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Essay by inmate on what life is like on DR

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mjuran
mjuran's picture
Essay by inmate on what life is like on DR

I've just started to write to someone on death row, and had been assuming that conditions for prisoners on DR are more or less the same as maximum security for non-DR inmates.  But according to an essay I found written by somone else (who's since been executed) conditions are much, much worse--to the point they sound simply inhumane and in violation of all kinds of human rights. https://murderpedia.org/male.H/h/hannon-patrick.htm  (scroll down for the actual essay at the bottom of the page).

24 hours a day in their cells, literally they don't leave their solitary cells for years, except to be executed.  They have an open front grill at the front of the cell, facing a wall, and 13 other prisoners on the same cellblock whom they can hear but not see.  It can be brutally cold in winter without heat, and brutally hot in summer with no AC or ventillation.  Food is inadequate to stave off actual hunger, and has to be supplemented from commissary if the inmate has funds to buy extra food.  There's nothing to do but write letters, watch TV (every cell has a tv, which can't be turned off completely) or listen to the screams and ravings of people in neighboring cells who have lost their minds long ago to the torture of solitary confinement.  Finding a way to pass the hours every day is the greatest challenge.  They are treated like vermin, and regarded as such, by the people charged with housing and feeding them.

Some of them may indeed have done terrible things, and I'm not suggesting they be given a free pass or a country club lifestyle to enjoy in consequence.  But it seems to me that the particular conditions visited upon DR inmates is a level of hell and horror that's hard to imagine, and what purpose does it serve, except as society's retribution?  I think if the penalty for the crime is death, and it's for someone who can't be safely released again into society because of the damage they will inflict, best to put them to death quickly and humanely.  Extending their lives artificially for years in a kind of living death/mind-and-body torture seems about on the same level of human brutality as stoning couples to death for adultery...just gratuitous and excessive, and not befitting a civilized culture.

I guess I'm just complaining.  And probably preaching to the choir, by coming here.  There are a lot of burning issues competing for people's attention these days, and I know DR conditions for people who've done awful things isn't at the top of everyone's list, but I just feel like spouting off about how horrendous it is.  It really bothers me that we have this hidden world of humans being tortured day after day behind bars in our taxpayer funded institutions, and there is nothing anyone seems able to do about it, least of all those caught in the maw of this giant eater-of-souls monster machine called the US prison system.

 

Carmen163
Carmen163's picture

This is one of the reasons why I opted to write to a DR PP. From what he tells me, he is not in his cell 24h a day, he goes to the yard a couple a times every week and he gets out to shower, but the lonelyness and boredom are just horrible. But what makes him suffer the most, is the fact that they are not treated like human beings. No one cares. My PP told me that a friend of his got the covid 19 flu and needed to see the doctor or go to the hospital. However, the policy is that in order to get out of your cell, you have to be handcuffed. That means you have to stand backwards to the celldoor, so they can cuff you through the bars or the little hatch. But... his friend was too sick to get out of bed. So they just let him rot there, untill finally they did take him to the hospital, but it was too late by then, he died the next day.

I felt physically ill when I read that story. And like you, I got angry and upset about the lack of information and interest in these matters. But I learned quickly that my frustration is not helpful. I can't change the system and as a matter of fact, that is not my job. My job is to be the best friend possible for my PP and have empathy for his situation. You know: 'be the change you want to see in the world' - Ghandi, and in that respect I can do a lot. 

And you do so much as well, dear mjuran. You may not realize it, but writing to a DR inmate, having an ear for his problems and rejoicing with him about the good moments is so very important. You are there for your PP, you treat him as a human being, you have meaningful interaction with him. And that can make a lot of the circumstances more bearable for your PP. It's very good to share the information you've found, just please don't get too upset about it. There is so much anger and hate around them, therefore let us be the ones who represent the opposite of that. In my opinion that is very powerful and helpful and much nicer to do! 

