|For example, women are given an opportunity to watch television while men are not. The men are housed in a section of the prison designed for short term holding of incorrigible inmates. Those residing in these cells experience sensory deprivation. The cells are approximately the size of a king-sized bed. They contain a bunk, a table/desk which is attached to the wall by the bunk, a toilet and washbasin. The only window is a narrow slit near the ceiling. The men are kept in their cells 23 hours a day. They are allowed to shower and to have recreation as the only times they are out of their cells. They have no television. They are not allowed to engage in craft work which is allowed inmates other than those on death row. They are not allowed to take part in educational programs unless they can arrange for it and pay for it themselves. Visits and telephone access are limited. Although this may seem only just when the crime committed is murder, remember some of these men never killed anyone. They merely were at the wrong place at the wrong time or gave assistance without knowing the consequences. There are some innocent people who are convicted of capital murder. There are also guilty people who dramatically change while on death row. Many of the men and women were convicted at age 19 or their early 20s. They grow up on death row. With maturity, they grow morally and ethically to be people who would never again commit a crime of violence.||
Justin Fuller, though gone shall never be forgotten.
Kenneth Foster, no longer on Texas Death Row.
Alive to be with his daughter today in part thanks to Descending Eagles.
Descending Eagles is a nonprofit organization served by volunteers that
began in July 2005 with the realization that many needs were not being
met for families of death row residents. It was finally incorporated in
2009. Descending Eagles is dedicated to the memory of those men who
inspired its organization including David/Dallas/Wolf Martinez, Luis
Ramirez, Clyde Smith, Justin Fuller, Willie Pondexter, and Reginald
Blanton. Descending Eagles assists the families of death row inmates.
Visits by family members are often limited as a result of a lack of
transportation. Descending Eagles provides transportation when
possible. Other services include establishing paternity for children of
death row inmates, assisting with marriages and divorces. There is
direct assistance to inmates and their families with preparation of
inmates' wills and powers of attorney. Descending Eagles also assists
with locating family members. A volunteer attorney advises inmates and
their families in other legal matters that are non-criminal
representation. The goal of Descending Eagles is to provide positive
aid to families of death row inmates. The families are as much a victim
of the crime as are the families of those who were murdered. In fact,
families of death row inmates are not treated with the same sympathy
that a murder victim's family is shown, for obvious reasons. The death
penalty is overwhelming and painful for all parties involved from the
victim's surviving family to the families of the inmates.
A second service of Descending Eagles is provided to the general
public. This includes education of interested groups in the conditions
on death row and in the needs of death row inmates and their families.
This is done through public speaking, radio and television appearances
and written articles. This work is nonpolitical and is strictly to
provide information. This service also involves travel expenses of a
few dollars to $50 or more. Honorariums are rare.
Food served on death row is, of course, typical institutional food. Depending on the cook it may be bland or worse. There are times when the entire prison is in "lock down." That means that there is no relief from being in the cell. Showers are provided once a week. Meals are usually peanut butter sandwiches during lock down. Those who want to follow a pork free diet or a meat free diet are often unable to comply with their religious or personal beliefs. This may be due to carelessness by those serving the food and allowing pork or meat juices to drip on the vegetarian meal or it may be intentional. Sometimes a legal visit or a personal visit will prevent the inmate from receiving his meal or it is held and is cold. Therefore, a third activity of Descending Eagles is to provide humanitarian services to the individuals on death row with a visit, a purchase of food and being there at the time of execution to provide comfort to the inmate and the family.
David Martinez, inspiration for the creation of Descending Eagles.
The world is sadder for his absence.