" Do you know what makes prisons disappear? Every deep genuine affection. Being friends, being brothers, loving, that is what opens the prison, with supreme power, by some magic force. Without these one stays dead. But whenever affection is revived, there life revives."

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Texas Justice, by D. Burkett

Sharing with you a part from the latest letter from Del Burkett, writing about his son Chris Burkett.

" ... I was taken over to that county jail where he was Oct 9th, my birthday as you know. They picked me up at 12.30 PM and took 1hr/50mins to get there.
As you know, he was there for spanking his ex-girlfriend`s son, for over a year now.
Then about 5 months ago he got busted with a cell phone he said belonged to another inmate. That was another felony charge!
He and his lawyer had been fighting the spanking charge, going to court appearances about every month. We thought he was about to go to trial on that case.
I was going to be bench warranted, that`s a warrant directly from a judge, to testify in the punishment phase IF he was found guilty.
Well, Friday Oct. 4th at 6.00 PM his lawyer was notified by the prosecutor that they were starting the Trial Monday morning at 9 AM.
This is highly out of norms!
The kicker is that they were proceeding on the phone case!!!!
He hadn`t even been to an arraignment on that case, or any other preliminary hearings.
So they picked a jury on Monday, the motion hearing was Tuesday and trial was Wed., the day I was took there.
I went through the normal booking process and shuffled from one holding tank to another for the next 4 hrs. Then fingerprinted, they took mug shots and photos of all my tattoos. Then I was put back in another vehicle and reurned to my Unit, arriving here at 8.30 PM. I never made it to the courtroom at all!!

He was found guilty for possession of a prohibited item in an institution.
The best I understand is he was giving the judge the right to asses punishment instead of the jury. Somehow he thought the prosecutor was going to ask the judge for 70 years.
See, the charge carried about 2-10 I think, but with his prior convictions the state of Texas has a law called Enhancement of the sentence. For every prior conviction they move the punishment range up one level.
He was looking at 25-life.
His lawyer, prosecutor and the judge went into chambers for awhile and came out with an offer of 28 years!!
That was IF he agreed to plead guilty to the Injury to a child case!! They would drop the part saying "with intent" to commit bodily harm.
They would run the cases concurrent which means they would operate as one sentence of 28 years.

28 on each case!!

If he fought it, they would give him some big number, then if he lost the injury case at a later trial, the judge would stack that sentence on top of the phone case time.
That would mean that he would have to parole or discharge the first time, then start from the second.
So he went for the BS deal.

See, it was very obvious from the beginning that they had no case whatsover on the injury case. That`s why after 1,5 years there in jail, they still weren`t ready for trial! The event happened back in 2011!
So when his supid ass decided to use a cell phone in jail. it was like dropping a golden egg in their laps!
So they used it to get the conviction on both. That`s Texas Justice!!
Maybe that Needs to go on your Blogs!

Last I heard he was still at the county jail, as of his only a 3 year sentence before going back to the County to face this spanking case.
Much different now!

I sure wish he could get some pen pals. He is gonna be here a while.
He comes up for parole in 3 years or so, but he`s gonna get some set-offs due to his record. They were all just minor nothing sentences of 3, 10, and 3, I think.
Oh, by the way, the final judgement still read;" Injury tro a child with intent to commit bodily harm". He was suppose to be having that fixed, but I don`t know if it`s happened. Probably not.
Thats how it works in Texas!
Now because of this case, he won`t be able to get Contact Visits with his son until he`s 17 years old.
Only visits through the glass! That is what has him upset the worst......"

To write to Chris Burkett, please use the address added under "Pen Pals" on the right of this blog.

Friday, September 13, 2013

New Pen Pal Ad, from H. Lee



My burden to bear is being in prison for the rest of my life.
I am in my 60`s with a 38+ sentence, with one decade done, I have nearly three more to go.
Oh well, I say!
The unit shrink thinks I am antisocial and depressed. While I would love to live up to his expectations, I find I am more curious about life outside these walls.
I yearn to share my passion for reading books that make you think rousing emotions, writing letters and music; rock, country and underground sounds.
Not unlike an archaelogist, I was an avid dumpster diver, digging for treasures in discarded memories of others.Yard sales, thrift stores and fleamarkets were also my terrain.

Writing poetry, when inspired, is a pasttime, being creative; drawing cartoons about prison life, makes life bearable.
Viewing life in an easy going, not judgemental and very openminded way - alternative lifestyles, no problem, with an excellent sense of humor gives me the courage to accept my fate.

