"We Want The Same Human Rights We Demand of Other Countries"

By: Brittany Holberg

Thanks to Kathleen O'Shea for forwarding this sworn affadavit from death-row prisoner Brittany Holberg.

A most important issue right now is the outrageous treatment we are receiving here on the Texas women's death row.

I'm sure you are aware of the attempted escape of several men from death row in Huntsville - one successfully? Since this occurred, you would not believe the treatment we are given. Just two weeks ago, we were informed that not only would we be strip-searched for our one hour of recreation a day, but also when taken for a shower. So for the last two weeks, we have been stripped no less than six times a day, and our cells have been completely ransacked. This is every day, sometimes at times like 2:30 and 3 a.m., and we never leave the building - or our cells for that matter.

Out of seven of us, four of us chose not to work for various reasons of both physical and emotional health. If you are on the work program, you are locked in a huge cage-like facility and only allowed to use the bathroom once every four hours. For some of us, that's physically impossible, and the emotional stress is just as great.

If you work, you are given a project, such as pulling apart huge bundles of cotton into small pieces. And if you don't finish what they expect you to do, you are given a citation. It's not fair to assume everyone can do the same amount of work. But receiving a citation, no matter how small or minor, can be the difference between life and death in our situation. And what's so sad is that these people recognize that - yet almost seem to enjoy writing them.

In 18 years, there has never been even so much as a threat of violence on the women's death row in Texas.

I cannot even begin to explain some of the events we have witnessed here. Patients are brought in at all times of the day and night in various stages of hysteria or fear or anger. We have been subjected to numerous gassings. This is only supposed to be meant for the individual who, in their words, "won't comply." But since there is not one single window that will open in this building, we are all greatly affected. We have witnessed numerous women who are most obviously "out of their senses" have excessive uses of force applied, such as slamming them to the floor and against the walls.

I can't even begin to name or put a number on how many nights I've sat up listening to some poor woman scream out as officers sit around laughing or making fun of her.

Kathleen, I never wanted to believe that the stories I had heard about the officers were true. I always chose to believe that they were professionals who cared in some degree for the people around them and their well-being. But as I sit and watch the events in here, it's all I can do to keep from becoming bitter. I constantly try and remind myself that they, too, will have to answer for so much.

I and the other women have written grievances, talked to everyone we possibly can here at the Mountain View Unit, and no one will listen to us. In fact, it seems the more we request to simply talk to someone, the more we are punished. Almost as if they are simply trying to shut us up.

It's sad because I truly try to never complain. I always tell myself, "It could be worse, it could be worse," but now I think it's at its worst. We are women, not animals or even troublemakers.

Please write letters to Governor Bush and the Warden and anyone else you feel might be of help and demand that we be granted the same human rights we demand of other countries.

Thank you very much,

Brittany Holberg #999258
2305 Ransom Row
Gatesville, Texas 76528