I look inside myself, deep into chambers that I usually keep shut. I see nothing. I feel blinded, bound, tethered, caged. Behind my closed eyes there is nothing of the present or future, but the past crowds close.
A poignant, raw, eulogy for a beautiful, creative, talented woman. R.I.P., Erica.
It’s been months since I’ve visited this space. I’ve attempted to start a post ultimately abandoning it in favor of short bursts of thought on Twitter or opting to just keep whatever it was I wanted to say to myself. I’ve always prided myself on my ability to be open and expressive but had also figured out a pretty adept method of feigning transparency. I would give up enough to appear as though I was sharing (and I was) but I was also keeping enough to myself to remain properly hidden. The last few months (maybe a year) has been no different. I’ve been thinking about coming back to this space but I didn’t know what I could say here without spilling everything. I have a tendency to talk too much and over share and then spend time worrying about who will read what and use it against me or who will read what…
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I know it took me a while to post this, but the cacophony in my head refused to communicate itself through my fingers.
I used to be a proponent of the death penalty. If you took it upon yourself to take another human being’s life, then the state has the right to take yours. Simple, right? Hardly. But this post isn’t about the fallacies of the death penalty. This post is about Anthony Haynes, a death row inmate, a man condemned to death for the murder of an off-duty police officer. More on that later. Keep reading.
You may wonder why I’d become a pen pal to a prisoner at all, much less a death row inmate. To be honest, I don’t even know. I could say that it’s because I’ve been on the other side of the law myself, but even I am not at all too sure that is the entire reason. I guess the “why” doesn’t matter. Anyway, I found Anthony’s profile on http://www.writeaprisoner.com , a website where the loved ones of inmates can post prisoner’s pics and bios in the hopes of finding them someone to make their bids a little easier. I have an ex who is in prison and I do write him regularly, so I wasn’t really expecting to start a pen pal relationship with anyone else, but when I ran across Anthony’s profile, I was intrigued. I did hesitate when I saw he was on Texas’ death row because I didn’t want to start such a relationship with someone who was condemned to die. Not for what you may think, though…the fact that he’d committed murder didn’t phase me so much as the great possibility that he’d die after us getting to know each other, to like each other…
And that is exactly what happened. You would not believe how Anthony has enriched my life, and hopefully I have done the same for him. We open up to each other about everything; he’s intelligent, well-read, very spiritual…I don’t believe he’d be a future threat to society at all. He made a mistake, reacted to a situation in the only way he knew how. Anthony hadn’t known that the victim was a police officer—the man was in plainclothes and was supposedly reaching for his credentials when Anthony, thinking the man was reaching for a weapon, shot him first. Anthony has never once denied this. Due to how Harris County’s “just-US” system handled his case, the Supreme Court had granted him a new trial back in 2009, but then reversed their decision in the following year. He’s submitted several appeals in regards to this, but his final appeal was just denied. Technically he only should have been sentenced to 20-25 years at most. But Harris County is known for manipulating “certain” cases in favor of putting another Black man on death row. Oh, don’t look at me that way. The truth is what the truth is, regardless of whether you want to see it or not.
He says that if his sentence were to be commuted to life, he wouldn’t sign for it, and I don’t particularly blame him. I wouldn’t want to spend the rest of my life in prison, either. However, I don’t want him to die at the hands of corrupt ass Harris County. But yet and still, he has hope, and his hope is contagious. I’m a realist to my very core, but I also believe in God and have faith that His will, whatever it may be, will be done in this situation. In the meantime, I will continue to write him and visit him whenever I can. I have visited a few times with his mother, but since I don’t have a vehicle and she isn’t in Houston very often anymore, it’s now difficult for me to travel 1 ½ hours outside of Houston. His father and I have made arrangements to visit next month, so I’m definitely looking forward to that.
As for Anthony, he’s going to continue to read, write letters, pray, and most of all, live. I’m praying for you too, Anthony Cardell Haynes, and I’ll be here no matter what.