Tuesday, June 23, 2015

The Mosquito

It's that time of year and especially here in Northern Florida we know to expect the onslaught of those micro winged demons that seemingly only exist to eagerly feed off our flesh. More often than not, they will lay in wait until we drift off to sleep, and only then descend down from the dark shadows.

Although we are now allowed a simple small plastic fan to elevate the heat and humidity of the semitropical summers, it still remains too hot to sleep under a blanket or even a sheet. With few exception, we each fall into our fit full sleep wearing nothing more then a pair of boxer shorts - some even choose to wear nothing at all. It's the humidity that makes these long summer months unbearable, and that humidity begins to climb in May then reaches its climax by July and through
August, into September.

Even after 30 years I'm not used to it. Some say that humans are like cockroaches, as we possess the ability to adapt to our environment and survive. I've even said it myself more than once, and for the most past it's true. Looking back to the young man I once was when i first came to Florida death row in the early spring of 1984, I know that I've adapted to this environment and found a way to survive even as too many others around me were broken and died. I am a survivor, although I remain uncertain as to whether that is a blessing or a curse as I know only too well that my misery and suffering will relentlessly continue as long as I still draw any breath and my reprieve will only come after I've drawn my last breath.

Lately I have found myself thinking a lot about death - my death. I suppose that's understandable given the fact that late last year I went through what we call "pre-warrant clemency" which is when the governor assigns the condemned man a lawyer and then they go through that predictable pretense of contemplating whether the condemned man is worthy of mercy and compassion by grant of clemency from the governor, sparing his life.

But in 30 years not even one Florida prisoner has had his life spared by a grant of clemency. It's all a deliberate pretense. Once this morbid charade has been played out, then your name is added to that growing list of those the governor will sign a death warrant on, scheduling your imminent execution. My pre-warrant clemency was submitted in early December, 2014 (click here to read the clemency petition) and it has been undoubtedly denied just as all are without even so much as a meaningful opportunity to present the evidence to be properly considered.

Florida has significantly increased the number of executions carried out in recent years as the current pro-death governor (Rick Scott) is determined to kill more prisoners than any governor in Florida ever has. And once the next execution is carried out, he will have accomplished that goal. There is little doubt that he will then proceed to far surpass it, as governor Scott will be in office until January 2019.

But executions in Florida are on a temporary hold pending review by the Supreme Court on whether the initial lethal injection drug (Midazolam) is sufficient to render the intended victim unconscious before the following two drugs are administered. Legally, if the condemned prisoner is not unconscious before the following two drugs are administered, intended to inflict death, then the prisoner will undoubtedly experience pain and that form of execution would constitute "cruel and
unusual punishment", which is prohibited under long standing Federal law.

A decision on that pending case will be rendered no later than the end of June. The prevailing consensus among legal experts is that the Supreme Court will reject this claim by a marginal 5 to 4 vote, finding that, absent proof that prison officials consciously intended to inflict pain, the inadvertent infliction of physical pain through the alleged failure to render the intended victim unconscious is not sufficient to establish an Eight Amendment violation.

Quite simple, a "botched" execution, no matter how horrid and no matter how much pain the condemned prisoner may have suffered, is not enough - there must be a subjective intent to inflict pain before it arises to that level of becoming a constitutionally intolerable infliction of "cruel and unusual punishment".

Once that issue is decided, it is anticipated that Florida will then again to proceed to carry out its record number of state-sanctioned executions, and as early as July the governor will again proceed to sign a record number of death warrants and I have every reason to believe that my own name is towards the top of that list and that in the foreseeable future (before the end of the year) I will once again be transferred to the Florida State Prison (where executions are carried out) and placed on death watch with no more then 4-5 weeks to go before the state of Florida will proceed to put me to death despite substantial evidence of my innocence.

These are the thought I struggle to escape as I lay on my bunk trying to sleep. But arguably May is the worst month of all, as it takes some time to adjust to the change of seasons. Just a few weeks ago it was almost freezing and I had to hide under a heavy wool blanket to sleep. But now the nights are both warm and humid and for the first time in months I find myself lying there long into the night wearing nothing but my boxer short as that small electric fan sends a gentle breeze my way and still I could not compel myself to sleep.

Then I heard it, that unmistakable buzzing of a small mosquito as it flew close to my head. In the darkness I could not see it, but the minute it would deliberately dive-bomb down around my head, perhaps deriving some sense of pleasure from inflicting that knowledge upon me that it intended to feed off my flesh and resistance would be futile.

Again and again I tried to swat this malicious winged beast from the air, but missed each time. It certainly was a crafty little devil, obviously able to avoid my best efforts and even enjoying this game it played as if biting me and drawing my blood was merely only a reward for a game well played.

Forcing me to anticipate that inevitable infliction was the true intent and instinctively this mosquito knew that tormenting its intended victim would inflict far more then that final act as it is that awareness of imminent infliction that outweighs that final, even merciful, act itself.

As I continued to do my very best to put a stop to this act of insane depravity that only something as evil as a winged beast from the very bowels of hell could inflict, I couldn't help but realize that what this mosquito was doing to me was no different than what the state of Florida planned to do - it wasn't enough to merely put me to death, as part of their ritual was to first make me aware that they intended to kill me and that before I would die, they would demand that I first suffer immense pain.

And as I thought these thoughts, I heard that buzzing once again and in that instant, I killed that beast. At least that mosquito would torment me no more.