How Many Blue Slips Does It Take To Get New Shoes?

Tales from death row: Justice for Rodney Reed by Caitlin Adams


The question posed in the title of this week's blog is very relevant on death row and the answer is disturbing—quite a few.  Rodney needs new shoes, which seems to have a simple solution, right? Let me attempt to describe the process involved and I'm willing to bet you won't ever see buying shoes in the same way again.

Rodney sends a blue slip to the Property Manager.  She responds with a white slip. Well, that's how it’s supposed to work.   Rodney has already sent three blue slips.  And no new shoes yet!  What's the hold up, you ask?

The first hold-up: the Property Manager technically has up to six months to respond to your request The second hold up: blue slips have a knack of simply disappearing, never reaching their destination, getting lost on the Property Manager's desk, etc. If you actually overcome these hold-ups and are able to get a blue slip through and then receive a white slip in a timely manner from the Property manager, you’ve overcome the first hurdle.

On death row, prisoners are only permitted one pair of a specific type of shoe.  I believe they are only permitted two pairs of shoes at one time (for example, gym shoes and hush puppies).  Rodney would like to get new hush puppies to replace his old ones.  Rodney's old Converse All-Star hi-tops (gym shoes, in case you are too young to remember them) were confiscated some time ago for being too old.  

In order to request new hush puppies, Rodney would have to give up his old ones. This could potentially leave Rodney shoeless until, at best, maybe six months.  Six months without shoes is what Rodney must consider when he decides to buy new shoes.  

Fortunately (and I use the word loosely), Rodney only has one pair of shoes.  First, Rodney has to request gym shoes (he can then keep his hush puppies). In order to do that Rodney must provide documentation that his Converse All-Stars were actually confiscated.  That documentation must be verified—meaning more blue, yellow, pink, white slips; oh my, here we go again!  Then when the new gym shoes are received, he can finally request new hush puppies and begin the whole process again. 

And maybe, just maybe, 2011's Christmas and birthday gifts will be there by Christmas and Birthday 2020!  Of course, our New Year's wish, hope and prayer is that Rodney will be home long before then and we'll take him shopping!


Caitlin Adams is a resident of Bastrop, Texas.  After meeting the family of Texas death row prisoner Rodney Reed outside of their home in early 2011, she began writing with Rodney.  She has developed a friendship with Rodney's mother Sandra and his family in Bastrop, as well as making regular trips to death row to visit Rodney. 

After learning about the facts of Rodney's case, Caitlin has become an advocate for Rodney Reed – here we present Caitlin's story about her journey for justice.