Saturday, April 16, 2011



For some time now I have been corresponding with a young man on death row, Robert G. Will. My stance on the death penalty is that it should be abolished in any case, Rob's innocence notwithstanding. Life In Prison Without Parole (LWOP) should also never again see the light of day. I came to this cause out of a life long abhorrence to revenge murder, which is the only way to describe capital punishment in this country. I attended talks given by Abolitionists like Angela Davis, Bishop Desmond Tutu, and David Kacynynski from New Yorkers Against the Death Penalty.

A few years ago I joined the monthly book club of the Campaign To End the Death Penalty's Manhattan chapter in order to better educate myself about the history of legal lynching in this country and the current horrendous conditions of our prisons. I was put in touch with a supporter of Rob's who was looking for someone to volunteer as typist for Rob's updates from death row on the Polunsky Unit in Livingstone Texas. Rob and I have since become friends through our personal letter writing. You can find out about this inspiring young man on his fb page and on his website.

I have met so many people from across this country and all over the world who stand against this system some in our country so wrongly champion. Every single person I have met and correspond with inspires me every day. We are not alone. We are growing in number. We will prevail.

Get Involved!

It will change your life and it could give back a life.

From the writings of Robert Will, an innocent young man on death row
in Livingston, Texas.


Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Right now I’m feeling quite…spaced out—I’m on the third day of a hunger strike or what might be more properly called a solidarity fast. A few days ago a guy here proposed the idea of a hunger strike. I barely know him and have never known him to be political at all, but I’m always down to support any positive action.

His neighbor asked me for information on Gandhi when I was in the dayroom recently—and I of course gave an impromptu talk on Gandhi—so perhaps they have been over there on the other side of the pod reading some Gandhi or something, I don’t exactly know. One thing is for sure: this idea for a hunger strike came about as a result of the rapid and absolutely outrageous rise of oppression that has been going on around here the last few months. Note for the annals of history: the rise of ultra right-wing mentality is even affecting this place. Flashback: 1994 when Clinton was president and Republicans gained control of the Senate following mid-term elections—some of the absolute most oppressive policies concerning criminal justice and prison in modern U.S. history were enacted as a result of the anti-Clinton, anti-everything progressive mania that swept across the U.S.

The last few months have been crazy. For the first time in the history of Texas Death Row they used a Concussion Weapon on someone. I’m not sure what it is exactly called but it’s a riot control rifle that shoots some type of extremely dangerous projectile. The guy was shot in the face with it and immediately knocked unconscious. Also for the first time in the history of Texas death Row a guy was beaten with metal riot batons during a Use Of Force. They’ve never even used batons during A UOF before. They’ve been playing with mail and giving people absurd, ridiculously petty disciplinary cases. Even the case lady—and there is no such thing as an even somewhat nice case lady in TDCJ—mentioned to another officer that the dramatic rise in absurd disciplinary cases seems stupid. Actually, most officers do not like what all has been going on. Most of the imbecilic new policies are coming from people who never (or rarely) even come on the Death Row pods.

Of course, some of us are contesting these things in various ways. I say “Solidarity Fast” because I am not going to push myself to the point of emaciation. It is very hard to remain healthy in this environment. I remember when some attorneys and organizations first got some of my UOF tapes and they were circulated, one of my ex-girlfriends mentioned to me that I sure looked out of shape in them. (I actually had to negate my ego a bit in order to show them! Ah, but for the struggle…).

On disciplinary status one can’t even get vitamins or any commissary food and when a person gets put on food loaf rapid muscle deterioration occurs. Food loaf is basically a big blob of dough and grease. You rapidly lose muscle but basically gain some fat around the stomach from the grease and nasty doughy substance. Well, I work out daily and I’m in some seriously good shape now—I do Yoga, Jujitsu, “weight” (homemade weight bag) training, Shaolin, Qi Gong and just all types of working out! My body is very well sculpted and it will continue to get more and more so. There are only a small number of guys participating and I don’t know how long they’re planning on going. I have a certain status in this environment, so I feel compelled to show a certain Solidarity. I’m not going to emaciate my Self unless I feel it will be a very strong strategic endeavor that will greatly benefit the struggle.

This place is insane, quite Kafka-Huxley-Orwellian-esque as I often say: earlier shakedown team officers were doing immediate forced moves to disciplinary status behind these nonsense cases they’ve been giving people. At the same time myself and another guy are discussing and comparing painting, drawing and craftwork techniques (a bit of an Artistic teach-in!). Two guys are scream-talking in the next section. We get word on how a dude on another pod was assaulted with a military-grade riot control grenade. Someone listening to the news hollers out the latest on why Cleve Foster—who everyone knows is completely innocent—received a stay and wasn’t executed yesterday. Chaos. Bedlam. Insanity. And this is how it is every single day here.

But I thrive and continue to grow and Create. My vision is getting a bit blurry, my hands are shaking a bit and I’m feeling rather dizzy. (Common effects of not easting). I’m about to delve off into the realm of Yoga…

In the Spirit of Satyagraha

Rob Will