory board member and long-time friend, will be leaving the Birmingham News. This is not goodbye, but, see you later. We shall continue to count on your friendship.
* Larry Smith, Mark Brown Victor Stevens, Montez Spradley, Lamar Killingsworth, Billy Magwood and Jody Waldrop all got off of death row recently, through the courts.
* Petra Jackson, PHADP Student Representative, made the U—17 (under 17) New Zealand basketball team after having just moved to that Country! Congratulations Petra, we are all very proud of you.
Imagine, being brought into this world by someone who didn't want you, and just gave you away like you were an old shirt she didn't want anymore.
Imagine, growing up with people you don't know, and are constantly asking yourself "why didn't she want me?" What did I do wrong?
Imagine, doing everything you can to survive-- stealing, borrowing, begging, and everything in between.
Imagine, being beat down, spit on, kicked like you were trash, and wishing you were dead!
Imagine, trying to kill yourself just to escape this world that has caused you so much pain.
If, you have imagined just this little bit, you will see a child that, from birth didn't have a chance! I still remember it like it was yesterday, and yet I still imagine what I would have been if she had kept me. How would I have turned out? would I still have come to death-row, or would I have been something spectacular???? I don't know, I can't say but yet, at night laying in this cell I can't help but, to imagine.
Hello again to all of the brothers & sisters affected by our defunct legal system. I hope & pray that all of you are able to stay strong & keep cool in this heat. Know that I am keeping you all in my thoughts & prayers. Please believe that all things are possible , and we will keep fighting. Together we are strong. Personally, I believe that we will see an end to this atrocious, and cruel system but, only if we stand strong, and reach out to those who oppose us in our struggle. I want to say a special thanks & hello to Amore Mio for helping me keep my mind strong , and for showing me unconditional love. I ask that we on the inside, as well as everyone on the outside show each other pure compassion, be it ally, or enemy. Take care & keep fighting.
I want to start by thanking all of our many supporters of PHADP, because of you we remain strong. Together we seek the end of capital punishment in Alabama. I was born, and raised in the state of Alabama. Phenix City was my home, only the Chattahoochie River separated us from the state of Georgia. Which is where i spent a majority of my time. I remember crossing the Oglethorpe Bridge back to Alabama on many occasions. I was greeted by a sign that read "Welcome to Alabama the beautiful." I love Alabama, I can not deny that fact. However, I'm not naive enough to believe everything is beautiful here. Alabamas' use of the death penalty is the ugliest thing that occurs here. Many will try to deny this by saying, it's the law. History proves that, many of our laws have been supported by a majority of our citizens. they seem to forget, that does not make them right.
Take for example-Education!! Once, it was a crime for black, and white children to attend school together because it was a law. Did that make it right?
Also, there was a law that, prevented black people from riding on a public bus...unless they were seated in the back of the bus. It was law but, did that make it right?
Both of those laws were supported by a majority of our citizens, and things really got ugly when people began to protest against them. From then to present day, a minority of our citizens thought things weren't right, and they began a process to change things.
To our supporters, you are the ones! who choose to make Alabama beautiful. without you all, they may as well take all of those signs down...right now!
Finally, to those who quietly know the death penalty is wrong, and are afraid to speak out against it... I say, please find your voice, and join us in the process to change things. I take my leave on the words of the late Dr. Martin Luther King Jr who once said, "He who accepts evil without protesting against it is really cooperating with it."
Whenever you approach any goal or problem be prepared, life can be lived easier if you are prepared for either good or bad. Athletes prepare for the upcoming season of a sport at a alarming rate. Some countries are in constant preparation for war, for peace and for celebration. Are you prepared to fight the battle called life?
The word to prepare means, according to webster's dictionary to make ready; to adjust; to provide; to procure as suitable. The world we live in is designed to take full advantage of the unprepared person. when you prepare yourself to live in the world you must add everything available to make life easier. The basics consist of an education, making lasting and constuctive relationships. Some of us were raised in an environment that caused many to prepare for failure and a life of crime. some of us refused to take advantage of the opportunities offered. Though limited, there were still opportunities to succeed in life.
Here at holman most guys wake up prepared to do different things. Most prepare for the hour on the exercise yard, which is the most precious hour of the day for most. It consists of weight lifting, basketball and volleyball playing or just an hour of catching up on the prison politics. Others are preparing for the upcoming sport season (football,basketball,& baseball)." Though it may sound harsh, some are preparing to die here. And it is possible that some might die. Others of us are preparing for a life of freedom from deathrow, whether through a reduced sentence or actual freedom from prison,and some will go free!
Being a prepared person will propel you into a bright future of unlimited opportunities. when most people are not prepared it leads them to prison, disappointment or even the graveyard. When people become a success, most stop preparing to succeed and end up losing their level of success. The best preparation generally starts in getting your mind made up that you will make the right decision, and live the right kind of life. When you are not prepared to succeed in anything you are preparing to fail at everything. So prepare to succeed in what ever you do now or later in life God bless!
