Oct. 3, 2013

In Memory of It All

by Chuck Thompson (author's profile)

Transcription

IN MEMORY OF IT ALL

The execution of another friend, yet again in a seemingly endless rift, has tarnished, faded and utterly crushed my
objective for the past few weeks. I’ve not had the inspiration or motivation to rekindle the flame and keep the passio
and plight of my convictions, and our very uphill fight on going.

First off with all due respect to the Victims of murder and the lives lost, family forever torn and hurt, I by all means
and with much self analysis and considerations always take first and foremost their feelings into consideration.
Before I write anything encroach on the very sensitive subjects and the Death Penalty.
Secondly I’d like to share with you that from this side of the razor wire fences, it’s very hard. I speak for myself
when I say it is a foreign world I never imagined existed. One of the hands challenges personally was, believing I
could change, finding in inner strength and courage to think and act differently from the way I had in the past. I
needed to realize that I was locked into a repeating cycle, of mistakes, self esteem long ago hit bottom (all time low)
without a doubt to change I had to let go consciously of the past and understand my dilemma.
The turning Point was after a year on death row, I'd also but given up on life. It was a couple of friends (both
executed who stirred my awakening and shed light on my self despair and who stirred my awakening and shed light
on my self despair. I had run up against the proverbial brick wall of this all. My memories, beliefs, lack of education,
trials and tribulations the key meaning of life. It’s safe to say I felt unwanted. And so it began, I started re-teaching
myself and to this day I am learning, consider me learned.

To try and remain detached is impossible. Our lives in here are an open book to all. The gripping stories told daily, of
past conflicts, errors, poor choices and life’s roads, indeed even the war story like tales of men’s ventures as they
traveled down the wrong road after crossing the crossroads in their lives. It’s relived, retold and resold daily.
intellectually most don’t brag or glorify any wrongs or bad acts, most of the public would be utterly surprised by the
true nature and manner of Texas Death Row. The fact is it’s laid back and non confrontational most of the time. It is
different world than the general prison population. Not to say it’s easy, its NOT. What death row is, can be summed
up as a segregated, isolated, repressive, deprived environment that's devoid of any major human contact, interaction
or normally, the concrete cages were designed to break and mask will and spirit, compile that with the immeasurable
stress of immanent death, lack of activity, a will to be active or exercise. It’s discouraging to hear or watch a man
express his lack of will to live.

I often reflect on the experiences of the past years, especially when I’ve felt impatient abut another’s slowness to
response to a direction that seemed obvious to me. It’s been helpful to ask am I forging ahead in a way that leaves
other people behind. Or am I willing to support them as they take their steps forward? Indeed it’s the later, as was
shown me when I arrived here.

An amazing legacy, an unrenowned vision of our plight resides inside the walls of death row. It’s been said that the
best leaders are the best servants. A leader — or the spirit of leading serves in a fusion of educating others about the
vision valuing to contribute and put forth effort. I’m talking about what comes from - for instance, an older death row
prisoner who knows his final years arrived and watching the continuing cycle, as a new kid arrives, the exchange, the
student teacher relations begin, questions flow and it becomes all to clear the vision, the new guy receives: in a way a
torch passed to him. The origin of every good idea, remains in the charge of the idea as it gradually unfolds, refolds
and matures in life, and you just fight to survive, don’t give up, and put your best forward.
The issues are complex, the cases heinous, but every single one of them is human. It’s our nature to error, yet do we
all not pick up the pieces and correct our errors? Don't we all eventually learn from our mistakes? It’s amazing
witnessing the transformations that happen in here. It also pains me to see a new prisoner, what I once knew in a good
friend whose been executed, it’s a vicious cycle, I have to pause often, as I do, realize, see, witness, and know beyond
a shadow of doubt, that executing them is not the answer. Rehabilitating them can be a reality, its going on to this
day, behind these walls.

What I have learned from it all? That’s easy, what I’ve lived through, helped and contributed and endured, what we
all live, is the product and by product of humanity at its worst. The throwing away to Gods greatest gift to man,
mankind itself, the execution of a human life!

For the sake of the future, in the spirit of peace and forgiveness, understanding and closure could we not reach out to
understand instead of acting on the deep emotional division, hurt, anger and pain, you can maintain civility only of
your adversary as human, most portray death row as monsters.

