My name is Elijah Joubert I’m currently on Texas Death Row, where I’ve been for the last 13 and a half years fighting for my life and my freedom. Honestly I have never thought or imagined that my life would spiral out of control down the road of destructure where I landed myself on Texas Death Row. I really can’t describe or put into words how I felt inside, when I was given the death penalty by the State of Texas. All I can tell you is that it was surreal, I still don’t remember how I got back to my cell at the county jail. That’s a life experience I’m still trying to understand and remember to this day. The closest thing I can call it is an outer body experience, because it was as if I was seeing things from the outside of myself, but not really able to understand it or remember it. I didn’t come back into myself until I was back in my cell in the county jail. That’s when the turmoil and self loathing arrived, and I realized the State of Texas had just sentenced me to death. I didn’t know what was going to happen next or what was in store for me all I knew was I’m about to die. Only if I truly knew the road, journey and life I was about to endure one I got to Texas Death Row. I arrived at the Polunsky Unit (which is where they house Death Row) back on January 13th 2005. By the time I got here from the bus ride, I had prepared and embraced myself to die and be executed. I thought I would be placed in a cell and then within a few hours they would be back to get me and take me to the death chamber. After about three hours in the cell, I became agitated and frustrated I was ready to get this over with. I stepped to the door and lightly got the attention of my neighbour next door to me. I asked him “so when are these folks going to come get me to execute me? I’m ready to get this over with, hope they don’t wait til about 10:00 or 11:00 tonight.” That’s when he explained the whole appeals process to me. In the moment of him explaining things to me, I began to understand what I’m abut to face here on Death Row. It’s one thing my neighbour Richard Cobb didn’t tell me or prepare for that day, and that’s the psychological torture I would face while fighting my appeals. You’re not just face with the stress and frustration of fighting for your life, it’s so many things you’re fighting and battling on a daily basis here on Death Row. The isolation, abandonment, loneliness, fear, aggression, incompetent attorneys, harsh conditions of living, on top of all the strife you deal with throughout the day from the guards. The biggest test is learning as you go, because you constantly fall into traps that causes you to bump your head, so you fall into the setups and endure the pain, grief, challenges and setbacks. If you’re not strong mentally this environment will break you, some choose to shut down and become a recluse and never come out of their cells. You have so much on your mind with nobody to talk to, and I’m the type of person I need to be able to talk to people. But talking to prisoners gets old, stale and boring because after so long those conversations turn into debates, then those debates turn into arguments. So now I’ve decided I need a new avenue and outlet to talk and express myself where it’s okay to debate but not engage in frivolous arguments. So I decided I could blog to express myself and relieve myself of this built up tension of being held captive in Isolation. Now I can post my thoughts and feelings and share them with anyone who’s interested in listening to what I have to say about what I go through here on Texas Death Row. I will be thankful and highly appreciative of any comments or feedback that anyone may have due to what they have read. Thank you for your time and effort.
Wow! I must admit dialoguing can be beautiful when two people or a group of people can converse without hostility or offending each other. I enjoy being able to see someone elses view or belief while standing firm on my own beliefs on the same issue. Me and a few other guys opened up a dialogue on abortion, that issue genuinely created a whole other issue that blew us away (I once again wishing I could have recorded this conversation). We couldn’t believe how this conversation had took such a spin. I’m one of those people who don’t have a side in the abortion issue, I respect the opinion of both sides in the argument of abortion. Both have made some very interesting points, but in my personal opinion I’m not the one who’s pregnant, nor am I the one who has to make that decision. God created us and gave us free will and choice, so every human being whether they wrong or right has a choice in life. That’s my opinion! Well another guy here went on the defence and started pressing me, he told me that “I’m a in the closet supporter of against abortions due to my comment”. But this same guy imposed another question to me, he said, “Tell me this then, why should the woman solely have the power only of such decision? When she didn’t create that foetus by herself, why don’t the father also have a right in the decision of abortion?” I told him good point you have made and brung to light, the other three brothers also acknowledged that he made a good point. But I told this guy, “Now you’re advocating for a whole new law to be put in place. Then it will become messy and complicated when the woman want to have an abortion and the man don’t want kids! or vice versa”. He shot back that if we’re acknowledging that the foetus in her is already human, then by law when a child is involved both parents have rights and have rights in the decision making of that child. So a father should have a right in the decision making of an abortion. I told him I’ll agree with you that you’re right on what you’re saying, but life isn’t that easy and simple especially when it comes to the laws that govern the land. I just showed you real quick and simple why that won’t work in our society, but I feel both parents should have a right in the decision of abortion. But you’ll never get congress to pass a bill of that nature because they know the cause and effect it’s going to have. So you’re just being stubborn and cynical on the topic due to you are against abortions. I also told him you can’t only be educated in the field of abortions and humanity you also have to be educated on the law and the laws of the land. I know it’s probably a lot of men who feel and think the same way that the man should have a right in the decision making of an abortion. Once again I too can agree that that’s a right the man should have too. But that will complicate the already complicated issue we have in this country of women and abortions. That’s my personal opinion on the issue. It was a few others in our dialogue group who took a different stance they feel the man shouldn’t have a right in the decision making of an abortion because he’s not carrying the child and it’s not in his body. They feel it’s only the womans decision and should only be her decision. I respect and salute their opinion and belief because in dialogue there is no right or wrong it’s just a discussion and personal point of views being made. So we ended our dialogue on that note. I was curious to know if people on the outside felt the same way so I wanted to know their opinion on the issue.