 

Sasaki
Sasaki's picture

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mjuran
mjuran's picture

Thank you, Carmen, I appreciate your thoughts on the matter--agree the dehumanization aspect of it is appalling, and maybe one of the best things we as pen pals can do is simply re-introduce some humanity, by being loyal friends.

CD462
CD462's picture

Hello- after reading this i am so glad i have chosen to writer to a prisoner on DR. I am in Australia and the death penalty does not exist. I have a sense of gref for the prisoners whose profiles i have read on DR and feel sad after reading your post.

I look forward to contributing to the forums,

Take care 

Carly 

Sasaki
Sasaki's picture

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JaneJLocane
JaneJLocane's picture

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Jak4Walton
Jak4Walton's picture

Thanks for the story!

MzParamedic
MzParamedic's picture

I want so much to write to a DR inmate because they go through so much alone in their cells day in and day out and though they have been convicted of serious crimes they are still human!

MzParamedic
MzParamedic's picture

Does your friend on DR have a friend on DR who is looking for a pen pal?

felicia1173
felicia1173's picture
I WONDER IF YOU WOULD BE SO SYMPATHETIC TO A PERSON IF THEY HAD TORTURED, RAPED AND THEN BRUTALLY KILLED YOUR DAUGHTER AFTER THEY GRABBED HER OFF THE STREET ON HER WAY TO SCHOOL? GRABBING HER IN THE MORNING WOULD GIVE THEM SIX TO SEVEN HOURS BEFORE SHE WOULD BE MISSED. MAYBE HER BODY ISN'T  FOUND RIGHT AWAY AND YOU ARE BEING TORTURED BY THE FEAR AND WORRY THIS PERSON IS CAUSING YOU. THEN YOU GET THAT CALL ASKING YOU TO MEET AT THE MORGUE TO IDENTIFY YOUR DAUGHTERS BODY. IT'S HER....."HOLY FUCK WHO WOULD DO THIS TO MY LITTLE GIRL"? THE WORST PART REALLY HASN'T STARTED. THE POLICE AND CORONER ARE ABOUT TO TELL YOU EVERYTHING SOME PSYCHO WAS ABLE TO DO TO YOUR LITTLE GIRL WHILE YOU WENT ALONG YOUR NORMAL DAY. YOU CAN ONLY THINK ABOUT HOW YOU WERE TALKING AND LAUGHING WITH YOUR FRIENDS AT WORK WHILE YOUR BABY GIRL WAS TERRIFIED, FEELING THE WORST PAIN SHE EVER FELT. REPEATEDLY RAPED,SODOMIZED,BEATEN,BURNED. ALL OF A SUDDEN YOU THINK ABOUT HOW SHE WOULD HAVE BEEN CRYING FOR YOU AND YOU DIDN'T KNOW SHE NEEDEED YOU. SHE WAS SUPPOSED TO BE SAFE AT SCHOOL. YOU DIDN'T KNOW BUT QUILT WILL CONSUME YOU. QUILT BRINGS ON HATE AND VENGEANCE. ARE YOU GOING TO CONCERN YOURSELF WITH YOUR DAUGHTER'S KILLER BEING "MISTREATED"?
ST4s
ST4s's picture

I doubt Mjuran was discussing her daughter’s killer, Felicia, but if you are, I’m profoundly sorry. I hope you find some measure of peace.

As for why one feels empathy for someone on death row – clearly twelve jurors did not – who are we to decree how someone feels? Or judge their reasons when they are contrary to our own? I think it takes the bravest of the brave among us to befriend someone sentenced to society’s final measure of revenge, or justice, or whatever you want to call it. And there are people on here who do. I’m not one of them. I’m not brave enough.

Kirsten
Kirsten's picture

Felicia,

I'm sorry for what happened to you. And as you said yourself: Guilt brings on hate and vengeance. Yet, you aren't guilty. The one who did to your daughter what he did, is.

Still, there is not anything, anything at all, that could be done to bring your daugther back. That's the real shit. No chance to undo anything or do anything that could or would lead to a different outcome.

Not even the DP.

