Breaking Death Penalty News


Sunday, August 24, 2014

Movement Within A Puzzle

I am always inspired by the creativity of others; especially when it is done in a literary fashion.  When RODNEY TAYLOR dropped this bomb of a crafty engineered HIDDEN VOICES word complex, I was thrilled to exercise my FIRST AMENDMENT right – uplifting the significance of this particular form of artistry.

The names of the occupants partaking in our bi-weekly forums can be found within the puzzle – along with selective EDUCATION given and received by all parties involved.  It all begins with PETER KUHNS taking the first steps into the gloom of North Carolina’s basement, bearing a sense of optimism and professional INSIGHT geared toward neglected seeds in need of fertile soil.

The HUMANITY – seeking nurturers of this soil have gone above and beyond humanitarian service, by continuing to SOCIALIZE with a DEATH ROW community in dire need of a movement capable of changing the face of JUSTICE, as we know it. 

This movement is a consistent FFLOW of MORALS that contrast the popular perception of one deemed as worthy of the state’s DEATH PENALTY.  Ironically enough, our loyalty to the craft of LITERARY EXPRESSION is the evolution of this same popular perception of state sanctioned premeditated murder.  We call it, LETHAL INJECTION.

The immortal pages of this magazine is a road map, guiding its readers through a valley of P.O.E.T.S, which leads to the intersection of a PRISONER’S PLIGHT, then detouring through the conscious village of POPS.  PRISON confinement will not be a determent to this conglomerate of cause crusaders.  We are gradually proving that the face of the state’s PANTOMIME disjoints society from the real.

Our soil is cultivated by the likes of Mrs. LYNDEN HARRIS and her cultured team of humanitarians: LAMAR, JESSICA, CATHY, NANCY, and an INNOCENCE crusader named JENNIFER. 

Their compassion has showered the soil that houses the deeply embedded roots of WORD TO THE MASSES; the innovative DEATH ROW GAMBITI and the highly publicized BALL TIL WE FALL, which has also birthed the Mega Analysts and Technicians of Hoops (MATH), a legendary team of statisticians comprised of Paul Brown, William C. Gregory, Danny Frogg, Johnny Hyde, and yours truly, the MannofStat.

The once neglected seeds, MICHAEL BRAXTON, LYLE MAY, JAMES THOMAS, CERRON HOOKS, RODNEY TAYLOR and LEROY MANN, a.k.a., SAUL (Strong Anointed and Unique Laborer), can now stand tall as fruit bearers and providers of shade to those inflamed by injustice.  A forest of ROLE MODELS, indeed.

Always 100,

Copyright © 2014 by Leroy Elwood Mann

Sunday, August 17, 2014

A Chess Master Making Moves With Leroy

“Don’t play the blame game.  The king controls every move on the board.  Take responsibility instead of passing the blame.”
Mr. Eugene Brown
Chess Master


Meeting Mr. Eugene Brown was an experience worth chronicling.  On July 9, 2014 the unit 3 death row housing complex was directly influenced by a man who learned how to retool his life through the principles of chess.  His life experiences inspired the movie, “Life of a King,“ in which he is portrayed by Oscar Award winning actor, Cuba Gooding, Jr.

At 68 years of age, Mr. Brown has transformed himself from a serial stick-up kid to an astounding citizen, teaching wayward children how to defuse the cycle of intergenerational incarceration.  

In these cosmic times of kids raising themselves while being consumed by the ever-growing epidemic defined as, “Hood Disease,” the men of – or returning to – society have a paternal obligation to assist these youth who are experiencing ongoing traumas bred by neighborhood disasters (shootings, stabbings, police brutality, etc.).  30% of those traumatized through this type of setting are experiencing learning disabilities that may steer them toward a recidivistic lifestyle.

A man that once referred to his many arrests as an “occupational hazard,” has proven to be a grandmaster of defeating the subjugation of long-term imprisonment.  He founded the “Big Chair Chess Club” as a means to teach children the game of chess through the recollection of their own life experiences.

