Friday, June 29, 2007

Free Eric Volz - Update

I've previously mentioned the case of Doris Jimenez, a young woman who was violently murdered in Nicaragua in 2007, and Eric Volz, the 28-year-old American wrongfully convicted of that murder.

This is an update from the Free Eric Volz team, including a letter that Eric wrote from prison.


June 29, 2007 - day #220 for Eric

Eric wrote this letter about current prison conditions over 2 months ago. The information remains true and the delay in posting it is one more example of the difficulties he experiences getting correspondence out.

Status of the Appeal: at this point there is no official news on a time frame for the Appellate Court's review of Eric's case. We are extremely frustrated with the complete lack of communication from the court. Each day there is no news is another day in which Eric languishes in the conditions he describes below. Recently, prison officials have refused to allow access to Eric's legal defense attorney and to friends bringing him food.

Continue to send Eric your thoughts, meditations and prayers for his stamina, health and safety.

Eric's letters, part 3:

Prison Conditions

This seems to be a topic of great interest to most people. Almost every letter says something like, "I can't imagine what it's like in that prison." I will share what I can, but I also need people to know that it is a very delicate and sensitive situation.

I will start by saying that the conditions here are really shitty!! The authorities lack sufficient resources and subsequently face a wide variety of problems and we, the prisoners, pay the price.

We have had no water pressure from the artesian wells for about 10 days. Water is brought in by buckets filled in the yard from hose faucets. There are less than 10 slow faucets to provide water for over 2,500 inmates. Do the math and shake your head in disbelief as I am. The water shortage has been caused by the well pump burning up due to power outages (an issue in and of itself). The authorities have informed us that the pump should be repaired in the next couple of days, but in the meantime it isn't pretty.

No one gets good sleep here. The noise is traumatic. Its like being in an industrial factory with metal doors slamming, 5 or more different kinds of music at full blast at the same time, and crazy inmates screaming at 4:30am just to be jerks and wake people up. At times it drives you nuts. I have been driven to the point where I have to sit down in my cell, cover my ears, and focus on my breathing just to keep it together.

There is also the heat which makes you constantly sweaty and sticky. I fall asleep and wake up in pools of sweat. Most prisoners have insomnia and can't sleep without pills. I have resisted the temptation.

The food is not enough. The prison provides a cup of beans, a cup of rice, coffee, sometimes green bananas or a small bread bun. The food comes at lunch and sometimes again in the afternoon. It is not uncommon to find cockroaches and fingernails in the rice. My eating schedule has been very abnormal and extremely stressful on my body. When the courts delayed my appeal I got really sick. I spent two weeks in bed. Yesterday the doctor diagnosed me with gastritis and intestinal parasites for which I'm taking meds. My whole abdominal area aches - it's freaky being ill like this in prison.

I experience tension with many prisoners here. The Nicaraguan press has created an image of me as a privileged gringo from the elite who thought he was above the law and could get out by paying bribes, which of course is not true. Many make reference to Doris' mother's absurd allegation that I offered her $1 million to drop the charges - which again is not true.

In addition, the majority of the prison population has a very negative image of the US and associates me accordingly. My cell is referred to as the US Embassy and prisoners joke by coming to the door asking for a Visa. I can't help but laugh. The other day I was being escorted down the hall and a kid shouted from his gallery door, "Hey Bush!" It wasn't a directly negative comment to me, but it speaks to the underlying story of our unfortunate reputation in the international consciousness. I walked on thinking, "If only he knew that he's got me all wrong. I am more than a gringo. If only he knew that my grandparents were Mexican and their first language was Spanish. If only he knew that I'm proud of my Latino heritage and I love his country. If only he knew so many other things . . . maybe he would have said, 'What's up, bro!' instead."

Encounters like this happen frequently and I'm aware that most of the people who surround me here don't understand me; or likely will they ever. There will always be tension. I have learned the only way to stay out of trouble is become completely independent.

My cell has become my castle. In it I study, read, write, stretch and rest. I have decided that I don't have time for anything else. A rumor going around is that I read each of my books six times before I move on to the next - where do these guys come up with this stuff?

Another related question I'm asked is about the danger in my present situation. I will say that all prisons are dangerous. I would be lying if I said that the relevance of my case has not generated enemies; it has. The warden is concerned for my safety and has made certain exceptions with the security regiment that reflect that. I will say that I am as safe as I can be in the given situation - but there is no guarantee.

I have come to terms with my reality and feel it is reasonable for everyone to prepare for the worst. I know that is heavy, trust me I can't believe I'm actually writing it, but it is an accurate reflection of my situation. I share this because people want to know what I'm going through and I want to be honest. I don't want to be an alarmist, nor do I want people to dwell in
fear for me. I believe I will be okay no matter what because I know myself and I know who my God is, and because of that no one can touch me. No matter what, I walk away victorious.

With love,

Eric V.


If anything, this case has reminded me that the world is a very broken, messy place, and that life is not fair. But God willing, it can be just. Pray for justice in this case and help take action by contacting your senators and congressional representatives. Too many Americans (myself included!) neglect the right and responsibility to speak out and practice the democratic principles we are lucky to have.

And I'll step off my soapbox now...

For more information on the case, visit

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