A Childhood Friend on Death Row, Drugs And the Homeless vs. Court
Updated: Apr 9
Well, I’ve never before in my life written the words “Dear Diary” so I figured I would. This has definitely been an interesting week. Have you ever had something happen in your life that caused you to look deep inside yourself? Have you ever stopped your mind on the track of life, turned around and reflected upon every event and circumstance that led you to the point where you’re standing?
I’ve had this happen several times and one of those times was this past week. Last Thursday a guy I know from the free-world who recently came to Death Row was moved to my section. We’ve known each other since middle-school, around age 13. This entire week we’ve been reminiscing about all the people who we know and the things we used to do when we were younger. Me and Josh (a.k.a “G”) hung around each other from about age 13-16. That’s around the time I first started getting into trouble. You know what’s crazy? Many of our old friends are locked up or dead. There’s also another guy here on Death Row that we went to middle-school with. G jokingly told me that we all should get together and sue the middle-school!
Seriously though, how did we all end up on Death Row and how did so many of our other friends end up in prison? I don’t know specific details of the other guys cases but they were convicted and sentenced to Death Row for robbery – murders. I moved away from the area me & G lived in when I was about 16 but I still ran into him off and on until I got locked up at age 22. I remember the last time I saw G was about 6 months before I got locked up in 2000. G had got some large tattoos on each side of his neck and I remember thinking “Man, he just don’t give a fuck no more. He’ll probably be locked up soon”. Of course, I had more tatts than the last time he saw me so I wonder if he was thinking the same thing? I can’t even describe the feeling of seeing someone you were friends with in the free-world on Death Row. It’s good to remember the fun times we had as kids but at the same time our conversations fill me with a deep sadness. Earlier, we were talking about one of our friends, Billy Miller, who was murdered in December of 1997. He was involved in a drug deal that went bad. Supposedly, he went to sell a large amount of cocaine to a guy we knew named Mike. When Billy met up with him, Mike pulled out a 12 gauge shotgun and shot Billy in the face, instantly killing him. Then, he robbed Billy and left the scene. Mike got a life sentence for the crime.
I told G about a dream I had with Billy in it. I was in a big shopping mall food court that somewhat resembled a school cafeteria. I was thinking in my dream that this is some type of Utopian place. I was sitting at a table and Billy walked up to me and we did the simultaneous handshake and embrace thing. At first I thought that he was alive but then without saying a word he let me know that he wasn’t. When Billy spoke he told me everything was alright and he said that he was in a good place. The dream was so vivid that it felt real and when I woke up I had tears in my eyes. I had that dream about three and a half years ago when I was in county jail awaiting trial. I can still remember every detail like I had the dream yesterday.
The first time I remember being around drugs was when I was about 4 or 5 years old. Drugs were part of my life from that point on and I think that was the case with most of my friends. Billy sold drugs but he was a really good person. I don’t condone drug use or illegal distribution, but Billy only sold drugs to other people his age (19) or older. Drugs do cause horrific tragedies and I wish the government would spend more money on social programs aimed at drug-use prevention and rehabilitation, instead of spending millions on misguided ‘tough on crime’ drug0war programs. In yesterday’s (April 21st 05) Houston Chronicle there was a very interesting article about homeless persons in Harris County, which included 2 charts with statistics that just about had me in awe over here.
I’ll write down the info below:
CHART 1: HOMELESS SURVEY
Survey results from 2,500 people who are homeless or at risk of becoming homeless:
* 93% made less than $10,000 a year
* 80% needed employment placement services
* 76% needed job training
* 73% skipped medication because they couldn’t afford it
* 66% had no income
* 57% were current or former substance abusers
* 55% had a serious mental illness
* 51% of men over 50 were veterans
* 42% needed prescription medications
* 40% were homeless more than 3 years
* 20% victims of domestic violence
* 13% were infected with
HIV-CHART 2: HOMELESS IN HARRIS COUNTY
Outreach workers counted the homeless on streets and in shelters; 2,500 filled out questionnaires with demographic information.