I remain the,
Caring Christian 76
Remembering The Way Back
As a child, I was always one to pay attention to detail. I would always be curious to know how a mechanism worked, and would often get in trouble for taking things apart in an effort to put them back together. There was also no place that I couldnt remember my way back from. I don't know where I obtained that gift or interest, but it could be that I am always one with mythoughts. I recall trips I would take with my family, and of course my favorite trips of all, going fishing. Those were Those were some of the happiest moments of my life, for my dad to come home or pick me up from school with cane poles out the window of the car. No, matter what may have been going on with me at that time, it would instantly be an after thought. Often, times as a an adult I would find myself remembering the way back to those times, there were struggles or difficulties I was dealing with in my life at the time. Somehow, I'd find my way back to that happiness.
Now, seeing that I'am a "condemned" man, I wish to to remember my way back to that happiness. Many times in my thoughts I do. My hopes though are that our justice system and all those associated, with it willremember the way back. Back to (1974) when our death penalty was halted and studied because of the racial bias within it. Since its reinstatement in 1976, we have allowed our death penalty to be expanded, misrespresented and often times 0ver-exerted. Yes, we are making progress, piece by piece, but we cannot have true accomplishments until we remember our way back to why. Its up to us individually to determine what that why is...
May this letter find you all facing your worldly mountains with an even bigger smile... I know it seems we're in the midst of a mountain range and we're always climbing. Despite being worn out, battered and bruised by the elements and lost, but we must hold true to our course! How do we do that when the laws of gravity are so against this upward climb?? We do this by keeping in mind, every inch gained is strength to many, it's hope to many it's knowing we're not alone. not one of us! We've come too far to let go or stop, and if you can for a second, imagine our view once we reach the top...Yes, I'm smiling too! And I pray it adds this source of light to you all. You're not, I'm not, we're not climbing alone.... see you at the top!! (smile)
A Ray of Hope
To know the power of something, gives one more strength to go on. when I'm talking to a new member of PHADP. I try to paint the picture of hope. I want them to know, that as bad as things may seem. Hope, can make a huge difference to ones‘ survival here on the row. I recently saw this scientist perform an experiment on T.V. with a laboratory rat. To measure their ability to live under stress. First, they put the rat into a jar of water, placed it in total darkness and timed how long, it could continue swimming before it gave up. It lasted 3 minutes next they put it back in the jar, but instead of placing it in total darkness they allowed a ray of light to shine in this time the rat kept swimming for 36 hours; 700 times longer! All it needed to keep going was a ray of light!.. It's been said that you can live 40 days without food, 4 days without water, 4 minutes without air, but only 4 seconds without hope. So, how do I end this? when we chose to grow bigger than the mountain we face, we too chose hope. Keep it alive in your spirit and your spirit will keep you alive.
"Keepin the hope"
Faith is the substance of things Hope for.... Hebrews 11:1
Anthony Tyson Z641
Holman 3700 N—17
Atmore, Al. 36503
Blessed be my savior,
Jesus is his name,
how lost I would be,
If he had never came.
Blessed be my savior,
Jesus is his name,
Since he came into my
I am not the same.
Blessed be my savior,
Jesus is his name,
He doesn't ask anything from me,
He will bear all my pain.
Blessed be my savior,
Jesus is his name,
He hung on that cross,
And bore all my shame.
Blessed be my savior,
Jesus is his name,
Forgive me God Almighty,
That I caused your Son such pain
The womens' U.S. Olympic basketball team has won 41 straight games over the years in the Olympics. Leaving other countries to believe that,they don't have a chance to win. And yet these women remain humble. One of the players said it's only news if we lose. In a place like prison, people often expect us inmates to act like the diminished people that society has proclaimed us to be. So when bad acts happen, inside its not news because thats what's expected.
I don't want to jinx the U.s. womens' team, but if they were to lose, it would make front page news. However when an inmate does the right thing, it will will go unnoticed. I must say that I did not want to write an article this term, but thanks to a good friend, I was able to see that sometimes we have to do things we don't want too.
I would like to take this time to everyone who is a part of Project Hope. Thanks to everyone who thinks their works goes unnoticed. I assure that God noticed all, And he will reward you openly. Just continue to do what you are doing. I want to end with a qoute that some may know, if not, it's a good one to remember; "Those who judge you don't matter and those who mmatter don't judge you." Until next in love.
Courtney Larrell Lockhart
The Power of Passion
I'm from tuscaloosa, We are blessed with an abundance of high quality coal. The mining industry employs alot of people in our area. On one side of my family there are three generations of coal miners. Two men in my family died from mining accidents.
As a child I was fortunate to witness a full blown strike. I was about 11 years old. several family members and friends of my family went on strike. In support of our family and friends we went to the pickett line. It was quite a site pickup trucks had their beds loaded with strikers holding up signs, yelling all sorts of things. These people camped out in place for days.
