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 "We Want The Same Human Rights We Demand of Other Countries"
           Sworn affadavit from death-row prisoner Brittany Holberg - as given to Katheen O'Shea
                              Appeared in The New Abolitionist - April 1999, Volume III, Issue 2
                    A most important issue right now is the outrageous treatment we are
                    receiving here on the Texas women's death row.

                    I'm sure you are aware of the attempted escape of several men from death
                    row in Huntsville - one successfully? Since this occurred, you would not
                    believe the treatment we are given. Just two weeks ago, we were informed
                    that not only would we be strip-searched for our one hour of recreation a
                    day, but also when taken for a shower. So for the last two weeks, we have
                    been stripped no less than six times a day, and our cells have been
                    completely ransacked. This is every day, sometimes at times like 2:30 and 3
                    a.m., and we never leave the building - or our cells for that matter.

                    Out of seven of us, four of us chose not to work for various reasons of both
                    physical and emotional health. If you are on the work program, you are
                    locked in a huge cage-like facility and only allowed to use the bathroom once
                    every four hours. For some of us, that's physically impossible, and the
                    emotional stress is just as great.

                    If you work, you are given a project, such as pulling apart huge bundles of
                    cotton into small pieces. And if you don't finish what they expect you to do,
                    you are given a citation. It's not fair to assume everyone can do the same
                    amount of work. But receiving a citation, no matter how small or minor, can
                    be the difference between life and death in our situation. And what's so sad
                    is that these people recognize that - yet almost seem to enjoy writing them.

                    In 18 years, there has never been even so much as a threat of violence on
                    the women's death row in Texas.

                    I cannot even begin to explain some of the events we have witnessed here.
                    Patients are brought in at all times of the day and night in various stages of
                    hysteria or fear or anger. We have been subjected to numerous gassings.
                    This is only supposed to be meant for the individual who, in their words,
                    "won't comply." But since there is not one single window that will open in
                    this building, we are all greatly affected. We have witnessed numerous
                    women who are most obviously "out of their senses" have excessive uses of
                    force applied, such as slamming them to the floor and against the walls.

                    I can't even begin to name or put a number on how many nights I've sat up
                    listening to some poor woman scream out as officers sit around laughing or
                    making fun of her.

                    Kathleen, I never wanted to believe that the stories I had heard about the
                    officers were true. I always chose to believe that they were professionals
                    who cared in some degree for the people around them and their well-being.
                    But as I sit and watch the events in here, it's all I can do to keep from
                    becoming bitter. I constantly try and remind myself that they, too, will have
                    to answer for so much.

                    I and the other women have written grievances, talked to everyone we
                    possibly can here at the Mountain View Unit, and no one will listen to us. In
                    fact, it seems the more we request to simply talk to someone, the more we
                    are punished. Almost as if they are simply trying to shut us up.

                    It's sad because I truly try to never complain. I always tell myself, "It could
                    be worse, it could be worse," but now I think it's at its worst. We are
                    women, not animals or even troublemakers.

                    Please write letters to Governor Bush and the Warden and anyone else you
                    feel might be of help and demand that we be granted the same human rights
                    we demand of other countries.

                    Thank you very much,

                    Brittany Holberg #999258
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This page was last updated September 2, 2001       Canadian Coalition Against the Death Penalty          This page is maintained and updated by Dave Parkinson and Tracy Lamourie