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"a brief introduction of myself" - January 2004

I just wanted to share thing.... - February 2004

A Story - written by STACY L. NEITZEL -2003

German translation

 

Hello,

I am writing in response I got recently, well semi-recently, to ask for some help and guidance. My name is Steven Woods, and I have been on Texas Death Row for about a year and a half. I am getting really tired of the poor treatment we receive and the conditions in which we are forced to live. I am not content to just sit idle and let the state of Texas and the TDCJ administation oppress me. I want to change our situation, but I don't know what to do or where to turn for help. I really don't know too much about TDCJ, the Death Penalty, how the administation works and thinks, or how the rules/policies are formed.I have kept myself oblivious to everything in an attempt to deal with the state of my life and in doing so, have wasted so much time that could have been spent learning how to better it.

I have spent the majority of my life fighting, rebelling against the "System" however I could. In here, I should be doing no different. I have tried going to other inmates for help, but sadly, most are content or just sitting passively and accepting their fate. They offer no advice but to sit on my bunk and wait to die. I know there is little, if anything, that I can do. All I know is that I have to get people involved. How do I do this, who do I write, and what do I ask them to do? These are three main problems.

What can we do/ We want to get those on Death Row the same privileges that every non-death row TDCJ inmate enjoy, should they behave themselves.

I would be greatful for any help you can give. Mainly advice and information.

Thanks for being there for us. We need it. The world would truly be a dark place if it wasn't for people like you.

In hope and sincere respect, Steve Woods 999427

 

"a brief introduction of myself"

Hello all,

My name is Steven Woods, a 23 year old inmate on Texas Death Row. How I got here is a long story that I may tell at some other time. I don't like to talk about myself too much, at least, I'm not too good at it, so this introduction will probably lack substance.

I am an Anarchist, in the pure sense of the word. I believe that we should live our lives as we see fit, by our own moral judgement and with our own sense of good and evil, right or wrong. We, as a single person, or in society as a whole, should not expect, demand, that other should live by a set of principles determined by a person, a conglomerate of persons, or a divine entity. We were given free will, and we should use it. This is Anarchy, not the senseless distruction, violence, and lawlessness that the government, the media, and the entertainment industry show you. And this is how I lived my life.

I'm not sure that I believe in a God, so much as I believe there is some force in the universe. If I were to subject myself to labeling my beliefs or aligning them with any religious ideology, it would be Taoism. I believe in Balance, and Chaos is as much a part of it as Order, therefore both are sacred.

I enjoy all types of music, although my favorites are punk rock, classic rock, and big band jazz. Most of my freedom I hung out with the "alternative " crowd. A bunch of punk rockers and hippies. People who acted on the same principles as I did.

I am from Michigan, but I spent most of my "adult" years traveling around the US. The West Coast is to me, the best place in the country. I didn't really like Texas, but it looks like I'm going to spend the remainder of my time here.

I would like people to write to establish friendships. What I'm more concerned with, though, is trying to better our situation here on Death Row. I'm in desperate need of information and advice.

Thank you.

Steve Woods  

Steven Woods #999427
Polunsky Unit D.R.
3872 FM 350 South
Livingston, Texas
77351 U.S.A

Steve_Woods_999427sw9web.jpg (92828 Byte)

February 2004

 

I just wanted to share some things I’ve thinking about lately, and give you a look inside my mind. I am a collector of quotes and catch-phrases. If something I read or hear jumps out at me, I write it down. I can find a quote for just about any occasion. I read a book recently, by someone I think to be a genius; Paulo Coelho. In the book was the line, “What the eyes don’t see, the heart doesn’t grieve over.” What do you think?

So many people here in america (notice I use a lower case a-I have no respect for my country) actually think the death penalty is a good idea. most of my countrypersons will say, “Yeah, I’m for the death penalty” and not give it a second thought. The government says it’s right, so it’s right. The government says it’s humane, so it’s humane.

What they don’t take into account is that we are isolated, spending 24 hours a day in solitary confinement until the time our sentence is actually applied. This lasts, for an average, 6 years. This is the inhumane part of the death penalty. Let’s face it; america will always have the death penalty. Our society is too blood thirsty to change that. So let’s try something less impossible (and yeah, I have a quote for that too, courtesy of my dear friend Sarah: Let us be realists, let us insist on the impossible.-Che Guevara)

It is my opinion that, since society cannot see through these walls, cannot see how we are forced to live our lives until we are murdered’ they just don’t care (refer to the first quote) Their interest stopped after the judge said, ”I sentence you to death by lethal injection, and remand you to state custody in a facility designed to hold you until the sentence is carried out.” Oh yeah, I forgot to add the good part, where the judge says, “I am suspending your sentence until the time when your conviction is CONFIRMED by your direct appeal.” (My conviction has not been confirmed as of yet, I just filed the brief for direct appeal-I can still vote for the president this year-Imagine that!)

