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Under the Dome

12:08 PM

More often than not I read nonfiction instead of fiction, though I enjoy both. Recently I have read a few novels to pace myself and take a break from my studies. I am currently reading Stephen King's "Under the Dome." Some of you might be familiar with the TV series based on this book. As is to be expected, there are a few differences between the two, but I always prefer the book, personally.

The Dome's environment is something I can understand. It's a prison. Being incarcerated is comparable to how the inhabitants of Chester's Mill, Maine felt when the Dome fell. You wake up in a different world. The rules have changed. Learn fast or suffer the consequences. Put a group of people under constant stress and things come out that you wouldn't believe they would be capable of - good and bad. People clique-up for strength and safety. The pecking order is in full effect and leaders are self-appointed by the rule of brute strength and ruthlessness.

Don't worry. I'm not going to spoil the book for you. Think about the situation, though. How do you keep a group of people that have been unwillingly cut off from the the rest of the world from devolving into chaos and savagery? I am not finished with the book, but I look forward to learning how Stephen King handles the situation. Will he be spot-on? Or will he rely on some deus ex machina to save the day?

There are a lot of people who immediately shy away from anything associated with Stephen King. I was exposed to his novels from an early age and took comfort in the worlds he created when I began to read those books after I was incarcerated. "The Stand" is still one of my favorites, and is a classic. At the heart of his work, King shows us that we each have our own story and that we all have a mixture of the hero and of the monster in us. No matter how outlandish some of the stories might seem, King is a realist.

How well do you think you would deal with living under the Dome?

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They were more than MDOC numbers...

1:57 PM

In most parts of the world, the beginning of November marks the time when we slow down and focus on the dead, on how fragile life is, and we wonder what awaits us after we  the earthly chapter of our existence ends.
Here in Poland, we visit graves of our loved ones, and we light candles- a tradition which dates back to the pagan days- bonfires were meant to warm up souls wandering among those still alive.
It has always been my favorite holiday- when I feel so close to the Absolute and to the mystery of transitions in life. The figures of crying angels, the dates on the tombs and a question without answer- why something has to end? I remember stopping by graves of people I did not know and I tried to imagine their life… that was my tribute to them… to think of them, to remember them, even if they were strangers to myself.
This is the time when it strikes me the most that we all are nothing but dust in the wind… 

And even the great ones are gone at some point. Writers, singers, scientists, activists, good people whom the human kind owes a lot. Newspapers and magazines print their stories to make sure they are not forgotten. That we spare a minute of prayer or a minute of silence to honor their lives.
Yet, there are millions of stories that are never published. Each person had their story, and each of them might have meant the world to someone, although for the world they might not seem important. Some of them the world decided to forget while they were still alive, and then taking it even a step further and getting rid of them… Here I have in mind inmates executed in the name of justice… You can lynch me for that, but I believe that those men and women were more than numbers they had on their prison IDs and they were more than the crimes they had committed… They had mothers, they had wives, they had children. Perhaps some of them, perhaps all, were guilty of what they had been convicted of. Does it matter now, though? I still want to remember them because who am I to judge?
I asked Steven to write a few words about the men he had met in Parchman’sUnit 32. Here are his short obituaries for those whom most of the world does not want to remember. But we will. They will be in our prayers and in our thoughts.
John B. Nixon, Sr., executed on 12-14-2005 - We called him Mr. Nixon, and he was always respectful, if distant. He spent two decades waiting to be executed.

Bobby G. Wilcher,
executed on10-18-2006- "Big Bob" had an appetite for noodles and cheese puffs as big as his sense of humor.

Earl W. Berry,
executed on 05-21-2008- A victim of our justice system. He was mentally retarded and should not have been executed.

Dale L. Bishop, executed on 07-23-2008- I spent quite a bit of time around "Bart" and you definitely shouldn't judge a book by its cover. He was a music aficionado without peer and never ceased to amaze me.

Paul E. Woodward, executed on 05-19-2010- Used to laugh uncomfortably when I would imitate his voice to confuse other guys on the tier.

Joseph D. Burns,
executed on 07-21-2010- "JoJo" was from the area I grew up in, and that was something we had in common. He was the last person I saw escorted out to be executed and he was at peace with his Creator when he went. He'd had a spiritual experience before he was taken to be executed.

Larry Matthew Puckett,
executed on 03-20-2012- One of the most intelligent people I have met in prison. Minded his own business, but would stand up for others when needed.

Henry Curtis Jackson,
executed on 06-05-2012- One of the first guys on the row I met, causing me to re-evaluate my preconceived notions of them.

Jan Michael Brawner, Jr,
executed on 06-06-2012.- My big bro. Loved his family and was always concerned about them. Had one of the loudest bellows I'd ever heard when he needed to get someone's attention.

Gary Carl Simmons,
executed on 06-20-2012- Told me to hold on to hope and not give up when things seem to be at their worst.

Written by Steven Farris and Marta Dziewulska.

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About Me

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Steven Farris is a prisoner who has been incarcerated since a month after his 16th birthday in 1998. Currently serving a life sentence without the possibility for parole, he is seeking to educate the public about the true nature of prison and the widespread and negative effects of the prison industrial complex. Steven has worked with both the National Prison Project of the ACLU, as well as the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund in furthering this effort.

You can contact him directly at:
Steven Farris #R5580
P.O. Box 1889
Woodville, MS 39669-1889

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