Thursday, January 28, 2016

One week ahead of the Florida Supreme Court Oral arguments in his case, Michael Lambrix releases a personal statement



Michael Lambrix has faced already one execution by the electric chair  when a warrant was signed in 1998
He now faces execution by lethal injection on February 11th, 2016


On February 11, 2016 the State of Florida will proceed to put Cary Michael Lambrix to death by lethal injection, despite the fact that on January 12th, 2016 the United States Supreme Court, in an unprecedented 8 to 1 decision, declared that the Florida death penalty process is unconstitutional.
All eyes will now be on the Lambrix case - the first execution since the landmark Hurst v Florida case was released. The Florida Supreme Court will hear ‘oral arguments’ in Lambrix’s case at 9.00 am on February 2, 2016.

Today Michael Lambrix comments about the particularly unusual circumstances surrounding his imminent execution, read more HERE




                                       
                                          Florida Department of Corrections execution chamber

Monday, January 25, 2016

ACLU files amicus brief with Florida Supreme Court in Michael Lambrix's case


January 22, 2016 - Brief filed by the American Civil Libeties Union Capital Pinishment (ACLU-CPP) and the American Civil Liberties Union of Florida (ACLU-FL) in support of Michael Lambrix. Read it HERE







Thursday, January 21, 2016

Letter from Death Watch (part 5)

The New Year began with a vengeance. I can’t even remember the last time I really got sick, but I spent the entire first weekend of the new year sick as a dog; to the point where I didn’t even want to get out of my bunk. I didn’t get anything done and I am so far behind on writing letters to all those who have sent me cards and letters that I doubt I will ever catch up. And so let me begin this update with my thanks to all those that sent cards and letters as they truly mean so much.

In an earlier update I asked for a few jokes ~ and I got a fair share, so many thanks for those too. But I gotta tell you all, the best laugh I got as I read through them was that I didn’t realize just how many really bad jokes there are out there! (Big Smile!). Really, thanks for all the jokes as I did get a few really good laughs. Surprisingly nobody sent me any really dirty jokes, nor did I get any blonde jokes which is probably as good thing as with my mom and sister coming for a visit next week, I won’t be tempted to get myself in trouble by sharing a blonde joke or two.

Having survived the New Year’s weekend fighting my way through a cold like i’ve never had before, we then went into the week counting down to Oscar Bolin’s execution. It wasn’t easy being housed down here on death watch only a few feet away as this act of deliberate murder unfolded and as most of you know, on January 7th they did kill Oscar Bolin. But I would like to think that he was at peace in the end and far more worried about how his wife would cope than his own fate. He showed true dignity and strength and I have to believe that he is now in a better place. But his wife, family, and friends will continue to struggle with the loss, so please keep them in your thoughts.

As an involuntary witness to the events that transpired, it wasn’t easy as they proceeded to carry out this act of deliberate murder with me housed in my own solitary cell just a few feet away. At the same time, though, I have to commend the prison staff as from the warden on down, they went out of their way to keep Oscar comfortable and the stress and anxiety to a minimum.

Much to my surprise, on Wednesday afternoon, Deputy Secretary Dixon (second highest Dept of Corrections official) personally came down to death watch, accompanied by Warden Palmer, and spoke to Oscar (and briefly to me) and then a few hours before the scheduled execution FDOC Secretary Julie Jones sat down at Oscar’s cell front and talked with him too.

But for all the efforts they put into sterilizing this execution process, I’m left wondering whether it compromises the significance of their objective. Has all of this become so routine to them, that they no longer appreciate that they are methodically taking a human life?

They had Oscar scheduled for 6 p.m. Thursday (January 7th) and at precisely 4 p.m. they removed him from his death watch cell and escorted him to the east side of the wing, where they have a single cell used exclusively for housing the condemned prisoner until the courts clear the way for the execution to proceed. But when they took Oscar to that holding cell, they were still waiting for the US Supreme Court to decide whether they would allow Oscar’s claim of innocence to be heard. As a result, everything remained on hold until shortly before 10 p.m.

