By Jefferey Doughtie
I have chosen the topic of friendship on Death Row to share with you this time. I have always strove to achieve the goal of allowing the public to see the Death Row that me and my brothers' here see. Instead of the contrary version the media would have one believe exists. If you listened to them you would think we're always trying to hurt one another, having intercourse with each other, or just sitting back eating good - - watching HBO. When in reality, this isn't the case. Most men on death row are studying law to find a way to save their lives or prove their innocence, or either making their personal mends with God in preparation for what lay ahead.
Some men here talk from cell to cell, but a large percentage you never even hear a peep from. As far as the food is concerned; the last five days we've received sack lunches:
· Breakfast: Two small prunes, a pancake-peanut butter sandwich, milk and 1-oz cereal;
· Lunch: A pancake-tuna sandwich, a peanut butter sandwich on a hot dog bun, and two prunes for desert; and
· Dinner: A pancake-peanut butter sandwich, two prunes, and tuna in a hot dog bun.
These people are fascinated with pancakes if you ask me. I personally don't want to see another pancake, and I'm sure you don't want to hear about another anytime soon. Also, when they hand over the bag, it leaves grease in the palm of your hand. The grease smells like pork chops, fish and only God knows what else. If you're wondering where the grease is coming from - it's the pancakes! :o)
When guys lay back talking, they reflect back on their good ole' days. We laugh, kid each other, but most of all - a nice amount of us are there for one another. Regardless of who it is, whether it be bad news from home or from the courts, the majority is there for one another. And I'm speaking of human-beings from many different backgrounds, beliefs and nationalities, finding a way to come together. To sit around waiting for someone to kill you drives one to keep searching until something is found of mutual interest.
Friendship is something I learned the true meaning of since I've been on Death Row. I have cried and broken down like a child, when I've been forced to watch men that I had bonded with, be carried away and murdered in the name of "Justice."
When I first arrived here, I just knew I would be so alone and isolated until the day my number appeared on their screens for my execution. However, overall I've received a friendly love from the men around me. I've also found a sincere friendship from many anti-death penalty organizations that reaches out to men in my position.
Every man don't carry the desire to live anymore. Some see no visual reason. There's men on Death Row whom never received a letter or visit from friends or family. Most can't even afford the basic necessities in here. Truth be told, the State don't give out clean underwear or socks everyday. And "Joe Public" out there seem to think that everything we need is provided for us: which is simply not true. Sure they give away free soap, but unfortunately it's not soap that lathers or actually cleans skin. Toothpaste is provided, oops, the name of it is toothpowder and if you have high blood pressure you're in serious trouble, because of the salt in it. If you didn't have a problem with high blood pressure, once you get behind these walls, the diet they put on you will give it, along with many other problems you never knew existed.
Let's face it, after a while there isn't too many people that would be interested in living like this day after day. Friendship, that's where the drive and purpose begins. Some people simply need to feel that there is someone that care about them in the world. Someone that isn't solely concerned with the circumstances that may have brought them to their current position. But someone that's interested in knowing who it is they're speaking with today - in the present. Yeah you have it, I'm asking you to reach out to someone on Death Row, that is if you don't already write someone.
I don't know how much longer I'll be with you here on Earth. The federal courts recently turned down my federal habeas writ, and when they turn a man down, he's certainly on the downside of the fight. I don't know exactly know how many days or months I have left, but they definitely aren't many to count at this point. I've decided that I must focus on the final things I would like to do in this world, and just leave it at that. In my opinion there's no use in me crying over spilt milk. One thing I know that is important to me personally; and that's sharing whatever I can about Death Row to the public. So that I can maybe offer someone some sincere insight on the matter. It still urks me to this day, when I pick up the newspaper and see some politician bragging about my suitable living conditions, the edible food I'm served and the competent court appointed counsel given to me. It just don't work that way. True enough that's how it's being publicized and sold, but it's just not happening. That's why many of us have decided to share what we experience with you, and just keep hoping and praying for a change someday. Even if it's not for us directly, we just hope to be a part of making that change someday!
Jeff has a serious execution date of August 16, 2001