Sunday, August 23, 2009

Inside Xanadu

Good Morning to all,

I hope you are all having a beautiful peaceful day. it's 9:22am where I'm at, and I have to tell you that I'd rather be anywhere but in this sweat box right now. Even though it's early in the day, the temperature is 90+ in my cell. By 1 or 2pm, it will reach or exceed 100 degrees. My only reprieve is an 8" fan that does nothing more than to circulate the hot dry air, that by the way, is recycled. So it not only is it hot, it smells bad, and you don't even have to move around in here to before you begin to sweat. It feels a lot like you just worked a double shift at a greasy spoon.

On death row, (or at least where I'm at) you're only allowed three showers per week. (Mon, Wed & Fri) The rest of the 4 days, you're forced to improvise, get creative and maintain your personal hygiene in any way you can. This can be comical at best. I call my "method" a bird bath. I sit on the toilet and pour cool water over the top of me. I know this doesn't make for appealing reading, but if you want to know who I am, then you need to know where I am, and what my life here is like. This is who and where I am right now.

I want to share some thing else with you all that I prefer to call a "reality check". For the most part, I've always been a pretty healthy guy. I exercise religiously, and for my age, I'm in better physical shape than most guys half my age, (not only here, but out there as well). Not much in this world causes me to feel much fear. I can tell you some pretty wild brutal stories that molded me into the fearless person I am today, but there are hidden fears in this world that have brought some of the most powerful, strongest, wealthiest men and women to their knees. I'm talking about the "C" word. You would think that where I live, the biggest cause of death would be execution, but that's not the case. The biggest cause of death here is cancer. I've been here for 19 years now, and twice as many men have died of cancer than any other cause. I personally know of 15 people in the last 10 years who have either already passed away from cancer or who are now receiving treatment for it. So when I started to notice and feel changes taking place in my own body, I started to get a little concerned. At first that they were little subtle changes and I just assumed it was the change in my diet. (Most DOC budgets have taken enormous hits because of each state's recession. The areas hardest hit are the food dept. and medical dept.) The food itself hasn't changed, there's just a lot less of it. These changes in my body have gradually become worse over a 2 month period of time, until my concern let me to consult my best friend out there. I'm not convinced it's the big "C" because as of yet, I haven't seen a qualified doctor. That's not why I'm telling you all of this though. I'm telling you this because regardless of what the outcome is, it's forced me to pay closer attention, and realize that I'm just as vulnerable ans susceptible to these situations as the next man. No matter how physically strong or healthy I thin I am. I have so many wonderful dreams that I still want to achieve in my life. So many places I still want to see. Places, people and things that I think about and dream about every day in here. I've never been afraid of dying. It's something we will all face and have to come to terms with one day, but I'm scared to death that I'll never get to really live. You only exist in a place like this, but you always dream, telling yourself that "one day" you will get your freedom and be able to resume your life. I don't feel like I've really ever had that chance yet. There have been so many obstacles in my path, so much chaos, and right now I'm a little scared that another obstacle could be lurking in the dark somewhere. ~ Just beyond my vision. And it's situations like this that teach us just how fragile life is, and can be. My best friend, bless her heart, is the ultimate optimist, and I could not have confided in anyone else but her about this fear. Even if it turns out to be something minor & curable, it was/is still a wake up call for me. It's reminds me that this prison has many more faces than the gates, bars and fences that hold me here.

I will of course keep you up dated as I go through the process of trying to figure out what is going on with me medically. You can't just pick up a phone and make an appointment for the doctor in here. There's a much slower process you have to deal with. As of yet, I've not gotten word of when I'll see a doctor. One more think you might want to know is that "general population" and "death row" are treated differently. We here on the row are already sentenced to die, so our medical needs and concerns are not as big of a priority as someone with an actual release date.

I have lots more to say, but for now, I'll just say that I really appreciate you all listening to me. What I write here is personal, yes, but it is also about awareness. I don't want to come off as a complainer, because but for the grace of 'whomever" is in charge, I could be writing from some 3rd world country where conditions are a hundred times worse than where I am. I welcome and appreciate any questions or feedback on what I wrote here. If you want to know more about me (not just the death row inmate title), please feel free to ask.

Much much peace to your all,
BD Winslow

Monday, August 17, 2009

Some thoughts, and some answers

Good afternoon to everyone,

I hope its a bit cooler where you all are. I believe it's hovering around the 100 degree mark here in my cell today.

I deeply apologize to all of you who have responded to my lasts blogs, and have patiently waited for my next one. Again I do not personally have access to a computer, so the process takes quite a bit more time than normal. I greatly appreciate your patience.

