IN MEMORIAM JESSE MORRISON, PRESIDENT EMERITUS, FOUNDER OF PHADP
Five years ago my close friend Jesse Morrison gave me the task of writing about him for the 20th anniversary of the founding of our organization. And this was what I wrote:
In recalling the birth of PHADP he wrote, "I was only doing what I thought was right and necessary at the time, and I was mad as hell." If ever there was an example of channeling anger into positive action, our organization was it. 1989 was the year of four executions, a record, which we are unfortunately likely to break this year.
In writing about Jesse I could talk about his natural charisma, his leadership qualities, his fighting spirit, but all of those would mean nothing if they were not about what was right and necessary. Jesse sees a problem and wants to address it for the sake of those around him. After his sentence was commuted to life without the possibility of parole, he tried to found the Lifer's group, and when that was denied to start a NAACP chapter in the prison, all ways to bring hope and meaning to a place where there is little of either. It is the loss of the Department of Corrections that it denied permission for both.
Jess is famous for his admonition to "Be the Other Voice". He lives that and is at his very best when he can inspire, moticate, work hard and bring people together for the common good. He wants to make a difference and he has in so many wlive, in prison, as well as on deth row, even in the lives of some who do not know him because they came to death row after his re-sentencing.
I know I have repeatedly attempted to explain the spirit of Project Hope to Abolish the Death Penalty, which still endures now that we are 20 years old. When I read Bo over the phone what Jesse had written, there was silence and then I heard sobs and the words, we were family. Yes, you were and we sitll are and we thank our dear friend Jesse Morrison and all who were part of the beginning of this vision. We thank you for daring to dream a bold dream and for not counting the cost. We do not forget and we love you!
Since I wrote the above Jesse continued to inspire by being an example of his favorite book, Man's Search for Meaning. Progressively more disabled by chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, he adjusted and found peace and the courage to let go of what he could not change. At the same time, he remained my friend and confidant and continued to take a great interest in PHADP. I sought his advice, passed it on to the Board and right until the end he inspired and led. My dear friend, Jesse, we thank you for so much. We love you and we will continue to be The Other Voice!
GREETINGS: FROM THE EDITOR'S DESK
It is a hard time for the PHADP family right now. We recently lost a dear friend, family member and founder of Project Hope, Mr. Jesse Morrison. A lot of the men on death row now didn't have the chance to know him because he got off the row years ago. He was the Chairman of Hope when I got here in 1992, and it was Jesse's infectious strength of spirit, charisma and boundless belief in our ability to effect social change that encouraged me to join in the struggle to fight the death penalty.
Jesse's fight did not stop once he got off the row He affected people, in a positive way, where ever he went. This kind, soft spoken leader truly made the most of his situation no matter what circumstances he found himself in Jesse's legacy Jesse's life, is the undeniable proof against the lie that death row prisoners are irredeemable and can not offer anything positive to society. Bon Voyage, Jesse.
In other news the so-called "Fair Justice Act" Bills to shorten death penalty appeals and other Bills designed to make receiving a fair review more difficult, will most likely be passed into law soon. We thank all those who tirelessly work to defeat these horrendous Bills.
I would like to take a moment to thank the wonderful people from the Browder Mission, of Montgomery, for being so good to us here on the row, year after year. And a special hello and welcome to their newest member to come with them, Vicki Hunt. Thanks for blessing us with your presence. We all hope that you will be allowed to come on a regular basis. As Jesse would say, "The work must continue" so, although many of us are devastated at his passing, and would like nothing better than to curl up and feel sorry for ourselves, we will push onward instead. In his memory, with the knowledge that he would expect nothing less. Until next time, please help us keep Hope alive
I'm sure many of you on the street are going to get this article. After all, even out there, the one thing you count on to be an interesting experience is the arrival of a new neighbor. In here, you can crank that up to ten. Whereas you can call the cops or move if a fool moves in next door, we are kinda stuck with the luck of the draw. Get a decent cat, and all's good. Get a fool, and you may as well jump in swingin' 'cause ya'll are stuck like Chuck, good, bad or ugly.
