Some good news, shared with the permission of the inmate who wrote it in a letter to his pen friend:
Another development here as far as freedoms for us; I am one of eighteen or so afforded the opportunity for programs – an eight-week course. Once a week I walk (in handcuffs) to another place with five others from death row; mainly guys who have jobs cleaning our pod.
The class is called responsible thinking, none of the content relating to me any more … BUT it reminds me of who and how I used to be, and what I put myself through over 20 years ago.
After all this I get eight weeks off then start another … Each prog. taken is supposed to show responsibility and progression in my part. There will be rewards for those of us who “go along” in the future like “open pod”; two people who come out of our cells for a couple of hours a day to interact, play cards, chess etc.
Then somewhere down the line our restraints will come off during our walk to and from the shower (I already have that freedom because of my job). Little things mean a lot and give us back just a sliver of humanity!
We also have an outdoor recreation area, similar to what was taken away in 1997. Ten recreation pens (like a kennel) that we can now talk to another inmate somewhat “face to face” and see other guys for a couple of hours 3-4 times a week on our recreation schedule instead of (Concrete box) with an open roof with a cage on top. We can now see the open desert, mountains … the sky and cactus.
I was the first death row inmate allowed into a basketball pen with another inmate – a test because we were the first two then they didn’t do it anymore. We were on camera. I think the film is going to be used to show the warden to see they can act like human beings. The basketball is definitely in the future for everyone else.