Members of the TCADP
Updated: Apr 18
CADPAttn: Nancy Bailey
PO Box 1566
Bellaire, TX 77402-1566
Members of the TCADP:
Mail call came around a little while ago and I received the spring 2006 edition of Seeking Justice in Texas. I just finished reading the newsletter and I thought I would drop the good folks at the TCADP some of my thoughts on its content. I suppose it would be best to address each author of the various articles separately, so* Mr. Jimmie L. Coombes:
I found your biographical information quite interesting a retired U.S. Air Force Colonel from Texas(?!) who not only does NOT support capital punishment but who actively advances and supports the Abolitionist Movement?
Refreshing! It seems many if not most, military men allow their morality to be dictated by a rather harsh sense of patriotism and blind obedience to the law. They try to live up to the archetype of the good American and in doing so sometimes they act in direct contradiction to what is truly GOOD for their country. Should one always support the law of the land as you said? Of course not! We must remember that there was a time in this country when most people supported the institution of slavery. Surely, the good American back then argued in defense of slavery, with his head held high, exclaiming that its the law of the land! Women did not gain the right to vote in this country until 1920, which was ONLY 86 years ago. For the majority of the time that the United States of America has existed women were not allowed to vote it was the law, which all good patriotic Americans followed and supported for many years. And, as tradition has shown us, those who were members of the military have always tended to be MORE supportive of public policy, whether civilian public. Indeed, I'm quite impressed that you let your deep sense of what is TRULY right and wrong define your MORAL stance on the death penalty. You are obviously a very free thinking individual and what could be more American than free thought?
I was also impressed by your thoughts on the most important reason for abolition of capital punishment: the children. We live in a society where the prominent overall culture is one of violence. Capital punishment promotes and advances this culture of violence by essentially saying that if someone hurts you then it's all right to hurt them. The death penalty, by its very existence, has a negative impact on the collective psyche of the North American people. You're perfectly correct, Mr. Coombes, we must show that ALL KILLING is bad, even the killing of a murderer. In doing so, we strive towards the betterment of society and the much needed healing of humanity. Keep up the good work and I'll close with one of my favorite quotes by Henry David Thoreau, from a speech he gave condemning slavery back in the 1850s: A government which deliberately enacts injustice and persists in it, will at length, become the laughing-stock of the world.
For a better society:
Robert G. Will IIP.S.
It's been quite a while since I've written: I hope that when you receive this letter you'll be doing well and I hope that your fighter's spirit is keeping you motivated!
I just realized that it's probably been three years since I've written you. Since then I've continuously been organizing, working towards the abolition of the death penalty and striving to improve the conditions around here by thought AND ACTION. I believe the last time I wrote was in 2003 when I was on Level III protesting by myself with the FY04 Food Plan Menu you sent me in hand!
I've been trying to organize a mass protest since I arrived here, since my VERY FIRST day on death row. As you've surely heard, myself and some others* have been involved in a non-violent direct action protest which started on November 1st. In the spirit of Rosa Parks, Martin Luther King Jr. and Gandhis Satyagraha movement we've remained relentless yet completely peaceful. (Though, much violence has been forced upon us.) Myself, and the other protesters have been rather disappointed by the lack of solidarity shown by many of the Abolitionist groups. However, in turn, the Solidarity shown by a few has been extraordinary and very inspiring. I'm hoping that we can form a working relationship with the TCADP. I realize that some activists have had bad experiences dealing with a few of the idiots here that make us all look bad.
Nancy, please understand that myself and the other members of D.R.I.V.E. the prisoner activist group that we have formed are very dedicated to activism. Our goals and objectives are clear and we go about achieving them in a methodical, civil and peaceful manner. We demand nothing less than an immediate end to capital punishment and until that goal is achieved we will work towards improving the conditions here on death row. We operate under a system of participatory democracy (i.e.: inner-communalism) so we are ALL leaders striving to unite the entire death row community.
Please take the time to go into the D.R.I.V.E. site (www.drivemovement.org) and my website and read about what we have achieved so far it's rather amazing, actually. MANY of our updates have been disappeared but we've been keeping carbon copies of everything so they should be up soon. I urge you and all of the other TCADP members to get on the D.R.I.V.E. e-group and my forum. Get to know the heart of the struggle on the inside.
Strength and Solidarity,
Rob Will II
P.S. Ive been working on getting more people on the outside involved. I ALWAYS send the TCADP newsletters out that I receive along with ones that other guys give me. *Gabriel Gonzalez, Reg Blanton, Tony Ford and Kenneth Foster*
Houston Peace and Justice Center:
I'm not familiar with your organization, however, Im assuming that the HPJC is a social justice group similar to Amnesty International. I just wanted to drop you all a quick note to thank you for being involved in the anti-death penalty movement. I don't know if the HPJC is a progressive Democrat type group or more of a Socialist organization (or perhaps something completely different) but I'm sure the organizations goals include ending all forms of oppression. The death penalty is part of the prison industrial complex which THRIVES off of oppression and BREEDS violence. The Abolitionist Movement should indeed be at the forefront of the Social Justice Movement and Im glad the HPJC is involved!