It’s times like these that I wish you all could be a fly on the wall and see for yourself what goes on here. Sometimes I wish I could a camera rolling none stop, so the world could see and hear some of the things prisoners say and do on a daily basis (I’ll be rich if I could get a camera back here). Here I am in my cell with the headphones on writing while listening to ‘Connect the Dots’ on KPFT Radio (I listen to this every Wednesday at 3PM). I’m enjoying my peace and tranquillity that’s awarded to me when recreation is done for the day. But all that was disrupted when I began to hear a distinctive noise invading my headphones from the outside my cell. The noise was so loud and overbearing, so I remove my headphones off my head to see what’s going on. I walk to the door and listen and to no surprise, it’s tow guys having a frivolous debate that has turned into a frivolous argument (you wouldn’t believe what they’re arguing about). These two baffoons (I have to call them baffoons) are arguing and having a frivolous argument about the Kardashians (yes the Kardashians). The debate is about how jealous Kim is of Khloe and Kylie because those two are about to steal Kims’ shine (I’m like really!?? How do either of those clowns know this? When neither one of them knows these people, heck they don’t even have a TV). I’m like where are they getting their facts from who is their sources?? Then it hit me their only source of information to dispute their claims are those in Hollywood magazines. You know OK!, US Weekly and People magazine. That’s where they’re getting that trash to gossip and argue about. These two have become so loud, hostile and bellingerent that if they were in front of each other right now they would be throwing punches at each other. What’s so ironic to me is that they’re hostile and bellingerent towards each other about some people they don’t know or don’t care about them at all. They’re arguing about these people money and wealth but neither of them are sending these clowns any money. Those two baffoons could be doing something better and productive with their lives and time besides ” Keeping up with the Kardashians”. I don’t understand how two people can have such frivolous arguments about celebrities and their wealth and money status when they don’t have any bank statements.
I held a conversation today while he was in the dayroom for his two hours. It was obvious that he was a little frustrated and wanted to talk. I’m no counsellor or therapist, but I’m a good listener and can give some sound advice when I need to. But once I see this conversation isn’t going anywhere then I’m out. This guy told me, “He hates when people who write to him ask stupid questions”, I told him “No question is a stupid question unless the person already knows the answer and you know they know the answer”, then I asked him to elaborate on what he means. He told me he gets tired of explaining the same old thing about the inside of this place to every person he writes, because he don’t want to talk about this place. I explained to this person, you have to understand communication and especially communicating through correspondence. You have to bring a person into your world just like they’re bringing you into their life. We ask questions simply because we are curious. After me and this guy finished talking I began to think, and that’s when I knew I needed to bring those of you who read my blog closer into my world. So let your mind ponder for a moment on the reality of Death Row and incarceration for a minute……. Imagine living in your home but there’s no privacy in your home or the community. Imagine every house being transparent where you can see right through it and every room. That would be pretty frustrating wouldn’t it be? Imagine the people who live in this community really have no respect for the community, nor do the people have respect for each other in the community. Imagine the overseers and officials places into position to govern treating you with hostility, animosity, prejudice and a grudge every time they see you. These are the type of tormented and disturbed piques going inside of a prison society. Imagine waking up each morning to this no privacy I spoke about, the environment you live in the house are packed all together with no doors on all that open space. There is no soundproof protectors and you’re openly exposed at all times in your living quarters. Imagine using the bathroom trying to relieve yourself, but your neighbour or the overseer can walk by and see you, it’s embarrassing and agitated all at the time. Imagine all activity in your community starting at 5:45am, now all your neighbours and the kids of the community is yelling, talking loud or just making extreme noises all around you to where it’s really a nuisance environment. Imagine the police in your community coming to work slamming the steel gates that’s in place to secure you each morning as you’re sleeping, but also imagine those same police coming to work in your community with their personal problems from home! Then they take it out on you out of spite causing you unwanted grief and trouble. Imagine being held in that community against your will, and your captors shows you daily that you’re inferior to them by their actions. You have no rights as far as they’re concerned. You’ll begin to feel helpless and hopeless, just like I do sometimes but I refuse to allow myself to be broken. What you’re imagining is what I live everyday here in a prison society.