As it goes, you got a fifty fifty shot at what you get. May be good, may be bad, either way, it's yours 🙂 I've seen 'em all in my 20 years. The straight up fools that think they have to prove they're gangsta every time they open their mouth, and the budding Hawking that's not nearly as smart as they think they are. The guys that are allergic to water and spend all day with the smell of mayonnaise dipped musk-rat floating around 'em. And then you got the breeders, that keep the roach and rat population boomin. But worst of all are the cats that are green as grass and think the guards are their best friends.
On the other side, you sometimes luck up and find that your new neighbor is partial to bathing and clean clothes, doesn't have to be told to clean his house and has a firm grasp of his own manhood. He has the habit of thinking before he speaks and has an understanding of how prison works, or at least the sense to shut-up, sit back and learn the lay of the land. He's about his hustle and earns his way. In short, you hit the jackpot.
Or I should say, for the meantime it seems I did. See, I just got a new neighbor and so far, he's fitting in just fine. Thank you Neighbor Gods!
Life on the row is a marathon, not a sprint, the longer you are here the more you seek a sense of peace in your world. And nothing is more appreciated than a lil cooperation.
Some states have completely abandoned capital punishment. The states that continue to utilize lethal injection are finding it as unpopular as ever. Manufacturers of commonly used lethal drugs are demanding that their products not be used to carry out executions. This has resulted in executions being carried out haphazardly, using drugs that are clearly cruel and unusual.
States are being forced to look for alternatives. The most humane and economical alternative is to abolish the death penalty. No more years or even decades of waiting for "justice" while lawmakers and judges debate constitutional issues or execution methods.
As public sentiment continues to shift against executions, more complications will arise for the states that are always the last to get on board when it comes to social change
PROJECT HOPE LOST A GOOD MAN
His name was Jesse Morrison. I met him 23 years ago. It doesn't seem that long ago but I've walked this journey because of a simple man who believed in me. From my very first meeting with Project Hope, a warm welcome. The encouraging words to address my struggle to write my very first article. He saw in me what I didn't see in myself. These are some of the reasons why I've walked this journey with him and Project Hope for so long.
The tools he used, to bring out the best in an uneducated man, as I was, seemed easy for Jesse. He knew what to say, and how to say it, for people to understand where he was coming from. He had a look, the encouraging kind, followed with a smile. He was a people persone He put Hope on his shoulders, to walk this journey and fight for our lives. The very worth of being alive, drove him. He knew many would die, in the death houses across the US, but he never knew what "give up" was. He believed in us, on death row. This journey has been long, but we've survived because of Jesse, a simple man with a gifted mind and a clear ability to organize a group of death row inmates to believe what we were doing was right. He knew the issues and how to attack them.
The States used emotional blackmail to fuel the vengeance and keep the death houses full. The very purpose the States used to kill, called Jesse to speak out against it. This is the very reason we are here today, continuing that struggle he faced so long ago.
The article he wrote "Be the Other Voice" is a tool he shared with us. The issues and points are still true today How can we soften the hardest of hearts that fuel this vengeance? How can we get those who remain silent, to speak out, as Jesse said? What energy will it take to see it through? Do we pack up and go home, give up, because the deck is stacked against us at every level of government? NO! We use our voice we must be heard! How do we reach those main streets of America that he spoke about? Society has been on a journey too I can only hope that one day the doors will close in the death houses and the visions Jesse saw will come true A simple man, who believed in us here.
Project Hope lost a good man; a man named Jesse You are free now my friend The teachings will remain, I promise that Project Hope will still fight that fight worth fighting, for we will not be silent, and we will help those who are silent to speak out, because Jesse knew and believed we could.
1ST Qtr. 2014
Accomplice, co-conspirator, cohort, co-defendant. Words used by the highest court in the land (United State's Supreme Court) to deem a person a criminal if they're not the actual culprits. Words they shouldn't be using to identify, label or judge anyone. Here, such sayings as "the pot shouldn't call the kettle black", "People who live in glass houses shouldn't throw rocks" and "Clean your own house before trying to tell someone how to clean theirs"...would apply.
I say these things because the United States Supreme Court has sat on high, and watched as the death penalty states have bent, broken and eroded the Constitution to their will, in order to continue their killing sprees. Which makes them just as guilty as the actual culprits. i.e. Accomplices and co-conspirators.
