Tales from death row: Justice for Rodney Reed by Caitlin Adams

Injustice time as of this writing: 131,260 hours.  5,469 days.  Follow up to Blog 11 - Rodney's belongings have not been returned to him.

Friendship is one of life's most precious gifts. What makes a friendship? Why do some friendships last a lifetime? I've been thinking about these questions and the unique, special friendship that Rodney and I share.

As an Air Force "brat," Rodney moved quite a bit growing up, so he learned how to forge friendships quickly and also learned how to let friendships go. Growing up with 5 brothers, he had "built in" friends, and to this day has a close relationship with his brothers. As a teenager and young adult, Rodney forged a friendship with Wildflower Julie that is alive and delightful to this day. (I get to observe the two of them when Julie and I go to visit Rodney each month.) And sadly, many friendships have not survived the rigors and strains that 15 years of imprisonment has brought.

Rodney has several "pen pal" friends in Europe that he has maintained for a number of years. Getting mail is one of the single most enjoyable and important parts of Rodney's day, and in many cases, the only way Rodney is able to nurture and maintain friendships.

Even on death row, friendships manage to flourish. They survive on the barest nourishment, the occasional chat in the day room or rec yard, a shout out in the visiting area when you happen to hear a familiar voice. Sometimes not seeing or talking to a friend for years and then somehow through the grapevine you learn he has been moved to your pod, so you call out to him from your cell. They survive in the harshest, most inhospitable terrain, haunted by execution dates, and an awareness of the reality of death that most of us in the free world never even consider. And they often come to a heartbreaking end.

As different as the circumstances and landscape of death row friendships may be, our free world counterparts have their ups and downs, their times together and apart and their endings as well.

My friendship with Rodney, as most friendships that come later in life, came without my seeking it. One day a man's story presents itself, next day a letter is written, a year and many letters, cards, photos, shout outs, and visits later we each have a friend. Our ages, our circumstances, our backgrounds, couldn't be more different and yet we were both willing to meet each other.

A favorite quote by Rumi, says perfectly what I want to say here: "Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and right doing, there's a field. I'll meet you there." This is the place where Rodney and I met. A place that nourishes friendship, a place that values "being," a place alive and awake — a place I never knew a neighborhood bike ride would take me. This place has become the garden of our friendship. It is well tended, appreciated, valued and it continues to grow, bloom and bear some amazing fruits. Namaste.

Caitlin Adams is a resident of Bastrop, Texas. After meeting the family of Texas death row prisoner Rodney Reed outside of their home in early 2011, she began writing with Rodney. She has developed a friendship with Rodney's mother Sandra and his family in Bastrop, as well as making regular trips to death row to visit Rodney. 

After learning about the facts of Rodney's case, Caitlin has become an advocate for Rodney Reed – here we present Caitlin's story about her journey for justice.