The Importance of Dialogue
*Note from typist: I type all of Rob's blogs with his express permission to publish them here. Although Bobby Fratta provided Rob with his permission to publish the interview below, I felt compelled to provide Bobby's own, hand typed responses for complete transparency as he had not provided me personal permission to type his words. It should also be noted that Bobby's words in no way represent the thoughts, opinions or ideals of Rob, myself or anyone involved with FreeRobWill.org.
Participating in the new and historic Faith Based Sections here on Texas Death Row has been a very interesting learning experience. I gave some insight into this in an update that I sent out recently: Community and Faith Based programming on Texas Death Row: Update October 2022.
I wish people on the outside could really see the powerful transformations that I have witnessed. One of the things that has always bothered me about the system of capital punishment, is that capital defendants are reduced to simplistic caricatures that are generally inaccurate, provide no real context, and are completely devoid of scholarly analysis. This causes dysfunction within the system in many ways. In his book Death by Design: Capital Punishment as a Social Psychological System, Craig Haney details the role of the media in upholding injustices within the system of capital punishment. After describing some of the quite sensational and outrageous biases of true crime shows, he notes that:
Of course, none of these inside stories grappled honestly or accurately or expertly with the developmental or social contextual causes of violent crime, concentrating instead on graphic, sordid details of the criminal behavior itself, and the apparent deep seated pathology and twisted motives of the perpetrators…
Despite the authoritative tone, it is hard to conceive of a more normatively incorrect account of the lives of capital defendants... It is easy to understand how the audience exposed to even a small portion of the broad range of misinformation could come to believe they really grasped important truths about the nature of criminal violence. Similarly, it would be easy for many of them–operating as voters or as jurors–to reach the conclusion that the death penalty was the only answer to the individualized, menacing evil so often depicted in mainstream mass media.
These biases help send innocent people to Death Row and contribute to unjust death sentences based on lies, deceit and manipulation. Most capital defendants have committed horrible crimes and they should be sentenced in a manner that benefits society as a whole. Absolutely. Handing out long sentences-especially death sentences–based on false perceptions is a disservice to the proper functioning of the Criminal Justice System.
How can the public make informed decisions about police, prisons and criminal justice if such biases exist? How can jurors? And lawmakers and others in positions of influence and power? One way to combat these biases and to help promote a more fair, balanced and contextual view of capital defendants is to show aspects of the individual personalities of guys on Death Row.
Engaging in the programming here on the Faith Based Sections requires a lot of interpersonal interactions. I have known of my neighbor Bobby Fratta for 20 years. Previously, he and I only had short general conversations, the type that occur among people who are housed around each other in prison on a daily basis. All I really know about Fratta was that he was a former police officer, fireman and bodybuilder, and he’s been what one might call a model prisoner since he’s been here. I was quite astounded to learn that he wrote an entire book.
He asked me what I thought after reading it, and I said, “Well, good, sir, I think you are rather insane”, to which he replied, ”Not any more than you are”. Perhaps, perhaps. I quite vehemently disagree with the ideas presented in his book, but also believe his views deserve to be heard. I did a short three question interview with him that will be posted below. Fratta believes in these things with the utmost sincerity.
In his book Restoring Peace– which is part of our Bridges to Life coursework– Kirk Blackard speaks of dialogue as an important aspect of the Restorative Justice process. He writes that:
Dialogue is a conversation in which two or more people exchange information, ideas, opinions, or feelings. The purpose of dialogue is not to persuade someone to do something or win an argument, but rather to explore complex concerns, gain new insights and understandings, learn more about yourself or another person or enjoy one another another's company. In dialogue people suspend their assumptions and beliefs in a free exploration of all things they want to talk about... The important point to remember is that the purpose of the communication is to exchange thoughts and ideas, not to solve problems, negotiate, persuade or decide.
With that in mind, here is the interview:
In your book you say that in the year 2000, you started “receiving what can only be called revelations through the Holy Spirit to write about the formation of a new government system and countries”. Is this your only motivation for writing this book and can you tell us more about this?
You are very blatantly advocating for racial segregation–which you believe is required by biblical divine decree–and you know that many people will find this extremely offensive. You propose “forming a new country here in the US for English-speaking Caucasian Christians”. What do you say to those who will say that you are simply a racist white supremacist with fascist tendencies?
There are people who are going to say that you're an egomaniacal narcissist with delusions of grandeur. I mean, Frata, man, you are talking about being elected king of the new US government that you've created. We've talked about this and you've told me that you were having a bit of fun with this idea, but what would you say to those who would make such accusations against you?