What do I seek?
A longterm friend, one who will, through the years, share their life, good or bad, with me.
Race, age and gender should be meaningless to friends.

What about you? Do you need a friend, a confident or desire a literary friendship?
If so, and my picture doesn`t scare you off, write me.
Please include your address in the body of the letter. Email at Jpay.com.

Harold Lee
Powledge Unit
1400 FM 3452
Palestine, TX 75803-2350

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Everybody needs a friend; by R. Silva

My back’s to the wall but still I will fight
without saying I’m wrong or believing I’m right.
I could live an illusion or even pretend
that I don’t want or need any type of friend.
Do I deserve friends? Who am I to say?
Everyone would have a friend, if I had it my way.
Should a man suffer for his wrongs? I believe so
but what that suffering would be, I don’t rightly know.
Should they hang me upside down by the tips of my toes?
Should they beat me half to death with a length of rubber hose?
Or should they lock me in a cell and deprive what’s called my mind,
just throw away the key until the end of time?
I am without a doubt no angel, that we know for sure.
Many of my past actions were evil true and pure.
I make no excuses, my crimes I wont dismiss
but I don’t believe anyone could possibly deserve this.
To feel so alone at times that you don’t wish to go on.
To constantly reach out for contact and for no one to respond.
To suffer every day with only yourself to blame.
To know the way your mind works will never be the same.
After years in solitary the world sort of drifts away,
your past comes back to haunt you and is stuck on replay.
You begin to hate yourself for all the pain you have caused.
I have struggled for years and now my life is on pause.
I understand how many people would feel, I’m just a piece of shit,
that if my life is total hell, I’m the one who done it.
And if I’m honest with myself, I would have to agree
but everyone needs a friend and that includes me!!!
Ricky Silva
This entry comes from Silva’s blog, Concrete Cage, which is maintained by a friend on the outside who periodically forwards reader comments to Silva. He can also be reached by email at ricky.lee.silva [at] gmail [dot] com or by writing Ricky Silva, L24722, Florida State Prison, 7819 N.W. 228th, Street, Raiford, FL 32026-1000.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Unanswered prayers; by D. Cooper

Unanswered prayers

Day and night I pray for mail.
Are my prayers always destined to fail?
All day long my hopes are high,
only to be let down by the night`s sky.

I only long to hear from you each day,
my prayers must be answered somehow, some way.
How Long has it been? Six, seven weeks now -
I`ve lost track of time with every frown.

I waited three months for mail at one time,
I had thought you`d forgotten me because of my crime.
afterwards, five weeks went slowly by
as I waited for a letter or a reply.

Then they called my bunk for mail that night,
A two page letter. What a sight!
I was so glad to hear from home
I`ve been surrounded yet felt completely alone.

The mail I get is spaced so far apart
it leaves just enough room for a broken heart
I draw and shade pictures to pass my time
all in hopes to get the family off my mind.

I begin to lose interest in all I do,
I become depressed when I think of you.
I stay in the Word to ignore depression,
I`ve begged over and over with so much passion.

What I beg for is not pictures or money, just a letter from you
For a letter can lift spirits and help see this time through.
I`ve got 45 years, that`s way too long to lose you now.
All the times I`ve been locked up, you`ve never let me down.

Stay beside me as long as you can,
I`ll continue praying, that`s my plan
I`m going to close this because I`m shedding tears,
unanswered prayers are my biggest fears.

Dustin Cooper
Gurney Unit, TX
Source: The Echo, May 2013

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Frozen Time, by C.D. Nelson


Frozen Time
A minute takes an hour
an hour takes a day.
That`s how the time goes by
when you`re locked away.
The sun never rises
therefore it never sets.
For us time seems frozen
sitting alone in our regrets.
Each day like the last
in places such as these.
Forgotten by our family
ignoring all our pleas.
Dragged to the edge of sanity
by days with no end in sight
Creating ways to get us through
to the long and restless night.
Our minds spin like carousels
full of brightly colored horses
Pick and choose rumors to believe
as we consider the sources
Hopeless feelings of despair
emotions come on strong
so much time to sit and think
of where it all went wrong.
by C.D. Nelson, Mineral Wells Unit, TX
source: The Echo, April 2013

Monday, June 3, 2013

Texas Highway 202...by Thomas Shows

Texas Higway 202

There`s a place in Texas on Highway 202
A place you need to avoid whatever you do
If you arrive on a bluebird that cannot fly
You have ridden a bird that has made grown men cry

You will be cuffed to a stanger when you take that ride
On that bluebird with a cage and two toilets inside
When you see tall fences topped with razor wire
You`ll realize you`re in a neighborhood no one should desire