Once the Supreme Court finally gave the go-ahead, they moved quickly, taking Oscar from the holding cell into the adjacent execution chamber only a few feet behind the cell I remained in, and with practiced precision, they quickly strapped him into the gurney and put him to death. Just that quickly, it was over ~ and no court was willing to allow review of his innocence claim before they killed him.

                                                         
                                    Execution chamber at Florida State Prison
For obvious reasons, I didn’t get to sleep that night, but sometime in the early morning hours I did fall asleep ~ only to be awaken a few hours later and told that I had to immediately move from cell Three (the end cell) to cell One, the cell that Oscar had only recently vacated a few hours earlier and I really didn’t want to move into that cell so quickly, but it wasn’t like I had a choice.

That Friday (January 8th) morning I has a legal visit and quickly threw my personal property into a pillow case and got ready to walk the few steps up to cel one. Before that legal visit, I was allowed a short social phone call with my long time friend Jan Ariens (in England) and I can’t begin to say how much it meant to hear a friendly voice just at that particular time.

See, here’s the thing ~ for all the perception of how well we are treated on death watch ~ and we are treated exceptionally well compared to “normal” prison life ~ the undeniable truth is that they treat us as they do to facilitate this “process.” I appreciate being treated as they do, but I’m not in denial ~ I know only too well that they have their own agenda and that is to keep those facing imminent execution calm and avoid any problems and so the bottom line is they don’t treat us this good without reason and that reason is so that when the time comes to kill us, it won’t be a confrontational process.

It is for that reason having family and friends there to support you through this becomes so important just like that Friday morning, the sound of a friend's voice brought me that measure of comfort I so desperately needed and although only allowed a few minutes, it brought an unexpected peace to my spirit.

After a long visit up front with my lawyer’s investigator Lea ~ another friendly face in the eye of the storm ~ by early afternoon I was on my way back to my death watch cell and learned that within hours of executing Oscar Bolin, Governor Scott had already signed yet another death warrant; this time on Mark Asay, who everyone that knows him calls “Catfish.”

Again, it makes me wonder whether they realize that they are methodically taking human lives. Florida’s execution process has become nothing less than that of a slaughterhouse, each step of the process intended to efficiently move the line along. No sooner than one person is killed, they move the line up and sign another warrant with the methodical efficiency of a slaughterhouse ~ and with 23 executions in a row, you wonder if those responsible for this process have forgotten they are taking human lives. When we as a society become so indifferent to that fact that we are killing people as if they are nothing more than meat delivered to market, and we do so in such an efficient process, then what does that say about the society we have become? Should taking any human life really be this easy? And shouldn’t we all be troubled by the apathy?

And now I’m next, moved up to the front of the line, with barely a month to go (as of this writing) and each day brings me one step closer to that scheduled date of February 11, 2016, when with that same measure of professional indifference, they will proceed with this machinery of death to end my own life. And like a head of livestock led to slaughter, I will be put to death.

This coming week my lawyers will file the appeal in the Florida Supreme Court seeking a stay of execution and DNA testing of evidence substantiating my claim of innocence. Additionally, we will file appeals challenging the summary denial of my innocence claim in the Federal Court. All I can do is wait and see if any court will even allow review. All these legal actions will be posted at www.southerninjustice.net for anyone who wants to read them. And in closing, I again thank all of you who have been there for me ~ you are my strength and I am truly blessed - Mike

Monday, January 18, 2016

Open letter to the Governor of Florida from friends and relatives of Mike Lambrix

Friends and relatives of Mike Lambrix, who is due to be executed in less than four weeks, rally in a unique plea to the Governor of Florida to ask to reconsider allowing a full
clemency hearing.

http://www.save-innocents.com/14-jan-2016-lambrix-press-release.html

 

 

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Interview Jan Arriens, about his long time friend Michael Lambrix, on death watch Florida


Interview Jan Arriens, about his long time friend Michael Lambrix, on death watch Florida, awaiting execution on February 11. 


