I Support The Texas Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty

I know that with some  friends and family, this is not going to be a popular announcement, but I have decided to join the Texas Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty.  Usually, I will write or talk about it but it’s time I took a public stand for what I feel is the right thing to do and blogging is simply not enough.

Furthermore, I support that every state that uses the death penalty should be required to add an option for juries to select the “life without the possibility of parole” option in all cases that capital punishment is sought by the Offices of the D.A.’s around the country.  This way if it is not going to go away, it will be assured that the death penalty will only be used in the most heinous of cases, and juries can issue verdicts they can sleep with at night.

This will also take away the political division on the issue somewhat since unless there is another United States Supreme Court ruling to the contrary, the death penalty is not going to vanish in all 50 states any time soon.  The politicians will no longer be able to say “I support Capital Punishment” to get elected in those states because they will still have it. It is the people that will limit its use with such a provision in the penal codes around the nation, and that is how it should be.

Only offering capital punishment or “life” leaves juries in a catch-22. If they don’t want to use that sentence but fear that the person could go free under current provisions for a “life” sentence (since it really doesn’t mean LIFE), they will use the death penalty. On the other hand, if given an option of issuing life without parole,  many will not vote for the death penalty–especially in some of these cases we’ve seen in Texas where much of the evidence used to convict is circumstantial.

Anyway that is all I have to say on this matter. Even  some of my family members do not agree with me on this, but that is fine. We all have to stand by our own convictions and my conscience will not allow me to remain silent any longer.  I have come to realize that taking a person’s life never eases the suffering of a family member of a murder victim. There is no closure.  Even if the killer of my aunt were caught tomorrow, it would not matter if they decided to execute him/her/them because it will never bring her back and it will not stop other murders from happening so NO, it is not a deterrent.  There was a time when it might have been but that has long since passed.

It is time to change things. Life without parole is a lot more difficult than the death penalty is for an offender. Their suffering ends but that of the survivors remains so yes I do know what I am talking about.  As for those who wish to flame me on the issue, when you go to work for the Texas Department of Criminal Justice as a qualified executioner–get back to me…80%  of those who join in on the mob mentality would never be able to take a life themselves. Anyway, that is all I have to say on this subject. Thank you for your time.

Here is the link to the coalition’s website if you’d like to check it out. They are also on Facebook. Have a great weekend.


The Power of One…

One is not a lonely number, despite what the song says.   It can stand alone and be strong. It can be the first beat of many in a song and turn one voice into a throng.  There is a special power in that number at times…

One woman challenged a bus driver who told her to move from her seat to make room for a white passenger  in Montgomery, AL  on 12/1/55.  This led to the  “Montgomery Bus Boycott“.  Her name was Rosa Parks.

A lady who simply took photographs captured images on celluloid that not only brought the pain and suffering of the depression of the 1920’s to the forefront, those images caused leaders to look for solutions to end the problem. Her name was Dorthea Lange.  This is the photograph that she is most famous for:

Joan Ganz Cooney brought education of young children into every home that  had a television set!  She is the founder of the Children’s Television Workshop–and it has forever changed the lives of many children. I mean, who has not watched SESAME STREET?! C’mon!

Helen Keller became the first deaf-blind person to earn a college degree–and she changed how people perceived the disabled by showing that even they can accomplish much.

Gertrude Belle Elion is a name many of you have never heard of.  She developed two drugs that have helped people fight leukemia and in 1955 developed an immunosuppressant agent that made organ transplantation possible…Many lives have been saved due to her discoveries.

There are many others…They are all an inspiration…While these are significant events these women shaped, some events are not so significant–yet they do matter. Sometimes the simplest thing can lead to a chain reaction of thoughts and when acted upon–yes they do become things.

I was a sergeant in a correctional facility. I went into the profession with the full intent of doing well and making a positive difference.  However, as I began to promote,  I began to sink into a deep depression and was becoming very reclusive again.  I was also struggling with whether I wanted to work around people I once looked up to.  I began to go through some really deep thinking processes.  I began to analyze my life.

