Our Dear Friend Mike Lambrix left us on October 5, 2017
He went from the Darkness to the Light..

Monday, December 18, 2017

Christmas in a cage - Death Row Holiday

 - Written bij Mike in December 2009 -

Growing up in a large family Christmas was always celebrated in the traditional Norman Rockwell style with many brothers and sisters both older and younger than myself, the excitement and anticipation of Christmas began immediately after Thanksgiving, when dear old dad would pull out all the holiday lights from the cardboard boxes concealed in the attic and spread them out across the floor as us kids would compete with each other to find any burnt out bulbs that needed replacing. Once that task was completed, it would be an honor to hold the long strands of lights as dad balanced precariously on a ladder nailing them along the roof overhangs, then as if by magic seemingly always just at the right moment as darkness began we would all gather to watch as they came to life. In that moment of unified silence the Spirit of Christmas became one with us.

                                           


Then would come the tree. Never but never an artificial tree, not in our house. Even in the years when there would barely be enough money for food, there was always a large freshly cut evergreen tree, with the scent of pine filling the room. Boxes of beautiful antique ornaments handed down through the generations would be carefully unwrapped and meticulously placed in just the right spot with rows of tiny flashing multicolored lights accented by a million strands of silver and gold tinsel, almost each strand carefully dropped over the branches by us kids leaving the lower part of the tree with significantly more than the harder to reach upper branches, but no body even complained.

This majestic Christmas tree would always be up no later than the first week of December and then brightly wrapped boxes would begin to appear beneath the tree. That was the Christmas tease that has tormented children through the ages… What could possibly be in these beautiful boxes? Of course, children being children, we would all find a way to ever so very carefully steal a peek in that one of two particular box with our name only to almost without exception discover that the box contained nothing more than clothes. Silly kids – we already knew that only Santa Claus brought the good stuff and that wouldn’t happen until Christmas Eve.

                                           



Each Christmas Eve all of us kids would be herded off to bed early and given a stern warning that soon Santa Claus would be near and he’d know for sure if we weren’t sleeping. Of course we couldn’t sleep but each of us in our own way did our very best to pretend to as we each fantasized about what Santa might leave us. The hours would pass slowly – very, very slowly – until the early morning hours when dad would open the bedroom doors, releasing us from our rooms with the excited announcement that Santa had come and we would all rush into the living room and stand in awe at the piles and piles of presents that had been left beneath the tree.

With so many kids all anxious to rip open these gifts, controlling the chaos was the first priority. With the barely contained excitement of a child himself, dad would reign over the distribution of the presents, picking one box at a time and loudly calling off the name of each. In that large circle all our eyes would be gleaming in silent anticipation as we each awaited our name to be called. Then quickly pouncing forward when it was, to claim our gift and retreat behind the lines to rip it open. Soon enough the living room would be overcome with haphazardly discarded boxes and wrappings but nobody seems to really notice.

No matter what each of us received in that moment of time it became our entire world. Of course there would be the obligatory clothes, which were inevitably piled neatly to the side, to be collected later. Although we seldom got the toys we really wanted – apparently Santa Claus had a cash flow problem and couldn’t afford the most popular toys – what we got quickly made us forget about what we thought we wanted and the joy of receiving those gifts overcame any disappointment.

                                                


Looking back, I can’t recall even being disappointed at not receiving what I thought I wanted, as what I got always seemed to be even better. That’s why I knew even long after other kids my age gave up that Santa had to be real; dad couldn’t possibly afford all those wonderful presents. Only too many years later did I realize how much he would willingly sacrifice each year to make Christmas special, working long hours at the steel plant and even pawning off his few prized possession as nothing was ever allowed to break the sanctity of Christmas.

Soon after all the gifts were unwrapped we would be forced to set them aside and retreat back into our rooms to dress in our Sunday best then pile in the station wagon for a drive to the Christmas service. Even the thought of resisting this ritual seemed silly – marching into church as a family each Christmas morning was as much a part of Christmas as Christmas itself even of we didn’t fully understand the spiritual implications of Christmas at that time. But even as the priest administered the solemn sermon, already our thoughts were on the fest that would soon follow.

Within a few hours we were home again. The Christmas Spirit filled the house with a joyous mood as Christmas carols played endlessly on the record player and our attention turned from the gifts we already received to plots of pilfering the table piled high with cakes and candies laid out for guests that might drop by. With military precision us kids would band together and recon the living room then slowly sneak our way towards that table and careful not to let our presence be known, our little heads would pop up quickly as our hands reached for that morsel of sweet goodness and then a quick retreat would be made.

                                                  


As all the dishes of cookies, candies, and cakes would slowly disappear the smell of Christmas dinner would fill the house. Without exception Christmas dinner would be provided with abundance in the traditional style with all the trimmings and the family would gather around the expanded table and eat. This was the one meal when no matter how dysfunctional the family was the rest if the year, we were truly family for that one meal. But then it would too soon be over and that one special day became only a memory.

These memories continue to be my Christmas and have become my ritual. Merle Haggard once sung a song about a man turning 21 in prison doing life without parole. My own ballad would not be that much different. I’ve never had another Christmas since leaving home. At 46 years old, this is now my twenty-sixth Christmas in a cage; the past 23 Christmas’ have been spent condemned to death in a cage on death row.

It is the Christmas of the past that remains my Christmas of the present. Being condemned to death I am not allowed to celebrate Christmas in any traditional sense. In the early years I would anxiously await the Christmas cards from family and friends, then hang each upon my cell wall and share the Spirit of Christmas with the few who chose to remember me. But as the years slowly passed the cards became fewer and fewer, even most of my brothers and sisters have now long forgotten me and given me up as dead. Although I remain blessed by a few special friends who make a point of sharing their Christmas Spirit with me, the friends too slowly drift away and become fewer and fewer.