By dehumanizing your adversary (the death row prisoner), through derogatory labels it makes it easier to hate, or kill,
and in the case execute, its destructive to the common good.

Violence begets violence, incivility begets incivility, when getting even (In justice?) or a legal argument, it may seem
justified, we must look at the bigger picture, look stop and ask ourselves, remind ourselves that we are called
to a better way of living, to a place of common humanity.

Lastly Id like to reference to the questionable practice of predicting the future dangerousness of a man, in order to
take his life. It’s just a legal psychological junk science, it's been disproved, by the studies in the field of psychology,
by the Texas defenders office study “False Predictions of fixture Danger”, and by peers in the test study and it’s been
in the courts since. I have read countless cases debunking it. It is just another form of legal dehumanizing our
criminal justice system uses, that our courts elected prosecutors use it to dehumanize these human beings. After the
last person to testify in a death penalty case is the psychologist who makes a bogus, unsupported claim.

This expert witness, a psychologist, uses a personality test used in prisons, mental hospitals, its outdated, imaginative
at best, very misleading at the very least and often, incorrect. Its roots and founders were each used in stereotypical
labeling, not only by race and ethnic stereotypes but geographical to. The MMPI test (which Texas uses) a test said to
gauge human nature, was originally developed for the mentally ill. It’s now administered to 15 million Americans a
year. In spite of the fact, that it features invasive questions about persons sea life bathroom habits and is full of
misleading questions with multiple choice questions that defy common sense. It’s not a test of reasoning with
factually correct and incorrect replies.

In a courtroom, its use is unquestionably sound. In the often questionable practice of predicting the future, also
referred to as a psalm reading, the use is a gross injustice and a front to our judicial system, with important outcome‘
let in the wake of the MMPI test. Often child custody cases, the sentencing of a criminal in our case, the sentence of
death, this is just one of the many inaccurate and dangerously disingenuous practices used to cleanse state approved
and dehumanization of the human life they will ask a jury I2 average people to condemn a person to die.

A lot get lost, misinterpreted, censored and white washed in translation of these complex controversial struggles,
some remain silent, while others respond. Our world is not exactly simplistic, suffice to say, given how complex our
world is. The quest is for survival, its basic instinct.

In our voyeuristic society, it appears people believe what they see, hear and as the movies and books sell, violence
pain, suffering and persecution sells. Guess the question is how long will we buy it, or into it. I reflect on these pro
death penalty justice groups silence during the Green execution as, well , you be the judge. You, the society.
Victim’s rights justice for? The victims family pleads he is spared, the DA appellate division said its all folks, in
quoting Roe Wilson “legally it doesn’t matter”.

I dissent, it did matter, it does matter, Mr. Green was a classic example of a young man reformed and he made a
difference in our plight and his case shows exactly what is wrong with the system.

Disappointed and disturbed

I urge you to read the book about mr . Green "A Saint on Death Row" .

Charles Thompson
Polunsky Unit
Death Row

Favorite

Replies (19) Replies feed

arthurlutz Posted 5 years ago. ✓ Mailed 5 years ago     1 Favorite
Loading
Thanks for writing! I finished the transcription for your post.

From France, where the death penalty has been abolished many years ago. I hope it will soon be abolished in the US too.

JT Posted 5 years ago. ✓ Mailed 5 years ago   Favorite
The MMPI is indeed a discredited piece of psychobabble.

But, it is a validated psychometric instrument that psychologists love - it's in all the text books.

I am sorry to say, it's not going anywhere.

Anyway, I just wanted to add my 2cents - since I've written a psychometric instrument (it's all junk science).

You are right.
And right about the DP, too.

Chuck Thompson Posted 4 years, 10 months ago.   Favorite
(scanned reply – view as blog post)

RoseDubh Posted 9 months ago. ✓ Mailed 8 months, 2 weeks ago   Favorite
I realize this is post is several years old but your points remain relevant. I’ve recently been thinking about the pro-life movement recently, even more so than usual. We are currently in the annual 40 Days for Life that occurs in the same month that Roe V’s Wade was entered into American law. Some 58 million lives lost since, and counting... One can safely assume that about half of them were female. You want to see a war on women? Look no further. Abortion doesn’t prevent you from having a child, it just makes you the parent of a dead baby. I could go on for quite some time on how the abortion industry actually hurts women. There’s nothing empowering about killing your children.