I don't know it, but I honestly doubt there'll be closure for a victim's family when someone who killed is being killed, too.  

mjuran
mjuran's picture

Felicia, you know nothing about me, and screaming at me for having sympathy for some strangers because some other stranger hurt someone you love, is just acting out.  Sorry for your loss if that was a real story and not just some extreme hypothetical.  You probably should be resolving your trauma and grief with a professional rather than yelling at strangers on the internet and telling them how or how not to conduct their lives.

Kirsten
Kirsten's picture

As for the question of what life is like on DR, there's a blog you might like to read, mjuran:

http://minutesbeforesix.blogspot.com/

 

mjuran
mjuran's picture

Thanks, Kirsten.  I'll check it out!

 

felicia1173
felicia1173's picture

I WASN'T SCREAMING OR JUDGING. I WRITE TO INMATES OF ALL KINDS MYSELF. MY STORY WASN'T MINE IT WAS BORROWED. I GET SO WRAPPED UP IN MY PP STORIES OF HOW THEY ARE TREATED AND FORCED TO LIVE THAT I WANT TO TAKE THE PENAL SYSTEM ON AND MAKE THINGS RIGHT FOR INMATES. I TEND TO FORGET THET HAVE DONE SOMETHING WRONG TO BE IN THERE. MANY HAVE DAMAGED THE LIVES OF INNOCENT PEOPLE WHO HAVE TO FACE THINGS THEY SHOULDN'T BECAUSE OF A COMPLETE STRANGER WHO SHOWED NO EMPATHY TO THEIR LOVED ONE. WHEN I START FEELING SORRY FOR INCARCERATED PERSONS I THINK OF THAT STORY MAYBE TO KEEP GROUNDED. I'M NOT SURE. IT REMINDS ME THAT SO MANY PEOPLE IN THIS WORLD DON'T CARE HOW TOUGH LIFE FOR INMATES IS AND THEY FEEL LIKE THEY EVEN DESERVE IT. YOU DON'T HAVE TO AGREE WITH THEM OR ME I JUST THINK ALL OF US NEED TO REMEMBER THERE ARE TWO SIDES TO EVERY STORY.

Kirsten
Kirsten's picture

Felicia; writing only in capitalletters is considered screaming/yelling at the readers on the net. ;-) That was probably what was meant.

Slaren
Slaren's picture

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felicia1173
felicia1173's picture

YES I KNOW AND SHOULD HAVE MENTIONED THAT MY EYES ARE VERY BAD AND HAVE TROUBLE READING OVER MY MESSAGES. THANK YOU KIRSTEN FOR YOUR HELP.

Kirsten
Kirsten's picture

You're welcome, Felicia. There are various auxiliaries to make using computers and the net possible for disabled persons. Knowing that firsthand myself, as both my motorical and visual possibilities are severely impaired. But being in Germany our healthcare system is pretty different from that in the US. 

But maybe there's a possibility for you to get some information on things could be a made a little easier. From what I know (not using it, but knowing it exists) there's a program called Zoom that enlarges font a lot (according to the settings you're using on your computer. No idea if that works on phones as well, though).

Just an idea, but it's offtopic here, so I won't go into further details.

Good luck,

Kirsten

Northernyank
Northernyank's picture

I try and look at things from this perspective. What can be said about my own humanity if I support the punishment of death?

lpostel
lpostel's picture

Thank you, Carmen, for being there for people. Now I'm inspired to do the same. 

Welsh lady
Welsh lady's picture

It sounds like he'll I have never been to prison so I can't know what you all go through, some people do deserve to die for what they have done but should ve treated better on death row

blondgal
blondgal's picture

My husband  is on dr if anybody has questions about what it is like i can try and answer your questions yes they are locked up in their cells most of the day but thery do go to yard take showers visit doctor dentist and the guys all help one another with food and anything they need its very noisey in there too when i speak to my hubby on the phone the guys are shouting to one another my hubby does exwecise with the guy in the next cell  and when a game is on  its like being in the stadium the borrow each other cd to listen too my hubby tv broke some in their borrowed him one till his new one comes to the prison they just get on with it