There was a program on NPR radio, and the segment was focused on a guy in prison for rape, who’s fighting for parental rights with the woman he raped. The victim became pregnant and chose to have the baby. The victim contacted the rapist after she had the baby and let him know he was a father, over the years she even brung the child up there to visit him. So the father and daughter began to have and develop a bond, he done 15 years and was about to be released soon. But the mother of the child still had personal fears, so she really didn’t want the father with parental rights. The father filed a complaint and suit against the mother for his parental rights. Now when I first heard this story, I was enraged and against this rapist having paternal rights of this child. I was in the mindset that he forfeited his parental rights when he raped the mother. But after I calmed down and had a chance to think I realized I have no right to deny a man the right to love his child or see his daughter. I don’t know this man, so I don’t know if he got help and received counselling and changed his life. But the most important thing is he’s still a human being, who’s prone to make mistakes, but as a human being he also has rights just like any other citizen in this country. We can sit on the sideline all day trying to judge and condemn the next person for their actions, but what we’re not taking into consideration is that it’s a child involved. This is a child who wants to know her father and wants her father in her life. If the mother and daughter have forgave him for what he done, then who am I or anyone else to tell this child that she can’t have her father in her life. I’ve since changed my stance and opinion on the issue, I don’t in no way condone rape or abuse of women, but I realize it’s not my place to have an opinion or make a decision on those people lives and matter. That’s between those two parents and their child, and they must work things out and figure it out for the better of their child. But from a moral perspective, that father should have a right to see his child and have parental rights. But I’m not a judge nor do I have any power or influence over the judicial system.
The craziest thing happened today, two fellow prisoners started out in a casual debate, I was only half listening while typing a letter. The debate went on for about 20 minutes, then out of nowhere these two cats were arguing and threatening each other (that’s why I rather express myself through my personal platform). But the debate ended in a dispute about does money matter in a relationship? My first thought without thinking is “Yes” that’s no brainer! I feel like the two guys were arguing their points from the wrong angle, because both had some good views with the points they were making, but in all actuality “Money does matter in a relationship”. When that question is asked, that doesn’t mean their saying or asking do a person has to have millions or be a six figure person in order to be in a relationship with someone. A relationship is 50% based on financial security, the whole purpose of being a couple is to build together and be fruitful. That’s the life goal and plan. We save our money to buy a house, we save out money and get us new cars, we save our money for kids collage tuitions. If only one person is carrying the load and they’re not successful business owner, that load will become stress being the only one with a job and bringing the income into the home. Financial stress and woes are the number one cause and reason people file for divorce and end their marriages. I don’t know the exact number or percentage but it’s high. When that question is asked they’re not does a person has to have the money for you to be with them! But yes, money does matter in a relationship. There is no one in their right mind who’ll meet someone after talking to them it’s revealed that person hasn’t had a job in three years and you still jump into a relationship with that person. If you does that relationship is headed for disaster. There won’t be a future with this person, because you can’t build with this person, you’re spinning you wheels. I understand the reality of building in a relationship. Once I was finished with my letter, I went to each guy and explained to them what relationship is all about, and in any relationship it takes money to live and survive so of course money matters in any relationship. Both guys respected how I broke things down for them and both agreed that yes, in that light money does matter. But you’ll always have those who still say it doesn’t matter!
Today I had to hit the block and open up dialogue with my fellow brethrens here on the row. I received a letter last night from someone who I looked up to as an uncle, I’ve always called him Uncle Junior. I was super elated to receive a letter from him, he was just checking up on me like he normally do from time to time, to let me know he still love me and hasn’t forgot about me. He let me know him and Aunt Sharon is still going strong, and they’re still in love as if they’re teenagers. To me this is a remarkable story and I had to share it, so I went to the block and I pitch the question in open dialogue, “could you still love your spouse and be with her knowing she have H.I.V.?”, well the typical question came back to me…
“Do I have it too?
“How did she contract H.I.V.?”
“How long we been together and do we have kids?”….
I took in each question and just listened to each individual ask these questions which I think is baseless and senseless. But I go around and answer each….
“She contracted H.I.V. from shooting up”
“Been together 12 years and have 2 kids but they’re grown”
“No, you don’t have H.I.V.”.
