"Mentally, The Cuffs Are Still Off"

This past New Year’s Eve, Rev. Jesse Jackson, several Death Row 10 moms and members of Rainbow/PUSH Coalition and the Campaign to End the Death Penalty visited members of the Death Row 10 at Pontiac Correctional Center in Illinois.

This was the first time Death Row 10 members had been allowed into the visiting room without being handcuffed or shackled at the ankles.

Well, where do I start? I want to describe the post-visit atmosphere. First things first, thank you, thank you, thank you -- from me to you!

Those who know me know this. I am a very emotional and sentimental type of person, and I wear it like a badge of honor. On that surprise New Year’s Eve visit y’all planned for us, I was misty-eyed, but I don’t believed anyone noticed...

When I spoke in the visiting room, I stated that despair was the worst "serial killer" on death row. To elaborate on that statement, once despair invades our minds, it can break down our entire immune system. Then you become prey to all sorts of ailments and dysfunctions that have claimed the lives of many men on death row and have others, young and old, taking prescription medication on a daily basis.

I am one of the blessed or fortunate ones to have yet to let despair into my bloodstream. I have experienced samples of it through mild depression, but nothing that a simple letter from the outside world, saying "Hi, how are you" or "I miss you" couldn’t cure.

That surprise visit and support you got for us was food to our souls. Personally, I am a glutton for that kind of food. Got more?

Rev. Jackson said that we must be careful not to dig a deeper hole for ourselves. He said that when you all left, the cuffs would be going back on, and we’d be in the same situation we were in before you came.

I agree with him -- in part. When you all left, the cuffs did go back on, physically. But mentally, they’re still off. Every day, they’re trying to put them back on, but they can’t! Because that visit was a prelude of what’s to come.

So when despair tries to block our path, all we have to do is play the event of December 31, 2000, in our minds. To make a long story short, all I am really trying to say is thank you!

Andrew Maxwell, B04031
P.O. Box 99
Pontiac, IL 61764