My name is Edgar B. Garcia, but my friends call me Chavalon. I am currently on Federal death row, trapped in this draining and exhausting web of appeals. It all feels endless at times.
My journey has been long, arduous, and different than most of the guys here on the row. I have been incarcerated in the federal system for over twenty years. I started serving time for a R.I.C.O. conspiracy charge at a young age. Angry, hopeless, and full of pride, I walked around weaving circumstances like a net. I was in a very dark place mentally and unable to see the positive side to anything and anyone and, more importantly, it kept me from growing and improving as a person, for I was too absorbed in the prison culture.
I am not that kid anymore. I have taken the time to figure out what I want, who I am, and, more importantly, have learned that you cannot beat something with nothing. So, in order to change, I had to start by unlearning all the mental habits and implement new and improved ones that would support my newfound motivation to change my character, my approach, and my life.
Nothing about this process has been easy. I had to fight in every way possible to carve out the time and avenues to create opportunities through my own means to educate myself, for the system doesn’t provide avenues for prisoners like me, who have been deemed “violent” and “incapable of change.” Thankfully, I have been able to prove them wrong with actions. What they’ve failed to realize is the system’s refusal to hand me the tools necessary to build myself up has now become the drive that pushes me towards education. This has enabled me to seek out more productive ways to do my time, grow, and maintain good conduct. I refuse to allow my past and violent actions to define me, so I am just focusing on my improvement and constantly seeking ways to siphon the good within me.
I know from experience that I am capable of change and rehabilitation. We all just need a little encouragement and a way to pursue it. The system has negatively labeled me and is trying to take my life, but I will never give them the pleasure of taking my mind. They constantly set barriers to hinder any type of productivity or improvement, but I will elaborate more on that through my writings and hopefully give people a raw and uncut view of this place.
It was in my darkest moments, housed in the SHU fighting case after case, that somehow manifested something beautiful. How can that be? It was in all of those cold and empty living tombs (cells) without property that I stumbled upon what later became my passion: Art.
Art has become my salvation, my purpose and a major reason for fighting for my life. It began as an outlet, to express the feelings I had inside, the things I dared not share with others inside this place. Then as I poured my raw emotions onto paper or canvas, it made me confront aspects of myself which I had shied away from. It forced me to examine who I was on a deep, introspective level I had never imagined and at the same time allowing me to attain a depth of insight into my own heart and soul which I believe few ever reach. I was led to an objective realization of both my flaws and my good points. In so doing, I discovered a man worse than I hoped for and better than I had feared.
Each prisoner has a story, a way of coping, a strategy to deal with the unknown behind these walls. Some just give up by surrendering daily to the encroaching desolation of the years. In my case, I believe that my up-bringing prepared me for the mental and physical challenge that comes with this place. I grew up on the border between El Paso Texas and Juarez Mexico. I guess, besides the mental strength attained from that struggle, I also acquired other positives from it, like being bilingual and having the privilege of experiencing the richness of both the Mexican and American culture. So even if my home base has been like myself deemed a war zone and is well known for all the wrong reasons, to me it will always be home. I was able to experience and hold onto a piece of the good from that place I call home.
I just hope I am able to leave and share the good in me through this platform. I hope that not only the people who know me but also those who don’t are willing to take the time to learn about me and allow me to demonstrate that my improvements thwart the violent acts of my past.
Thank you for your time.