Many years ago when I first came to death row we were allowed to celebrate Christmas and it was something we looked forward to. Each December we would be allowed to receive two packages from the outside world containing various necessities such as winter clothes, a pair of shoes, cosmetics and toiletries, and even a nice watch or ring. Then the Christmas meal would be traditional style, real turkey with all the trimmings and various pieces of cakes and pies. But then conservative politicians found out about the “special treatment” given to prisoners at holidays and made political careers by campaigning against these things. One by one every holiday privilege was eliminated and out of vindictive malice and spite the Spirit of Christmas was banned from prisons.

                                               


Where I once proudly displayed the few cards I’d receive on my otherwise barren grayish beige wall, I am now prohibited from doing so. Up until a few years ago I had a photo of a beautiful Christmas tree I’d tape to my back wall above my sink until one Christmas Eve a guard made an issue of it. I was ordered to remove it, but refused. A few hours later as I was taking a shower that guard went into my cell and removed that picture – ripping it into small pieces then throwing it into my toilet. That one small semblance of Christmas I so cherished was lost forever as that Spirit of Christmas was overcome by malice and spite.

Now each Christmas becomes more depressing as I become even more isolated from that world outside. Too often my thoughts now turn to my own kids and grandkids and wishing I could spend just one Christmas with them. All my own children are now grown, but I can only imagine the joy on my grandson’s face as he anxiously rips open the brightly wrapped box containing the small gift a friend so generously sent in my name.

Then I think of all the others here and in prisons across the country who like me can only think of Christmas’ past, as the Christmas of both present and future no longer even hold the hope of what the true Spirit of Christmas is about. I remain blessed by the few cards I will receive, but know that many others around me won’t get a card at all. There will be no Christmas sweets and treats. There will only be the same cold, barren walls and the sound of silence as each of us retreat into our own dreams of what once was and most likely will never be again.

So, this Christmas I ask you to remember what the true Spirit of Christmas really is as we gather to celebrate the birth of a men condemned to death for our sins, that through His condemnation each of us equally were given the gift of Hope. If those of us who claim to be Christian cannot actually be Christians on Christmas, then when can we be?

                                           


What would Jesus do of He were to celebrate Christmas today? I’d like to think that He would reach out to the lowest of the low and share hope with those condemned to death; that in the true Spirit of Christmas, in the true Spirit of Christ. Especially those condemned would not be forgotten.

To both friend and stranger equally the same, I say… Merry Christmas!!!

Michael Lambrix

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Thanksgving with Henry


Mike wrote this blog post November, 2009 - about Thanksgiving on death row and a tribute to his friend Henry Garcia.

Thanksgiving is the traditional American Holiday, the one day of the year when family and friends gather around the table with a feast laid out in abundance and give thanks for the blessings that have been and might yet be endowed upon us. Up until just a few years ago the prison system would recognize Thanksgiving with a special holiday meal of real turkey and all the trimmings, as well as various tasty deserts and we would all look forward to that one meal a year. Weeks and even months ahead of time we would make deals with each other to trade a favorite food such as maybe trade the turkey to someone for their pumpkin pie. Everybody had their favorite food, for me it was the turkey more than anything else. 

                                            


But in recent years they’ve all but eliminated the traditional Thanksgiving dinner for prisoners. We haven’t seen real turkey in many years now. The prison system will tell you that they still serve us a “holiday meal” but it’s not like it was before and what they do serve now isn’t worth writing home about.

For this reason many of us will plan ahead and make our own holiday feast by saving up what few extra dollars we can and buy foods off the canteen. Both as a means of communion with those we live among, who have become our surrogate family, and to share costs of the purchases. Many of us will plan ahead with our cell neighbors as we must order the necessary items at least a week ahead of the time on order to get them on time.

This year me and Henry decided we would eat good. Henry’s been my cell neighbor for a few years now, and was my neighbor on another wing before that. But for awhile now Henry has been fighting liver cancer. He’s put up a pretty good fight, which is not a surprise as Henry is a natural fighter and never had an easy life. Born in Texas of Mexican descent, he grew up poor and gave in to the lure of an outlaw at a very young age. Through the years Henry did time in some of the worst state and federal prisons in the country back when doing time meant struggling to survive every day. Yet through these hard years Henry remained one hell of a man, and was quick to share his sense of humor and in all the years I’ve known him, not even once did he have a harsh word to say about anyone.

Neither me nor Henry had any reason to expect a visit over the Holiday weekend. Although we both come from large families, through the years our families slowly drifted away and that’s just how it is, and we accept that. So, when it came to planning our Thanksgiving Holiday each of us became the others “family” and we spent countless hours what we would make to have a holiday meal that was different and special.

Last week and the week before we got the packs of tuna and mackerel to make fish steaks, the Ramen soup so we would use the noodles a make a casserole, with more tuna and assorted packs of potato chips for flavor, with a dill pickle on the side. And that was just for the main course.

It wouldn’t be Thanksgiving without a lot of sweets. In past years I would make up a big batch of chocolate treats for everyone on the floor. But between the elimination of many items necessary to make them and substantial increases in the prices of what is now sold, it just is no longer possible. So we pitched in together and bought a Hershey chocolate bar for everyone on the floor so that everyone would at least have a little something.

