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The Sun Magazine

Culture and Society

Incarceration

Essays, Memoirs, & True Stories

I Was A Guantánamo Prisoner

I walked slowly up Mill Hill Road in Woodstock, New York. A rope tied my feet together; another bound my hands. A third rope, around my waist, was attached to the woman in front of me. A black hood covered my face. The rest of my wardrobe was an orange jumpsuit, like the ones worn by prisoners at Guantánamo Bay.

Essays, Memoirs, & True Stories

You’re In Prison

It’s not like in the movies. That stuff really happens, but it doesn’t all happen in an hour and a half, in three acts that build to a dramatic conclusion, like it does on the big screen. You think it’s going to be exactly like that, especially after you’ve been convicted and sentenced, and you’re still being housed at the county jail, and some guy asks if you’ve ever been to the “pen.”

Essays, Memoirs, & True Stories

The Ultimate Kindness

War and peace start in the hearts of individuals. Strangely enough, even though all beings would like to live in peace, our method for obtaining peace over the generations seems not to be very effective: we seek peace and happiness by going to war. This can occur at the level of our domestic situation, in our relationships with those close to us.

Readers Write

Decisions

I lived in Berkeley and worked at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, a nuclear-weapons research lab, where I developed computer war simulations. On Sundays I went with my girlfriend to Quaker meetings, where people sat in each other’s company without the pressure to speak. One Sunday some fellow congregants asked if I wanted to join a protest at Livermore Lab. I told them I had to work that day. No one asked me where.

Quotations

Sunbeams

“I was half in love with her by the time we sat down. That’s the thing about girls. Every time they do something pretty, even if they’re not much to look at, or even if they’re sort of stupid, you fall half in love with them, and then you never know where the hell you are.”

J. D. Salinger

Essays, Memoirs, & True Stories

Seeking Evil, Finding Only Good

Hefting box after box, I recently moved all of my old death-penalty case files, some of them nearly collapsed into shapeless heaps of cardboard. I felt the weight of all the investigation reports I have written for trials and appeals over twenty-five years, since capital punishment was brought back to California by popular vote. Heaving it all into my new storage space, I had the depressing thought: This is my life. From age thirty-five to sixty, this room-sized tower of paper is what I have done.

Essays, Memoirs, & True Stories

Captive Audience

Confessions Of A Book Junkie

Here in this high-desert penal colony, boredom is king, and although prison is not nearly as harrowing as it is made out to be in the media, simple pleasures are in short supply. Under these diminished circumstances, passing the time with a good book takes on new meaning. Books are cherished, hoarded, reread, traded, borrowed, begged for, and accumulated in any way possible.