To be honest I had grown tired of the Mark W. Stiles Unit. Something about those last two physical altercations with Pony Boy and P.A., was the reason I became truly fed up. After twenty two years, I got shipped. Those last five years at the Stiles Unit were the most depressive moments of my prison existence. Yeah, I accomplished a great deal of things at that unit but I walked away from that place with a lot of animosity for the staff as well as my fellow inmates. After losing that first round of my actual innocence appeals, I seemingly lost my entire legal team. Dr. Plunkett, Dr. Peter Stephens and my paralegal mr. John Pizer, all died within months, of one another.
Federal Legal Briefs
I started putting Federal Legal Briefs together. I did not have one drop of understanding how to request for permission to file a subsequent Federal Appeal. Once again I was forced to come up with a desperate solution. While studying the Schlup vs Delo and McQuiggin vs Perkins cases, I wrote letters once again to multiple colleges with Actual Innocence Programs. Every week I had no less than six letters going out seeking help.
My pastor and mentor mr. Doelas, Johanna, daughter Shapheka Davis, brother T.J., son Trey and lastly Jerome my cousin, these people were my team mates; without a team in place I would be lost. I had to get back to writing, writing pulled me out of funks, writing cleared everything up. Writing is my savior in dark times. Losing so much at one time slowly widened the cracks in the cement. Inside, I knew breaking was something that I would never do.
Aunt Dorothy and uncle John-Ale
But while being shipped, my wonderful aunt Dorothy and uncle John-Ale died. These two were the last two of a generation of real love. My grandmother’s last sister and brother were gone. Aunt Dorothy never looked down on any of us, she loved her entire family unconditionally. I still see her being rolled to prison visitation – my baby was so grey but her radiant smile lit up the entire visitation. Seeing her seated in that wheelchair crushed me. Uncle John-Ale was rock-strong, powerful but loving and gentle. He loved us all as well. They both passed away one behind the other crushing our entire family.
I always prided myself on ‘holding the pain in.’ Those moments I found myself floating down the prison hallway in open tears. I did not give a damn about security guards or inmates. Their opinion was worthless in my time of real despair.
Derrick L. Griffin, 03-01-2021