Sunday, February 15, 2009

Welcome to Xanadu

Most of you who are reading this blog have no idea or clue about the world that I'm going to introduce you to. It's the world I live in, and have lived in for close to two decades now. I live in a prison, on death row. I have a dual purpose goal in creating this blog. First, I want more than anything to have a voice outside my world. (My "space" consists of a 6x9 cell 24/7/365). Second, I want to raise awareness in the outside world about the inside world, my world, which few people know about.

Many people may say to themselves, things like:
"Why should I care about such a world, where criminals dwell?"
"I didn't put them there, I'm not responsible for what happens to them now."
"What good would it do if I did care?"

You would be surprised. Capital punishment is a world that very few people in society truly understand. What many think is that it's supposed to be reserved for the worst of the worst criminals in America. (As well as in those other countries who still practice capital punishment) Where I live there are men from all walks of life. Yes there are some men on the row who actually qualify for capital punishment status, but the cruel reality is that 9 out of every 10 men and women on America's death rows, do not fit the criteria for what capital punishment was designed for. But like any beast, it needs to be fed to sustain it's livelihood. So, instead of having a system that works, 38 of our state governments end up warehousing condemned men and women for upwards of 20 years, which costs millions of dollars per inmate per year. By raising awareness about my world, I hope to also shed some light on how your tax dollars are being spent. Because unless you have a close friend or family member on death row, how would you really know?

Across the nation, many state governments are struggling to find ways to keep their economies above water. They're having to cut unknown millions or even billions from their budgets. Take California for instance, they have considered (very seriously I might add), issuing IOUs instead of giving the residents their tax refund checks! California is only 1 of 38 states that have this same problem, funding capital punishment. One of the ways they are attempting to solve this problem is by taking money from other important community projects to fund capital punishment. A system that doesn't even work! This makes no sense. The death penalty seems to serve no real purpose. It's not a deterrent, and keeping with the California example, it costs millions each year to feed the beast (An estimated 400 million per year). And this beast has been draining their economy for the past 19 years! You do the math. I'm saying that you can still keep the death row population locked up for just as long under a life sentence... for a fraction of the cost per person. So, why not?

Well, as you can see, I went off on a rant about something I'm very passionate about. And it's not just because I'm on death row myself, I promise you. It is my hope that with what little I have shared with you today, I can open up a few minds (or many hopefully) and we can create some really good dialogue here. I'm open to any questions you may have, not only concerning death row, but whatever else comes to mind. I intend to be as much of an open book as I can be. There are a few locked doors though; 1) I can not provide my true identity for safety reasons 2) For legal reasons, I can not talk about why I am here. I can only say that I don't belong here. And like many others on the row, there is more to me than where I live. There's more to each person on the row than the crime(s) they've been accused or convicted of. We're all human beings just like you, and I'll bet there's a whole lot more to you than the worst thing you've ever done or been accused of.... us too. (I hope that makes sense)

With any luck, I have sparked some interest and will get some responses. I'd like to chat some more. It feels good to have a voice and someone to listen to what I have to say. For anyone who would like to learn more about me, please feel free to leave your feedback. I will do my best to answer all questions. I do not have computer access, so my responses will take a week or two before they are posted. I pray you will be patient. And for those who do respond to my message, I thank you.

Peace and blessings,
BD Winslow