They`ve got guard towers that look out over that place
With a walkway on top where the guards always pace
Guards in gray will meet you at the main gate
Once it`s closed behind you, it`s already too late

Then they`ll get you off the bus and make you stand in line
Tell you to strip to see what they might find
Then they give you boxers that go way past your knees
next you`ll see a doctor who`ll check for any disease

You`ll finally hit a dorm in a bout a week or so
you won`t really know, it`s just when they say "pack and go"
In each dorm there are bunks all along the wall
with a row of plexiglas windows facing the picket and the hall

When you finally see committee and are evaluated about a job
everybody hopes they don`t hear the words "hoe squad"
So if you ever have to travel down Texas Highway 202
Pray you`re not going behind those gates whatever you do!

Thomas Shows, Gist State Jail
source: The Echo, April 2013

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Will you be that voice? by Chris Burkett

Will you be that voice?

I`ve spent a lot of my life incarcerated in one form or another.
I am 33 years old and spent twelve of the past eighteen years in the Texas prison System.
Do I regret a lot of the things I`ve done?
Ofcourse I do, but I also believe that my past experience made me who I am today. Without those experiences, I would`t be the person I am.

I´ve been in some of the more notorious prisons in Texas.
I`ve seen the violence and anger of people who have no hope.
Most people in here stop trying and just give up looking forward to life outside of the fence.
The conditions here have gotten better over the years, the older prisons don`t have air-conditioning and thats one of the hardest things to physically overcome.
Most of us have burned bridges and have little or no support from the outside.
Without the support, the conditions worsen. They give us a couple very small bars of soap and toothpowder, other than that, we do without.
We have to buy a fan, deodorant, shampoo and all the other necessary items to get halfway comfortable.

Emotionally, this place is draining and overwhelming. Loneliness is the biggest obstacle. You can`t show weaknesses or get close to anyone.
What you tell someone in the morning, has a good chance of being spread all over the unit by that evening.
Most people are withdrawn and keep everything bottled up.
Everyone has gotten called to the Chaplans`office (or know someone who has) because a family member is in the hospital or died. You have to get the tears out in private.
If people saw you shed a tear, they`d pounce on you and take advantage of that "weakness". It doesn`t matter to those predators if it was your grandparent, mother or child. They see an opening and squeeze into it.

I´ve had to turn the other way while people were beaten, because it wasn`t any of my business.
Even if you aren`t a racist, prisons are segregated.
I came in when I was 16 years old, being white, young and cocky taught me a lot. I had to grow cold really quick.

I found my place, luckily. I didn`t have to join any of the gangs. But a lot of people in my place would have been sucked in for protection.

Like I`ve said, things have gotten better over the years, but we`ve got a Long way to go.
People get out and forget the conditions they were subjected to, they forget their cellie, they forget the food.
We need people dedicated to see it through untill the end.

I`m quitly too, I forgot the people I left inside.
things can change, it just takes a voice to get started.

Thanks for taking the time to read this.
Will you be that voice?



I`d like to have someone to write who has a relationship with God and will write about what they`ve learned and the experiences they`ve gone through. I don`t expect to fall in love with anybody from here. But I`d like to have a younger woman, preferrably with some of my interests ( Family, Country things, Harley`s and similar), educated, good looking is a plus and not afraid to voice opinions. I`d prefer someone in the Texas area and one day might visit. I don`t care about getting money from anybody. That`s the ideal Person.

Chris Burkett
PO Box 10069
Liberty, TX 77575

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

On Becoming a Prisoner Pen Pal; by D. Kendrick

On Becoming a Prisoner Pen Pal

When I first set out to be a prisoner’s pen pal I was unaware of the connection I would make to myself. From the first letter until now I see a vast difference in the person behind the paper. As I got to know men from different backgrounds, and similar ones, I started to identify with little things they had gone through that were like my own situation. I also started to see myself in a different way.

Many times these men painted themselves as victims and I knew it could not be true that every person in prison was a victim. I did however believe they had all had bad things happen in their lives that lead them to a life where they ended up behind bars. Why had I not ended up there? Bad things happened in my life too. I saw in myself something that these men didn’t have, but for the longest time I could not put my finger on it, so I went on writing.

I slowly started pouring more and more of my soul into each letter, and into each connection I made through this correspondence. As I did, people in my life started to point out I was crazy to put myself so close to “criminals”. But I saw that they were just like me, I just had something different something that they did not have. I started to realize I was not the person to be judging those I did not know enough about. I started, through these men, to let go of the pain of my life and of my past.

