Time on Death Row

March 31, 2017

Incarcerated for the past twenty years, stacked on a dusty shelf, and still I shine. Over a decade caged in death row’s double dungeon, San Quentin State Prison. As I compose my barbed wire reflections I can feel cold years dripping down my dark brown face. I’m 48 years old going on eternity. Drinking deep thoughts from a single-person prison cell surrounded by seconds, I notice the hollowed faces of fellow inmates passing by. Can you wrap your life around that? My unconquerable dreams infuse me with hope.

Embers of a former life. On the other side of these dirty green walls I had a beautiful life before death row. Experiencing the births of my two daughters was the essence of life for me. I watched them grow from infants into gorgeous independent young ladies. My only real family. I did everything possible for them. They don’t need me now, yet I’m motivated by their spirit of resilience– I need them.

I worked my entire life. Preteen newspaper routes. I was picking flower bulbs in the summer fields of Washington State at just eleven years of age. I worked as a courtesy clerk for a grocery store while in high school and added summer jobs to that. One summer I was employed as a life guard. I’ve always been fascinated with bodies of water. Retaining the memories of walking on warm, salty beaches, fishing in cool indigo lakes and swimming in cloudy irrigation canals, a living dream.

As an adolescent, no matter how well I did, I was still targeted by police. Instruments to enslave. Stalked and frisked for walking or driving while black. And I believed I was free. Nothing prevented me from being snatched from society and smeared with a wrongful conviction. In your silence was the sentence.

Directly out of high school I matriculated for higher learning. Looking back on my daily grind at a computer factory in Southern California, my job was relatively easy. I filled orders by weighing various computer components to a requested number. After I bagged, labeled and boxed the separate components, one order was complete. For a time I delivered material to tire builders at a large international tire plant. My most enjoyable occupation was auto body and paint. Staying productive, that’s what keeps me focused.

Effects of the 08 November 2016 elections are lingering, embedded within me. Nationally the U.S.A. selected Donald Trump over Hillary Clinton, exposing core values and true beliefs of half the country. Before my stomach could settle I was greeted with the passage of Proposition 66, which speeds up the executions in California. I ardently advocated for Proposition 62, which would have abolished capital punishment while converting all death sentences to Life Without the Possibility of Parole- it failed.

Fortunately the California Supreme Court stayed Prop 62 on 22 December 2016. The court is currently weighing the constitutionality of Prop 66 based upon the challenges presented by the ACLU and the John Kamp/Ron Briggs petitions.

I struggled to abolish capital punishment in California via the ballot box in 2012 and 2016. As a protector of human life I simply do not want any executions on my clock. I’m striving to save lives. The people of California voted for death. Ironically, the ‘Campaign to End the Death Penalty’ urged their audience to vote no on Prop 62, the measure to End the Death Penalty. Followers without understanding. Sadly, the San Francisco Bay View National Black Newspaper coupled with the Socialist Viewpoint Publication asked their subscribers to use their votes to keep the death penalty intact. Nothing revolutionary about that. A Trump presidency left me even more disillusioned.

Surviving through lock downs, medical quarantines, and solitary confinement, I decided to make music with my tears. I voraciously read, study and write at this time. I exercise daily and explore art. In my minds eye I envision creating family consisting of friends. I venture beyond these walls with your eyes and ears. Always open to the free flow of communication. In discovering what you feel and see, I find life. Fresh energy. Connecting with the world inspires me to stretch for more.

With my associates in arts and paralegal degrees I help litigate in the California Supreme Court for exoneration. Working on my freedom. Innocence trapped within the Jim Crow prison industrial complex. Sometimes the system gets it wrong, my situation is not unique.

Time on death row can change coal into diamonds or dust. Unchain the mind. In my walk I chose to become a protector of human rights. I’m one with the earth, water and human life protectors. While I’m not able to physically be there with you now, I find ways to sacrifice, resist and struggle. I exist with you. Writing to you on Women’s Day, sitting on a short bucket, hunched over a rusty bunk, I understand a day without women is a day without breath. Overcoming all forms of oppression is my end goal. Allied minds, partners in protecting, come talk with me.

