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.
Incarceration is one of the most extreme levels of punishment of the judicial system, but it also has to be implemented into our society. Incarceration is torturous and tormenting to the prisoner in so many ways:
- You’re being taken away from your family, spouse, kids and friends and being placed around people you have never seen or met in your life.
- You have to get accustomed to the institution rules and the rules of being incarcerated (convict rules). Them you gotta get comfortable in your environment and living quarters. The whole thought of showering in front of other people is embarrassing and also degrading, it’s even more degrading when you are showering with 30-40 prisoners altogether. Then their is no privacy when it’s time to relieve yourself, you have to use the bathroom out in open view in front of everyone. It’s all very depressing and degrading, I’ve seen people go weeks without releasing their bowels.
- You have a lot to learn how to digest and swallow the horrible food that’s being served. It’s a lot more things you really have to learn how to deal with while you are incarcerated. You’ll slowly adapt and adjust to your current environment because your basic survival skills will kick in and take over. It’s one thing you can’t learn to deal with or adjust to while incarcerated, that’s being homesick. To me it’s the worst torture and punishment of the whole time being incarcerated. Going to visit and after the visit is over having to depart from your family and leave them behind as they go home is sickening. You receive pictures of your spouse and children on birthdays and during the holidays while sitting in a cell is torturous. I can’t speak for no one else, but for me the worst time for being incarcerated where I truly home sick and hurting inside is during the holiday season (Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year). It’s a 90 day stretch from October to January. These are holidays that as a kid I loved and enjoyed celebrating faithfully, so I have wonderful memories of my childhood holidays that are dear to me. That becomes painful when I think back on those memories in this cell. What kills me most inside and tears my heart apart is the holiday season. The holiday spirit comes around and everyone is just so happy, loving and jolly in the Christmas spirit. The radio stations are all playing holiday music. I can’t listen to the radio during the holiday season, it causes me to become too emotional and depressed in my cell. I’m always crying and thinking of my family and friends. I’m constantly thinking about the good food, games and line dances that will be played and going on at my grandmothers house during the holidays. All the cooking is done at her house, honestly I become really homesick and just want to go home and be with my family for the holidays. The pain is so deep that I try and sleep or should I say hibernate during those 90 days of the holiday season. I don’t even get visits so I know I won’t be getting any for the holidays so I try and sleep 12-14 hours a day because I’m just not happy or in a good mood during the holiday season. I’m seriously homesick! We’re in the holiday season at the moment and my homesickness is kicking in.
I’ve cone to learn and understand in 39 years of living that there are three topics that are real sensitive to talk about with other people:
(2) Their children
Those three subjects can become real heated and sensitive. Then you incorporate the fact we don’t have the right to freedom of speech anymore to voice our own personal views, beliefs or opinions in todays society that we live in. I had a three hour long debate with my neighbour about homosexuality and neither one would move off our square. So we agreed to disagree and keep it moving like we always do when we can’t find no common ground. This day one hour later we were right back at it on homosexuality. We are debating this issue from two different standpoints, I’m looking at the morality of the issue, he’s looking at the free choice and free will of this issue. That’s when I realized we have a double standard when it comes to morality in our society today. We pick and choose when we want to enforce morality and when to hold someone to a moral standard. I want to be very clear that I’m not against homosexuality because I have no right to tell the next person who they can or can’t love or choose for their life partner. Yet, I have the right to my choice and belief from a moral point I feel homosexuality is wrong. Even though I feel that it’s wrong doesn’t mean I’m against it (because I’m not), it’s only wrong from a moral standpoint. During the debate between my neighbour it hit me smack in the face why people can’t never come to no common ground on this issue. Those who feel like homosexuality doesn’t have a place in our society and are against same sex marriage and same sex rights, they are wrong and I’ll challenge their belief and ideology on that any day. Heterosexual, homosexual or bisexual we’re all human beings and we’re protected under the rights and laws of the land of any country we’re in by being a human being. By the laws of the land we are entitled to the same laws of equality in whatever country we live in. So, just because someone is a homosexual doesn’t mean they lose or forfeit their rights as a human being. If you do then you’re wrong from a moral perspective, because homosexuals and bisexuals