                                                              



The interview starts approximately 09.52 mins into the programme and lasts around half an hour. It contains also a phone conversation between Jan and Mike Lambrix

Listen to it here: http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b06vfcfv#play

Urgent Appeal from Amnesty for Mike Lambrix




                                                           




New Urgent Appeal for Mike Lambrix from Amnesty READ HERE













Monday, January 11, 2016

Letter from Death Watch (part 4)

As I write this it’s been more than four weeks since Governor Scott signed my death warrant. It doesn’t seem like it’s been that long since I was moved down to the very bowels of Q wing, where death watch is. But it has and the coming weeks will pass just as quickly; if not even more so.

Yesterday I received word that a long time friend of mine passed away. His name was Robert Preston ~ we called him “Tree Top” as he was that tall. I first met him about 30 years ago not long after I was first condemned to death. He had already been here years longer than I. He was easy to live around ~ not everybody is in here. Truth be told, I’m sure I have my own moments too.

Through the years we played volleyball, basketball, and other games too. Like so many others, we grew old together in this micro-community that is death row. But as is the only too common case, a while back Tree Top took a turn for the worse. They said it was cancer. Over the past year we were a few cells from each other and his health went quickly. A few month back, towards the end of summer, they took him to Lake Butler (North Florida Reception Center) for chemo treatment and he was gone for a while. When they brought him back, his once tall and lanky frame was barely a bag of bones and he could no longer even walk. He asked to be allowed to go back to the death row unit as he knew he was going to die soon and he wanted to die amongst friends. 

As the warden at Union Correctional Institution escorted me from that housing unit around noon of November 30 to take me to death watch, Tree Top was one of the first to holler at me ~ they all knew I wasn’t coming back. Once your death warrant is signed, you never come back. That’s just how it is. Years ago the politicians, in their never ending push to expedite executions, passed a law that made “death warrants” indefinite. This means that once a warrant is signed you stay on death watch until they either kill you or the courts grant some form of judicial relief.

Since they passed that law, only two people have survived a death warrant. Robert Trease technically remains under death warrant now for about 10 years on what is known as “Phase III.” Both Phase I and Phase II are when the warrant is active, meaning you either have an actual execution date set or are under a “temporary” stay. But Phase III is an inactive warrant status when a court has granted an indefinite stay and you’re moved back to the regular death row housing area and received your regular privileges until the court lifts that indefinite stay of execution.

Paul Johnson also survived a death warrant as when he was scheduled for execution in 2010 the Florida Supreme Court threw out his death sentences (all three of them) due to prosecutorial misconduct. He had been on death row since 1981 and was resentenced to death again in 2011. So, Paul is actually the only person to actually be removed from death watch status after a warrant was signed under this indefinite death warrant law.

As I write this today, there are two of us scheduled for execution. Oscar Bolin is down here on death watch with me. He is scheduled for January 7, 2016 and as the protocol, today they moved him from Phase I, which is general death watch (while on Phase I, we keep our personal property, TV, fan, etc in our cell and it's very much like regular death row housing) to Phase II. Phase II kicks in when you’re down to the last 7 days. While on Phase II, they remove all your property from your cell and place an officer in front of your cell whose only job is to continuously monitor your every movement 24 hours a day to make sure you don’t attempt to cheat the state by committing suicide ~ and a few have tried. Hopefully Oscar will be granted a stay in the next few days. (Note: Sadly, Oscar Bolin was executed February 7, 2016)

All this has me thinking about my own mortality and even beyond. I like to say that I’m spiritually comfortable and have been for years. If I were to lay down and go to sleep tonight never again to wake, I think I’d be in a better place, if for no other reason but that I cannot imagine any form of hell worse than what I’ve already been through for the past 32 years.

Death doesn’t really scare me. My basic theo-philosophy is pretty simple ~ I am unequivocally convinced that what we call life is the mortal condemnation of an eternal soul. When it comes down to it, nobody gets out alive and as far as I can tell the only real purpose of life is to nurture that eternal consciousness by striving to become something better than this inherently imperfect being that we are. I am not who I was 32 years ago; no more than any of us are. I’d like to think that my spiritual consciousness has grown and evolved into something better than it once was. So, death doesn’t scare me.