In solidarity,

Donald Ray Young

P.O. Box E-78474

San Quentin State Prison

San Quentin, CA 94974


September 18, 2015

I’ll be sitting in death row

until the day that I die,

because they don’t give a damn

about us

So when you see me cry,

no need

to ask why

They don’t give a damn

about us

Only they know

the reasons why

our young children

are afraid to try

Never given

the instructions to fly

They don’t give a damn

about us

Older and elderly

the world on my shoulders

Lawyers disgust me

begging me to trust them

they’re the cause

of this disease

Getting paid

from this sickness

Open your eyes

and see

They don’t give a damn

about us

We are

just another paycheck


they put us to rest

Oh look

at the bright side

the mom, Chevy

and apple pie side

The turn the other cheek

and docile side

Okay then

welcome to

the real side

the rise up out of oppression

with pride side

The I will never give up

and keep fighting side


The Savings, Accountability, and Full Enforcement for California Act

This is our time to abolish capital punishment in California via the ballot box. If we allow this killing machine to resuscitate, we can expect executions of the more than 725 death row prisoners at a rate that will send shock waves throughout Texas. Which side are we on? We cannot stand in the middle of the road this time. Abolish capital punishment in California, or support government-sponsored, premeditated murder of death row prisoners. We have more than 14 people with fully-exhausted appeals. The sole protection that stands between them and a pine box… is our vote!

We said, “I AM TROY DAVIS.” Many of us said that we were Stanley Tookie Williams. Cameron Todd Willingham was another innocent person on death row – the Texas criminal justice system executed him in our name. If we had abolished capital punishment nationwide, all three of these men would still be alive, able to prove their innocence to the world. No one enjoys a prison sentence of life without the possibility of parole (LWOP), but it definitely keeps Mumia Abu-Jamal speaking truth to power.

Before being abstracted debating how cruel LWOP is, let us complete the urgent business of abolishing capital punishment with our votes. Death penalty proponents have revived their rhetorical corporate media-fueled propaganda campaign. Californians, putative abolitionists and death penalty opponents: keeping death row intact when given the option to abolish capital punishment is nothing more than subterfuge ~ covertly supporting what we claim to loathe. Take out the fear and face the facts: most lengthy prison sentences end with the prisoner dying in prison. As it stands, prisoners convicted of murder (innocent or guilty) face capital punishment or LWOP. The SAFE California Act will convert all 725 death sentences to LWOP, making it the harshest punishment option for convicted murderers. The right to appeal convictions to the state and federal courts will still exist, with the same constitutional guarantees afforded LWOP prisoners; additionally, after all appellate issues are exhausted, the appellants will remain very much alive.

While many disagree with certain aspects of the SAFE California Act (i.e. $30 million per year, for three years, given to municipal police and prosecutors, coupled with florid, pro-prosecution language), if this road takes capital punishment off the table, we must travel it. The United States has executed more than 1290 prisoners since 1977. The future belongs to us, and step-by-step we will seize power. After winning this highly contentious battle, we will join resources to abolish all forms of permanent imprisonment. Every prisoner should have the right to be released if he or she is not a threat to society.

Since 1978, capital punishment has left California with a fatally-flawed system. Over $4 billion has been wasted, 13 executions have occurred, and 3 individuals have been exonerated. This is our once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Let us choose the ballot box… or the pine box will choose us!

I look forward to your contact and communication.

Facebook: Donald Ray Young

Twitter: @DonaldRayYoung

Mail: Donald Ray Young

P.O. Box E-78474

San Quentin State Prison

San Quentin, CA 94974

By Donald Ray Young

The Tulare County District Attorney conspired with the Tulare Police Department to fabricate copious inculpatory evidence, for the sole purpose of sending me – an innocent man – to death row. Their train was bursting at the seams with lies. It eventually fell off the tracks on 16 November 2005, three-and-one-half months into the death penalty trial. The prosecution desperately needed to justify their contention that evidence could continually be in four remote locations at the same time, without ever being checked out of the Tulare Police Department’s ‘secure’ evidence locker, among other illusions. I could finally prove what I had been telling everyone who would listen from day one: the purported original evidence reports were forgeries, and the evidence chain-of-custody was non-existent. Those who held the power in court labeled what happened next as an Evidence Code 402 Hearing – a trial inside a trial – outside the presence of the jury. I called the entire process what it had always been: a farce and a sham!

It was a cold 16 November 2005 morning when the pro-prosecution, hanging Judge, Ronn M.Couillard, said this: “I’ve been with this case since August of 2000. Donald Ray Young was pro per (representing himself). This thing, as far as discovery and handing over items and documents and everything, has gotten to be a nightmare. I do know there were always problems with discovery being presented to the defense, even when Donald Ray Young was pro per, where items were copied, they weren’t copied properly, half a page was left off. That’s all just background, the point being is that discovery has been a nightmare in this case. It’s continuing to be.” After fourteen weeks of trial, we were still receiving discovery. Discovery is the method by which the defense learns, before trial, of the witnesses and evidence the opposition intends to offer at trial.