One Love, One Struggle:
Rob Will II
I enjoyed reading your article in the latest edition of the TCADP newsletter. I grew up around complete insanity so school wasn't a big priority when I was younger. I dropped out in the 9th grade, received my GED in boot camp and when I was released I went to H.C.C (Houston Community College) for a year in hopes of obtaining a degree in child psychology. I got locked up so, of course, I wasn't able to do so. However, I've been studying psychology over the years and I've come to understand that people support the death penalty mainly because they lack the understanding of psychological conditioning.
MANY times I've heard death penalty supporters say things like everyone makes their own choices so they have to deal with the consequences, we make our own way, people on death row put themselves there; etc. In explaining that the mentally ill are much more likely to receive an unfair trial and the other numerous problems with sentencing a mentally ill person to death.*
2 I think we should also explain the basics of conditioned reflexes and the functioning of the human brain. I realize that you're not going to get most people to sit around and read B.F. Skinner, Praget or Pavlov all day but a short presentation at say, for example, the next TCADP function can be just as good. I'll give you a quick example of what I'm talking about: I was recently talking to one of the preachers that walk around death row. He was telling me how he supports the death penalty* and the basis of his argument was that people make their own choices and not every mentally ill person commits murder. (sighhh!!)
Well, I asked him: So, if you were born and raised in Afghanistan do you think you would be a Christian or do you think that you would probably believe in Allah as the one and true God and the prophet Muhammad as his Divine Messenger? He replied with some pseudo-evangelical rhetoric about how Jesus would show him the truth blah, blah and he would indeed be a rural one-of-a-kind Afghani Christian.
Well, to make a long story short I broke down the basics of psychological conditioning on monkeys and other examples of cultural conditioning along with explaining why the mentally ill are incapable of being consciously aware of their reactions when certain emotions are triggered by particular stimuli. He left rather agitated but to my surprise when he came around the next week the preacher said that he had been thinking about what I said and he didn't think he would support the death penalty for the TRULY mentally ill but, of course, he added that he still supported the death penalty in general. As you would probably agree, the death penalty isn't going to be suddenly abolished by a single Supreme Court ruling within the next few years. The Abolitionist community will have to chip away at the death penalty laws, stripping away the cloak of injustice that hides the inner-workings of this deplorable system. Once the TRUE nature of the system of capital punishment is explodes and it is shown that it can never be infallible then the public will DEMAND an anti-death penalty stance as an evolving standard of decency and incorporating that standard into the collective psyche of the North American people. Essentially, as has happened in Europe, altering the code of ethics and morality of the masses through the understanding of psychology. First it was the juvenile issue and the Atkins issue, next it will be the abolition of the death penalty for the mentally ill, which will lead up to the inevitable end of capital punishment.
Alright, Mr. Halperin, enough rambling. I just wanted to drop you some of my thoughts. I admire your activism and I hope that myself and the other dedicated activists on this side of the fence (go to www.drivemovement.org) can build a bond of solidarity with the TCADP!
I'll sign off by sending warm vibes of strength and peace your way!
Rob Will II
Members of the TCADP (cont'd): I have several more articles to address and much more to say, however, if I did that I do believe this letter would be overwhelmingly lengthy. So, I'll address a few more issues concisely and then I'll close off.
On grievances: I don't know if you all have heard or not but we've made MAJOR advances in mending the grievance procedure here at the unit. We achieved this by forming a Grievance System Overhaul Plan several months ago and carrying out the plan in a systematic manner. In brief, we filed numerous grievance, keeping carbon copies of each one, sending some steps 2s by certified mail and, well, we basically compelled the grievance staff to start doing their job. (Nancy, can you believe that the grievance officers have been coming around four or five times a week?! Even Grievance Supervisor Worthy comes around at least once a week, now!!! Before the protest and Grievance System Overhaul Plan I had only seen him twice in four years!!!)
Alright, I'll go ahead and close off. I truly hope that the TCADP and members of D.R.I.V.E. can start working together to advance the struggle that we're all fighting for. Activists on the inside are a vital part of the Abolitionist Movement and our voices need to be heard. I get letters all of the time from people telling me that I've changed their views in support of capital punishment, and as you all can see from the example above were changing things on the inside as well. Thank you all for your activism and dedication! I'll sign off by sending each and every one of you a warm embrace of strength, peace and solidarity!
From the Texas Gulag Relentless & Unwavering:
Robert G. Will II
*Go, go, go, go, go get on the D.R.I.V.E. e-group!
*Did you all know that Marion Dudley and Shannon Thomas protested their execution by refusing to walk to their own murder?
*Written in a way as to show that staff members directly violated TDCJ policy, ACA standards, state and federal law