My visit to Charles (April 2022) – by Laurent Bachelot

This April 28, I fly to Texas, direction Livingston, prison of Polunski, in order to meet Charles there. This is the 5th Time I’ve been to this place. Nearly 6,000 prisoners are crammed into these buildings, including the 200 Texas death row inmates.

We had to insist with the administration to negotiate a two-hour extension to our face to face and obtain a four-hour visit. The newly appointed director of the prison finally accepted my request. Charles holds him in high esteem, as he has taken very positive steps for death row prisoners.

In the wake of the reunion, I say hello to Charles from his closest French friends.

I find Charles relaxed and in good shape, despite his extra pounds. He tells me I’m old, I tell him he’s too fat. I advise him more seriously to continue doing his exercises 🙂 As our dialogue progresses, my first impression is confirmed, Charles is calm and without any animosity: he is another man. It’s the first time since I’ve seen him that I see neither tension nor aggressiveness in him. During my last visits, he was very critical of everyone, virulent towards the justice system and the prison administration —which seemed quite understandable—, but also towards his friends, whom he openly attacked. if they did not follow his instructions to the letter. I have always accepted it, because how to judge the behavior of a man locked in a cage for more than 20 years! But this posture, in the opinion of his lawyer, had so far penalized him heavily. When, recently, after his passage to the lie detector, he had chosen to comment on his result by provoking the administration —with all the cheek that we know him, and this even though the result was very favorable to him—this attitude clearly backfired. This was confirmed to me by her lawyer: the damage was done and Gretchen’s work was partly sabotaged. It is this type of behavior that for years served Charles. But we must also admit that it is this character that allowed him to resist and go through the trials one by one. Strength and weakness of Charles… that’s the whole paradox. after his passage to the lie detector, he had chosen to comment on his result by provoking the administration – with all the cheek that we know him, and this even though the result was very favorable to him -, this attitude had clearly turned against him. This was confirmed to me by her lawyer: the damage was done and Gretchen’s work was partly sabotaged. It is this type of behavior that for years served Charles. But we must also admit that it is this character that allowed him to resist and go through the trials one by one. Strength and weakness of Charles… that’s the whole paradox. after his passage to the lie detector, he had chosen to comment on his result by provoking the administration – with all the cheek that we know him, and this even though the result was very favorable to him -, this attitude had clearly turned against him. This was confirmed to me by her lawyer: the damage was done and Gretchen’s work was partly sabotaged. It is this type of behavior that for years served Charles. But we must also admit that it is this character that allowed him to resist and go through the trials one by one. Strength and weakness of Charles… that’s the whole paradox. this attitude had clearly backfired. This was confirmed to me by her lawyer: the damage was done and Gretchen’s work was partly sabotaged. It is this type of behavior that for years served Charles. But we must also admit that it is this character that allowed him to resist and go through the trials one by one. Strength and weakness of Charles… that’s the whole paradox. this attitude had clearly backfired. This was confirmed to me by her lawyer: the damage was done and Gretchen’s work was partly sabotaged. It is this type of behavior that for years served Charles. But we must also admit that it is this character that allowed him to resist and go through the trials one by one. Strength and weakness of Charles… that’s the whole paradox.

This radical change in behavior, Charles explains it himself by the installation within the penitentiary establishment of the “Faith Based Program” (FBP). This program is a new measure offered to prisoners on death row. These are meditation and spirituality sessions that allow prisoners to meet former victims, to talk, to sing, to pray. The goal is to better understand the other. This program, of Christian inspiration, was established by Mr. Dickerson, the new “Warden” (director) of Polunski. Charles is convinced that it is faith that has transformed him: he has several Bibles in his cell and he has become the leader of his group made up of 14 prisoners. He was co-opted by his fellow prisoners. When we know Charles and his character, we are hardly surprised!

Charles still talks about his release, his plans and his dream of buying a van, in which he would live while traveling the roads of the USA. He plans to help the other convicts in his turn and to put his experience at the service of those who will need it. He knows better than anyone that justice is slow, but still firmly believes in a positive outcome.

We talked briefly about the ongoing proceedings, but for once he didn’t make any inappropriate comments, one of those that in the past has only done him a disservice. I therefore did not ask any particular question while insisting on the gigantic work of Gretchen who highlighted all the positive points of her file.(the Brady jurisprudence, the DNA test, the testimonies against hypnosis etc.). Charles told me that everything was now moving in the right direction and his confidence in Gretchen appeared whole and intact again. He finally understood that no one could replace Gretchen, neither by the quality of her work nor by the fact that she works for him on a totally voluntary basis. You should know that his work could be remunerated up to several hundred thousand euros. Gretchen works without any venal ulterior motives, which is rarely the case with most American lawyers, because even those who work on a voluntary basis often do so with the idea of ​​making a personal profit.

”  Innocent project  ” is again involved at the level of the State of Texas. They took over Charles’ file.

Knowing that I was on the way to see Charles, Gretchen managed to schedule her other appointments the same day. So we were able to have dinner together. I should point out that Gretchen takes care of six prisoners, four of them pro bono. It’s extraordinary enough to be underlined… but you have to be able to hold on financially! She assures me that the help of ” ACAT Thonon ” is vital and she is extremely grateful to the association.

Gretchen confirmed to me that the change in Charles’s behavior was becoming a determining factor, and now made it possible to envisage a favorable outcome in a more concrete way. Charles’ repeated slips in the past were becoming unmanageable, and without a change in behavior, Gretchen probably wouldn’t have been able to continue her fight.

Gretchen recently filed her petition with the United States Supreme Court and is still awaiting the decision. Today there are three hypotheses. First hypothesis (probably the most probable): the Supreme Court does not take the file into account. Second hypothesis: the Court chooses to examine the file but considers that things have been done in the rules. Third hypothesis: they ask for a revision of the procedure; but insofar as this decision must be accepted by the jurisdiction of Texas, the chances of seeing it succeed are very slim. There remains the trail of the DA (“District Attorney”) of Texas: given the total inconsistency of the initial investigation, Gretchen is still trying to convince him to request the opening of a new trial. Unfortunately, the fact that the prosecutors are generally elected – and this is indeed the case here – leads them to take very “political” decisions. And since the state of Texas is very conservative, the prosecutor concerned may be inclined to opt for more firmness and more repression.

The background work was done by Gretchen. We now have to round up as many people as possible. Gretchen reminded me of the importance of “ACAT” and of each of our supporters in France. The next and final step will have to go through the mobilization of the media to achieve maximum visibility so that the truth comes out. It is this pressure that could turn things around today.

Laurent BACHELOT

 

One thought on “My visit to Charles (April 2022) – by Laurent Bachelot”

  1. I am thrilled that Charles has become a believer. I wrote him for years about the wonder of the Lord’s salvation, but he only replied with his own “studies”. I will continue praying for him.
    Juanita Elwood, formerly from the Thonon Baptist Church.

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