With meticulous details we planned our meal. In a lot of ways, planning out what we intended to eat was almost as good as the eating itself! First, as an appetizer we would share a box of Ritz crackers, with beef and Jalapeno cheese sticks to go with them. We planned to start at around 10 o’clock that morning, and then around noon we would make up the main course. It would take me a few hours to make the fish steaks, which were a lot like crab cakes, but made with a mixture of tuna fish and mackerel steaks, mixed with crushed Ritz crackers and then seasoned with the spice pack of the Ramen “spicy vegetable soup” and a packet of soy sauce, and a bag of crushed spicy potato chips for flavor. Then coated with a crushed Ritz cracker crust. We would each have two.

The tuna casserole was basically flavored Ramen noodles mixed with tuna fish, a lot of mayonnaise and sweet relish and poured over crushed sour cream onion potato chips, with generous slices of dill pickles.

After having the main course, we planned to each have a Bear-claw pastry for dessert, with a cup of hot chocolate. Although we can only purchase the small envelopes of hot chocolate of the canteen, by adding some coffee creamer and a Hershey chocolate bar, it made a cup of thick hot chocolate which goes really good with the cinnamon and spice bear-claw pastry.

                                              


Later in the day we planned for some more sweets and snacks as football would be on TV all day – another Thanksgiving tradition. We had bought a box of Swiss rolls – basically small chocolate covered, crème filled cakes, and we’d make up some big cups of sweet tea to go with it. For later in the day we planned to use up the last big bag of Doritos Nacho Cheese chips I still had, pouring two packs of hot chili with beans over it, then topping it off with numerous packs of melted Jalapeno cheese spread – you just can’t put too much Jalapeno cheese on anything!

Yep, me and Henry planned to eat pretty good this Thanksgiving. Although holidays are meant to spend with family, in here it’s the guys we live around that become our family and we looked forward to sharing it together.

This year Thanksgiving would be on Thursday, November 26. Every year it’s on the last Thursday of November. But for all our meticulous plans it’s always the unexpected that comes along to ruin them.

On Monday our floor had recreation yard and Henry went outside to play volleyball for a few hours. With his health problems, yard usually left him exhausted but he would sleep it off and be ready to go again. Monday was not different and by early afternoon Henry was joking around, as we often do. By dinner he was his usual self, and then we had the thrice weekly showers (Monday, Wednesday and Friday) and nothing seemed out of the ordinary.

After showers the mail comes in and we talked a bit about that it was late on Monday as the guard who normally passes out the mail has the week off. So we didn’t get our mail until around 8.00 PM. Henry said he got one letter, but was concerned as he didn’t hear from his longtime dear friend Liz. I told him that they probably just didn’t pass out all the mail – he’d probably get a letter from her tomorrow.

About an hour later they came around for the nightly “master count” That’s the only time of the day we must each stand up and give our number – not our name, but only our prisoner number as in here that’s all we are – a number. Henry’s cell light was on and he said he was going to write a letter. But when the Sgt got to his cell he found Henry slumped over his table and the end of his bunk and Henry was not responsive. For a few minutes they yelled and banged on his door, assuming he was asleep as that was not uncommon, and the Sgt got on the radio and called for the nurse.

After several minutes Henry responded and awoke, but seemed somewhat out of it and wasn’t able to get up. So the Sgt decoded to send him to the main unit infirmary so they could check him out. This Sgt is a pretty good one and goes the distance to help us out. A few years ago he was working the floor when another guy fell ill and if not for this Sgt quick response in getting this guy out he would have died. Once again, this Sgt (who I am deliberately not naming) was quick to call for medical help.

They brought a wheelchair and Henry got on it and they pulled him out. As he stopped for a moment in front of my cell while they grabbed his photo ID I spoke to Henry and he seemed a bit out of it. But said he’d be right back.















A little while later I caught the Sgt making his rounds and asked how Henry was doing. By that time, he should have been back. The Sgt said that after they pulled Henry out, he started to cough up a lot of blood so they decided to keep him over at the main unit infirmary for the night.

But in the early morning hours just before breakfast the midnight staff came and packed up all of Henry’s belongings. If they expected him right back they would not pack up his property so I knew something was up. Throughout the day I asked others how he was doing and they said he’s not too good and would probably stay over at the main unit infirmary for a few days just to keep an eye on him. But they said they’d save his cell next to me, so I didn’t think much of it.

By Wednesday afternoon those I asked started saying that Henry took a turn for the worse and didn’t look good. Anxiously I squeezed all the information I could from those I knew would know.

Early Thursday morning, Thanksgiving Day, I was told that Henry had died at 2:30 AM, but that he didn’t suffer. I try to tell myself that at least his fight is over and he’s now in a better place and that at least his suffering was not prolonged as only too often it can be with cancer. But somehow it isn’t much of a comfort as he was a good friend and neighbor – he was family.

Just that quickly on Thanksgiving there isn’t much to be thankful for. The plans we made for weeks for our holiday feast now meant little as Henry was gone and so was my own appetite. Instead I spent the day just pacing my floor back and forth, four quick steps to the front then four quick steps to the back, listening to the radio and trying to get my head out of this place.

Then a song came on that made me smile….maybe even a message from Henry to a friend and brother who already greatly misses him. Bob Dylan’s “Knocking on heaven’s door” a song that not so long ago me and Henry sang together. Hearing that song brought tears to my eyes – but I smiled, as just hearing that song, at that particular moment, let me know that Henry’s alright and is now in a better place. Here’s to knocking on Heaven’s door – I will miss you my brother.