If people took a look at what happens to us while we await justice, things would be different. They would be saying, “save the environment”, “save the whales”,” Save the sanity of a death row inmate!” I think that maybe they would start caring about us and our fate, and act to help us find some measure of comfort. After all, we are-for the time being-living breathing human beings. The problem lies in actually making them see, feel, and know what our lives have been reduced to.

For instance, does society know, that here on Texas Death Row, we are allowed NO FORM of human contact, other than when the guard or doctor has us out of our cells? We are kept on 23 hour lockdown, isolated from most other inmates in a 6 by 9 cell. Do they know what it is like to be cut off from positive human contact, and knowing that it will be like that for the rest of our lives?

I am going to die without ever being able to hug my mother, without ever being allowed to even touch her hand, her and the rest of my loved ones. Could you imagine what it feels like? For the rest of my life I will be deprived of everything that is required for a person to maintain any semblance of mental health. Another person controls almost every aspect of my life, and I can do nothing when they decide how they want me to live it.

There is no way that this web-page could hold a full treatise of the conditions of Death row, so I will leave off right there, and go onto a different line of thought. Feel free to contact me for a continuation of my rant about the conditions.

Do you want to know what I was thinking about when the judge read me my sentence?

As I was standing there, showing no emotion (as the newspapers claimed) i was thinking about my cat. Of all the things in my head that could have surfaced at that particular moment when I was being condemned, I was wondering if my cat was OK. I imagine that my cat-her name is Koshka(it’s Russian for cat, as I am not very creative) is doing rather well. Last I knew, Koshka was living with a priest.(my ex-fiance’s father is an Episcopal priest-I was staying with him before I got locked up) .

I would try to tell you how I got here, but I’m not sure how myself. I’m not a violent person. I can count on one hand how many fights I’ve been in. I’m rather timid actually, and my biggest fear is confrontation. That might be hard to believe, given my Mohawk hair-style and my punk rock lifestyle, but it’s true.

I sometimes have a tendency to lean toward chaos is the disruption (NOT destruction-please note that) of the natural order of things. I like to cause problems, make people think, different to society’s day to day life. But the problems I cause are just harmless pranks, and I am never violent.

I am the person who shouts “Freebird” in church when the Minister first approaches the pulpit.(Yeah, I know-for a person so afraid of confrontation, I sure put myself out there. We overcome our fears, though, when we face our fears.) I’ve never actually done that, but now you understand my little piece of chaos.

I think I have a way to end the death penalty. If we could force the government to televise executions on the evening news-on every news channel-(on every other channel, too) people would be forced to face the reality of what they determine to be “the right thing to do”. If society could see the person breathe his last breath, hear his last words-they would re-think where they stand on the issue. If we made the Ultimate Penalty a part of daily life, people would be forced to re-examine their beliefs. if people were constantly forced to see what their decision actually was, and made to be a part of it, the death Penalty would end. If you are reading this, and you are a lawyer, please write to me. I want to petition the courts to show my execution on the evening news.(if it happens-hopefully justice will actually be done, and I will go free, as I am innocent)

Yes, that is correct, I said I was innocent. Everyone on death row (most everyone) claims to be innocent, but I really am. This is the first time I have ever been in jail or prison, and I can’t say I’ve enjoyed the experience! That doesn’t mean that I’ve never committed any crimes, however. I spent a lot of time doing and selling drugs. I think the biggest mistake I ever made was getting involved with cocaine and heroin.

The first time I prepared the needle for my fix, I knew, I KNEW my life would never be the same. I knew I was crossing over the line, and yet I put the needle in my arm, and said, ”Good Bye, Friend, times were oft good, but it’s a whole new world now.” I knew what the drug would do to me, I knew what it would turn me into, And I actually processed that information in my head before I shot the drug up. I knew what a depraved being the drug would turn me into, you see, before I used any new substance, I studied it to find out exactly what it was.

I had all the facts and made a conscious decision to through away my life as I know it. And why? Was my life so bad that the only way I could survive was to make it worse? Do I regret it? Would I do it the same way if I were sent back to that moment when I was sitting in a trashed out apartment in Detroit holding a syringe loaded with “The New Life”?

I will answer these questions in order: The reason, initially, that I made the decision that I made was that I just didn’t care anymore. I WANTED to experience the life of a heroin junkie. I thought that the only way to redeem myself was to crawl to the bottom of the hole so that I could fall no lower. I believed that, by inflicting on myself the harshest possible life, no one could do anything to hurt me anymore or take any more from me. A heroin junkie-a true junkie in the depths of his addiction-is to me, a soulless being. An unthinking, unfeeling wretch that has nothing to offer and no where to go.

When I ask myself if I regret that path, I find it very hard to answer. I would like to say yes, I do-but that wouldn’t be honest. The only way a person learns anything from life is from experiences. I do not have the words to describe the hells that I went through to finally be able to re-join the human race, and start caring again, but everything I went through made me the person I am today. I do not like the person I was before then, but I do like who I am now. Without the experiences that i had, I would be a different person, and since I actually learned, benefited,(I know that sounds weird coming from death row, but bear with me)from the torments of my addiction. So no, I really don’t regret it. If I had it all to do again, I would like to say I’d do it differently. That, however, is an impossible question to answer. If I went back to that moment that destroyed my life, I would still be feeling what I felt. I would still be where I was at. And I would not know what the future would hold.