I learned that I was not always the final word.
I learned that I could have had a much harder life.
I learned that each scar I have is an extension of a lesson I was destined to learn.
I learned that blood was not always thicker than water – but in the end the liquid didn’t matter.
I learned that it is never smart to chase a rabbit down a rabbit hole.
I realized that I was a woman not many could identify with.
I realized that I was a mother to more than those I birthed.
I realized if the world had just a little more love in it things might actually get better.
I realized I was not the only nut in the Cracker Jack box, but I would not have it any other way.
I started to accept myself for who I am and realize that’s what I have to want to be.
I started to move past the “what if’s” and focus on the “now’s.”

I don’t think any of these lessons in life would have happened, and I would not have realized the thing I had that these men I write, and love, and want to help change their lives, don’t have. I had support, and opportunity to CHANGE my situation. They did not.

Deborah Kendrick/2012
Prisoner Rights Advocate
Anti-Death Penalty Activist

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Monster Lyrics - Wrongful Conviction
 by Joe Simnovec & Paul Paulin

 Stuck here in this place full of steel.
The money didn't get me no deal.
Time, this time the time is for real.
How could this be happening to me.
why? why? why? why me?

I could not do that - no not me.
You got the wrong guy don't you see?
I would not do that - let me be
I told you the truth. Set me free.
no, no, no, no not me.

"You, You were a bad boy
you're gonna do the time"
"you're lawyer wasn't good enough
jail time - a big fine."
"your hairs to long, your clothes are too dirty
if it was up to me
I would give you more then thirty."

"how do you think that WE're gonna live?
We're gonna squeeze your money
your gonna have to give.When you're all dried up we're gonna feel better.
If the systems at fault, you can always send a letter."

Help, I must be in a bad dream
and now, now you can see what I mean.

help, help, hell help me

Time passes so fast, I never felt so low.
Hope I'm gonna last, where did it all go?

I've been in this trap for so long.
How can we let the monster go on?
Don't forget me another day...
In the end we all have to pay.

free, free, free, free me.


Saturday, March 30, 2013

A childhood lost... by L. Merck


There have been many times that I’ve put pen to paper to try and tell this story, but it’s either been incredibly over emotional or I just didn’t seem to do it justice. I even tried to write it from the point of view other than mine, that of a little boy who was physically abused from a young age and how he would go about seeing the world around him, and although I have a basic interest in psychology, I think that even the most qualified psychologist would have trouble doing that. So after a lot of soul-searching I felt that there was only one way to give it any credence and that is to use Troy’s own words.
 When I first started writing to Troy in July 2011 as is usual we went through the stage of trying to find out as much as we could about each other. He asked me about my family and I shared everything I could possibly think of at the time including the fact that my youngest son has dyslexia. This was his response:

 I was born with something called Foetal Alcohol Effect. It’s a milder version of Foetal Alcohol Syndrome. ADHD is one of the things that manifest with it. That and the condition with my eyes. It’s called ptosis.

 I have an IQ that ranges between 145 – 125 which is rare for someone with F.A.E. but because of the ADHD and the eyes, not to mention being dirt poor, I hated school. I broke my teacher’s ribs in 3rd Grade and would run off as soon as I got off the bus. I just could not sit still and focus for the length of a class so I stayed in trouble with the teachers and was fighting everyday with the kids who picked on my eyes and ragged clothes.

 As a result I got very little education. About 3 months into the 8th Grade. But only two grades did I actually go for more than half the year. 5th and 7th. In the 4th I went for 33 days and in the 6th I went on full day and two partial days. They passed me both times.
 They didn’t know how to deal with Special Needs kids at that time up in the mountain schools.

 Then he added,

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Who failed? What failed?

Who failed? What failed?

Society never failed.
They say it was all me.
After all, Isn’t that the reason the court calls me guilty?

It was not my family.
They’re trying to do what is best.
That’s why they turned me in, placed me under arrest.
And it was not the cops that bruised my wrists.

 It was the cuffs clamped too tight, even though I did not resist.
And the shirt that was ripped as they threw me around
didn’t matter at all, because I was screwin’ around.

 Was my family doing what was best when they smacked me
around because I fled school?

The teachers barely taught, and they never try to
understand. It’s learning communication and support
that turns boys into men.

It’s no one’s fault but my own, and I do understand.
As long as society continues to lie, it is all my fault,
and I hold in the cry.

