LOL on Death Row

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


I just got home from visiting Rodney. After three months of visiting him, I am more and more struck by his amazing capacity for laughter and presence.  

We could have spent a significant portion of the visit talking about the deplorable conditions of his imprisonment: solitary confinement, only one two-hour visit permitted per week, all visits only through glass and via phone, mail taking weeks to arrive, no hot water for almost four weeks during the fall, no longer being allowed to have razors in the cells (and because daily shaving is mandated, you have to bear the cold showers every day), having mail delivered to another inmate, having mail "lost" in the mailroom for weeks, being made to take off your shoes when you leave your cell and then put them back on after your hands have been handcuffed, breakfast at 3AM, lunch at 9AM, mail pick up at 5AM, no hot meals for weeks during the summer, and on and on. 

Instead, he will remember something silly I said in a Jpay, or ask a funny question about a photograph I'd sent him, or just look at me or his mom across the glass and smile and tease one of us and we will laugh and laugh.  It is so surreal, laughter in that place. It's the best part of every visit for me—the most hopeful part, the part that validates for me the indomitable resilience of the human spirit, the part that confirms the essential goodness of humanity.  

He never misses a detail in a photo I send, or forgets anything I write or say (hmmm, sometimes that can be a bit annoying). 

When he asks "how are you?" he really wants to know. Fourteen years of confinement, thirteen of it on death row, twenty two to twenty four hours a day, seven days a week alone, never any physical contact with loved ones.  These days, I often find myself wondering who I would be under those same conditions. He's been a most inspiring teacher on my journey.


Caitlin Adams is a resident of Bastrop, Texas.  After meeting the family of Texas death row prisoner Rodney Reed outside of their home earlier this year, 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.