I hope, however, that you do not think that I am in any way endorsing that way of life. I’m not. I know, NOW, that those drugs are not a solution to any problem or situation. I have an odd outlook on life. I see things differently than most people, and I did what I thought would be the best for me. So, I was wrong, even if i don’t regret it. If I could help anyone to benefit from the things I learned on the paths I chose, if you know of any websites that discuss issues dealing with drugs-how to avoid them, how they work, and what they turn you into, please send me their address so that I can offer my advice. This is a sincere request. The only reward I’m after is the knowledge that I helped someone-that my life means something to other people.

It was really hard for me to open up as much as I did in these pages. These things I haven’t told my family, or my closest friend. I find it easier to write these things to a total stranger (or in this case, a lot of total strangers) than to people I know and love. I hope, Mom, Sarah, that reading these things on the internet, and not in a letter from me, doesn’t upset you. I trust you completely, but it’s easier for me this way. You know my heart is always with you all.

If you took time, readers, to get this far, thank you. Once I got going it was hard to stop. I will add more to my story here sometime later, or you could write to me, if you’re interested.

“Better that the world be destroyed, than a person acts against his nature.”

-Karl Marx

In Hope and Sincere Respect,

Steve Woods 999427

 

 





A Story

BY STACY L. NEITZEL
Times Staff Writer

Looking out over an auditorium filled with sixth graders Steven Woods Sr. became emotional at times. His voice cracked and his eyes misted as he delivered his message, "Drugs Kill." Though Woods has struggled with his own addiction and is nearing one year of sobriety, it wasn't his own past he spoke about, but rather that of his son, Steven Woods Jr., who is currently housed in a maximum security prison in Texas. "Greetings from death row" began the first in a series of letters Woods received from his son since his conviction last August for his role in a drug-related double homicide in Texas in which a 21-year-old man and a 19-year-old woman were slain.
"I had always expected that my son would probably be found dead because I had known about his drug abuse," said Woods, who even now, after facing every parent's worst nightmare, refuses to give up on his child.

Now, a grieving father is fighting for his son's life in hopes that an appeal will be granted overturning the murder conviction and struggling to make amends for what he says may have set his son on a collision course with disaster. "I believe my lifestyle was imprinted in his head," said Woods, who admits to abusing both drugs and alcohol throughout his son's childhood and says Steven frequently witnessed violent encounters between he and his ex-wife who now resides in Michigan.

"I'm on a voyage to reach out to children and parents," said Woods, a Bowling Green resident who has begun speaking to audiences on behalf of the Warren County D.A.R.E program about the dangers associated with drug use. Parents need to pay attention to warning signs and intervene unhesitatingly when their children's behavior seems uncharacteristic, said Woods, citing a sudden change in attitude and friends, or grades slipping all as indicators of possible drug use. Once an honor roll student and an athlete, Steven became withdrawn after his parents divorced. "Things went downhill from there," said Woods

It wasn't long before Steven "fell into the wrong crowd" and began using marijuana when he was 13 or 14-years-old. From there the drug of choice progressed, said his father, to cocaine and heroin. Heavily involved in the punk rock scene, Steven quit school at age 16, eventually becoming a drug dealer and a transient. "His life revolved around drugs," said Woods of his son, now 22 and currently incarcerated in the death row unit of a prison in Livingston, Texas.
Steven, who maintains his innocence, spends 23 hours a day in lockdown in a 6 x 9 cell as he awaits execution by lethal injection. According to information provided by the Texas Corrections System, the average length of time spent on death row is 10.58 years.
Believing his son is guilty of both being an addict and of using poor judgment, but not murder, Woods said he knows his son deserves to be punished for his role in The Colony murders.
However, he believes the death penalty is too severe.

"He was there as an accomplice, but he wasn't the trigger man," insists Woods. "Only five people know what happened that night," he said, "the two that were there, the two who were killed and God." Another man, Marcus Scott Rhodes, 23, was also prosecuted for the murders after police found items belonging to the victims in the trunk of his Mercedes, according to an article in the Dallas News.

Rhodes later plea bargained and was sentenced to life in prison instead of the death penalty despite the fact that two guns believed to be used in the killings were discovered in his room at his parents' home, alleges a separate article in the Dallas News.
"I pray for my son and the families of the victims every day," said Woods, who believes his son was failed by the system, his lawyer and perhaps even his own father.

Unsure if he can save Steven, Woods hopes to spare others from repeating his family's tragic mistakes by telling the story of how drugs derailed four young lives. He said he will continue to petition the courts to hear an appeal. "I'll fight to my last breath to keep him alive," said Woods, blinking back tears.

 

 

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