Before I answer some of my responses to you, I want to share something with you that I found a couple of days ago. It's one of those things where some one lets too much power go to their head. This is the case with Connecticut's Governor Jodi Rell.

On March 4th in Connecticut, the "Judiciary Committee" had a hearing on the death penalty, and recommended abolition. On March 31, by a vote of 24 to 13, a bill was drafted (Bill-HB-G578). This bill was then debated by the House and passed on May 13th by a majority of 90-56. The bill passed the Senate, where it was passed 19-17 votes on May 22nd. BUT, Governor Jodi Rell, made it clear that she would veto the bill. Never mind that every one else seen the need to abolish the death penalty in this state. She alone decided it was not going to happen, even if it means the tax payers will continue to pay for something that the majority of them don't want any longer. This is a clear example of how you can entrust some people with way too much power.

In Virginia, Governor Kaine vetoed a bill that would have expanded the death penalty to include accomplices to murder, and to those who kill on duty fire Marshal's or auxiliary police officers. He also vetoed a bill that would have made it easier to purchase and carry guns. The Senate failed to over ride the vetoes. So on one side of the coin, the law makers wanted to expand the reach of the death penalty to various crimes (violent crimes), and on the flip side, they want to pass laws to make it easier for people to purchase and carry guns. Does anyone else see anything wrong with this picture?

On to answering responses.

To: Cesar R Klinger-- Cesar, thank you for your words of appreciation. I can not personally visit your site, but my friend can send me print outs. I would very much like to know more about you and your site/blog.

To: Ms Moon-- Thank you for reading my blog and I hope you will keep reading.

To: Zengoof-- I appreciate the respect you have for me and my situation. I could have gone further and explained that capital punishment is arbitrarily applied, and maybe I should have. Most tax payers don't even realize the power a judge alone has in interpreting the law when it comes to capital cases... "especially when it comes to jury recommendations". It is in my opinion, another example of someone abusing their power for their own personal convictions/beliefs. I really appreciate all of your feed back, and look forward to hearing more from you. I know it is harder to see quiet as peace out there, as opposed to in here, but I would certainly welcome the madness and distractions of every day life. Even after 19 years on the row, I still miss all that. It's a different kind of peace in here my friend. In here it is borrowed peace. You can feel it one second, and the next it's gone. you can't run from the chaos and all the noise. Where I found most of my peace, is in my memories, or the friendships I've been fortunate enough to forge over the years with people on the outside. They constantly remind me that I'm still alive and not just another statistic. Much Peace, BD

To: Lady Lemon-- Thank you for your comments. Sometimes when I think about some of the things I write about this place I'm in, I still can't fully grasp the reality of it all. When I was "out there" as a free man, I never really considered my stance/opinions on the death penalty. i know the streets fairly well, yet until I became a capital defendant, i simply can't remember ever hearing much of anything concrete about the death penalty, other than it existed. Looking back now, I don't consider that I was ignorant, but like most of society, I was kept in the dark as to how it was applied and to whom. you mentioned the prisons being so over crowded because of non-violent drug offenders. I agree with you that this is a serious malfunction in the prison system. The feds figured this out a couple of years ago, and they let a lot of drug offenders out. I don't recall any states adopting their methods though. But you have to keep one thing in mind when you consider how there's so much over crowding in every state in the country. It is a billion dollar industry. It is in many towns and cities, the largest employment opportunity. Between the federal system and the state prisons, there are over 1.5 million prisoners locked up in America. I'd say at least 60% of them are for non-violent crimes. Even though I've been in the belly of this humongous beast for all these years, like you, I still have a great deal to learn about it. Thank you so much for your comments and I hope to hear more from you!
Peace, BD

To: Spiral Dancer-- Yes it was ok to pose what you did about Orwell. (I'm guessing your referring to George Orwell. I'm reading 1984 now) When people vote for the death penalty, I don't think the vast majority really stop and think "too deeply" about the mechanics of it. How it is applied, who it's reserved for and most of all, that they're voting to kill/murder/execute another human being. One that could easily be their brother, sister, mother, father, cousin, uncle or some one they grew up with. Or that despite this one mistake they made, or were accused of making, they were /are some one's son/daughter with souls and human abilities most people never get to see. I've met some pretty gruesome men on the row over the years, but the vast majority of the men I've come to know, despite their crimes, are just every day normal human beings that sit in a cell for 20-30 years and waste away. Their true characters are never seen, their dreams are never realized and the only thing that is remembered about them, is not any good they ever did, but the worst thing they ever did/or were accused of doing. So it is easy for someone to say "I'm for the death penalty", when the human aspect is eliminated from the equation. Can you tell me which Orwell book you quoted from?
Thanks for your sharing and support. BD