We periodically publish letters from inmates on death row. Today, we bring you a message from convicted murderer Pete Russell, who has been on death row in Texas for the past 11 years.
Russell was convicted of the 2001 stabbing death of Tanjala Brewer, who had given police a tip that led to Russell being arrested on drug charges. He was 28 at the time of the murder, and had previously served eight years in prison on charges of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon. Russell was given a copy of our letter by Willie Trottie, another Texas inmate who wrote to us.
Dear Mr. Nolan,
How are you doing? Mr. Willie Trottie gave me your name and address along with the six questions. I have answered all of them and hopefully they will make a small impression on someone, including yourself.
1. At this point, I do not have an execution date. I am still in the appeals process. However, Texas has a high execution rate of 89%. So most of their executions are carried out on/ as scheduled. The only thing we can hope for is the end of the death penalty.
2. Daily life on Death Row is very complex! The question itself is enough to drive a person crazy just trying to answer it. Here is a brief description of life on death row. "The inmate name is '999' yes he is a number. The inmate is somebody, at the same time a no-body. Daily life for the inmate is hot and cold. Good times and bad times, but these feelings take place in the mind." Please- help us!
3. I would say that my past and upbringing was ok. I'm sure that it could have been better, but over all, as I reflect on the past, I can honestly say I miss it! I miss being little, the baby, the center of attention. My mom picking me up and feeding me. I know that I was loved. Now, at the time, I did not have any concept of being poor, never heard of the word poverty. My upbringing was just love, respect and being a good kid. I remember the lights being off in the house [over]
And my mother running an extension cord out the window to our neighbors house. If our water was off my mother would take a big, five gallon bucket next door and come back with hot water, so we could take a hot bath. Thats a look into my past and upbringing and I'm not ashamed of it.
4. [To the question of whether life in prison has changed his political or spiritual beliefs] Yes, it has. On the political level. I would cast my vote for the Green Party. The Democrats and Republicans are two feathers on the same bird. Concerning my religious beliefs, I practice Siddha yoga meditation.
5. The death penalty for the media is nothing but news! Regardless if the person is innocent or guilty they see nothing but news- nothing more. The public view of the death penalty is base on the Old and New testament- so the debate continues for or against.
6. I would like to say my name is Pete Russell and I am a human being. To the public and to our country, I would like to say I'm a human being, not a monster! I can not stress this point enough. To get a clear picture of who I am and what I've become, I highly suggest you read: "Texas Death Row Yogi" at www.lulu.com. In the end I wish peace on everybody.
[Image by Jim Cooke]