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A collection of letters by prisoners
Speaking out from inside

May 11, 2001 | Page 4

"They violated my rights"
Poetry from death row

After 27 years of wrongful imprisonment...Walking free

Dear Socialist Worker,

We've been free a little more than two months. These weeks have passed in a blur of indescribable awe, joy and often disbelief. Let us take this opportunity to extend our deepest gratitude to each and every one of you.

Without your tireless work on behalf of justice in our case, we do not know if Alabama would have ever agreed to release us. We are convinced that the thousands of letters, faxes and phone calls from around the world turned Alabama's political tide and paved the way for negotiations that resulted in our walking free on February 15 after more than 10,000 days of wrongful imprisonment.

For your belief in us, and for your prayers and love, we are more grateful than any words can express. From our deepest heart, thank you.

We have spent the last six weeks discovering life and enjoying the simple and profound joys of being free. With extreme happiness, we sit in the middle of the bed eating strawberry ice cream at 3 a.m., a banana sandwich and glass of milk whenever we want. A hug, a kiss every time we need one--and no one to tell us no.

There have been tears of relief and disbelief, and intermittent fear that this incredible life might be somehow snatched away by the state. This fear passes quickly.

There are moments of uncontrollable laughter at the most average of things. And it is a wondrous relief to wake in the morning without a guard yelling that it is chow time, or fire drill, or yard call or store call. Thank you again. Your love has freed us.

Michael and Becky Pardue, Mobile, Ala.

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"They violated my rights"

Dear Socialist Worker,

I'm writing in regards to a letter you published about Adrian Lomax (SW, January 19, 2001). I was at the Drug Abuse Correctional Center (DACC) in Wisconsin from September 1999 through October 2000. I have seen many things.

They punish people for "alleged" violations under the code, but they don't follow it themselves. DACC is a treatment center, yet some guards talk freely with inmates about getting drunk. They've told me about a few of their hangouts--even though I am a recovering alcoholic! These conversations could have very easily triggered a relapse in my treatment.

Adrian Lomax was my cellmate in segregation. His situation didn't surprise me at all. I've seen it before that a couple of inmates plot to set up another inmate. It really only takes two informant statements to get someone a conduct report.

I was incarcerated for 41 months, and I started a paper trail to leave DACC for another center. Suddenly, I get a conduct report for lying about staff! Then my request for an early consideration for transfer gets denied. Then two weeks later, a county sheriff showed up to ask me a question. At first I lied to him. Then about a minute later, what I learned in treatment kicked in, and I told him the truth.

He wrote me a citation--the same punishment I would have got if I stuck to my lie. Then DACC decides to punish me for the same thing and sends me to segregation. While in segregation, DACC violated my rights and did things prohibited by their own administrative code. I am working every moment I have to expose DACC so that these injustices will be stopped.

Michael Artz #341476, Oshkosh, Wis.

Write a letter of protest to Jon Litscher, Secretary of Corrections, P.O. Box 7925, Madison, WI 53707.

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Poetry from death row

THREE POETS from Illinois death row wrote these verses to add their voices to the growing chorus of criticism of police corruption, brutality and racism. Here, Socialist Worker reprints their work.

Shoot to kill
By Renaldo Hudson #B02995, Pontiac, Ill. On death row for 18 years

I'm as cold as anyone can be,
The whole world should be afraid of me.

Shoot to kill is my creed.
I'm sure the world will agree with me.

There is no cost to the souls lost, "Shoot to kill" is my creed
Don't you all agree with me?

If your daughters are out jumping rope, beware--
I shoot to kill.
If your sons are out taking a walk, beware--I shoot to kill.
I give no thought to taking any of you out!

I have rights is the first thing I hear from you, thinking you can tell me what to do. I'm the damn law in these here parts, and shooting to kill is what I do.

You are the threat this is why we have the chair, in case I don't shoot you, I can send you to the electric chair. Moratorium! Moratorium! What is this cry? If I didn't know any better I would think you are afraid to die!

If you're out taking a drive, beware--I shoot to kill. Your life don't mean nothing in this world I'm from. In fact there's a new sign going up--shoot to kill whoever I want.

Death Row 10! Death Row 10! The cry you make only makes me grin. Why don't you give up, you can never win. My father is the judge in the courts you plea, there is no way you'll get away from me.

Who am I? I'm sure you would all like to know. I'm the legal killer and I'm still running the show. I use your tax monies to feed my lust, shooting to kill is easy for me. Because people unwilling to fight gives me more freedom to be me!

The killing must stop, I'm sure you all will agree. But what are you able to see? Until we make a stand it will never go away.

Blood on your badge
By Aldwin McNeal #B63806, Pontiac, Ill. On death row for six years

Look at the shiny badge
Engraved with the city's seal
The ID number is not who you are
But how many niggers you are licensed to kill

Blood on your badge

Look at the poor nigger
Laying on the ground
Tears mixed heavily with blood
Flowing in even streams
Always at the wrong place, at the wrong time
Another victim of the madmen in blue's
Design and scheme

Blood on your badge

Cry for help
By Ulece Montgomery #A-91082, Pontiac, Ill. On death row for 17 years

The death penalty on its face is a crying shame in the human race...
Politicians use it for political gain...
Judges call it, "Justice Killing!" But in whose name?
A mother's son about to die as she weeps...
Calling, "Oh God!" Help, how can the world ever sleep...?
They kill our sons in the people's name and call it justice with no shame.

Fair trials in the land of the free...
The kids never got one--where can it be?
You're on the Row without that fair trial, victory for politics as
Another prosecutor smiles...
You cry innocence! The hell they say!
You're on the row...
Now someone has to pay.

Justice killings what they say...
Another son dying by the Death Penalty unjust in Justice place...
Sorry sons, there'll be no stay.

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