“The definition of checkmate is not having a way out. You have to see your end game from the opening,” he says while adjusting his chess-patterned Kangol, and wearing wingtips to match.

Although I am a long way from being a wayward child, I was deeply enlightened by Mr. Brown’s vigorous instruction pertaining to a King’s duty on, and off the board.  His motto is, “Think before you move.”  

I did a lot of thinking while I was sitting in the back of the conference room, taking notes for this particular article.  I made my move at the conclusion of his lecture.  Without hesitation, I told him about the W2TM blog and championed death row’s latest collective literary effort, the Lethal Injection magazine.

I had no problem confessing to him, that I was not a member of the death row chess club, and I do not spend any time playing chess on the board.  I also revealed that I understand the 3 parts to a chess game:

Opening, middle and end. And I’m making moves off the board.  At this point, his eyes widened and allowed me to see the youthful chess master capable of doing 100 push-ups in one stretch.  “That’s what it’s all about! Making moves off the board.  You’ve got some people sitting down, just pushing pieces.  They ain’t making no moves.”

He handed me his business card, then shook my hand with the zeal of a go-getter.  I was overwhelmed by the significance of the name Leroy (The King), while I was leaving the presence of this chess master.  His words will always ring through my thoughts whenever I make my next best move:

“When you know you’re a king, you should stand and walk like a king.”

Point taken Mr. Brown. Your move.

Much Love,

Copyright © 2014 by Leroy Elwood Mann

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Mann At Work

Viewing this recent pic of my soon-to-be 6 year old “Lil’ Mann,” ignited the next expression I’m about to drop like DeSean Jackson from a Philadelphia Eagles roster; without any regrets.  Feel me?  

My grandseed holding a writing instrument makes me optimistic about the future of the Mann gene pool. 

This recent still photo was your MannofStat 40 years ago.  Like “Deuce” (my grandson), I had no idea what I was capable of accomplishing with a pencil between my thumb and forefinger.

You see, I love to write.  I wrote my first short story at the age of 9.  Today, I see everything as a potential story to be told.  So, I don’t write for the sake of acceptance.  My personal experiences are teaching tools for generations to come. 

Whether it be the inconsistency of the hot water in the janitor’s closet; the stained plexiglass in the visitation booths; or the exhausted appeals of another death row prisoner.  Writing gives me life; it breathes my next breath when my circumstance smothers the continuity of my life support.  Writing is the core of everything I am, and I’m sure this same fire is flowing through the unsuspecting veins of my Lil’ Mann as I write this.

My grandseed will one day experience the euphoria that comes through dreams about words, titles and concepts that will continuously stimulate his developing brain waves.  His future expressions may set him on a course to meet other writers that have impacted multitudes of viewers. 

For example, at yesterday’s Hidden Voices session (4/24/14), I was graced by the presence of Ms. Nancy Demorest, a.k.a. Nancy Curlee.  If the name doesn’t ring a bell, maybe her work will, the Emmy Award winning daytime television drama, The Guiding Light.

Her writing has endeared legendary characters such as Joshua, Reeva, and Billy – to the hearts of soap opera enthusiast around the globe.  She and I went back and forth, exchanging verbal jabs concerning her characters, then eventually our soap talk led to a discussion about a drama series I’ve been working on called, “Concrete Times.” 

We discussed the creation of soap opera characters like the one I suggested for the wildly popular, Grey’s Anatomy, discussed a few years back in my “Grey’s Alter Anatomy” ( ).  She found my lead character, Dr. McMocha, to be an interesting addition to the already stellar cast.  I hope you are reading this Ms. Demorest!  It was truly a pleasure to meet a writer whose work I have enjoyed for many years.  Word is bond!

As you can probably see, I really enjoy these Hidden Voices sessions and the various forms of writing discussed.  Team coordinator, Ms. Linden Harris has created an environment of acceptance for a group of writers that have grown accustom to maintaining a high degree of creativity within the most hostile of circumstances.  

