"How Does This Happen?"

A Letter To The New Abolitionist

Dear New Abolitionist,

I recently became a new subscriber to your publication the New Abolitionist. I received the July issue not long ago and settled down to read it.

As I looked through the pages, a very small article at the bottom of one page jumped out at me. It was a short letter from Angel Maturino Resendiz, who is on death row in Texas. In the note, he explained that the pain and suffering of death row was just too much. He wrote that he no longer wished to live and had decided to give up his appeals.

My mind filled with questions. Who is Angel Maturino Resendiz? To the world, he is a vicious murderer, a serial killer, the Railroad Killer. To Texas death row, he is #999356. To his family, he is a son, a grandson, a brother and a father. To me, he is the man I love.

What made Angel come to this horrible decision? Could it be the constant abuse and torment by the prison guards? Or the pepper spray which the guards repeatedly sprayed in Angel's face, with the full knowledge that he is severely allergic to this substance? Perhaps it was the food. It is not enough to feed a child, and when it finally comes to the cells, it is always cold and often spoiled. Maybe it was the never-ending strip searches in front of snickering female guards. Perhaps it was the strain of being locked up in a 6-foot-by-9-foot cell for days at a time without recreation, a shower or a change of clothes. Maybe it was the lack of human contact. Or maybe it was just all of the above.

In desperation, Angel slashed his throat and abdomen with a razor blade. That raised another question. Where does a man who is allegedly being treated for depression and anxiety get a razor blade? I say allegedly because the few meds he receives are distributed sporadically and may not even be the correct drugs for his condition.

So for this "outrageous act of poor behavior," Angel was packed up and sent to the Jester IV Psychiatric Facility in Richmond, Texas. At Jester IV, Angel was stripped naked and put into restraints. A helmet and face-shield were put over his head to keep him from scratching his own face. (How do you scratch your face while you are in restraints?) Then he was put into a room that was filthy with human feces and vomit on the floor.

This is how Angel spent his birthday on August, 1, 2001.

How does this happen in a country that boasts of its democratic government and freedom of everything from speech to religion? It is inhumane and disgusting.

I am not sure how it happens, but I know it has to stop. It is a shame when a man feels like he would be better off dead than existing in the surroundings that have been made for him. And I naively hoped that my love would be enough to make Angel want to live. But the circumstances that he faces are much too overpowering for that.

However, I am not afraid of this government, the state of Texas or the Texas Department of Criminal Justice, and I intend to fight for the rights of Angel and all the men of death row as long as I live.

Nancy Resendiz