                                             



Mike Lambrix

Monday, November 13, 2017

Clemency Gone Missing From Florida’s Death Row


Sun Sentinel Editorial Board November 11, 2017

Justice is supposed to be blind, but not as blind as the U.S. Supreme Court when it ruled in 1993 that a Texas death row prisoner — who claimed to be innocent, but had run out of appeals — should look to the governor to save his life.


“Executive clemency,” wrote Chief Justice William Rehnquist, is “the 'fail safe' in our criminal justice system."
But when it comes to the death penalty in Florida, the fail-safe has gone missing.


There hasn’t been a death row commutation in Florida since 1983, the first year of Gov. Bob Graham’s second term.
Since Florida resumed executions in 1979, governors have put 95 people to death and spared only six, all by Graham.


In at least 17 of those cases, advocates say grounds existed for commuting the sentence to life in prison. That’s not “getting away” with anything, by the way. The only alternative to execution is life without parole.


In four of those cases, Florida juries had recommended life sentences, but were overruled by the judges. At least two of those put to death were insane, including one who believed he was being executed because he was Jesus. And two were Vietnam veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder.


It’s hard to understand what’s happening because when it comes to open government, death row clemency is a black hole. Everything about the process is secret unless the governor or Cabinet chooses to hold a public hearing, which hasn’t happened since the Jeb Bush administration.

There’s no way to know whether the governor is receiving erroneous reports from his staff or from the Commission on Offender Review, which reviews clemency applications.
Neither is there a way to tell whether the governor even reads the files for himself.


Like his predecessors, Gov. Rick Scott routinely signs death warrants without saying why he denied clemency, other than that he found no reason. We asked his spokeswoman. She said: “His foremost concerns are consideration for the families of the victims and the finality of judgment.”


Those final words say more than she may have realized. “Finality” is the mantra of appellate courts that have decided they’ve heard enough from a prisoner. Now it’s the governor’s mantra, too?
But what if the criminal justice system got it wrong?


It’s not a hypothetical question. Florida leads the nation in death row exonerations, with 27. That means that in sentencing someone to death, the state has gotten it wrong 27 times.


Given that sobering statistic, you have to wonder how many innocent people may have been executed or remain on death row.
Gov. Scott has presided over 26 executions, more than any governor since they were resumed in 1979. The latest took place Wednesday, when Patrick Hannon was killed by chemical injection for his role in killing two Tampa men in 1991.


The governor’s silence about his use of the ultimate punishment is an insult to the people of Florida. Nothing in government is as grave as the power to choose between life and death. He should be accountable for how he uses it. Does he read the letters sent him by families, attorneys or prisoners? Has he ever questioned the reports and requested more information? Has he ever had doubts?
It’s not “soft on crime” for a governor to commute a death row sentence to life without parole. In many ways, life without hope is a fate worse than death.


Former governors understood this.
From 1925 through 1964, the start of an unofficial nationwide moratorium, Florida governors commuted 55 of the 250 death sentences that came to their desks, a rate of 22 percent. Every governor spared at least one in five. Two commuted nearly half.
The most famous instance was LeRoy Collins’s 1956 decision to spare Walter Lee Irvin, a black man condemned for the alleged rape of a white woman in Lake County. In the aftermath, a posse killed a man who had been with Irvin that day. Irvin, along with two others, was badly beaten. Later, while being transported to jail, he was shot by a sheriff, but survived.
The Irvin commutation was used against Collins in his re-election campaign. He won.


“My conscience told me that this was a bad case, badly handled, badly tried, and now on this bad performance I was asked to take a man’s life. My conscience would not let me do it,” he said.
Collins was vindicated. The “Groveland Four” had been framed. This year, the Florida Legislature formally apologized for the injustice and asked Scott to pardon them posthumously. He has yet to say whether he will.


The Collins example deserves to be followed, not ignored.
Among the proposals filed by members of the Florida Constitution Revision Commission is one that would repeal the death penalty. This deserves serious consideration.


At a minimum, the commission should open the curtains on how governors use or don’t use the power of clemency. Given how often Florida sends the wrong person to death row, we need, as Rehnquist said, a fail-safe backstop.

                                        


* Read also: Does Clemency Exist in Florida? 

* Read the letter from Mike's familie, asking Governor Scott for an exceptional clemeny hearing. 

* Read the Petition for Clemency for Mike, written by Roseanne Eckert, Clemency Counsel

* Excellent article by Martin Dyckman -  

Saturday, November 11, 2017

Joseph Thornton: Former Florida Death Row doctor with a Veterans’ Day message


By Joseph Thornton for Florida Politics

Did you know that 18-percent of Florida’s death row is made up of veterans of our military services?
 
It is an important fact as we prepare to honor those who have served our country this Veterans Day. I have learned from firsthand experience that veterans sentenced to death can help us all to understand some of the failures of Florida’s death penalty, as well as how to improve our justice system overall.

I am a psychiatrist trained at Stanford University with more than 30-years of clinical experience, including 3-years overseeing medical and psychiatric care on Florida’s Death Row.

In our system, for a conviction and execution, a defendant must meet a legal standard of competency at the time of at the time of the crime, during the trial, through the appeals, and right up to the execution. However, even cases where guilt is certain, we cannot be 100-percent certain of mental capacity, yet an execution is a 100-percent final.

There is a better way. We can learn from veterans and their experience in the criminal justice system.

Take the case of Michael Lambrix, who was executed by the state of Florida last month. Lambrix served in the Army and was honorably discharged after becoming disabled in a training accident. He became involved with drugs, was arrested for murder in 1983, sentenced to death and executed 33-years later.

Patrick Hannon, who was executed by Florida this week, had extensive drug use while in the military. However, neither of these men had the benefit of current intervention tactics deployed by the Veteran’s Administration to care for veterans with a history of trauma and drug abuse.