need to be protected with the same rights as heterosexuals. The same sex right act was to protect homosexuals, some may not see it that way but in all honesty and reality the LBGTQ community had to get the same sex right passed to protect themselves. It’s a lot of homosexual couples who families have turned against them for being homosexual. Those two individuals began living together without being married and began to build as life partners. One individual has bad credit but saved up the money to start and own a business that becomes successful. The business, house, cars and everything else is in their life partners name. 5-10 years down the line the individual who has the business and property in their name becomes ill and perishes. Now their family is entitles to everything they own and their life partner doesn’t have any rights or claim to none of the property or wealth they accumulated over the last 5-10 years. Is that right or even fair that the family of the deceased can come and take everything away from the deceased life partner? No that’s not right nor is it fair, it’s not right or fair from a legal standpoint and it’s surely not fair from a moral standpoint. You can have an opinion or feel homosexuality is wrong, but to be against homosexuals having the right to marry or have the same rights as you as a heterosexual is wrong. Plus we don’t have the right to tell anyone who their heart can love or fall in love with. We have to look and approach this issue from a humanity standpoint because denying homosexuals to marry is denying them their basic human rights of equality and you’re saying that homosexuals aren’t human being. If you have that outlook or perspective on this issue then you’re morally wrong. I’m just wondering does any or all I’ve said make sense to anybody except me?
I grew up around a lot of women in my family, and as a young boy being around those women they taught and instilled compassion, caring and kindness in me. My grandmother taught me how to love and she always preached about humanity and respect. She loved animals as much as she loved people. I developed that same attribute from my grandmother. I’m just a naturally loving and caring person. On January 13th 2005 I entered Texas Death Concentration Camp for their killing machine. I wasn’t scared I was cautious due to I didn’t know what was ahead of me or what I was about to walk into. I honestly had no clue as to what I was about to endure and experience. The ugly revelation didn’t waste any time to reveal its true intention of action. That loving and caring person I was raised to be was surely bout to be tested in a major way here at the Texas Death Concentration Camp. In my first year I had to endure 36 people being slaughtered (executed) and put down like an animal. After the first 12 my heart and mind begin to fight and battle with each other. The cause and effect of this type of exposure of death and killing began to take a toll and have an effect on me. My heart began the process of wanting to break down, while my brain went into survival mode to protect me. What was hurting so much is that I had developed a few friendships with at least 8 of the 36 that were executed. The bonds were genuine as if I had been knowing them all my life. Those executions begin to kill me inside, each time one of those eight were taken away and never brung back. The next year it was 40 people being slaughtered, me not really being conscious or fully aware, I developed a handful more friendships with a few more dudes. Seeing them being taken away to be slaughtered, I began to spiral out of control emotionally. I was hurt, depressed and in a world of sulkiness but I realized something about this Death Camp and how it operated. It’s designed to torture you mentally and break you spiritually until it’s your turn to witness “The Killing Machine”. One of the key things happening here at the Death Camp, you’re constantly developing bonds and friendships with people who are running out of time. I were constantly being hit with devastating blows every time I lose a friend. I immediately told myself you can’t live like this it’s destroying you, so I went into a process of detaching myself from bonds, friendships and people I were casually conversating with. I had to if I wanted to make it and hold on to my sanity here in this death camp. By the fifth year here I had no friends and now on execution days I was emotionless, I became immune to the deaths that were occurring around me. I couldn’t even release a drop of compassion, sympathy or any feelings for my fellow brethrens who were being slaughtered. I began to hate and questioned myself because I knew this wasn’t me or who I was taught to be as a person. It was bothering me so bad that I began to talk about it to other prisoners here. They all would hear me out and all claim they understood what I was saying and going through, but they would all just blow it off as nothing serious and say, “You’re finally become numb to this place and your surroundings”. For years I rejected and denied that term because I felt that the words numb was just as bad as the words cold hearted and inhumane. The realization hit me that this place made me numb in order for me to survive, that’s when I went into the process of detaching myself from people. My heart continues to want to fight reality by my brain continues to protect me so I don’t self destruct.
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.