But one of the tenets of the prolife movement is that “All life is precious, all life has intrinsic value, all life is sacred. It’s easy for prolifers to reconcile those beliefs with the tiniest and most helpless of humans. You lose quite a bit of that support when you apply those same tenets to bigger, less fragile humans- namely people sentenced to capital punishment. Then out trot the ‘eye for an eye’ and ‘they deserve to get what they gave’ and any number of other platitudes.

One sentence you wrote jumped out at me;

“By dehumanizing your adversary (the death row prisoner), through derogatory labels it makes it easier to hate, or kill, and in the case execute, its destructive to the common good.”

It is that very dehumanizing language that the pro choice crowd uses when discussing abortion- “Just a clump of tissue” “zygote”, “embryo” or “fetus” “potential life”, anything but a baby. Same with those facing capital punishment. It becomes much harder for self proclaimed moral people to cut short the life of a ‘person’. A person is something that they can identify with and to kill a person would be murder- not something they would ever be capable of promoting! So they distance themselves, where they can support their positions and maintain a clear conscience. This is why it’s so hard to sway them. To admit you have been complicit in the death of another person is farther than they are willing to go. All the arguments on the actual cost of capital punishment as opposed to life without parole means nothing. Same as to it’s effect (or lack of) on deterring future crime. No argument will be able to convince someone who willfully refuses to acknowledge the humanity of the lives they are willing to eliminate.


Christians, especially, are fond of quoting the Old Testament passages to prop up their positions. Yet the scripture they often cite was written for the Israelites who were wandering the desert without jails or any significant means of protecting the community from criminals. We have modern ways of protecting the public from dangerous individuals. We are a far cry from the society for which the text was written for.

RoseDubh Posted 9 months ago. ✓ Mailed 8 months, 2 weeks ago   Favorite
But if these biblical passages are to be used in support of capital punishment, then we should be willing to insist on capital punishment for every offense which is listed there. Kidnapping, blasphemy, homosexuality, adultery, worshipping other gods, premarital sex and not keeping the sabbath; just to touch on a few.
Of course, if we applied capital punishment according to the Old Testament, there wouldn’t be anybody left to do the executing...

Now if these Christians turned their eyes towards the New Testament they’d see that Jesus came with a new message, which was repentance and forgiveness. A message that said no one was too bad or too far gone, that they couldn’t be saved. As a matter of fact, the Bible is filled with less than ideal men and women that God called upon. He didn’t call the popular, rich or successful to further his ministry, but rather, the poor, broken and sinful. Abraham was old but he obeyed. Elijah was suicidal, Joseph was abused and betrayed by his family. Job went bankrupt , Moses had a speech problem and he murdered an Egyptian, Gideon was afraid, Samson was vain and a womanizer, Rahab was a pagan and a prostitute, The Samaritan Woman at the well, was divorced and living with a man she had not married, Noah was a drunk, Jacob was a liar a cheater, David an adulterer and a murderer, Jonah ran from God, Peter denied Christ three times, Martha worried about everything, Zacchaeus was small and money hungry, The Disciples couldn’t even stay awake for Jesus, and Paul, arguably the worst– A Pharisee who relentlessly persecuted Christians, killing them in horrific ways.
They were a team of reluctant misfits with apparently nothing much to offer but gained everything with their faith. He didn’t call the qualified, He qualified the called.


If you ever feel like you aren’t worthy enough to be used by God, let alone loved by him, just remember that Jesus used a bunch of flawed people to share Hope to a flawed and broken world. In God, we find renewal, mending, and purpose. And no matter what you’ve been through in life, remember that the same power that conquered the grave lives within you. You are worthy of life. You are worthy of God's love. You are worthy of joy. You are worthy of a fulfilling purpose that will take you places you never imagined reaching.

You are worthy.

Chuck Thompson Posted 8 months, 1 week ago.     1 Favorite
Loading
(scanned reply – view as blog post)

scientist Posted 6 months, 2 weeks ago. ✓ Mailed 6 months ago   Favorite
Hi there from NYC. It's interesting to find myself here on this web site. I highly oppose death penalty because I don't see any way it makes our society better. It also creates an awful unwanted option to execute innocent person. Whoever kills innocent person commits another first degree murder and also should be sentenced to death using the same logic. More then 150 people exonerated after receiving death sentence in US. Is it applicable? Of course no.