In response to the growing needs of veterans suffering from trauma and drug use, in 2008 the Veterans Health System established the Veterans Justice Initiative.

Florida now has 2 dozen Veteran Treatment Courts. While under the supervision of these courts the veterans must attend treatment for indicated conditions such a Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and substance abuse. For those with substance use disorders there is periodic mandatory urine drug testing. The objective is rehabilitation and successful adjustment to the community rather than incarceration.

If we truly want to honor those who have served in our military this Veterans’ Day, then we should expand the number of veterans’ courts and the services they provide.

                                            


We should also urge the governor to place a moratorium on executions, and not just those of veterans, but everyone on Florida’s death row.

The fact is, almost all of them experienced childhood trauma, drug use and more. The time and money Florida spends on the death penalty can be much better spent on more mental health treatment services, especially for military veterans, who deserve better treatment after sacrificing so much for our country.

 Read Mike Lambrix's blogpost about Veteran's Day written in November 2009. The Forgotten Veterans: Condemning America's Heroes

Monday, November 6, 2017

"Dignified Death process?"

  
(from Save Innocents - http://www.save-innocents.com/news/did-mike-lambrix-enjoy-less-rights-than-a-dying-stray-dog-at-the-time-of-his-execution )

When Mike Lambrix was executed in Florida last October 5, some of his friends were choked by an information he gave them in respect to the medical procedure behind the preparation of his execution, leading to this question:

Did Mike Lambrix enjoy less rights than a dying stray dog?


Under the 2017 Florida Statute 828.058(4)(a): "Euthanasia [of dogs and cats] shall be performed only by a licensed veterinarian or an employee or agent of a public or private agency, animal shelter, or other facility that is operated for the collection and care of stray, neglected, abandoned, or unwanted animals, provided the employee or agent has successfully completed a 16-hour euthanasia technician certification course."

Did the people involved in Mike Lambrix's execution have any such certification at all? We do not know.

As his family is preparing a memorial service for Michael Lambrix, his close friend Geesje offers her reflection on his execution.

                                                               
                                 
                                                           Photo credit: Rune Eraker

 
"Michael Lambrix was executed on October 5, 2017. I've been a friend of his for 14 years and I visited him several times over the years. Michael Lambrix was also a much beloved son, brother, father and a long time friend to many.

I'm deeply troubled by something he wrote a week before his execution":

“And shortly after they removed all my property,
the warden came down with a few people from Medical. I can only assume that it was the “doctor” responsible for carrying out the execution. They went to great lengths to conceal his identity, as although I could tell he was an upper middle aged white man, maybe just a bit shorter than I am, he was dressed from head to toe in a light baby blue hazmat suit, which included a white surgical mask. So all I could see of him was his eyes. He kept his head down — probably some part of him has to be ashamed of making a living putting people to death.

(...) With total detachment, I was ordered to extend my arm through the cell-front bars and this masked man proceeded to touch my veins at the inner elbow, first the left arm and then the right, while whispering to another man standing beside him, and that was that.
Now they were ready to kill me.
Yep, not just a job — it’s an adventure.”

Mike Lambrix
I wonder: Why was he covered from head to toe, with only his eyes visible?
There was absolutely no medical reason for this.

Was he hiding his identity, or was he ashamed of what he was doing?
Why was he not facing Michael, looking him in the eyes, introducing himself, or even speaking to him?

Michael Lambrix was a person, a human being, not a thing that needed to be expelled of. To me, it seems as heartless as giving a kick to a dying stray dog.

I need to understand the reason for, what seems to me, an unreasonable cruelty inflicted upon a defenceless man facing death. I understand the necessity of checking someone's veins before you execute him, after all you don't want any last minute nasty surprises, but surely it doesn't have to be this way?

When asked the warden of Florida State Prison (Warden Barry Reddish) about this, the reply was:

The Florida Department of Corrections supports a dignified death process for those inmates with an active death warrant. The identity of the medical providers involved in the death process is restricted by Florida Statute, thus it’s not open to public disclosure"
"I'm struggling with the words: "Dignified death process".
What is dignified or even remotely decent about any of this??

If we have to have the death penalty, there is no need to treat condemned people in their final days like sub-humans, any person facing death should be treated with some dignity and compassion.

                                               


Read Mike's post "Florida's Death Squad" where he discusses this procedure with a fellow inmate

Read also on SAVE-INNOCENTS: Florida should introduce new laws TO ALLOW A MORE DIGNIFIED DEATH PROCESS FOR PRISONERS FACING EXECUTION

Read: Is this how medical personnel conceal their identity when participating in executions in Florida?

Monday, October 23, 2017

Music Mike Listened To While on Death Watch


Some of the music Mike listened to and held special meaning for him

Every Storm Runs Out of Rain - Gary Allen



Fight Song - Rachel Platten

     
Absense of Fear - Jewel

                                               
Halleluja - Leonard Cohen

                                   
Do What You Have To Do - Sarah McLachlan

                                     
Amazing Grace - Celtic Woman

                                             
I Won't Let Go - Rascal Flatts

                                                  
               

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Letter from a friend of Mike


Wednesday, October 18, 2017

I, too, was lucky enough to have known Mike and was his friend. I fully support the sentiments expressed by the author of Letter from a friend of Mike to Governor Scott, October 9th,2017.

It sickens me that States such as Florida and Texas, among others in the US, can so disregard the fact that the death penalty is an anachronistic, senseless and cruel punishment – and that the US is the only Western country to cling to it. 