Wardens having prescriptions filled in their own names at the local drug stores in order to obtain drugs for executions. Meth users would be arrested for trying such methods to get high. Correctional officers meeting at state lines to exchange money for execution drugs. Any other time, that would be considered drug trafficking. Let me also add, that during that time it was found that the FDA was just letting such drugs pass through customs because they were what they called "just execution drugs" going to this state or that. Drugs not on their approved list, but still allowed into this country. If some drug cartel, or every day person, had known about this, they could have just shipped in drugs with the label "for executions only" on it, and it would've/could've passed right through customs. Still, the US Supreme Court sat on high, and did nothing.
More and more death penalty cases are revealing to what lengths prosecutors are willing to go to, to get convictions and further their political aspirations. Jury tampering, threats and intimidation. Then, there are those who hide or destroy evidence. Evidence that they know proves a person's innocence. This is, by any account, attempted murder, or even murder if the execution is carried out. Again, making the US Supreme Court accomplices and co-conspitators. As they wipe their dirty (blood-stained) hands clean with words such as, "harmless error" and "procedurally barred" .
Well, I have a few other words for them, and they know it is well over due that they use them. "THE DEATH PENALTY IS UNCONSTITUTIONAL" and ''IRREVOCABLY BROKEN AND CANNOT BE FIXED"
Words with substance!
Thank you all, and be blessed
THREAT TO MY SANITY
I've never in my life, been in such a dependent position and not had anyone to depend on. I feel like an abandoned infant or a hostage that has been left for dead. I look back at the movie "Kill Bill" and picture the character that Uma Thurman played, Biatrix Kiddo, when she had been buried alive. I envy her warrior's spirit, her never-give-up mentality. Even buried alive, she fought her way out of that wooden box and through 6 feet of dirt.
I continually urge myself to keep going, to push on, to have that same no-lose attitude. But the difference between me and Beatrix is that she had been trained for that type of situation, and I haven't. I'm not even sure it's possible to be taught and prepared to fight your way out of a situation like this, but that's not what I'm talking about. I'm talking about surviving and maintaining your sanity till the end, what ever that may be; freedom or death.
The threat to my sanity comes, not only from my position, but from the struggles that I'm forced to sit and watch my friends, family and loved ones go through. Having to watch and hear about the hardships that they are going through without being able to help, is killing me. I've been watching their worlds, as well as my own, crumble and I can't see any way to stop it. How do I fight my way out of this casket? I'm alive, in a pine box. 6 feet deep with no training and I'm doing everything in my power not to panic and suffocate in here.
If you look at it like this, it looks like that so look at it the other way and you'll see what I see. But, do you want to see what I see, or do you like the way it looks to you? Keep your eyes open and you'll see the soul that's not there. Do you understand that? Well, let's see if you understand this. The next generation of unfavorable teens "the poor ones" will be devoured by the system. The ones whose fathers, uncles and brothers are locked up. Some even come from good colored families but they will be locked up too. And who cares? It's called the New Jim Crow.
If someone in your family wasn't here, would you call us animals? Would you care that we're pressed for time and our appeals are running out? what about all the children that are being locked up in lil baby jails until they are of age to come to prison?
The state will continue to do what they're doing because the money is good. The people who run this state could care less about the next generation. Their kids go to good schools and don't see what 75% of other kids their age see. In 10 years we will see how many more kids will be on the way to prison. It Wlll be more than 10 years ago.
JESSE MDY PHILLIPS
A CHRISTIAN PERSPECTIVE
Dear Family and Friends, Greetings and Salutations! I hope this reaches you all in good health and spirits. I have just passed my forty-third birthday. Time for many things such as celebration, reflection and introspection to name a few. Thanksgiving to be sure, as there were times I wasn't convinced I would still be around and kicking. I know that forty-three doesn't sound all that old and that the natural life expectancy of a human male is much higher these days but, I am dealing with an unnatural lifestyle. Yes, I eat, drink and sleep like the rest of you but, I do so in the safety and security of a five foot by eight foot cell with the specter of a death sentence hanging over me. True, I have never had to worry about where I would sleep or where my next meal would come from. I have family that loves me I have friends who care about my well-being. And Project Hope has definitely given my life some meaning and purpose. Every question regarding the death penalty and how it is administered and carried out must be answered or at least engaged. Illogical thought processes (mine, as well as those who support the death penalty) must be challenged when they arise. Information and knowledge must be sought out, analyzed, confirmed and then shared with as many people as possible concerning capital punishment and State sanctioned killing. Similar to Jesus' teaching us to hear the Word, to believe the Word, repent and share the Word with as many as possible. It is crazy to consider that it took so much pain, toil and trouble to get me to do as. He asks us all to do and yet here I sit thinking, feeling and writing about being thankful in a place like this under circumstances like this. All praise to Him. I'm just keeping it positively real. Keeping Hope Alive!
