Archive for September, 2011

More on Charles Ng, A Death Row Inmate


September 21st, 2011 // 10 Comments

It is difficult to see him as a dead man walking. He certainly doesn’t see himself as such though his chances of ever getting out alive are about zero. I have a hard time with miracles. They obviously happen when least expected and one can’t count on them. I don’t think Charles has a prayer unless California abolishes the death penalty. In that case he’ll still spend the rest of his life in a cell that has nothing but a bunk, a toilet and a basin. Food is shoved in on a tray and he gets to see daylight for twenty minutes a day. He is being severely punished. Meeting a guy like him truly has me wonder and I don’t even know about what? The situation is so hopeless. I had never confronted anything like that. Up to this point there was always a way out – if nothing esle, there is always suicide. But for Charles even that is not an option. I’ll never know why? He’d make things easier for everybody, except he is not suicidal. So that is out in any case. All he can think of is a visitor who would provide him with his favorite food – a treat. Now that is down to basics. He got upset because we didn’t heat his hamburger properly and complained that we forgot the orange. Once you’re in the cage there is not coming and going. You stay or leave for good. Usually you stay for the whole duration of the visit. We are polite people and don’t want to deprive him of our company since we made the effort of coming, after making an appointment to see him.

He doesn’t seem concerned about the severity of his predicament. Instead he rehashes the insults he had to endure, both at the Folsom Prison which makes St. Quentin seem like a resort, and the indifference of the judicial system whereby lawyers and judges only think of what looks good for them and their reputation. There is no sense of guilt or remorse, of defeat or rebellion. He adapted to  his shackles and life in captivity. After twenty some years it became habit.

I read about the murders his buddy Lennard Lake commited. The police had found human body parts carefully chopped up as if they were cut to fit a small container. Lake was convinced everybody would die in a nuclear war. At the time that was a common consideration. Though few people built bunkers – he had – the possibility was in the news and children were drilled to seek shelter – as if hiding under the desk could save them from anything. Lake grew up in that environment and had seen bloodshed during the Vietnamese War. Charles was his friend. Lake had taken him in and sheltered him from getting him  arrested for stealing weapons. “I was going to take them back,” was all Chalres had to say. “Guys did it all the time. Went out shooting and then returned them. They nailed me because I’m an Asian.”  Could be.

We are preparing for another visit. Perhaps Valerie and I can coax him into some explanation about his feelings as a human being in chains, living in a cage like an animal in the zoo, waiting for treats.


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