Archive for September, 2008

Letter from Rogelio, Sept. 22

September 23, 2008

Today I received a letter from Rogelio. Written in Spanish on Sept. 18, he says he had yet to receive the letter that included copies I made of the individual blog pages. “There is a damn devil (guard) reviewing my mail, and he or she is taking her or his time. It’s not as if I have all the time in the world, but that doesn’t seem to matter to these animals.”

He also writes: “Yesterday, the state executed my neighbor, and I spend my time thinking of what awaits me. Who knows. I do keep thinking positive thoughts, but I feel bad for Scooter’s family, and I feel anger at the injustice of how the death penalty is applied.”

He enclosed an articled about Mark Sanchez, the USC quarterback, who fascinates him, as a football star and as a Mexican American. And, of course, he talks enthusiastically about “Los Vaqueros,” — the Dallas Cowboys and the good season they are having so far. Just writing about the Cowboys, he says, lifts his spirits.

He also asked if I could send him some books he read about in USA TODAY: Sway, The Irresistible Pull of Irrational Behavior, by Ori and Rom Brafman, and Predictably Irrational: The Hidden Forces That Shape Our decisions, by Dan Ariely. 

He writes: “Juan, I know that you tell me that my journal writings are strong and that they have a way of moving people, but because I’m not out there, I cannot see that. If 300 people read my words on the second day and then they didn’t come back, is it possible that they lost interest, or will they come back later to see if there are more postings?”

He promises more journal entries will arrive soon. (As I have explained elsewhere, he writes his journal longhand. What I had not explained is that he then makes a copy, again writing it longhand, to mail to me.)




September 23, 2008


Isabelle, Rogelio's Swiss friend, and Rogelio, during a visit

Isabelle, Rogelio

This is a photo of Rogelio with his Swiss friend, Isabelle Deleze, who introduced me to Rogelio and convinced me to begin corresponding with him nine years ago. Isabelle is one of the most beautiful and amazingly generous persons I have ever met. She not only corresponds with and visits Rogelio, she visits persons behind bars in Switzerland on a regular basis, with the full support of her loving husband and two children. She is also a quilter, producing some of the most beautiful and creative quilts I have ever seen, and a fine photographer.

Rogelio and Juan

September 20, 2008

Rogelio Reyes Cannady and Juan R. Palomo












A photo taken in the Death Row visiting room. Rogelio is, of course, behind a thick pane of plexiglass. I had to sit on the counter to make it appear we were close, and he strategically placed his elbow so it would appear as if it were on my shoulder. Polaroid pictures are taken by the guard on duty, for a fee.

‘I plan to live as fully as I am able.’

September 9, 2008

Thoughts of a Texas Death Row Inmate as his execution date approaches.

On August 30, when I visited Rogelio Reyes Cannady on Death Row in Livingston, Texas for two hours, our conversation was focused on his having received a date for his execution, November 6 (although it appears it has been moved to November 19) after it had appeared that the state’s judicial system had forgotten about him, leaving him in limbo for months after the U.S. Supreme Court turned down his final appeal. 

Rogelio told me that he had started to keep a journal of what he assumes are his final days in what is known as Death Watch, a special section of Death Row where inmates who have received their dates are housed. He asked me to publish his journal on the Internet. Rogelio writes his journal in pencil (he’s got beautiful handwriting) and sends me a week’s worth at a time, to save on postage. 

Since the first entries were posted, I have received numerous questions from readers who are amazed that Rogelio can write as well as he can. They want to know how much editing or rewriting I have to do, and are surprised when I tell them I do almost no editing, and definitely no re-writing. I can understand the disbelief. I have been corresponding with Rogelio for about nine years, and I have received hundreds of letters from him (mostly in English, but a great number of them in Spanish, and some in both languages) and I continue to be amazed by his writing ability, in both languages, given that he never even went to high school. He is pretty much self-taught. 

Although I am immensely saddened that his execution is now more of a reality (all these years it has been something vague and far away, something we talked about but never as a definite possibility), I am glad he is keeping a journal. I have been encouraging him to do so for years. If Texas does kill him, I want as many people as possible to understand exactly whom they have killed — a living, breathing, thinking, passionate, highly intelligent, caring human being who in no way resembles the foolish boy who first entered the Texas criminal justice system many years ago.

I hope that, as you read these journal entries, you too get to know who Rogelio Reyes Cannady is, and what a terrible tragedy it would be if the People of Texas take his life away.

You can read his journal by clicking on the pages, on the right side of the page.

Thanks for reading.

— Juan R. Palomo | September 20, 2008