Many of them were not following ethics.  It is never the job of a corrections officer to punish offenders twice just for being there, but this happens. As I clamped down on some things, I realized that those above me were playing games and talking out of both sides of their mouths.  Then I read THIS short post:


After reading this, I asked my self, do I want to BE like these people that gave me this position? I knew I did not want to play their games anymore.  Now Lauren Vasil doesn’t describe karma the way I have learned to view it.  She describes it as a “domino type effect”.  I prefer to think of it more as when someone does something that is kind and right, it goes forth into the universe like the ripples go out when a pebble is thrown into the water.  Better yet, I like to think of it as traveling with the wind to inspire someone else somewhere in the world to also do something that is kind for someone else. I can relate to that more than dominoes because I spend a lot of time on a mountain–where I do much of my reflecting.

I began to sit down and analyze my life.  I asked myself ONE question.  How do I WANT to be remembered?  I ask myself this more with a grandson coming into the picture…There are three things I strive to be…Kind, patient and honest.  Those three traits run contrary to my former profession.  I did not like the creature I felt that I could become.  At least now I can look in the mirror and like the person looking back at me.  Now that being said, if this inspires someone who is in a similar rut that I was in to change their life drastically–I can promise you this.  I sleep a lot better at night since I took that cut in pay and left the corrections field.

The benefits were not worth the bull crap.  Life is good now.  I am truly blessed. Have a great weekend…

Anyone in Corrections Should WATCH THIS FILM!

As a former sergeant at a correctional facility, I struggled constantly with trying to find ways to get through to newer officers (many of them young enough to be my own children) what to watch for in the way of offender behavior.  We showed them state videos and had handouts–which are not that effective as learning tools.  I know this because I am also a certified teacher.  The officers (especially those in the late teens through late 20’s age group) need visuals and things that they can connect to in order to fully contemplate what it is that they should be watching for.

I always recommended one movie to my officers.  That one is “Undisputed II: Last Man Standing“.   In this particular film, Ben Cross plays an offender named Steve Parker.  He plays the part of the offender who is often bullied and such brilliantly, but the part that got my attention the most was the signs he was putting out prior to hanging himself.  This actor pulls every sign off to a “T” and if you don’t believe me, watch it–even if it isn’t the genre you prefer.  This movie is set in a Russian prison, but the corruption and such that it deals with is portrayed so realistically, it can also point out to officers what to watch for in others as well.

The fact that this is a drama that is well acted also makes it interesting enough that the officers can actually take what they learn in training and see everything in a new way.  By recommending this film, you will see that officers are actually grasping what it is you are trying to pound into their head and they will stay awake and listen in your turnouts after watching this.  Honestly, how many of you Lieutenants put your workers to sleep reading those boring  ass handouts and watching the 10 minute fake state videos?  I know in TX it happens A LOT!  That is why it is important to hook them up with something they can connect meaningfully with.

Two of my top officers picked out two offenders they thought were suicidal based on behaviors exhibited by this character in the movie.  They turned out to be right on the money and within 4 weeks, both had to be transported.   It also shows why it is important for officers to be alert to possible issues that should lead them to get an Offender Protection Investigation started–and it is not always due to offenders being sexually assaulted.  This can also tie in to those “Code of Silence” lessons you are trying to pound into their heads when it comes to reporting co-workers for engaging in activities that can endanger other offenders and other officers.   Many offenders  are also extorted and such as well.  There are two advantages to recommending this movie:  First, it is dirt cheap on amazon.com   Secondly, if one life is saved after watching it on your unit, it is worth the buck or whatever the officer spent on it.  Here is a link to the trailer, but the trailer’s focus doesn’t do enough justice to Ben’s character in this film.  He definitely should have gotten recognition for playing this character–a man broken in so many ways–so well.