Texas Death-Row’s Health crisis – written by Charles Mamou august 2012- a must read



When you think about Texas Death Row’s reality you need to know that 24 hours per day men are always restricted and confined to some form of isolation. Sure, they allow us two hours per day, five days a week-recreational time that consist of placing a inmate alone in a cage, a lil bigger than his cell. (think about a lab-rat. How all it is allowed to do is walk in circles).

In solitary confinement the average cell(s) on death row consist of a mat [No SERT mattresses in this hellish joint] that is so flat itl cause back problems and complete restlessness. Each cell has a nexus stainless steel sink and toilet, that if the toilet is properly cleaned and disinfected well also acts as a washing machine. We have to clean/wash our own clothing. Each cell also has a rusty desk table, that should be a hazard.

If … and let me emphasize “if” a inmate has some free-world financial support, then he is allowed to buy over- priced items from the prison’s commissary, e.g. a plastic fan that cost five bucks at your local dollar General store, cost twenty plus bucks here. We can buy a AM/FM radio, a cook, a two hundred dollar plus typewriter ( that cost under one hundred bucks a year ago). That’s it, Theres no Plasma televisions, boom boxes, video games, nor anything else that many of you falsely believe that we have here in Texas. In fact the best entertainment each of us have is our own imagination, and imagination isn’t always constructive.

When you isolate anyone from society, forcing them to create their own reality toward off boredom, it begins the process of “Mental Degeneration” or in the science field which is better known as Psychosomatics. I read a study involving potential astronauts and how they were tested by being held in isolation with other astronauts for seven days. What was learned was that after four days, clear-negative changes were noticed in the groups behavior. Now Imagine how years of isolation will affect any human being, regardless to any criminal stigma.

Before the infamous mental case of a Texas Death Row inmate that pulled out one of his eyeballs, while eating the other, saying “It taste like chicken” Which became national comedians punchline. Texas Death rows conditions has always lead inmates and officers (a few D.R officers has committed suicide) to the brink of insanity.

There was a inmate here who set himself on fire, surrounded by all types of religious books. He suffered third degree burns to 80% of his body. There was a inmate who cut his dick off and then threw it into the walkway, feeling it was useless to him. There was a inmate who flooded his cell and threw his electrical cord into the water attempting to electrocute himself. Many has hung themselves and many more regularly cut on themselves. One guy cut his jugular vein with a dull piece of stone that he found in his cell and sat quietly as he bled to death. There was a healthy twenty four year old male who cried everyday until he dropped dead of a brain aneurysm… stressing in here is a bitch! And then there was Shelwin Davis, that we all called S.P who was found dead in his cell in July 2012, cause of death: similar to Whitney Houston, Michael Jackson, Amy Winehouse and many others who suffer from mental ineptitude. S.P was my neighbor several times since he arrived on DR, he wasn’t a likeable figure amongst many of his fellow inmates. This dislike had nothing to do with his personality, see he had this foul B.O that angered many that he was around. It was a medical issuethat had nothing to do with a lack of cleanliness on his part. He took daily showers. I told him to go to the doctor and he did. Come to find out his pores was not opening up to secrete his sweat, too which had him smelling spoiled at times. Which was the nature of most of the arguments between he and others.

I liked S.P he was a intelligent young man, A Articulate fellow that had this natural knowledge about things when he spoke. He was a walking dictionary. He didn’t have much., so I often fed him and let me tell you, he could eat. I clothed him, buying clothes for him from commissary. I helped him get pen pals and I gave him spiritual and history books to read. Literature that I hoped would help him grow.

I knew how much influence I had over him- he looked to me like a father figure and I never abused such knowledge. I respected him and if truth be told I liked his company.

Every man here has a “vice” or two that they abuse to get by here or attempt a futile try at escaping the madness that we face here daily in isolation. Some may masturbate all day long just to get a sense of being tired. Some may read books all day ( I know a guy that reads two books daily every day, many he re reads) Some instigate mess to create drama. Some eat all day. Some write all day and some like S.P get high all day. He would take a bunch of prescribed psychotic drugs at the same time, e.g Benadryl, Zolof and other diphenhydramines just so that he wouldn’t have to be awake, fighting the urge of insanity that tried to invade him daily. It may seem shocking to you free worlders, but in here its quite normal in here. Many of the guys back here get high to escape the smothering depression,.

I have listened to S.P tell me about his case. He was as remorseful as they they came. He once cried infront of me for his victim and I’m telling you he was sincere. He was tilled with guilt and couldn’t live comfortable knowing he killed someone. Unforgiving oneself for acts deemed nefarious leaves a edacious void in a persons life. Something has to alleviate the guilt, and for him prescription drugs did the trick.

As I am writing this in hindsight I feel that I should of and could have done something to help him, At the time things we do here in isolation seems normal. After all; all we are trying to do here on a day to day existence is survive mentally. And when you see another man struggling to maintain a level of sanity, no matter ones coign of vantage what can you honestly do or say? How could I tell him to cut back on the pills (relief) when I knew it was the only thing preventing him from suicide? There was several incidents too which he cut on himself, even leaving two huge thick scars on both sides of his neck.

How could I tell him not to do this or that, when I too have a “vice” or two of my own that may be detrimental to my own mental or physical health? I live in a guilt filled environment where guilt dictates the redundant atmosphere here. I live around men who one day is talking fine, and the next day is talking to himself. Or Ernie on the planet Pluto. I live next to guys who have forgotten who to use the bathroom, who eat their own shit and smile at you as if its the best snack ever. I live around guys whom can hold a lively intriguing and educational conversation for five minutes straight, before going completely blank, forgetting what they was talking about, who they were talking to and who they are. Men in their 30’s is suffering from mental psychosis that has Alzheimer’s like traits.

Solitary confinement was made for storing things, not storing people. And the reason why Free-worlders should are about the harsh treatment inflicted on Texas Death Row men is because not all are guilty, many are innocent and many more are wrongly convicted.

It was once said that Humans and Humanity are always at Odds “ no time ever has that been true than here in Texas

Written by Charles Chucky Mamou/ august 2012

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