The death penalty has nothing to do with justice. It is applied in an arbitrary manner, however it happens to suit corrupt law enforcement and Courts for political purposes. 

I admired Mike’s courage in calling out the rotten system in Florida for what it is, even though he realized his precarious situation. Executions, a pitiful blight on humanity, will only continue for as long as those who know better, remain silent – a point Mike often made.  You may not be concerned, that is, until your friend or relative is murdered by the State. 


Why the people of Florida live with the risk of a wrongful conviction, together with possible imposition of the death penalty, is beyond my understanding. This can and does happen: Florida leads the States with 27 Death Row exonerations since 1973. While there is no way of knowing how many wrongful convictions there have been, the high number of exonerations, at least, points to the strong likelihood that innocent people have been executed.  I believe that Mike is in this sad category. The outrage that I would expect decent people to feel at such a possibility surely is enough to end this horror.


In Mike’s memory, I ask you to please become active in ending executions in Florida. 

Rest in Peace, Mike. 


Heather Land



                                                                

Saturday, October 14, 2017

Letter from a friend of Mike to Governor Scott

9th October 2017                                                   


Dear Governor Rick Scott

Since August 2011 I have had the pleasure of calling Michael Lambrix a true friend, despite being a convicted prisoner who lived on death row for 34 years and labelled a “monster” I was astonished to find that he like the rest of us, was a human being, with a heart, emotions and feelings. Mike was highly intelligent and fully capable of providing friendship to a number of people.

Being a Christian myself I am fully aware of my sin, which is what makes me not perfect, just as we ALL are not perfect. I believe as a Christian we are not given the job of judging others, Jesus himself became very angry at those who judged others for the sins they committed as how can we judge others when we have failed to look at ourselves first? Are you, Governor Rick Scott a perfect man? You call yourself a Christian and claim to have peoples best interest at heart by showing your support for others when disaster strikes, but we all know that this is purely to obtain votes for the next election, I am certain that you don’t actually care. Does it not bother you that many of those you helped recently in Puerto Rico were quite possibly unconvicted thieves, rapists or drug lords? You didn’t sit them all before a jury to decide if they deserved your help, you saw a need and fulfilled that need, isn’t that correct? That was very Christian of you, though I’m sure as it served your ultimate goal of achieving votes you were happy to look past the sins of those you were helping. Now my friend Mike, who was on death row until you so cruelly took his life, and yes it was you Rick Scott who took his life, you may hide behind people that do the dirty deed for you but ultimately you sign the death warrants, you say that it’s ok to kill someone as a punishment, you are responsible. Now tell me as a Christian, or at the very least a man who claims to care for others, would it not be right, having been responsible for the deaths or should we say cold blooded murders of so many people, to then punish you yourself with the same punishment you are administering? Why are you any different? You have killed many more people than any one of the guys who are on death row have been alleged to have killed, so why are you not rotting away in a cell with them? Why is it ok for you to premeditate murder in such a disgusting manor that you are exempt from the punishment you hand out?

At this moment I would like to point you towards the blog which I’m sure you are aware Mike kept in which he was able to tell the truth not only about his individual case but also the manner in which the system works for those on death row and in particular death watch. I am not here to argue Mikes case, we both know that many years ago he chose not to take a shorter sentence in preference for putting his trust in the courts and legal system to give him the fair opportunity to prove his innocence which he has maintained all of these years. I do believe that someone willing to put their life on the line to prove their innocence must be very certain of their innocence and ability to prove it if the alternative is execution and let’s face it, Mike would have been living in the free world years ago had he taken the relatively short prison sentence offered to him. I beg that you take time to actually read the details of his case and come to the only conclusion which you can possibly come to which is that he was innocent. Obviously there is nothing that can bring Mike back to us, you have already so cruelly punished not only Mike himself but his many family members and friends who cared for him so dearly.

http://www.southerninjustice.net/ 

https://deathrowjournals.blogspot.com/

I would like to quote a short passage from his most recent blog written shortly before he died as it was very troubling to me. You, the Governor pride yourself on supporting and upholding the death penalty and its ultimate punishment, execution, yet it seems you go to great lengths to distance yourself from both your responsibility in the cold act of execution and concealing those others who perform the act for you.

Mike writes: And shortly after they removed all my property, the warden came down with a few people from Medical. I can only assume that it was the “doctor” responsible for carrying out the execution. They went to great lengths to conceal his identity, as although I could tell he was an upper middle aged white man, maybe just a bit shorter than I am, he was dressed from head to toe in a light baby blue hazmat suit, which included a white surgical mask. So all I could see of him was his eyes. He kept his head down — probably some part of him has to be ashamed of making a living putting people to death.

Then again, for all I know, he could be eagerly volunteering for the job, only too happy to help carry out these state sanctioned murders and probably couldn’t care less if he helped kill an innocent person or two. With total detachment, I was ordered to extend my arm through the cell-front bars and this masked man proceeded to touch my veins at the inner elbow, first the left arm and then the right, while whispering to another man standing beside him, and that was that. Now they were ready to kill me. Yep, not just a job — it’s an adventure.

