The story I will tell you

LaValle, Stephen



[No Title] The story I will tell you will bring you into New Yorks death row at Clinton Correctional Facility. The unit was called (UCP) - unit for condemned persons. I arrived at the death row unit on September 14th, 1999 after being convicted of murder in Suffolk County Long Island. Seeing the death row unit for the first time reminded me of something old, and evil. This unit also known as (Building 14) was a prison inside of a prison. Built into the ground with tall razor wire fences around it. The windows were dark, and cold looking with no views but the prison around you itself. To me, the only way to describe this place would be something out of a Stephen King novel. The unit itself gave off a vibe of hopelessness, lonesomeness, and the end of the road for most who enter. One of the worst things for me to cope with while on death row was not being able to have contact with my family. Your visiting room as well as your shower were in the back of your cell. There was a big metal-plexiglas pocketdoor that closed when your visitors came. You were only able to talk through a small metal hole in the door. My mother, and sister would sit there and cry looking at me behind the plexiglas door. I wished that I could have held my mother and sister. Reassured them that no matter what everything is going to be ok. I remember one day my mother and sister Marisa came to visit me for my birthday. We were laughing - joking, talking about old times when I pushed up on the door and it opened up. I thought my mother was going to have a heart attack right there. My sister Marisa was reaching out to me hysterically crying. I knew I had to calmly take control of this situation. If that door opened up all the way they were coming in full force. You have to understand at this time my mother, and sister have not touched me in almost five years. I waited for the officers to walk down the hall to bring back the other death row inmates from the yard. The time was just right, and I opened the door that separated me from my loved ones. For those few minutes I was no longer on death row, nor was I incarcerated. I received a lifetime of hugs & kisses just in a matter of minutes. I cherish that memory more so now. My mother passed away on April 7th, 2013 of a heart attack during a small stomach operation. On January 4th, 2014 my sister Marisa who was only 37 years old at the time, passed away in her sleep of an apparent heart attack. I lost my whole life, my whole world in a blink of an eye. It would be nice to think the officers left the door unlocked so I would be able to hug, and kiss my mother and sister. But in the back of my mind I can't help to think that they forgot to lock the door. While on death row you were only allowed three showers per week. You were able to receive a haircut only once a month. No style cuts, only buzz cuts like you were in the Army. Exercise was an hour a day in a small yard. To this day I still don't know why they called it exercise. You walked around in a very small circle like a gerbil in a cage. The only view you had was the sky above and thats it. Once in a while you would see a bird fly by, or maybe a plane. For the most part the officers treated you pretty fair. There were some that had their remarks, and would try to push your buttons. There was one officer he came to my cell and stated "LaValle your wasting your time with that legal work", "Its not going to help you." I spent a total of eight years in a death row cell. The first three years were in a pre-death row cell in the Suffolk County Jail. The other five years were on New Yorks death row. My appeal to the Court of Appeals abolished the death penalty in New York State on June 24th, 2004. Today, I am serving a sentence of life without parole. Months later after I was resentenced, and taken off death row, and placed into general population. I was coming back from a family visit walking down the hallway. The same officer who made that comment about me not getting off of death row, and stating that I was wasting my time. I made eye contact with the officer. he put his head down walked passed me like he never saw me before. I would like to think he was saving face, but maybe he did forget about me. In the end my hard work saved myself as well as several others. As of right now I have been sitting in a cell for more then twenty-two years. Most of my family members have passed away, or have given up on me. I have no friends, they have passed away, or given up on me, or have been gone now for years. I really don't blame my family members or friends for giving up on me. After all these years, people move on with their lives, and forget about the past. There is an old saying in prison "out of sight" - "out of mind" Most of the fight is out of me now. I am smart enough to see the handwriting on the wall. I spend my days working out. Keeping in shape. Im trying to live the last years of my life in peace. I am still fighting for my freedom, maybe one day I will get it. If you would like to write, or speak more about death row please contact me at: Stephen LaValle Shawangunk Correctional Facility PO Box 700 Wallkill, NY 12589

Author: LaValle, Stephen

Author Location: New York

Date: October 19, 2016

Genre: Essay

Extent: 4 pages

If this is your essay and you would like it removed from or changed on this site, refer to our Takedown and Changes policy.

Takedown and Changes Policy
Browse More Essays