Letter of Tee from death row

pol3Today I posted a letter of my friend Tee who is on death row for 39 years. Visited him last september again. I sent hims print of this wordpress blog and this is his reaction…….

Harvey3 Harvey2 Harvey1


2 thoughts on “Letter of Tee from death row

  1. Harvey killed my great-grandfather. When it happened I was only 5 years old, but I can honestly tell you that the day Papa Ertis was killed, and the days after, are still so clear in my mind. I remember the faces of my grandfather and his brothers on the day of the funeral, the look in their eyes, such pain, so profound and hopeless. My great-grandfather loved Christmas so much, every Christmas Eve the entire family would gather at he and my great-grandmother’s house. After gifts were open Papa would start a fire out in the yard and burn the boxes and wrapping paper while the kids looked up in the sky for Santa. It was magic. After the murder, all those memories became painful reminders. Christmas Eve became a symbol of what had happened, what had been lost, of Papa Ertis dying all alone at a service station. Papa was retired from the foundry, he had taken the job to get out of the house a little. It’s all so stupid, so senseless, and to make it worse, a young man ruined his life in the process of scarring my family forever.
    The trial was a nightmare because of Harvey’s behavior in court and in the county jail, which is something you probably do not know about, but my family still didn’t want him to die for the crime. The DA promised that Harvey would never be executed, the death sentence was given so that he would never be paroled. I never judged my family for wanting him to spend the rest of his life locked up, I didn’t feel I had the right. The pain my family had to live with, the terrible loss that comes from losing someone you love to a violent crime, that pain is something that can not be understood until you see it’s devastating impact. I saw it in my grandfather’s eyes. I remember.
    I’m sorry for all the rambling, I know you feel bad for Harvey, but please, feel bad for my great-grandfather and his family as well.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Dear Davy,

      Thank you very much for your reaction on my blog. It is authentic, very clear and puts things in perspective. I cannot find any “rambling” in it.

      I think you do not ask too much. I do not know you personally, neither do I know your family but I feel bad for them and their lost and also for all the people who lost their loved one by this kind of horrible violence.
      Over the years I met a lot of people who lost a parent, partner, brother, sister or child by crime. They are indeed affected by a terrible fate. In my blog you can also read that in September I talked about the book “Call you right back, Mum” in the Prison Show in Houston. A dear friend of mine lost her daughter and wrote this book. After her daughter hung up the phone, Nadine was stabbed to death 37 times by her former boyfriend. The perpetrator, by the way, was later incarcerated in my prison.

      How can anybody recover from a disaster like this? This act, committed by a seventeen years old boy did not only affected the direct family of the victim, but also the relatives of the perpetrator, the people in the neighborhood and the society as a whole. And it is also obvious that the trauma and consequences are passed to next generations. Even as a great-grandchild you are affected by this horrible event. The way you deal with this drama is still of importance for you and your eventual children.

      I worked 40 years with juveniles, forensic psychiatric patients and incarcerated people and I was a warden for 27 years. In my work I was confronted by the baffling misery of crime and violence. Not only committed by the incarcerated people I met, but I was also confronted with the violence in their life and in the life of former generations. Victims become perpetrator, become victims etc. And I saw their children: growing up with a father in prison and I worried about their perspective in life. In New York I visited a neighborhood with a lot of “one million dollar blocks”. They gave them this name, because halve of the population of each “project” was incarcerated and therefore costs a million a year.

      My work was to execute punishment and to lock up people in a repressive system. But I also believed I had the obligation to contribute to the process of recovery and return in society. I think that is in the best interested of everybody involved and it contributes to the security of our society. Especially in the last fifteen years I became very active: by bringing victims, perpetrators, their families and professionals together. Based on a few principals:
      – Every human being has a right to speak.
      – Recovery is only possible everybody involved gets recognition for the person he/she is and for the context he/she comes from and is living in today.
      – Recovery is a relational thing: you have to do it by yourself but cannot do it without others.

      I think you have every right to ask recognition for the grieve of your family. And I also do not judge your family for wanting my friend Harvey in prison for the rest of his life.
      But I hope you understand that I believe Harvey has a right to be recognized as the person he became and the man he is today.

      Davy I hope we can continue our conversation. There is so much to exchange on this subject. If you would feel like doing that, please email me: frans.douw1@gmail.com.

      And I do not visit Harvey more then once a year. But this year it will be next week: on Friday March 3!

      I thank you again for your impressive reaction and I wish you and your family all the best,


      Restorative process
      Definition: A restorative process is any process in which the victim and the offender and, where appropriate, any other individuals or community members affected by a crime participate together actively in the resolution of matters arising from the crime, generally with the help of a facilitator. Restorative justice programmes are based on the belief that parties to a conflict ought to be actively involved in resolving it and mitigating its negative consequences. They are also based, in some instances, on a will to return to local decision-making and community building. These approaches are also seen as means to encourage the peaceful expression of conflict, to promote tolerance and inclusiveness, build respect for diversity and promote responsible community
      New and established forms of restorative justice offer communities some
      welcome means of resolving conflicts. They involve individuals who are
      not detached from the incident, but are directly involved in or affected
      by it. The participation of the community in the process is no longer
      abstract, but rather very direct and concrete. These processes are particularly adapted to situations where the parties participate voluntarily
      and each one has a capacity to engage fully and safely in a process of
      dialogue and negotiation. This handbook focuses on restorative justice
      programmes in criminal matters, but it should be noted that restorative
      processes are being used to address and resolve conflict in a variety of
      other contexts and settings, including schools and the workplace.

      1. Restorative justice
      In many countries, the idea of community involvement enjoys a large
      consensus.4 In many developing countries, restorative justice practices
      are applied through traditional practices and customary law. In doing
      so, these approaches may serve to strengthen the capacity of the existing
      justice system. A fundamental challenge for participatory justice is,
      however, to find ways to effectively mobilize the involvement of civil
      society, while at the same time protecting the rights and interests of
      victims and offenders.
      Restorative justice is an approach to problem solving that, in its various
      forms, involves the victim, the offender, their social networks, justice
      agencies and the community. Restorative justice programs are
      based on the fundamental principle that criminal behavior not only
      violates the law, but also injures victims and the community. Any efforts
      to address the consequences of criminal behavior should, where possible,
      involve the offender as well as these injured parties, while also
      providing help and support that the victim and offender require
      Restorative justice refers to a process for resolving crime by focusing on
      redressing the harm done to the victims, holding offenders accountable
      for their actions and, often also, engaging the community in the resolution
      of that conflict. Participation of the parties is an essential part of
      the process that emphasizes relationship building, reconciliation and the
      development of agreements around a desired outcome between victims
      and offender. Restorative justice processes can be adapted to various cultural contexts and the needs of different communities. Through them,
      the victim, the offender and the community regain some control over
      the process. Furthermore, the process itself can often transform the relationships between the community and the justice system as a whole.


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