Source: Illustrations from the Inside: The Beat Within (2007)

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Nevermore ..or the importance of mail

Nevermore will I know
The pain of loneliness within
despair and agony of sorrow
Such a desperate state I was in
Never more will I feel
what it is not to love
for I have something so real
I have found someone to love
Never more will I need
to silently cry myself to sleep
wanting to commit a terrible deed
ending this sadness so deep
Nevermore will I deipair
for love has found my heart
once again for someone I care
my life has a fresh start
Nevermore will I journey down
my heart is soaring on high
flying on love unbound
how it happened I don`t know why
Nevermore will I think nevermore
for I have been showed the way
now I`ll love forever more
In letters written everyday
Harold Lee

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Do you ever dream?

** Do you ever have a bad dream and when you wake up you`re scared to go back to sleep? You lay there eyes wide and you don`t want to move in fear that what you thought you were dreaming may turn out to be a reality.

Well this is my “dream”, my reality, my cell in the Texas`Polunsky Unit Death Row.

I wonder at times if life is just a dream in which we are just “currently” living in and once we wake from it we go into another. I  look back and ask myself “how?”, “why?”,“why me?”

All these thoughts run through my head on daily basis. Everyday is a constant struggle to get out of bed, eat, shower, read, and write, yet everyday I continue to find a way to do it.

It is not easy to be positive when you are surrounded by negativity all the time. I mean, who wants to be told when to sleep, shower, recreate, eat? Can one ever truly get used to something like this ever?

I am send here with the order to be killed by lethal injection, yet everyday I tell myself to get up and be pro-active in my fight for my life. It can be hard at times but a quote always comes to my mind: “ He who hurries cannot walk with dignity”.

When I was young my dad had me memorize it and I still remember and use it to this day. Its funny how something so meaningless at the time turn out to mean so much later in life, but that`s life right?

I continue to dream and wake up with the same reluts in hope one day the “dream” will change, but until than I will continue to fight for my life!

For those of you who take the time to read this. I thank you..

If you are interested in corresponding with me or would just like to say hello, you can write me at the following address.

I wish you all well and God bless!!

Sincerely yours,

Christian Olsen
1835 Sandy Point Rd.
Bryan, TX 77807
Words from Editor: Christian was moved from Death Row to Byran)

Art by Kevin "Rashid" Johnson

Art by Kevin “Rashid” Johnson, held in solitary confinement in VA for the past 18+ years
(Solitairy Watch News)

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Ambitions swell my heart, by Christopher Corbin

Ambitions swell my heart,
With no truthful place to explore,
Sun consumed by the dark…
Left abandoned by tides ashore.

With no truthful place to explore,
Sand flattens foam standing still,
Left abandoned by tides ashore
Waves withdraw feeling with its thrill.

Sand flattens foam standing still,
One by one, bubbles burst,
Waves withdraw fleeing with its thrill,
Why does hope hang us with its curse?

One by one, bubbles burst,
Pressed by breezes wanting to know
Why does hope hang us with its curse?
Addicted to the rush of fantasy`s flow

Pressed by breezes wanting to know
Of the recipe stirring inside you
Addicted to the rush of fantasy`s flow
Camouflaged by the problems that divide you.

Of the recipe stirring inside of you,
Constantly thinking getting no stronger
Camouflaged by the problems that divide you,
Going on, when going is, no longer…

Constantly thinking getting no stronger,
Burrowing through life still behind on breath,
Going on, when going is, no longer…
Like a heartbeat itself to death.

Burrowing through life still behind on breath,
Questions come knocking on double locked doors,
Like a geartbeat beating itself to death,
Wanting one more chance, but answers ignored.

Questions come knocking on double locked doors,
Sun consumed by the dark,
Wanting one more chance but answers ignored,
Ambitions swell my heart.


Christopher Corbin

Connelly Unit, Kenedy

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Three drawings by J. Stevens # 1062711

James Stevens
# 1062711
Powledge Unit
1400 FM 3452
Palestine, TX 75803 - 2350

Friday, February 8, 2013

A book to read

Bars do not a prison make
If one has a book to read
Stone and steel seem to disappear
Simply with the turn of a page
Adventures unfold, treasures untold
Await those who venture within
The body may be bound
With walls that surround
Yet the mind remains free
If, one has a book to read

H. Lee

Thursday, January 10, 2013


Listen. It's a mad, mad world,
And I am filled with words.
Words I want to spill upon a page.
Upon pages. And pages.

I can't make any promises,
Well, maybe one: I will tell my
Truth. I will write my story.

Just listen. Please.
Please listen.
I will listen to
Your story too.

Copyright Margot Van Sluytman