Ronald B. Smith Jr.
Editor "A CHRISTIAN PERSPECTIVE"
LET'S GET 2GETHER
The place of agreement is the place of victory. The place of disagreement is also the place of defeats. We all agree that we need unity until we hear what it will mean to us personally, especially when it means acknowledging that God is at work in the lives of people we don't understand, don't agree with and in some cases have even preached against. Each of the 12 tribes had their own name, their own territory, their own army and their own opinions, but they all had to come 2gether to put David on the throne and set up the kingdom. (I Chron. 12:38) That is what it took then and that is what it will take now to fight the injustice of capital punishment in this country. Thank you, Governor Inslee for doing your part.
Jesus is the head and we are the body. The will of the head can only be carried out through the body, if the body is responsive to the head and in complete harmony with itself. Are you getting the idea? Some people think God ought to do everything for us. But, He has already done all He is going to do in the realm of taking Authority. Now, He has delegated that authority to us and empowered us to go and do His work in this land... So, let's get 2gether and go do it.
Atmore, AL 36503
LOVE IS MORE THAN A GIFT
Some may find it hard to love on any day. Some even more so on Valentine's Day.
Question is; "How can one be reasonably, expected to give what they don't receive?"
Another question is this "Why wait until February 14th to show gratification towards your significant other or your loved ones?
Daily I ask God to bless me to be a blessing to someone else. God answers prayers and He answered mine and granted my request. So now when I awake I see to it that I bless another with something, even if it is only a righteous thought of mind.
NO TIME FOR NO MAS!
Some sports figures say that the urge to give up is at its greatest when the battle is almost over. Most boxers will tell you that if they can make it through the first couple of rounds, that the last few rounds of the fight are the hardest. The fatigue of the body almost become greater than the spoils of victory, so the urge to give up is at its greatest. Now isn't the time to utter those now infamous words of Roberto Duran's "No Mas!"
Let us not grow weary in well doing; because our voices are our weapon of choice to help in the fight to abolish the death penalty. We need to restore our confidence in the fact that what we are doing though it seems small, is very effective. So we must stir up the gift that God have placed in each and everyone of us. The gift of survival. We must refuse to die!
Our circumstances have slowly started to eat away at some of our confidence, not only in orselves but in the lawyers, the judges and the justice system as a whole. First we become anxious with getting relief in our cases. Then our anxiousness evolves into anxiety which is being uneasy to what was happening in the court system. Our anxiety leads to depression or a low place in your spirit if you allow it! Then once depression has set in, you fall into the state of guilt or having a remorseful awareness of having anger or a strong feeling of displeasure or hostility. Now when these four conditions have been fully conceived they give birth to the "No Mas" mentality.
"And let us not grow uneasy while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart!"(Galatians 6:9) We must guard our hearts with all diligence and pay close attention to any negative that the enemy would allow to get into our heart. The enemy knows if he can get you to lose heart, he can get you to say "No Mas!" The race isn't always going to be easy so continue to strengthen yourself with the help of your brothers here so we can fight this fight together because we will win if we don't say "No Mas!"
I remain a
FREE YOURSELF FROM NEGATIVE PEOPLE
Spend time with nice people who are smart, driven and like-minded. Relationships should help you, not hurt you.
Surround yourself with people who reflect the person you want to be. Choose friends who you are proud to know. People you admire. People who love and respect you. People who make your day a little brighter simply by being in it.
Life is too short to spend time with people who suck the happiness out of you When you free yourself from Negative People you free yourself to be "You". And being you is the only way to truly live.
THE REAL POWER
Hello friends. This is Pac Man. Let me talk to you about real power. There is the power of the Lord and there is the power of information. Both go hand in hand. This past Sunday, I watched the Florida Channel on 23.3 on TV. They had oral arguements and I must say I learned a lot. But that is only part of keep your head in the news, as well as Law class. Because with this type of power, it is the only way off the row. I can't talk of everyone but death row is not for me.