At the same time I am a progressive liberal. The base of my views is anti-conservatism. I am PRO abortions. I am sure nobody can tell woman what to do with her body. I strongly stand against the religion. I see the religion as the way to control minds. Civil rights should be always the top priority. If somebody is religious it is fine as long he/she doesn't engage others into this activity. Science is the only hope for humanity. This is my sincere opinion.

Anyway I wish you all the best in your attempts to appeal your sentence.

Chuck Thompson Posted 4 months, 3 weeks ago.     1 Favorite
Loading
(scanned reply – view as blog post)

FatherJohn Posted 4 months, 1 week ago. ✓ Mailed 4 months ago   Favorite
Chuck, I'm so sorry to read your pain at having a child terminated without your opportunity to parent that child, or offer that child a life. Your pain is palpable and my heart is moved by your words. I know a woman from my childhood who as a 10th grade child made the same decision without input from her lover. You know it is odd Chuck, but that woman never had a child even though she had multiple happy marriages. What could have been? No one will ever know. But had she brought forth that child, and if that child had survived to date, he or she would be forty years old and perhaps even had children themselves, making my friend a grandma. Instead, my friend grows old alone and may very well pass this life without ever feeling the love only a child could give. I say that with all fairness and for complete transparency, I too never had a child. Perhaps this is why I have adopted many prisoners as spiritual sons, but again...who knows what might have been. Me and her's approach to being childless has been quite different, but I can't help but think that child may have brought joy to someone's life. Tis a mystery. God bless you Chuck, Father John (PS. Yes, that Father John)

Ang4321 Posted 2 months ago. ✓ Mailed 1 month, 3 weeks ago   Favorite
You are beautiful

Clafontaine3 Posted 2 months ago. ✓ Mailed 1 month, 3 weeks ago   Favorite
Chuck,

I just finished watching the documentary "I am a Killer" on Netflix. The fifth episode explains your story which is quite compelling. I believe what you said to be true in your case.

Abortion is a tricky topic to talk about. For one, it is a woman's body, not the mans. The woman carries the child in her stomach for 9 months, not the man. Sickness and complications come at the expense of the woman, not the man. I can go on and on. Just because you get someone pregnant, does not mean you have control over another woman's body. Your view on religion i respect that you can believe as you please. However, Catholicism has been largely a tremendous coverup for child predators. Over the last year or so the amount of top Priests that have been charged with molestation and it is absolutely disgusting. Yet, that goes against all values of the church but why would they still be a part of the church if what they preach goes against their secret actions? Something to think about. Children, yes are beautiful and full of innocence, but they are not puppies to play and look at. They are human beings and if a woman knows they cannot take care of a child with good education, medical benefits, food, shelter, guidance, etc. then that is their choice to terminate. Sure you could argue to put them in a orphanage or foster care and then lets see how "wonderful" and "beautiful" their life will be. Yes, they could overcome adversity, but that percentage is minimal. And if you think those small percentage of children who were going to be aborted would become the child to cure cancer or colonize Mars then that's very unfortunate belief.
The culture in America is largely surrounded by no support for women financially or emotionally. Women get minimal to zero paid maternity leave. Get compensated far less than the equivalent male. And have been carrying the burden of oppression by men for centuries. That being said, a child can't take care of themselves. It needs a parent, that parent who is always there for that child is almost always the mother. Maybe before we get on the topic on what's best for unborn humans, we should focus more on the well being and equal rights of women.
Best, Charlie

FatherJohn Posted 2 months ago. ✓ Mailed 1 month, 3 weeks ago     1 Favorite
Loading
Chuck, The comment that the Catholic Church has "largely been a tremendous coverup for child predators" is a gross overstatement. Being a Catholic has been a thing for almost 2000 years and being made of broken humans has suffered various scandals across the ages when bad men (or women) do bad things. And Catholics know what was done is wrong, wrong, wrong and steps are being taken to protect all. But none of that says anything about furthering Christ's work with the poor, the marginalized, the migrant, the immigrant, the homeless, abused women, death row, long term SHU, reentry, and so on and so forth.