So why go to such lengths to hide the identity of the Doctor/Executioner? And even if the death penalty was a just form of punishment may I ask why it was done in such a way that clearly promoted such an evil thought process that a man concealed, barring his eyes was sent to someone who knew they were facing imminent death, striking I imagine further fear into what would have been unbearable emotional pain that Mike was suffering at the time already, like some kind of sick joke to laud your power over such people. If you are so ashamed of your actions that you have to hide people’s identity who are involved in the murder which you sanction and distance yourself from being responsibe than why on earth do you think it’s acceptable? Either have the balls to do it yourself and take responsibility for your decision and the punishment which you hand down or recognise that it is not the action of a Christian or a decent human being, someone who should be showing love and compassion and forgiveness. I’m not suggesting we don’t put people in prison and punish them for varying lengths for their crimes, but killing them makes you no better than those you incarcerate. Many of whom have committed crimes in random bursts of emotional trauma whilst under extreme stress and life’s circumstances fell at their feet in such a way that they did something they will regret for the rest of their lives. You Rick Scott sit in a comfy office, with a fat pay check and everyone running around after you like your some kind of God, yet whilst sipping your tea at your nice desk, you are able to rationally think about (premeditating) how to punish others by the use of the death penalty (murder), and you think those incarcerated are the monsters?!

I think to further prove your cold heart, less than 48 hours after killing my friend Mike you signed the warrant on another inmate, Patrick Hannon to be executed only a month later. I can only assume that you are worried about the support you currently have from your people in Florida because it seems to me like you are desperately trying to spin the wheels of your execution factory as fast as possible in order to win over those who are crazy enough to agree with you.

I accept that my letter and views will have no impact on you and that no doubt I am wasting my breath, but I can make efforts in making sure as many people as possible are aware of you and who you really are in the hope that one day the death penalty ceases to exist and that you will not be voted in as Governor. The American motto “In God we Trust” makes me laugh, you are not trusting in God, and you are taking life in to your own hands and trying to be God yourself. I hope that those who vote for you realise that should life’s circumstances ever affect them in such a way that they hope and trust in you and your legal system to treat them fairly and to allow the truth to be known and justice served justly then they will be very rudely awakened won’t they?

May I ask why it is that Florida’s death row has such a high exoneration rate? Is that because all you are bothered about is someone being held accountable for a crime, even if they are the wrong person? So if so many have been exonerated I wonder how many innocent people didn’t get the chance to prove their innocence who you have killed? Does that seriously not play on your conscience?

I would like Governor Scott for you to really think about what you are doing, when you face God at the final judgement are you honestly going to be able to say that you did everything you could to be loving and forgiving towards others? Will you have a clear conscience? The good news is that Jesus offers us forgiveness and new life to any of us who accept our sinful nature and accept his forgiveness. It isn’t too late for you Governor Scott, just because you have killed so many doesn’t mean you can’t have a change of heart, doesn’t mean you can’t be a real man and stand up in front of everyone and say you were wrong, that you apologise for what you have done and that you will not sign the warrant of anymore prisoners because you are going to be a Governor who does things right, who sets the Christ like example to other Governors in your country. Even if it means losing your position and status, surely it is more important to do what’s right, than to live this life of cruel punishment and false identity which you hold.

Mike wasn’t able to take any of his worldly goods with him when he died, what few you allowed him, but I am certain that when he stands in front of God he will be welcomed with open arms. He accepted he wasn’t perfect but even until the end, he was only concerned for others. Mike was happy in the knowledge that if his murder brought peace to the family of those he was convicted of killing (which he didn’t) then it would have served at least some purpose, though I feel very sad for them because one day they will either find out the truth or already realise in their own hearts that Mike was not responsible, then his death will have been in vein in that sense, in which case what have you achieved?

Break the cycle of senseless murder that you are putting your name to Governor, you think you are punishing a murderer but in fact you are punishing so many more people than that. Should one of your own children lose their way, which happens to even the best of people no matter how great a parent they are, would you without hesitation, hand down this same sentence to your own child for that crime if they committed it? You can’t say that they wouldn’t, hypothetically, would you murder your own child to punish them for a crime? We are all God’s children, it is not his will for you to murder anyone, and it is not acceptable. I will pray for you Rick Scott and hope that you see sense. We must treat others how we wish to be treated. We are not animals and should not be treated in such a way.

On Thursday October 5th I stayed up for most of the night waiting for you to act out your premeditated murder on my friend, your punishment of Mike will last me a life time, I have lost a dear friend. Who were you really thinking about when you signed his warrant and had the lethal drugs plunged through his veins? Was it seeking justice for the victim’s family? I wonder if it has really made them feel any better, nothing would make me feel better about losing a loved one unless they were brought back to life. Was it to punish Mike? If so you have failed, he was not punished but has been released from your hell and is free from both the physical and emotional chains with which you contained him like an animal, I imagine he’s laughing at you right now! Or was it for you and your gain? In which case when you sit drinking your tea at your lovely desk in your posh office which you have gained through stamping on those around you and murdering your way to the top, do you feel satisfied? Has it made you happy?

Mike’s experiences and life will live on through his words and through his friends, you will not be able to get rid of that, you cannot take that away. I will continue to be inspired by a man I am so proud to have called my friend, someone who despite being treated so terribly faced life with so much love, faith and bravery despite the bleak outlook his physical life laid before him. The way he cared for others and put others first despite the pain and anguish he went through and suffered on a daily basis was incredible. Even at the end you couldn’t break him and he finished how he wanted to finish, as a true man of faith giving only love to those around him, even those who wished to benefit from his death. If you feel like the opening words to one of Mike’s favourite songs don’t apply to you or to any of us then you haven’t grasped the meaning of life.

Amazing Grace! 
How sweet the sound 
That saved a wretch like me! 
I once was lost, but now am found;
Was blind, but now I see.

Mike's friend, Lester Griffiths-Bartlett

Vigil for Mike Lambrix


October 5, 2017 - Vigil in front of Florida State Prison









October 4, 2017 - Gathering in Paris, France where a letter from Mike's family was read, asking the governor for an exceptional clemeny hearing.




