...Death Row, and in particular, the barbaric conditions on the Row in Texas. These are apparently my least popular posts, but I still want to spread the word. Here's part of an article written by a man released after many years on the Row. He was lucky (if you can call him that). Many innocent people have almost certainly been executed, with Texas just passing the 500 mark for executions carried out since the death penalty was reinstated.
There are 12 more people like me from Texas. Twelve people who spent years of
their lives locked alone in concrete cages waiting to die before they were set
free, exonerated for their innocence.
Eleven people have committed
suicide on Texas' death row. All because of the conditions.
When I was
sentenced to death, I did not know that this sentence would also mean that I
would have 12 years without any human contact, i.e. my mother, my son, my
friends. All those people were stripped from my life because of this injustice.
I did not know it would mean 12 years of having my meals slid through a small
slot in a steel door like an animal. I did not know it would mean 12 years alone
in a cage the size of a parking spot, sleeping on concrete steel bunk and alone
for 22 to 24 hours a day. All for a crime I did not commit. The
For me and the 400 other prisoners on Texas' death row while I
was there, a death sentence meant a double punishment. We spent years locked
alone in a tiny, concrete cage in solitary confinement, with guys going insane,
dropping their appeals, doing everything they could to check out of this place
before we were ever strapped to an execution gurney. All because of the
I am writing today because the ACLU has put out an important
new paper about what it does to people to lock them alone in cages on death row.
They found that over 93% of states lock away their death row prisoners for over
22 hours a day. Nearly a third of death row prisoners live in cages where their
toilet is an arm's length away from their bed. Sixty-percent of people on death
row have no windows or natural light.
Solitary confinement is like living
in a dark hole. People walk over the hole and you shout from the bottom, but
nobody hears you. You start to play tricks with your mind just to survive. This
is no way to live.
I saw the people living on death row fall apart. One
guy suffered some of his last days smearing feces, lying naked in the recreation
yard, and urinating on himself. I saw guys who dropped their appeals and elected
to die because of the intolerable conditions. To sum it up, I saw a bunch of
dead men walking because of the conditions that killed everything inside of
them. And they were just waiting to lie down.
After I got out, I have
tried to use my time to raise awareness about these conditions. I am currently
working on a book and traveling the globe trying to share my message and educate
people about the effects of solitary confinement. I have
createdAnthonyBelieves.com, which is my consulting firm that I use to help
attorneys, nonprofit organizations, etc. I am asking for your support in my
endeavors to bring attention to such inhumane issues by going to my website and
ordering anything from my store to help offset my travel expenses. There's also
a petition on my webpage that I am asking 10 million people around the world to
sign in solidarity with me as I stand up for justice.
Please help me and
the ACLU get the word out about these conditions. Our death penalty system is
broken in this country – it is applied unfairly against people. When you have a
broken system, innocent people like me can end up on trial for their life. And
subjecting anyone in prison to solitary confinement is torture. I am speaking on
experience. Many of these same people are returning to our society, and when
they do they come with all the baggage we put on them in the system. This keeps
the rate of recidivism high.
In this country, we should be doing better
than that. We should not have a criminal justice system turned into a criminal
by the way we treat our citizens. Even when we do not like people or believe
they have done something wrong, our emotions should not govern our society. We
should be making laws from a rational perspective. We have to be above the
criminal by keeping our system humane. Everyone should be treated like a human
being. This is America.