I know you understand the difficulty of maintaining religion in your horrific circumstances Chuck. The concept of the sanctity of life from conception to natural death impacts you directly due to your sentence, and your belief in wrongness of aborting children might be seen in your very own circumstances of living under the thumb of the capricious nature of the justice system. You have seen guys come and go in a sad, sad, dance of death with the faceless State.

Belief in the sanctity (sacredness) of all human life is unrelated to corruption, perpetration, or cover of sin within the Church or any systematic bias against the rights of women (which is also against Church teaching).

A fetus is not personal property of this parent or that parent. A fetus is a person born of the union of man and woman. The law determines what a woman can and cannot do with respect to her body...true. But Charlie can't you concede that someone on death row would see the taking of human life as wrong, even if it is not fully developed life? Those who live under the threat of death, generally choose life and I have spoken to a bunch of the same.

Keep the faith Chuck and I will pray your appeals see the light of day. Fr. John

RoseDubh Posted 1 month, 2 weeks ago. ✓ Mailed 1 month ago   Favorite
It’s been awhile since I’ve looked at this site. There’s been some interesting commentary! Like Father John, I would like to address the “Catholicism largely has been a tremendous cover up for child predators” comment.

First; The Catholic Church does not have a monopoly on child abuse. Most child abusers have one thing in common, and it's not piety—it's preexisting relationships with their victims. That includes priests and ministers and rabbis, of course, but also family members, friends, neighbors, teachers, coaches, scout leaders, youth-group volunteers, and doctors. Three quarters of abuse occurs at the hands of family members or others in the victim's "circle of trust." The overwhelming evidence is that those who abuse children seek out situations where they have easy and legitimate access to children.

One reason we hear so much more about Catholic abuse than transgressions in other religions and secular organizations: its sheer size. It's the second largest single denomination in the world (behind Islam) and the biggest in the United States. When you consider the per capita data, There isn’t a larger incidence than other faiths, and certainly not more than secular abusers.

Second; The Catholic Church is the worlds oldest and longest lasting organization. Every single day the Catholic Church feeds, houses, and clothes more people, takes care of more sick people, visits more prisoners, and educates more people than any other institution on the face of the earth could ever hope to do. The very essence of health care and caring for the sick emerged through the Church, through the religious orders, in direct response to the value and dignity that the Gospel assigns to each and every human life.

In the United States alone the Catholic Church educates 2.6 million students every day. The Catholic education system alone saves American taxpayers eighteen billion dollars a year.

This year Catholic Charities will provide millions of free meals to the hungry and the needy. We don’t ask them if they are Catholic — we just ask them if they are hungry. Catholic contribution on a local, national and global scale remains unsurpassed.

Of the world religions it encompasses by far the largest portion with 1.2 billion Catholics. It is the foundation for every form of Christianity that has come since.

RoseDubh Posted 1 month, 2 weeks ago. ✓ Mailed 1 month ago   Favorite
The reason why a person would remain a part of the Catholic Church is as Father John stated; Furthering Christ’s work. Blame has been misplaced. If a Bishop, Priest, religious or layman fails to live up to the standards he is preaching, the blame lies with him and not with the message he preaches. His actions say much about himself but not about the teachings of Christ. Jesus certainly practiced what he preached, but if someone else preaches Jesus message exactly the same but does not practice it perfectly, it is not logical to conclude that the message of Jesus must be flawed. By way of analogy, if it were proven that Albert Einstein was a child molester, that would not disprove the theory of relativity. A system should not be judged by its worst adherents but by its best, those who actually live up to its standards. Judge the Catholic Church by its saints, not by its hypocrites.

Even among the Apostles was Judas, a traitor. We wouldn't leave Jesus because of Judas. So we keep the faith and defend Jesus's Church, because the actions of those who do not keep the Church's teachings do not define us. For every Judas, there are eleven good Apostles. If being hurt by the Church causes you to lose your faith in God, then your faith was in people and not in God.

If the justification to abortion is purely financial and if the mother has older children, why not kill them instead? The older children require more and are more expensive than the baby. The mother will save more money killing the older children rather than the unborn child and she will have more time to become financially stable. Of course, that argument sounds ludicrous, we do not eliminate children because we cannot afford them or provide them with material things.

