I finally made it to population…


By Mauricio Beltran

I have a job!!! I’m teaching other inmates how to read ‘n write. You won’t believe how many can’t do this. So I work from 8am to 11am – then in the afternoon from 1pm – 4pm I go to schooll’n then from 6pm.

It’s a huge difference being here and on death row. Now I can walk without handcuffs and strip searching only on occasion. So it’s a big relief for me, sort of taste of freedom and the best of it – I can take a shower as many times as I please!! I feel lost at times after being on death row for 13 years. This life style came at the right time, I mean I can say I feel better for a change!

The teaching job doesn’t pay any money tho’ – just a volunteer but at least I can exercise and get my memory back, slowly but surely, one step at a time.

The dorm (Not cell) I live in has No bars of any kind. Matter of fact, I’ve a big window to look outside at the landscape. I’ve a key to open my door. No TV anymore but I’ve air conditioning. I share with a mate – it’s two bunks, one on top of the other like army style and it has springs, which I find refreshing after been sleeping on a metal box for 13 long years. I have – two real chairs and a table to write – so now I can sit and write like a normal person would do.

But in those 13 years I was back there (because every day on my way to school I can see dearth roe) I learned a great deal of survival, self-preservation, mind control. All these things together make me tough’n my will power can only get stronger by each’n every day that’s ahead of me. Now I can use knowledge, which I learnt from those days on death row, because death row has been a school for me. I can help many people, new arrivals prisoners, to have a much better understanding what doing time really is. But my journey doesn’t stop here because I know it’s a loop hole in my sentence. What they did to me was wrong and I’m gonna keep fighting as long as I’m in prison for my precious freedom!

On weekends I don’t do too much work tho’ but to get all my stuff in order. For a cha ge I don’t have to wash my clothes any more, I take them to the laundry. I can wash and change every day, which’s nice’n decent.

I attend church, I mean I get to walk to the chapel, sit on the bench with all the mates and see live the preachers face after so many years seeing the chapel on TV (because it’s close circuit camera in there). That (first) evening I couldn’t help myself but tears came down my chin, knowing that the only link, between chapel and death row. ‘N I got up. Turned around facing the camera and waved many times, saying hello to all my friends on the row. I felt sad for not having them with me … and (them) being way behind to being treated as a human being, sad but true.

But it’s time to start healing wounds and let time take care of the scars. I must go on with my like and keep focused on my priorities. It’s time to put to practice everything I’ve learned in 13 years of bitterness. I know life can only get better for me, I know I’ve to take one step at a time, now I have options, maybe not too many, but at least I have some.