Sad to say that all four guys asked their question when they already knew their answer. All four guys told me they could not stay in that relationship, they would have to leave because they will not take the risk in contracting H.I.V. trying to have safe sex. I have to truly respect their decision because you can’t ever ask someone to place their life in danger or at risk, it has to be their choice. I then went on to tell them that I have an uncle who contracted H.I.V. from shooting up heroin and once his wife found out she stay, and they still having sex and been together 25 years after she found out about his H.I.V.! I explained to those guys that live is way more powerful than anything else out there. You can overcome anything and conquer anything with love. It’s crazy and sad how people will abandon their spouse or significant other and turn their backs at such a severe time in that persons life. I remember the day like it was yesterday, back in 1993 I was 14 years old, Uncle Junior loved me like a real nephew. He came found me and sat me down and told me he just found out that he has H.I.V., he hadn’t even went home and told his wife yet. He was mentally distraught and told me he’s contemplating suicide, he was just too embarrassed to face Aunt Sharon and tell her something like this. I was a child actually a teenager, I didn’t know how to handle all Uncle Junior was dropping on my shoulders, but I knew I wasn’t going to let him kill himself. I challenged him right there on the spot, I told him that he was being selfish and not thinking about us who loves you. You’re not giving us a chance to show you we love you and care about you. I don’t care about you being infected with H.I.V. , that don’t change who you are to me, and it surely doesn’t change how I feel about you, I love you like a father. We cried together and talked a little more, then Uncle Junior told me to come ride with him. We went over to his mothers’ house where all his family was waiting on him. Junior dropped the news on his family and wife, but didn’t get the response he thought he was going to get. The whole family with Aunt Sharon at the forefront rallied behind Uncle Junior and supported him 100%. I’m happy to know that after 25 years Aunt Sharon still hasn’t given up on Junior they’re still happy going strong, because she continued loving a spouse with H.I.V.!
I try to always hold conversations that are meaningful but at the same time can be educational or eye openers as I like to call it. So I focus on talking about every day real and serious issues. I like touching on and discussing issues that’s effecting our everyday lives. Now by me blogging about these same topics that I’ve discussed here on the row with another person, I feel may give someone on the outside who may be going through or experiencing the same issue a better way to look at things and handle the situation. The discussion came up between me and a friend I’m writing because she told me her 12 year old son just can’t get along with her husband who isn’t his father. Me and her touched on a lot of different topics that we thought may be the reason her son and husband is quarrelling. But at the end of the day se really don’t know the truth because she can’t get neither one to be openly honest about their feelings. But his quarrelling is effecting my friend severely to the point she’s stressed, depressed and about to have a nervous breakdown, (this is a major problem all over the world with children rebelling against their stepparents). I told my friend after a few months of discussion on this issue, the reason why those two are quarrelling is right in there in your face, but the sad part about it there is no safe or correct solution for the problem. I told her you’re dealing with male egos and a strong dose of jealousy, both of these males are in love with you, your son because you are his mother, and your husband because you are his wife. Men are overly possessive when it comes to another man being in the number one spot in the life of the woman they love. I explained to her that her son and husband are in a secret chess match between each other fighting for the throne and number one spot in her life. They keep doing things to show each other who has the throne, you’re the Queen in their chess match so you’re taking all the hits while they’re taking score. When a parent is placed in that type of situation between their child and spouse it’s even harder to be referee because one is always going to feel like you have betrayed them for the other, so they will feel you have turned your back on them, now to you have a while other problem you have to face and deal with. Once you step out of the neutral zone and start refereeing you take the risk of losing your life partner or child. But at some point you’re going to have to step off the side-lines and choose a side in the refereeing department. But at the end of the day you have to stand on the side of right and be fair. My friend is scared and afraid to step in because she don’t want to lose neither one, but like I told her the longer she waits to step in, it’s going to be inevitable for her to lose one of those special men in her life. I gave my friend some very sound advice and pointers on how to handle her situation, I explained to her I’m not saying that this will work but you should try it (1) Find out if you have work time and if you do take at least 2 months off, and you go and live with a friend or family member and leave them two at the house by themselves. I promised her they will figure it out on their own or when you come back then your spouse is going to let you know they’re leaving. (2) You can find a male friend and start spending a lot of time with him and then those two will team up to get this dude out the picture. But in the process they will start to bond. My friend thought it was an amazing idea, she chose the 2 month challenge, and when she came back those two knuckleheads were the best of friends. Now she’s became a little jealous because they do everything together and leaves her at home now all the time. There is no more quarrelling between the two of them.