RoseDubh Posted 1 month, 2 weeks ago. ✓ Mailed 1 month ago   Favorite
This thread has wandered off from the subject of capital punishment. This is Chuck’s blog and the issue he’s concerned with at the moment is State sanctioned murder. The death sentence says some people are beyond redemption, beyond second chances, beyond being allowed to live in society. I disagree. People deserve second chances. Many people are on death row and in prisons because they never got any first chances. Poverty, racism, neglect, violence, substance abuse; drugs and alcohol along with mental illness are all issues impacting who becomes a “criminal.” I’m not referring to just the offender, but also their parents or caregivers and the environments the offenders were exposed to in their formative years.

Countless prisoners have transformed their lives, in spite of the horrific conditions behind prison bars that they are forced to endure. Executing those individuals or condemning them to die in prison denies their ability to fully participate and contribute in society. We persist in our delusional thinking about retributive punishment, character, and ethics. We forget why we condemn murder in the first place — its incredible and horrible finality, its absolute denial of any and all ability to learn and grow. This rebuff of human potentiality confuses justice for vengeance. The death penalty is about many things — retribution, punishment, anger, a misguided desire for some illusory “cosmic balancing” of the scales of justice. Yet it is most about imagination. Because even though society takes solace in a belief that the people we legally murder deserve death because they once caused it, this rationale lies in the realm of fiction, not reality. Because people change.

Each of us is called to respect the life and dignity of every human being. Even when people deny the dignity of others, we must still recognize that their dignity is a gift from God and is not something that is earned or lost through their behavior. Respect for life applies to all, even the perpetrators of terrible acts. Punishment should be consistent with the demands of justice and with respect for human life and dignity.
—The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), A Culture of Life and the Penalty of Death

When the state, in our names and with our taxes, ends a human life despite having non-lethal alternatives, it suggests that society can overcome violence with violence. The use of the death penalty ought to be abandoned not only for what it does to those who are executed, but for what it does to all of society.
—The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), A Culture of Life and the Penalty of Death

The verdict of death undoubtedly a difficult decision for the jury, it hopes to give the survivors relief and closure as well as the ability to move forward. Most everyone wants this to be true: We hope that the survivors and families of those murdered can find some relief from their anguish.

RoseDubh Posted 1 month, 2 weeks ago. ✓ Mailed 1 month ago   Favorite
While it's easy to understand why people would seek the harshest punishment possible after a terrible crime, studies cast doubt on whether harsh punishment in general, and capital punishment in particular, actually brings the relief and peace of mind the victims deserve. Contrarily, punishing the offender actually made them feel worse, because meting out a punishment caused them to think about the offender more and dwell on the negative incident. Many of the friends and family members of victims cited lengthy appeals processes as a barrier to their recovery. They’re trying to move on with their life, but keep being dragged back into it and reliving the crime over and over again.

There’s many reasons to abolish Capital Punishment and not much to gain from continuing the barbaric practice....

FatherJohn Posted 1 month, 2 weeks ago. ✓ Mailed 1 month ago   Favorite
In the seminal book "Courting Death," research has shown the Death Penalty is being judicially and systematically being made both impractical and legally tenuous in most situations.

It's continuation may not be possible at all without those who 'volunteer,' that is formally and explicitly give up all available appeals. This moves the needle in these cases from state sanctioned murder to state sanctioned suicide. Why commit suicide? Well, the conditions vary widely from state to state but harsh states (such as Texas) mandate segregated housing and deny basic luxuries like air conditioning, ventilation, and television. Some states continue the cruel and unusual punishment of 22 hours a day or more inside the cell. Recreation is often caged and alone, and yelling and kites are the only means of communication between inmates.

Other states have more humane conditions. These states also have less 'volunteers.' Life must have meaning and when all meaning is taken, a guy or gal is more likely to simply give up. The complete lack of human touch...even a fist bump...exacerbates a person's proneness to mental illness as does isolation, learning disabilities, and the lack of exercise of both body and mind.

Chuck, although is in a bad state for death row, fights on to live. I know personally of his zeal for life, his correspondence around the world, and his active ministry to others on the row. To know second hand, some of the fine men that Chuck has seen come and go, is to know the pain of losing friend by friend...those who suffer with you.

This is not to denigrate victims or glorify the offender. Inhumane crimes do exist, often under the influence of multiple intoxicants. But about punishment, how can the courts decide what is cruel and unusual if they have never spent two minutes on the row itself to see how "life" plays itself out under the worst of circumstances? The love of Christ is there, you just need open your eyes from there, not from cozy American living rooms gawking on TV. "Those who have ears ought to hear."