Rather, it’s getting there that causes me pain and torment. I don’t know what might yet lie ahead in coming weeks, but I find myself struggling with the uncertainty of those few weeks. I spent a lot of time thinking about Tree Top and how he slowly suffered until he finally succumbed to cancer and how hard that prolonged certainty of death must have been. So many others through the years died of similar “natural causes” and their slow death was anything but easy.

And now here I am in relatively good health wondering whether in the following weeks they will put me to sleep like an unwanted dog. I find myself thinking that maybe that’s not such a bad way to go when I consider what the alternatives are, as my other option would be to have my death sentence reduced to life then slowly grow old until I eventually succumb to that prolonged agony of a “natural death” in prison.

You see, it’s really all about perspective ~ like everything else, it really comes down to how we choose to look at it. Tonight is New Year's Eve and I will go to sleep before that midnight hour. I have nothing to celebrate and yet I remain blessed. And despite this endless struggle to find meaning to all of this, that's what brings me peace. 

In the past few days I heard the voice of someone I love dearly and felt the pain that she felt. I had a visit with my daughter for the first time in years and watched as she smiled with uncompromised happiness as she told me about how my grandchildren spent their Christmas. And for the first time ever I was allowed to phone my youngest son on his birthday and as I was able to wish him Happy Birthday, I had a chance to talk to my other 3 grandchildren and they couldn’t see that tear in my eye as my youngest granddaughter Sophie spoke with such excitement at talking to her grandpa.

For all of this, I am incredibly blessed. Many people I don’t even know have sent me cards and letters wishing me well and letting me know that I am not alone. I am cast down into a hell few can begin to imagine and as that appointed hour of my own death draws near, I sit in this solitary cell alone and yet not alone. And I feel so incredibly blessed to have such wonderful people in my life ~ and I fear this process will cause them so much more pain than it will cause me. I wish I could hug each of them and let them know that no matter how it ends, it will be alright - Mike

Michael Lambrix #482053
Florida State Prison Q wing
7819 NW 228th street
Raiford Florida 32026-1100


Sunday, January 3, 2016

Death Watch (Part III)

First of all, I want to thank everyone for the really nice holiday cards and all the positive thoughts as they really help me a lot and I'm truly blessed to know so many are with me - Mike

It’s still quite an adjustment to be in this cell. After so many years of living in close proximity to so many others, the absence of activity leaves me feeling even more isolated than what I’ve accepted to be “normal” for solitary confinement.

That’s an interesting term… “solitary confinement.” Just what do we mean when we say someone is in solitary confinement? There’s no doubt that each of us lives, and even slowly dies, in a small cell by ourselves. But each cell is on a larger wing with many other cells around. Although physically separated, we can still talk and in a limited way interact with others around us ~ if and when we choose to. And equally so, we can choose not to and retreat back into our own little world.

But it’s different down here on “death watch” where there are only 3 cells and at least for now just myself and Oscar Bolin, who is scheduled for execution in a week ~ hopefully he will receive a stay of execution before that. Unique to death watch, down here they post a guard in front of the cells all day and night so what little sense of privacy you have in a regular cell (where the guards generally are seen only when they make their 30 minute rounds, or when feeding us, or taking someone to visitation or the yard) is lost.

Funny thing about death watch is it’s micromanaged to the smallest detail and constantly under supervision of the bosses. Almost daily the duty warden will drop by unannounced and ask how we are doing and generally engage in small talk, which itself takes some getting use to as you just don’t see that on the regular wing. To be honest, I’ve never been treated better than I have since being placed on death watch. It’s a completely different attitude towards us and they actually go out of their way to treat us with respect and avoid negativity.

But here’s the thing, everything about this death watch experience leaves you in the constant and inescapable reality that they are counting down the days until they will kill you. Not even for a moment are you allowed to escape that reality. That presence of death hangs heavy over this environment and every little thing they do to make you comfortable (for lack of a better word) actually reminds you that you are in this solitary cell counting down your final days.