Prayer Service During Vigil Florida State Prison

                                                         








Michael Lambrix Remembered:

            

                                                 

                                                                   
      

Sunday, October 8, 2017

Death Watch Journal — Written Friday, September 29, 2017


(This was just received and written by Mike a week before his execution on October 5, 2017
 
I now have less than a week to go until my scheduled execution. Yesterday I was put on “Phase II” of death watch. I stay in the same solitary cell, but now they take all my personal property out of the cell — even my clothes and shoes (except for what I’m actually wearing) and put a guard in front of my cell to watch every move I make and write it down. No privacy anymore!

And shortly after they removed all my property, the warden (warden Barry Reddish) came down with a few people from Medical. I can only assume that it was the “doctor” responsible for carrying out the execution. They went to great lengths to conceal his identity, as although I could tell he was an upper middle aged white man, maybe just a bit shorter than I am, he was dressed from head to toe in a light baby blue hazmat suit, which included a white surgical mask. So all I could see of him was his eyes. He kept his head down — probably some part of him has to be ashamed of making a living putting people to death.

Then again, for all I know, he could be eagerly volunteering for the job, only too happy to help carry out these state sanctioned murders and probably couldn’t care less if he helped kill an innocent person or two. With total detachment, I was ordered to extend my arm through the cell-front bars and this masked man proceeded to touch my veins at the inner elbow, first the left arm and then the right, while whispering to another man standing beside him, and that was that. Now they were ready to kill me. Yep, not just a job — it’s an adventure.

Earlier today I had a visit with the “second chair” lawyer assigned to my case, Bryan Martinez. He’s been working on my case for a few months, but this was the first time I’ve met him. And because I was in “Phase II” this legal visit was non-contact (behind glass).

Just before Bryan entered the prison he received a phone call from the state-agency office letting him know that the Florida Supreme Court had just issued its 5 to 1 decision denying my last State appeal. That was the one arguing that the Florida Supreme Court’s earlier decision that held that although all of Florida’s death-sentenced prisoners were illegally sentenced under last year’s decision in Hurst vs Florida, only those sentenced after June 2002 could be granted relief, was unconstitutionally arbitrary and unfair.

My lawyers argued that this “partial retroactivity” rule had to be set aside, as it was constitutionally unsustainable — never before has any court recognized that a new law was retroactive, only to then limit retroactivity to some but not all.

                                                

But the majority of the court refused to address the issues, instead summarily reiterating that they already decided the issue and would not address it again. However, Justice Pariente dissented, writing a lengthy opinion as to why the rest of the court was wrong and unequivocally stating that they are constitutionally obligated to throw the illegally imposed sentences out.

By early next week — before this blog can be posted — my lawyers will file an appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court arguing why Justice Pariente’s dissent correctly recognized that constitutional “due process” and the prohibition against infliction of cruel and unusual punishment dictates that my illegally imposed death sentences must be vacated.And obviously, if the death sentences are thrown out, they cannot execute me.

This is one of the things I have a hard time trying to explain to my family and friends, who ask me how it is that they can execute me when the courts do recognize that my death sentences were illegally imposed. Common sense leads most to assume that if a person has been illegally sentenced to death then they cannot legally execute that person.

But as I’ve said too many times already, when it comes to the death penalty, the insidious politics of death trump what’s fair and right. In our legal system, the Supreme Court itself (Herrera vs Collins) made it clear that there is no constitutional prohibition against executing the innocent — and if a state can “legally” execute an innocent person, then they can also proceed to execute someone who has been illegally sentenced to death… the ends justify the means.

So, in just a few days the odds are that I will be put to death for a crime that I am innocent of — and despite the irrefutable fact that I was illegally sentenced to death by non-unanimous jury votes, what they cannot do is say that they are administering justice as there’s nothing fair or just about about carrying out the execution of an innocent person who was illegally sentenced to death.

No matter, I’m almost done whining about how inherently unfair and politically corrupt our legal system is. By the time this blog is posted, I will probably be dead.

But then again, maybe not… a funny thing happened this week in that at least at the time I’m writing this offers a bit of hope. On Monday, September 25, the United States Supreme Court did their “conference” on cases considered for review and included in that conference was my case that under Martinez vs Ryan, the claims collectively establishing my actual innocence must be heard.

Normally, after such a conference the Court will release its list of the cases that were denied review — or granted review. We anticipated a decision in my case by no later than Thursday (September 28), but as of Friday evening there still has not been any released decision.

Do I dare get my hopes up that maybe, just maybe, the Court will do the right thing and order that the lower Federal courts must allow the evidence substantiating my consistently pled claim to b heard? I want to — I really do want to hope. But there’s that part of me that tells me that if I do dare hope that the failure to release a decision could mean I may have won and my execution will be call off, then on Monday we will get the news that they denied relief.

At this point, now only days away from my scheduled execution, I am afraid to get my hopes up. It is easier to accept my intended fate and spend these last few days preparing for my death. A big part of that preparation is finding the strength not to be angry at this injustice so deliberately imposed upon me.

Too often, I find myself wanting to pray that those who have judged me will be judged by the same measure. But I don’t want to allow those thoughts in… my spiritual faith instructs me to forgive others as the only condition of being forgiven myself.

And I know that if I must die in a few days, I will be in a better place and that despite my 34 years of being condemned to solitary confinement, I have been blessed by having so many who chose to come into my life and extend love and support. I could not have maintained my strength without those who have stood by me. So, as I spend what will most likely be my last few days on earth, I choose to focus on how blessed I am to have had so many others there for me.