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I haven't figured out this site yet, but working on it. I don't know if the blogs are to put about our books, or to write about what we're doing, or are interested in. At any rate, one of my books is called The Choice Is Yours which is aimed at teens about violence and getting into trouble.

I also went up on Tennessee's death row and did a video and DVD with five of the guys who came out to talk to the kids about how they found themselves up on the row.


The Choice Is Yours Video, and DVD is a stark video containing stories from five of Tennessee’s death row inmates. It was produced by Shirley Dicks who is author of nine books on crime and punishment. In the 90 minute video, the five inmates attempt to educate teens about the dangers of crime, lack of education, drugs, gangs, and imprisonment. It’s aimed at youths as young as the third grade and up Dicks knows the five guys on death row. She has met each of them on visits to her own son, Jeff who occupied a cell there. He was wrongly convicted and sentenced to die. Shirley has spoken to many classes throughout the country about violence and the death penalty.

The men talk straight from the heart. They talk about how they found themselves on death row because of bad choices they made when young, and they encourage the kids to stay on the straight road. They explain what it’s like to be locked away with all their freedom and choices taken away. A death row inmate spends 23 hours a day in a cell. They eat, sleep and use the bathroom there. For one hour a day they visit the yard for exercise. The yard is a pen like animals are kept in. They never touch the earth, or feel the grass under their feet. They feel nothing but cold concrete beneath their feet. They don’t have a choice of what to eat, and can only remember what pizza, hamburgers and steaks taste like. When they are hungry, they can’t go to the refrigerator and pick something to eat. They must wait until guards pass a tray through the pie hole in their cell doors.

There will be no choices at to what to do after school. No movies, shopping or visiting family and friends. Those choices are also gone. The reality is, they face the four cement walls of their cell and they make this very clear to the kids watching the video. Some are lucky to have a television set in the cell, and that’s all they can do with their time and lives. No more feeling grass under their feet, as they are in a cement dog pen when they are allowed outside for their daily hour of exercise.

Gerald Laney, one of the guys on the row has this to say. “SO I started hanging around these bikers and naturally I learned how to cuss, I learned how to steal, I learned how to sell drugs, and I learned how to do them. TO put it plainly, I wasn't nothing but a fowl mouth little punk. It wasn't long before I began taking these drugs to school to sell them. And the other kids thought I was cool and looked up to me as some kind of leader. But I wasn't being cool, I was being a fool. Because if I knew then what I know now, I'd of stayed in school, gotten an education and made something of myself.


It wasn't long before I got kicked out of school and at the time I thought it was the happiest time of my life. So I just went back to the old motorcycle gang, wheeling, stealing and doing drugs. I earned the nickname Hustler for my fast and easy way to earning money. But little did I know or care that the state of Tennessee had a cell waiting for me, and it was on Tennessee's death row.

For the last twenty years of my life, I've been in prisons, and I've spent the past 13 years on Tennessee's death row. At one time I slept about twenty feet from the electric chair, called Old Sparky. There wasn't a day that went by that I didn't think about death and dying in that electric chair and I thought about what got me there. It was not going to school, getting a good education, drugs, alcohol and being a gang member, and choosing the wrong kind of friends. You think your friends will visit you once you’re inside those walls. Think again my friends. No one comes to visit, most of the time not even your own family.”

CHOICES.....”We make choices everyday...from the time we get up in the morning until the time we go to bed at night. This book is for you kids out there from the age of ten on up in the hopes that you will listen carefully to what these people have to say to you. It is done in the hopes that you won't find yourself where my son was - on death row. Yeah, I know, it can't happen to you. You're too smart to get caught at what you're doing. Perhaps you aren't doing anything but hanging around with the wrong kind of people and you think there's no harm in doing that. Well, I'm here to tell you that you're wrong....dead wrong. I'll tell you how easily something like that can happen to you.....and to your whole family. No one else is to blame anyone for your mistakes. You and you alone made those choices.

It doesn't matter if you think you deserve all the good things in life. So you're family wasn't like the Waltons, or Little House on the prairie. So you didn't wear designer clothes to school....or have a lot of spending money....perhaps you were abused as a child, mentally and physically. Perhaps you feel that you have the right to take what you want in life, no matter what you have to do to get it....even committing a violent act against someone else. You don't....You can't blame anyone for the choices you alone have made. You can overcome your past. Don't blame society because you started doing drugs....even if you did see you're parents drinking and doing drugs. You don't have to follow in their footsteps.”

From a Teenager --Thanks for making me think twice before I even think about doing the wrong things plus hanging around with the wrong crowd. I think you brought a message to everyone and I think your speech would get most of us off drugs. Thanks, Arnold

Read all about this video taped on Tn. Death row. Show it to your kids, to your classes and share the information. Hottest Video today against teen violence. Read what the kids have to say who have seen the video and heard Shirley Dicks speak. Read the newspaper accounts.

Read more…and to order for your school now. http://www.thechoiceisyours.org/

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Comment by shirley dicks on March 14, 2007 at 4:53pm
thanks....I'm figuring it out.....so glad you started this as I think we'll learn a lot through other people's mistakes and sucesses, plus we'll get to meet others who share our interest in writing.
Comment by John Kremer on March 13, 2007 at 4:00pm
You can use this network in any way you want. To share what you are doing. To ask questions. To find resources. Whatever toots your horn.

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