Estimated homeless in Harris County: 12,000 to 14,000
Average Age: Men: 45 Women: 38
Native American: 0.4%
Well, I could spend all day dissecting all of the above statistics! But let’s just think about a few of them. We’ll go with the lower estimate of 12,000 homeless in Harris County. I totally suck at math by the way. Hmmmmm… well, 57% of 12,000 is 6,840 right? Yep! O.K, well there are 6,840 former of current substance abusers walking around the streets of Harris County and 99% of those people have a serious mental illness. Drug use and psychosis: a VERY, VERY bad combination. Now, I’m looking at indigent capital murder defendant’s Bill of Court Costs from 2004. The total TAXPAYER cost is $209,292.32
Let me stress this fact:
THE COST OF SENTENCING SOMEONE TO DEATH IN TEXAS IS $209,292.32!
That’s of course not including the cost of appeals which I’ve read costs the taxpayer between $1-2 million dollars per case. You know what the court costs for having someone sign for a life sentence are? I’m not exactly sure but probably about a few hundred dollars to cover one days court costs. And, a capital murder trial in which the prosecutor’s office is NOT seeking the death penalty only costs a very small amount compared to a death penalty trial. Probably about 80% less because that’s the average percentage difference in prices lawyers quoted me between a ‘death penalty' and a 'non death penalty’ capital case.
$209,000.00 could SURELY be used to start a treatment facility for the 6,840 mentally ill and homeless former and current drug abusers in Harris County. I don’t understand the logic of the system in Harris County. It’s like they don’t understand the concept that prevention is always better than correction. Really, the problem stretches to every corner of the U.S and beyond, but I’m just speaking on the deplorable little fiefdom of Harris County.
They don’t think “OK, let’s get some of the homeless drug addicts with mental illness off of the streets and get them some help before they commit capital murders”. They’d rather wait until they commit capital murders then spend hundreds of thousands of dollars to send them to Death Row. And I’m not saying the homeless are all crazed, psychotic drug addicts prone to murder. But, you do get the point, right?
The dude Mike who murdered Billy was a drug addict who had tried to quit using drugs several times. He was on drugs when he murdered Billy and he murdered my friend FOR drugs. I think the State of Texas should enact a Moratorium on the Death Penalty for 2 years. Calculate the amount of money that would be spent on capital murder trials, which would surely be many millions. Then in that 2 year period spend that money on proven drug use prevention and education programs, especially for the homeless. I would, of course, like the death penalty immediately abolished but that would be a good start, wouldn’t it?
Oh, by the way, I don’t use quotes, cite books and charts and all that in an attempt to TRY to sound intelligent or smart or anything. I really do it for myself. When I’m writing I’ll remember a quote or fact then write it down. After I’m done I’ll dig through my notes or a book and cite the source. Like I said in my last entry, I’m only going to write one copy of my diary entries.
Plus, shhhhh….. I’ll tell you a little secret! I’m working on a masterpiece about the Diabolic Triumvirate of the Re-born Holy Roman Empire, the New World Order Communists – are all under the direction of Pope Benedict XV1!!!
Uhmm… yeah, I AM joking. I can’t believe they elected a German Pope though. The conspiracy theorists are gonna have a field day with that one. Note to author, Dan Brown: I loved The Da Vinci Code but you sure did stir up a whole lotta shit! Really, that’s good though. This society breeds ignorance so making people question, debate and think is a VERY GOOD thing. Don’t you agree?
Well I do believe that you and me are going to become very good friends Mr. Diary. I’m just rambling on and on and hey, it feels pretty good to do! Before I sign off I want you to check out copies of these two I-60 requests I put in on April 19th 2005. One is to the eye clinic and I haven’t received a response to it yet. The other is a request to the law library for an inmate legal visit. The response is written on the bottom and it reads:”Resubmit at a later date”.
We’re supposed to be allowed one inmate-to-inmate legal visit per month. They screw us out of our legal visits by telling us to ‘resubmit’ about 60% of the times. We put requests in. That delays our visits for weeks and sometimes, months. The guy I was trying to have a legal visit with has to have his habeas writ filed by the 29th. Now he’ll have to do it without my help. That’s bad because we’ve been helping each other with legal work for over a year now. The little resubmit game is just another example of how they justify NOT following their own policies. We shall see what the reply to my request to the Eye Clinic is…
Until next time, I’m going to keep my mind focused on what’s important and not let these depraved little officers disturb my psyche.