Reaching Out

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

Injustice time as of this writing 132,145 hours.  5,506 days.

Last week's Visit Day blog came out of my witnessing of a mother, a father, a wife and children visiting their loved one for one of the last times before his murder by the state of Texas.  It had a profound effect on me. Witnessing a family’s last visit day took on new meaning to me as I chronicle my visits here. RIP Beunka Adams 4/26/12.

There are many young men, late teens, early 20's on Texas death row.  Learning to survive and live on Texas death row is an overwhelming, terrifying experience.  Rodney, having been there 14 years now, has found his way to living.  And he believes he has a duty to "reach out", in any way that he can to help a young man find his own way to living on the "row".

The cells on Rodney's pod form a circle around the dayroom. When a prisoner is brought to the dayroom for his one hour of solo recreation, it is possible to carry on conversations with the prisoners who are in those surrounding cells.  Rodney often finds himself listening to the tone, tenor, of the conversations going on around him.  Listening for, the fear, confusion, need, openness that will be his cue, to "reach out".  As I sit here and write this, envisioning Rodney sitting in his cell, present and listening, open and willing, a teaching from the Tao Te Ching comes to mind -

What is a good man but a bad man's teacher?
What is a bad man but a good man's job?
If you do not understand this, you will get lost,
however intelligent you are.
It is the great secret.

Still, quiet, waiting for the time to speak, to "reach out" with an introductory nod, through the narrow window in the cell door, then maybe a word, an acknowledgement.  And then possibly a conversation. The offer of practical advice about the daily vagaries of life on the "row".  The offer of encouragement.  The offer of education, to be an active participant in one's legal battle - to be an active participant in the struggle to save one's life.  The offer of "community".  The offer of hope.

 Maybe, if we each "reached out" more, out here, there would be far less need to "reach out" in there, "What is a good man but a bad man's teacher?"  Lao Tzu knew all about "reaching out" didn't he?  Thanks, Soul Man, for being a "good man".

 Caitlin Adams is a resident of Bastrop, Texas. After meeting the family of Texas death row prisoner Rodney Reed outside of their home in early 2011, 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.