Monday, 29 April 2013

The conditions on Texas Death Row

The following account was published (at greater length) by Anthony Graves, who has since been found not guilty, and released from prison. It does give a picture of the horrendous conditions under which these people live. Once again (I know. I'm becoming boring about this!), new correspondents are desperately needed. For some, a correspondent will be their only "friend". I appeal to anyone who is interested to have a look at the Lifelines website, where details of how to become involved may be found:
www.LifeLines-uk.org.uk You are also very welcome to contact me (franstott@waitrose.com), and I will give you my phone number if you would like to know more.




On Nov. 1, 1994, I heard the gavel fall and the judge announce, "Anthony Graves, I hereby sentence you to death by lethal injection."
The jury had already convicted me of murdering six people and burning their house down to cover up the crime. I was completely innocent: they had the wrong guy. I was scared of dying for a crime I did not commit, but I knew I was innocent and hoped someone, somewhere would make it right.
What I didn't know then was that this wrongful death sentence was only part of the torture I would experience for the next 18 1/2 years. I didn't know that I would be forced to live in an 8-foot, by 12-foot cage. I didn't know I would have to use a steel toilet, connected to my steel sink, in plain view of the male and female corrections officers who would walk the runs in front of my cell. I didn't know that for years on end I would have no physical contact with a single human being.
I didn't know that guards would feed me like a dog, through a slot in my door. Instead of providing basic nutrients, the food sometimes contained rat feces, broken glass or the sweat of the inmate who cooked it. This diet caused me health problems that continue today.
The prison gave me no phone to call my loved ones, no television to keep up with the world and local events, and no real medical care. I lived behind a steel door, with filthy mesh-covered windows looking out to the run.
My only window to the outside world was a tiny one on the top of the back wall of my cell. With its peeling, old and dull paint, my cage was the image of an abandoned one-room project apartment. If I had known when I was sentenced all I would have to go through before I would win my freedom, I don't know if even my faith in my own innocence would have been enough to sustain me.
I was proven innocent in 2010, and became Death Row Exonoree No. 138. Some of us on Death Row were innocent. Some were unlawfully sentenced to death and had their sentences thrown out.

 

10 comments:

  1. If 138 people were exonerated, it makes you wonder how many innocent people have been put to death. It's not for me, but I hope that your campaign finds you some more correspondents.

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    1. Thanks, Wendy. Only this month, a man who was almost certainly innocent was put to death.

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  2. That is America. There are intelligent and compassionate Americans but they are a minority.

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    1. Adrian, I'm sure there are lots of compassionate Americans, but the judicial system, in murder cases especially, needs a thorough overhaul.Texas is the worst state. the governor, Rick Perry, has said that he wouldn't lose any sleep if an innocent man were to be executed. You can actually Google this and hear him saying it!

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  3. That is the horrible thing about the death penalty, that it is imposed on innocent people. The eighteen and a half years this man was deprived of simple human care would have been bad for a guilty person but unimaginably awful for an innocent man.
    Texas is one of the worst examples of law gone wrong.
    I've known Texans who were wonderful, intelligent, kind and compassionate, but the old Hang 'em High ethic still exists in that state, which sees itself as the last bastion of the Wild, Wild West. Some Texans are proud of being rough'n'tough, and love to impose their will on others.
    K

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    1. The biggest problem is for poor black people; they simply cannot afford good legal representation. One woman had just twenty minutes with her defence attorney before her trial. Needless to say, she was convicted.

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    1. He does, Colette, and sadly, all too few know that this goes on.

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  5. I can hardly stand to read that, Frances - still can't believe such conditions and treatment exists in the 21st century in such a country.

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    1. If you know of anyone who would like to be a correspondent, Rosemary, do encourage them. There are over 200 prisoners on death row waiting/hoping for a pen friend.

      I think I'd better shut up now!

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