A few days ago as I came back from a visit, as I returned to the wing the death watch supervisor (a Lieutenant) measured me for my execution suit. It was done as if it was a casual event they routinely did and not unusual at all. And yet it was that effort to make it “normal” that itself pressed heavily on me and stuck in my mind for some time to come. I couldn’t help but think about what they might be thinking about ~ has measuring a man for his execution suit lost all significance to them and become what they consider “normal”?

It was the same thing a few days later (in fact, yesterday) when the Assistant Warden came down here and casually sat down in front of my cell and told me that he had to discuss what I wanted for my last meal and other final arrangements. As if we were talking about the weather or some other trivial event, he proceeded to go through a small stack of papers, each one addressing a specific subject relevant to what seems to be a presumption that I will die. And I found myself responding in the same manner.

For about 30 minutes the Assistant Warden and I went through that stack of forms he had as if doing nothing more than planning a fishing trip. First it was discussing in detail what I would want for my last meal and I went with a traditional Thanksgiving dinner (turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes with giblet gravy and all the trimmings, with pumpkin pie and Rocky Road ice cream for dessert) as for many years now mom and I have had an agreement that when I walk out of prison she would celebrate my freedom by cooking a traditional Thanksgiving dinner. And I figure that if I don’t make it, I can at least have that meal and that thought of sharing it with my parents and loved ones will be nice.

After we went through what I wanted for my last meal, we then discussed my funeral arrangements and what I wanted to be done with my body after they killed me and who I wanted to leave my property to. I had to think about that for a moment, although my parents and I have previously discussed this issue and they already have a burial plot where we will all be together, the expense of a funeral will be incredibly hard on my parents right at a time they must deal with my death. However, my options are limited and I had to give a response so I told him my mom would handle those final arrangements.

This is all part of the process of deliberately putting someone to death by state sanctioned execution. Often we hear people debate whether the particular means of execution is cruel and unusual and how the history of botched executions causes the person subjected to execution physical pain.
But nobody ever talks about the psychological torment of forcing the condemned prisoner to go through this pre-execution process.

The irony of this is that one of the most common legal justifications used to impose the death sentence is that the victim suffered the fear of imminent death, often defined by a mere moment of realizing they would die. But they never talk about the weeks and even months that they put the condemned prisoner through as they await their own death.

I think this process ~ this collective death watch experience is deliberately designed to slowly erode that instinctive nature to survive, so that by the time the prisoner actually reaches that final step into the execution chamber not only does the condemned know what to expect, he (or she) has become part of that process itself and will passively go along with the process.

My point is this ~ everything they do once we are placed on death watch is part of a process that each detail has been meticulously calculated to minimize any resistance from the condemned prisoner. What does that say about who we are as a society that we will put so much thought into how we will deliberately kill another person? If someone was convicted of murdering another under virtually identical circumstances, we would not hesitate to call that person a “cold-blooded killer.” But what do we call it when we, as a society, are doing that much and more?

However, even as I recognize what’s going on around me, I still find a sense of peace within myself and have not succumbed to depression and hopelessness. Most days when they bring mail around I receive not only the cards and letters from my close friends who each try so hard to support me through this, but several cards from complete strangers who take the time out of their own busy days to offer me words of encouragement, and each one touches me deeply.

Physically I spent Christmas alone in this solitary cell on death watch; the truth is it was one of my best Christmas’ ever as for the first time in so many years I am in touch with members of my family and both my son and daughter. And my only Christmas wish to locate my son Daniel came true ~ a true miracle. And shortly my younger son and daughter will also come to visit ~ it will be the first time we have all been together.

Yes, I am facing death. But even in that cold shadow of death I bask in the warmth of the love of family and friends. And for that reason, I am blessed.

Michael Lambrix #482053
Florida State Prison Q2301
7819 NW 228th street
Raiford  Florida 32026-1100