DAY 043: There are voiceless witnesses

October 3, 2008 | Friday

IT’S DAYS LIKE THIS when I really don’t know what to write. Should I write about prison happenings? About my opinions? Or just stick to the things that I witness? All of it is personal experience and if I did more than just talk, maybe I could have you “feel” this place and all it means. If I could describe the meaning, the feeling, the steps we take — and all of this for what purpose? You could know how ugly this place can be,  but also how full of hope.

I snuck out today and surprised Alvin. He is still housed in the camera cell, so to my words, there are voiceless witnesses: those officers who constantly glance at the monitor that peeks into that man’s last days. What do these voiceless witnesses think? Is it just a job, or does their humanity escape the prison it is surely placed in?

I caught Alvin Kelly unaware this morning as I walked past his cell door and out into the recreation cages. Alvin was standing at his door looking out at the morning happenings. His eyes were bloodshot and his expression one of confusion.

I saw this myself, but too, there are witnesses who glimpse our last days . . . who look at Alvin Kelly. If those voices spoke, they’d mirror the administrative belief (if only to keep their jobs) about how it’s necessary. We are the most vicious of Texas’ criminals. The irredeemable. The rabid dog that must be put down. And the truth is? The voiceless witnesses will not utter their preferences to work on Death Row, because, as opposed to the general prison population and its violent setting, we are the passive segment.  Others around me might not know or be able to tell you what it’s like out in the general prison population. I know about the constant tension, the assaults on both guards and prisoners by guards and prisoners, about the rapes and humiliations caused by the administration’s indifference. The system is so obviously broke and nobody seems to care.

Alvin Kelly sits in that cell and the only assault he cares to cause is with the written word, his Bible.


4 Responses to “DAY 043: There are voiceless witnesses”

  1. Art Taylor Says:

    Hello Roy
    I pray that you stay strong with God’s written word at your side He alone will bring you out the other side as a victor. There are a few of us out here that understand your situation and offer you strength however we can. God bless you

  2. Françoise Says:

    Your eye – and your pen – Rogelio, are working like a sharp camera. This last description about the voiceless witnesses is incredibly strong and realistic. A terrible report on this place, deprived of any humanity.

    “… You could know how ugly this place can be, but also how full of hope.”
    Well, you succeeded in your purposes! We can grasp the unbearable of this situation but we know that your heart is full of hope, too.
    We love you, Roy

  3. Françoise Says:

    Dear Roy,
    I am reading another time this Day and I am even more amazed, struck by the incredible strength, density and accuracy of your writings. Mine is not a literary analysis purpose – although your style is beautiful and would deserve a special Prize – but just to point out how each of your words is penetrating our heart and mind, and making us “walk with you” in those grim parts.
    My heart is full of sadness and compassion.
    Always with you, Rogelio

  4. Kiki Says:

    I wonder, Rogelio, how anybody at all can work in a prison…. Reading your entry…..What do these voiceless witnesses think? Is it just a job, or does their humanity escape the prison it is surely placed in?….. makes me wonder again. Do they have to leave their humanity at the entry?
    I had a job once, very challenging and very, very interesting. But when the company changed hands (twice) and got bigger and bigger, and even more international, I felt a change in the ‘behaviour’ too…. of the management, the style, the rule book, it seemed.
    When I handed in my notice, I was told that ‘if you leave us, we will never ever employ again’ (thus threatening me to reconsider my decision). I told them that I could no longer work with a firm where you had to dispose of your soul when clocking in and only be able to fetch it again when leaving…. Up to today they haven’t understood what I meant.
    That’s what I think sometimes of wardens in prisons. They must have left their souls, their humanity, as you so very well put it, at the entry doors.
    I am hurting with the amount of compassion I feel for you and your fellow brothers. I also hurt for the victims and I am sure there are such people I would find it very, very hard to forgive. But I am convinced of your status of a ‘forgiven’ human being…. or else you would be just the most perfect story teller I’ve ever come across. And believe me, I have read more than you can in a life time and I think to know when I can feel truth speaking through so few lines. Your words speak of compassion, forgiveness, kindness, warmth and ultimately of a great inner strength.
    Be good, we’re counting on you coming free 🙂

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