17/01/2011 20:16




When I arrived on Tx. D.R In September 2008, I didn't know what to expect. While I had known people who've been to prison before, some had never spent a single day in the most controversial atrocious and vile death row in America with my lack of knowledge, I was to paint my own picture. I began thinking it was an open and well populated environment. Fights everyday were nothing abnormal and people getting killed was something that regularly took place. The guards had really no control, and would be dealt with in a deadly way if they tried obtaining even the slightest amount. There would be contact visits, however, you'd be constantly watching your loved ones back making sure none of the other inmates tried harming them.


Well I'm glad to admit this environment is nothing like that. It is actually much more solitary confinement is designed to strip a person of their sanity which incarceration on Texas Death row has done to many men. I did not understand at first how this could happen, but being here for the time I have, I can clearly see why.


For 22 hours a day I sit in a 9 x 5ft cell cut off from all human contact. When I turnover at night, I meet a concrete wall instead of a soft warm body. We are given mattresses, however they do not nullity the back pains I allure from the iron bunk I sleep on. A steel toilet is less than 2 feet from where I eat and lay my head. I am always cautious about the things I place within TV reach. Having to do all these things in one room is not healthy both mentally and physically. The window located above my bunk is maybe small in length and only a mere 112 foot in height. This is of course is prevent prisoners from escaping. Paint has been peeled from the walls, giving off a dungeon like vibe it is extremely depressing, on the 2 cell door window there is chicken wire but this makes sense due to the fact there's a clear shield directly in front of it prohibiting inmates in throwing anything on officers. An A/c Unit is in the cells, yet they seem to never work,its always hot or cold- depending on the outside weather.


When I am allowed to leave my cell I first much be strip searched, once one of the two officers had all of my clothes, I was ordered to open my mouth, lift up my tongue and testicles, then turn around, bend over and spread my ass cheeks. I will have my clothes returned to me. After this procedure is performed an uncomfortable feeling from this every time, not only because I'm having to do it for complete strangers, but also because it's degrading. Whether I am going to rec, a visit, medical or etc: when my cell door opens a sense of freedom washes over me. As peculiar as this may seem, it is an effect being locked in for 22 hours a day will have on you. For recreation we are placed one at a time in 10 different cages, some inside, some outside, 2 hours a day or until the officers decide our time is up.


As far as food goes- more often than not we are served what is considered to be slop, left overs mixed together and given to us as main course, on occasions we do receive some okay meals, but the majority of what we are fed is garbage. You can also be put on a food loaf if you “jack the slot” meaning you stick your arm out of the bean slot, and refuse to pull it back in). This loaf consists of everything on your tray being put together, stew, beans, green beans etc,- dessert included) and baked into a large piece of bread, any person in their right mind would rather starve than eat anything of that nature. Several people have told me there is a TDC website displaying fried chicken, steak and pizza as a start of the daily meals they give us, but I can assure you that is an illusion. Any time you go to visit: regular visits are two hours, special visits are four hours, you'll be handcuffed behind your back once you reach the visiting booth, whoever is there to see you will watch the escorting officers remove these UN-enchanting shackles from your wrists. Even though those who come see you have gotten use to witnessing this, I still feel inhuman at times. Visitors are allowed to buy food from the vending machines, but everything must be eaten cold, it cannot be warmed up.


We are provided socks, boxers, towels, jumpers and sheets, but all of these items are used, me and hundreds of other people, so you can only imagine what they look like, try comprehending having a bathing towel handed to you that has been used for cleaning out another individuals toilet or sink perhaps both.


The noise can reach a high level, you will no be able to hear yourself think. Everyone is attempting to talk louder than the next man and in the midst of this, three or four people maybe kicking or hitting their doors.


Once a week you'll be given 5 bars of small soap, a small container of bippey, and one razor. These items must last you seven days until there passed out again. Never mind the fact that clothes must be washed, you clean up your cell more than one day a week and shave in the same manner.


Everything you are allowed to buy must be purchased off the unit's commissary. However some people do not have financial support, nor do they allow D.R. Inmates to work, therefore depending on the State is the only option available. Unfortunately.


All mail coming into the unit and leaving out will be opened and searched for contraband so its possible things can get lost at any time. There is no privacy, except for legal mail, so upsetting the mail room staff would not be wise at all.


During cell searches property will be handled carelessly and taken for trivial reasons. But paramount to all the other unappealing entities I've described, is the horrendous acts performed by those who have lost touch with themselves. These individuals throw faeces and urine on each other, and spit in people's faces. They'll go to the shower and empty their bowels on the floor, never thinking twice about it, Some guys here are so doped up on medication there dead to the world and practically zombies.


I've seen many things in my 26 years of living, but never anything like this, without a strong mind, a person will not survive the sickening living conditions of Texas Death row, Having been here and seen first hand what takes place on a daily basis, I'm fully convinced this solitary confinement are for one purpose, to break down your mental strength so when its time to kill you should that time ever come, the task is easy for them.


It is by the grace of God and nothing else that I still have my sanity. There is not a day I live that pain isn't in my heart, and death isn't on my mind. Many nights I have cried hoping I'l be returned to my family, and have my freedom restored. This is a lonely environment I live in, it's full of heartache, anger, depression, stress and many more unwanted feelings. I wouldn't wish TX DR on my worst enemy. I have seen men I've become close to be escorted to their graves by an unjust corrupted system and my prayer is that me nor many more men and women around the world be executed in order to gain what America calls “Justice” I recently heard a a sergeant ranking officer tell a man here on D.R things will soon change for the better, but looking at the way this place continues to spiral downward, I have no doubt – he did not mean for us.


Paul Storey.