Who will I be when I leave this place? (Assuming I leave on my own two feet, that is) Will I be a "saint" or a scholar? These seem to be the two stereotypes I see the most. Any man who wants to better himself while doing time seems to gravitate towards these two categories. Either they see themselves as men on the brink of sainthood aspiring towards it or in a few cases they see themselves as having achieved it. The same goes for wisdom. The men that I speak of see themselves as the wisest and/or most knowledgeable on whatever subject(or subjects) they nave spent their time in prison studying. I'm not saying that a man can't become a very good Christian, Muslim or Buddhist in prison. I'm also not saying someone can't become wise or an expert at a particular subject, but what about me? I can't see myself realistically achieving any of these goals, other than simply aspiring towards them, like most men would do given this time we prisoners are given. The question, though is, "what can I become?" not, "what can I try to become?" I still don't know the answer to the question, but I think that I can reasonably assume whenever (if ever) I leave this unusual place men are sent to wait on their deaths, I will not be a saint or scholar. I will just be a better, wiser and older version of myself. A "brand new" me, if you will. That is my goal anyways...
The company of many men
Thoughtless harm until there is time for punishment
What shall that be
That disgraced family
Thrown away to that chamber of torture
The question is do you care for this person's misfortune?
The time has come for people to make a choice.
Use your voice
Let the lawmakers know we are tired of unfiar justice
The agenda of a few are costly, and what price
Will you continue to follow the lead of the vengeful
Now we stand for something other than the usual
Let us be consistent
Let us be eccentric
Do what is right to get justice on par.
Quit letting people dictate your feelings, your truth
It's time to stand up before there is a poof...
Every one of us shall give account for himself to God.
Fear not those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. But rather fear Him who is able to destroy both the soul and body in Hell.
It is appointed unto men once to die, but after that judgement.
DEATH ROLLA DERBY
The legal race in Alabama is about to pick up speed.
To carry out it's inhumane cruel deeds.
Over 200 bodies wheeling on this capital track.
Just because lately no executions
Now is not the time to cut slack our legal teams are our pit stop legal mechanics.
They fuel your briefs with arguements and case law.
When one goes flat they screw on another
And back on the court appeal track you go.
You the lone driver, constantly under pressure
Caution; this is your life.
You the legal driver, in the drive of your life.
Fall asleep if you wheel It won't be the loved ones and lawyers they come to kill.
Some going to flip, crash out
Distracted by the madness in this house.
Some going to feel like they going nowhere.
Just going around in circles,
Making doughnuts, blowing smoke.
Don't let the 11th Circuit sneak up on you
Or you will cross the finish line
In the Death row room.
Never too late to wake up
Drive the law.
Steer your attorneys.
This is not theirs,
This is your journey.
Demetrius X. Frazier
Oh how I long for that moment.
When all awaited for comes to fruition.
That moment when concrete and steel,
Are only shadows left in my past.
That moment when my smile
Is truly genuine.
The joy overwhelmingly visual.
Year of anticipation released.
The prize after a twelve round bout
The kind you have to know to miss
The sweetness, long awaited
At last, Freedom's kiss
Here we are in 2014. I hope everyone's new year has started off well.
As everyone knows, Alabama is pushing a Bill they call the "Fair Justice Act". What I'm struggling to understand is, why Alabama would be pushing a Bill to kill faster, when not only do Colorado and Texas have this same law, but both states are having problems with it.
If you recall, Texas executed at least two men because the law pushed their cases through the courts so fast, the courts or attorneys didn't have the proper time to review the case.
Colorado is dealing with law suits because of this law. Even prosecutors don't agree with the law. On top of all this, the courts are reviewing cases and have executions on hold in Alabama. Why? Because Alabama refuses to show their protocol to how an execution is supposed to be carried out.
I've been wanting to know what Alabama has to hide, that they refuse to provide a protocol? Now I scratch my head and want to know why does Alabama remove any chance for us to receive a fair chance in the courts, so they can kill us so quickly, when they can't kill again until the courts allow it? How can they call it "Fair Justice" when neither word can be placed anywhere when dealing with the death penalty?