As the months went by we saw people losing cars, not being able to afford simple accessities. We even took food to some of the families who were struggling. They kept the strike up till finally the company buckled. The demands were met, Everybody went back to a better work place. We can take a page out of their book. How do a group of laborers defeat a large corporation with deep pockets, lawyers and all the advantage? The answer is complex, but to me the shining quality was passion. Passionate people fight hard! They persevere! They use that burning in their hearts to fuel them till victory is achieved. The cause of Project Hope is a matter of life and death. It is about the most grevious injustice that can be done to a human being. We
have passion aplenty. That is why we fight. why we won't quit.
Why ultimately we will be victorious.
James Largin N-3
A Christian Perspective
Dear Family and Friends,
Greetings and Salutations! You will of course by now have heard of the Hurricane (whose name
is Isaac) that threatened the Gulf Coast. You will have to forgive me if this sounds trite but, being bunkered behind the steel and concrete walls of a prison is about the safest place I can think of to be during a hurricane. (Not that I am recommending Holman as a vacation spot.) Just keeping it positively real. Someone has to. After over 7 days of the media's bombardment of storm alert hurricane coverage I can now say I know the names of several small Caribbean towns the names of local FEMA officials, and the near certain fact that humans as of yet can not accurately predict the path of a hurricane. Here I was focused on the nearly hourly updates of the storm alert hurricane coverage while at the same time carefully planning how best to ration my meager hurricane supplies, in the worse case scenario you understand (okay, snacks mostly but, at least I was prepared) when the 15 minute long drizzle preceding landfall began. Here I was led to expect the second worst natural disaster since Noah's flood to take place and then reality struck that we were nowhere close to the path of the hurricane. Well, at least it got my mind off the death penalty. (If you believe this, I have some land in and around the fair city of Atmore, Alabama you may be interested in.)
Perspective. That is what it all comes down to. I am sure the people on the Gulf Coast do not share mine at the moment and my prayers go out to them. No matter how bad things are they can always get better. Or at least that is what I believe. And I believe that is how God made me to believe. I am thankful for small blessings For instance, I did very little typing for this current edition of "On Wings Of Hope" thanks to our Sergeant of Arms, Mr. Anthony Boyd and my protege, the Assistant Coordinator, Mr. Anthony Tyson. More snack time for me! And you can't beat that.
Keeping Hope Alive!
Ronald B. Smith Jr.
Editor/"A Chrstian Perspective"
Juryhopping, The White Elephant in The Courtroom.
Cracking the code of the Judges'-switch. The bait and switch of capital sentencing and the by-product of the miuse of jury-overrides, making Alabama the United States capital when it when it comes to shipping prisoners to Deathrow and exporting them out in body bags. 1 in 5 infected on Deathrow by the dreaded Judges-switch where justice purlions the jurors vote for life and volleyback an unreturnable Death sentence with menace.
20% of the residents here on the row are wheezing for justice from their death beds because Judges have been making junk-votes out of jurors. Baitswitching life for death. Jury tampering is a crime but these kangaroo courts seem to have too much bounce over and above the law. Judges who think they are higher than NASA, where one man knows and is wiser than a dozen jurors. Jobbery, cash, and hateful bias is the firewood that fuel these self-involved, self-interest atrocious juryoverriders. Jury overriding is unobliging and cruel. It translates to government sanctioned premeditated murder of its own citizens and a spit on the international community watchful human rights eye. Florida, Delaware, Alabama, thes three death toting bandits who can and have robbed the jurors of their voting rights in Capital cases are dressed in a law smeared in a madman death happy matrimony affair costing taxpayers tens of millions of dollars to carry out executions. Ahuman life tied down on a horizontal cross and chemically poisoned is a diminishing return. Jim crow has spread its wings over the appeal courts it seems where no african Americans holds a seat on the bench. Just a quick message from our sponsors. Capital Punishment is a dust—age giving Dinosaur who's time in this modern society should be extinct. Its uncivilized, thats the home truth. These gluttons for capital punishment hide under the velvet gloves of vindictive, behavior. Fair rulings are few and far between we need Judges who judge without fear or favors.
All supporters in this Anti-Death penalty march, its time for a irenic Jacquerie, The jiggery~pokery in law must cease.
Justice on layaway,
I'm human rights and approve this message.
Demetrius X. Frazier Z—608, 0—14
"In love with a Man"
Falling in love with Jesus, was the best thing I ever done. My righteousness is of him, My strength, My peace, My joy, My hope, And life is all in him. Jesus Christ.
By, Garrett Dotch
It's All Good
As I sit here enjoying the blessing of a rare cool, and cloudy Summer Saturday in L.A. ,I am taken back home . I love it when that happensllll Washing my car in the driveway, or more than likely my wifes' car. Spraying the kids with water, watching them squeal, and run away but, always coming back for more. (smile) They never ask but, I already know they want to "help"...so i let them. about the time the suds are all rinsed off, here comes the wife with somemore refreshing suds, ice cold.(wink-wink) Put on some dry clothes as the sun fades, and it's time to fire up the grill. Man that smells good, and it tastes even better. Steaks, burgers, chicken...it doesn't matter
because, It's All Good!!!