The edginess within the expressions that come out of team “FFLOW” are bred from writers standing on a ledge.  Under the direction of Hidden Voices, team FFLOW negotiates the ledge – making a pavement for other literary expressionist to walk freely.  Na mean?

If there is one piece of advice I could offer a soon-to-be 6 year old literary expressionist, it would be this: Be in awe of the words that pass through you because sometimes the words do not come from you.  You can only be remembered as a ‘great writer’ if people are greatly moved by the words you share.

Still Livin,’

Copyright © 2014 by Leroy Elwood Mann

Friday, August 1, 2014

Voices From The Row: The Purpose of Incarceration


This next voice from the row will display an interesting perspective on a failed justice system intent on prioritizing suffering in the initial stages of capital murder cases – only to redeem a fraction of the faulty convictions decades later, under the guise of an appellate system that works. 

This malefic practice of justice has spawned 35 executions in 9 years, as well as causing an 8-year de facto moratorium on executions in the state of North Carolina.  To understand the purpose of incarceration is to know the demographic of its inhabitants.

Lyle C. May, aspiring memoirist ( ; integral member of the literary expressionist team FFLOW; and first time contributor to this W2TM platform, is the voice that now, engages your ear canal.  Feel it.


Copyright © 2014 by Leroy Elwood Mann


The Purpose of Incarceration

What is it about prison that creates the need to write about perceived suffering?  I do this as much as the next man and after all, there is certainly some injustice in this situation we term “incarceration.” 

Yet for those who are responsible for their crimes is there a legitimate gripe?  This begs the question of whether one believes he or she deserves any punishment, regardless of what sentence is handed down by the court. 

At the risk of sounding like a hypocrite, it is difficult not to want a level of fairness no matter what crime has been charged under the law.  Justice is equity and blind justice is a poor attempt to hide the numerous disparities amongst the convictions and sentences that currently imprison approximately 2.3 million people in the U.S. (Prison Legal News, April 2014).  Even as I write that, what am I doing beyond repeating an oft-cited fact most of the public seems to care very little about?

The easiest answer to the original question is that there is little to do in prison except suffer the loss of liberty, any sense of fairness, familial connections and respect as another human being.  The harder answer no prisoner wants to hear is equally obvious: we are meant to suffer in this place of the powerless and ignorant.  Stripped of everything but our minds in this human warehouse, we cannot even be considered slaves because even an indentured servant has more utility and purpose. 

A prisoner’s purpose, in the eyes of the court and the people who support this adversarial legal system, is to endure whatever punishment is applied upon violation of the law – be it imprisonment or death.  There is no distinction between the punishments beyond the finality of a particular sentence.

The criminal justice system is warped and skewed toward the conviction of the poor, which tends to be mostly minority races, but this is unilaterally so.  Injustice, from the time an individual is suspected of a crime to the conviction and sentence, is so common in the U.S. legal system that it seems ignorant to believe it could be any other way.  There may be token cases where the ideal of justice is held up for the public to see, but such cases are handpicked by attorneys after it has been determined they are unlikely to lose.

Cases like those of Alan Gell, Lavon Jones and Glen Chapman, who were on death row for years before they were finally acquitted and released, are put on pedestals as shining examples that the system works.  The system does not work.  

It should not take a decade long appellate process to determine these men were wrongly pursued and convicted from the very beginning.  How many more men and women on death row and serving time in other prisons would be acquitted of their alleged crimes if an attorney zealously defended the client from the beginning?

Prison is suffering, a catchall for those who fail in society and fall through the cracks of life, and for those whom society fails.  Writing about this failure, and all of the real or perceived pain along the way, is the only escape from the damage done to us, to understand what has happened and put a face on why this onus was placed on our shoulders. 

A concise picture of the torment was in place well before any crime was committed or any of us arrived at this destination.  It is only necessary that we recognize this and accept it as an inevitability.  Only after that affirmation has been made can we begin to see past the razor wire and chains, beyond the pain and loss, and begin to live again.

Lyle C. May
Copyright © 2014 by Lyle C May