And which proponent of the death penalty would want to see an execution? Through my correspondence to the row, I have often feared being asked to attend. I would have to go see my friend die, but not from curiosity or desire, but from an obligation to have a presence with not a witness to. It terrifies me actually....I would HAVE to go...but could i without being a blubbering mess? I'm not sure.

I support your analysis Rose. Thanks for getting me back on track.

I remain, John Pfister

RoseDubh Posted 1 month, 2 weeks ago. ✓ Mailed 1 month ago   Favorite
Bless you Father John, and bless your ministry. Showing mercy to those who do not “deserve” it, seeking redemption for persons who have committed terrible deeds and working for a society where every human life is considered sacred and protected is how we are called to follow Jesus Christ and proclaim his Gospel of life in these times and in this culture. I absolutely agree that if people were to actually see the conditions that prisoners on death row are subjected to, certainly that would sway the opinions of many capital punishment supporters. Most people don’t think about the mechanics of carrying out a death sentence and the horrors that entails. I respect that many good people will continue to believe that our society needs the death penalty to express its moral outrage and to punish those who commit the ultimate crime of taking human life. But I do not believe that executions serve to advance that message even in our secular society.
Consider how violence has become an accepted part of American society and popular culture. There is not only the random violence we see every day in our communities. But we are also a society that permits our children to play video games that involve them “virtually” killing their enemies; much of our popular “entertainment” consists of movies and other programs that involve fictional characters committing heinous murders and other unspeakable acts. In this kind of society, executing criminals sends no moral signal. It is simply one more killing in a culture of death.

Chuck has an amazingly cheerful and positive attitude. He is smart and articulate. He has a wonderful sense of humor. He doesn’t let his current state overcome him. He is upbeat and friendly. While I’m sure there are many moments of sadness and deep sorrow regarding his circumstances he doesn’t allow those to define him. Especially significant because he spends so much time alone and confined to his cell. He has so little contact with other people. The conditions he is subjected to live under are inhumane. As you mentioned, Father John, many prisoners hasten their executions because the conditions are too awful to bear.
It would be so easy to let despair take over, but Chuck keeps his mind active with reading and correspondence. He does not ask for pity or sympathy. He even manages to actively pursue changes for the reform of conditions on death row. His concern for his fellow inmates is admirable. I am honored to call him my friend and am much better for knowing him. Through my friendship with him I have learned much about conditions in prisons, things many people never think too much about. Most people would be appalled if they knew. Chuck keeps fighting the good fight though, bringing awareness and hopefully one day reform. I’ll keep helping him in that respect. I continue to pray for him.

FatherJohn Posted 1 month, 2 weeks ago. ✓ Mailed 1 month ago   Favorite
Chuck is Texas, of course, where everything is larger than life...so to speak. His zeal for life is an inspiration. There are many social activists on DR across America. I, like Chuck, have a pen pal ministry (although mine is focused on spirituality) Chuck tends to focus on the mechanics and politics of neighboring (do you agree Chuck?) I have dr correspondence in Indiana, New York, Pennsylvania, Texas, and California. But LFR and LWOP I have in another ten states or so. Catholic focus, but Muslim, Jew, Noahide, Baptist, and Protestant as well. Conditions vary widely by level and state. The system is so fractured and fragmented rules in one state are different than another, and one even within a state DOC sets up little kingdoms where the Warden rules...private prisons are terrible where every dollar saved in deprivation is a dollar earned in profit. Then there are the jails, and the courts, oh my my----lots of mess. I have tried a little experiment recently with one guy with a particular raw deal as the feds and the state fought over who would get the stiffist sentence. Every time I write him, I write a legislator asking about state verses federal rights when it comes to wards of the state. My letters are like my correspondence, hand written, earnest, and sincere...It is interesting, I get no return mail, or a form letter telling me thank you for your opinion....but I have yet received a REAL reply written by a human person. I remain, John Pfister

We will print and mail your reply by . Guidelines

Other posts by this author

Subscribe

Get notifications when new letters or replies are posted!

Posts by Chuck Thompson: RSS email me
Comments on “In Memory of It All”: RSS email me
Featured posts: RSS email me
All Between the Bars posts: RSS