My trial attorney, Galatea DeLapp, saw this prosecutorial misconduct in a more egregious light. As she addressed the court, “In my opinion, it’s a Brady violation. I’m asking for a mistrial, a motion to dismiss with prejudice, on the basis of this Brady material not coming to us until this point, after substantial evidence has already been before the court.” In addition to the prosecution’s constitutional obligation to disclose exculpatory evidence, there are additional mandates: a statutory discovery obligation, and the duty, under the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment, to disclose to the defense “all substantial material evidence favorable to an accused.” Brady vs. Maryland (1963) is a legal case that illuminated the aforementioned obligations, ensuring rights for the accused.

When the trial judge ordered the prosecution to produce all original evidence reports and original evidence chain-of-custody records, the response from the Tulare Police Department (hereafter referred to as TPD) was that they needed the original court order signed by the judge. What?!! TPD was the prosecution, and had high-ranking officers in court when the order was made! As the original evidence reports and chain-of-custody records were grudgingly allowed to make their way into the trial court — in preparation of the Evidence Code 402 Hearing — … White-out! Whited out and written over? That to which the prosecution had been testifying under oath was nothing more than two binders of evidence report pages, painted over and fabricated, manufactured and rewritten. The prosecution also referred to these binders as original evidence reports and original evidence chain-of-custody logs. TPD’s own protocol precludes painting over original evidence reports. You can’t trust the evidence. You can’t trust the witnesses. The Evidence Code 402 Hearing will begin.

The first witness to take the stand attempted to minimize or explain away the whiteout, manufactured evidence and corruption. This person was…

To be continued…


Donald Ray Young

P.O. Box E-78474

San Quentin State Prison

San Quentin, CA 94974

Commercial hunters would capture one pigeon alive, sew its eyes shut, and tie it to a perch called a ‘stool’.  Soon, a curious flock would land beside the ‘stool pigeon’ – a term now used to describe someone who lies to the police for personal gain.

Considering the credibility of the source is the first step in dissecting false testimony.  Does Anthony Lee Wolfe have a history of deceit?  Does he have a reason or motive to lie?  Is the Wolfe a psychotic, sociopath, psychopath and pathological liar?  The answers are codified herein.

Several psychiatrists diagnosed him with a serious mental illness, marked by loss of the ability to test whether or not what he is thinking and feeling about the real world is really true.  The Wolfe is a schizophrenic, with multiple personalities.  He reported hearing voices to his psychiatrist.  The characteristics of the Wolfe’s psychosis are hallucinations, grandiosity, fabrications and aggressive behavior.  Anti-psychotic tranquilizers were prescribed by psychiatrists in order to control the Wolfe; unfortunately, he went off his anti-psychotic medications when he was released from prison.

The Wolfe was an obsequious police informant and ‘Fresno Hoover Crip’ gang member (donned with gang tattoos) before, during and after his April 24, 1995 prison release.  His gang affiliation remains intact today.  Lewd and lascivious acts on a child (his sister), assault on a police officer, escape from jail, vehicle theft, possession of stolen property, carrying a concealed weapon and burglary are just some of the convictions that the Wolfe accumulated before prison.  While in prison, he was convicted of possessing a weapon made for stabbing (a self-fashioned knife).  After prison, even after the infamous July 18, 1995 tragedy, the Wolfe was caught counterfeiting (1997).  He was convicted of passing counterfeit one-hundred-dollar bills at several businesses.   Staring at a ‘three strikes’ life sentence in California state prison, the Wolfe manufactured evidence, manipulated a jury, and implicated an innocent man.  This travesty was accomplished step-by-step through rehearsals, reenactments and coaching by corrupt and desperate law enforcement personnel, over an interminable period of ten years.

The capital crime in question occurred July 18, 1995 while the Wolfe was on release from prison (as of April 24 of that year).  I did not know this man prior to, or during, this 85-day period.  What I know about him germinates from official documents.  During trial (2005/2006), on the witness stand, the Wolfe was shown a photograph of me fishing, taken in August 1995.  He could not identify me in the photograph.

After copious, contiguous fabrications spanning over three decades, Anthony Lee Wolfe has a new name and undisclosed location.  His new lifestyle is wholly funded by your tax dollars!  The state of California is not protecting its citizens from the Wolfe. Quite the contrary, the Wolfe is running wild, lurking in the Witness Protection Program.

Tell me, what do you think?