"This Place Was Designed To Break People"


I have been on death row since 1993. I was among the very first people that were handpicked and moved to this new prison for the Row. The dreaded "supermax segregation." Which is only solitary confinement 23 hours a day.

The isolation has had devastating effects on many. After all, this place was designed to "break the will and spirit of the most hardened people," according to one official. And it has worked, it has broken men.

Men such as Paul Nucio (he'll be executed in two days as I write), who stabbed his own eye out. Or the various others who slash up their bodies in some twisted plea for help. Men such as Juan Soria (execution date: July 26, 2000), who only recently managed to slash another. This man was "normal" at one time, I knew him for years. This place broke him!

I don't understand their actions, but I understand their pain, and how the isolation... the silence gives that pain a profound deepness, perhaps because "silence" itself is a deep thing?

I came to this place a year ago this month. After coming here, I had an appeal denied, one of the very few I have left to me. I am at my next-to-last appeal, so I anticipate that I have about another two years before things become "final." I really would like to have someone to speak with during this time. Friendship is one of the few things that is a meaningful experience left to me. And to have someone that can lend a serious ear in the dark times that lay ahead and the emotional storm that will follow it.

I have been on the row since I was a youth. I was arrested only a few days after my 17th birthday. And I will be 26 in two more months - in August! I sure do feel old sometimes! Well, if you can help, I would be very appreciative, more than words can say. Thanks for hearing me out.

Steven Alvarado #999081
Terrell Unit - Death Row
12002 FM 350 South
Livingston, TX 77351

P.S. Thomas Mason was executed yesterday - on June 12. I haven't slept. Tomorrow, two people are scheduled for termination - two in one night! Then my crazy friend Nucio will be killed. I remember he was always kept on dope so that he slept all the time - I guess soon it will be forever.