(Editor’s note: What follows is a transcription, accompanied by images of the original typed letter from Daniel Wozniak. Typos, grammatical errors, and misspellings found in the original are reproduced in the transcription.)
BEFORE EVERYONE GETS MAD…LET’S FACT CHECK A COUPLE THINGS
WHY AM I NOW HERE AT SALINAS VALLEY STATE PRISON?
To understand what’s happening a lesson in history is warranted. First when California VOTED to bring back the Death Penalty as a punishment it was done so by means of a Proposition [commonly known as the Briggs Initiative]; which was co-authored by a judge in Orange County! Poorly written…which essentially granted years of legal appeals for all the criminals sentenced to Death. The result of which has entirely clogged the judicial process; robbing the victims of THEIR due process, while you (the taxpayers) have now spent more than $4.5 BILLION DOLLARS ever since its implementation [with just 13 executions to show for!]
Skip ahead to 2016 where a measure which would essential try to ‘fix’ this Death Penalty Problem went on the ballot [PROP 62]. However, this failed to pass due to there being yet ANOTHER poorly written measure [PROP 66]: A bait-and-switch smoke screen giving the illusion of them speeding up the Death Penalty, but without so much as offing how they planned on solving the appellate ‘clog’; which meant the Courts simply shot it down. However, there were three other things that PROP 66 did:
(1) It lowered the cost for the taxpayers by not REQUIRING inmates to be HOUSED in the high-cost setting of San Quentin (Even though we all still have the same Death sentence). (2) It raised our restitution to 77% (from 55%) to pay off Victims Restitution Orders [Which mine is well over $65,000; ordered for ME to pay by no other than the FORMER Orange County District Attorney, Mr. Matt Murphy, himself!]. And (3) Since there was no way for inmates to pay this off, those who wanted to could volunteer to work in/at another prison (if they had no write ups in 5+ years) to pay off the OCDA & OC Court ordered restitution so the burden wouldn’t have to fall to our families and loved ones (who SHOULDN’T be left held responsible for our actions!)
So what am I now doing in Salinas Valley? Well, I’m doing exactly what California VOTED for me to do. So I feel it’s important to put ALL of this into context before everyone starts getting mad. Another thing to ask yourself is who sat on the planning commission making the decision and recommendations for how the Condemned Inmate Transfer Pilot Prog. [CTTPP] was to be implemented? Well, look no further than another fine wonderful person in Orange County – The Honorable Judge Prickett!
Now…I can see and understand why family members are angry (which I’m all but certain is VERY upsetting) but ever since I began this entire process I have continually asked what others would do if they found themselves in my position…and still to this day have not found one person who has been able to offer an answer that differs from the choices I continue to make on a daily basis. I have had and continue to welcome visits from my victims families anytime they wish to see me [I’m more than willing to sit down and allow them to vent ALL their anger, frustration and grief onto me. They more than deserve that right to do so]. I have accepted full responsibility for crimes which I can’t fathom ever being forgiven for! But don’t think for one minute that a day goes by that I don’t suffer living in a perpetual prolonged daily existence with the constant reminder that there’s absolutely NOTHING I can do to repair the damage my actions caused. I can only do the things which I fell CAN make some form of a meaningful difference.
Understand that nothing has REALLY changed. I’m still in-prison, I’m never leaving prison and…I will eventually face what I was, in fact, sentenced to and die within prison’s walls. This journey I have now found myself on really no longer has anything to do with me. My mind wrote myself off years ago. Living in prison and on Death Row for more than a decade leaves you faced with a daily paradox each and every morning: “If I’m already dead, why do I continue to wake up each day?”
Something you first need to forget about are those ridiculous notions that prison is filled with all these evil, hate-filled, dangerous and violent predators. (I blame Hollywood and those shock-factor (UN)True Crime TV Shows – which are comical in the way they stage and film all these embellished stereotypes). In REALITY…the prison population is just a bunch of guys who the world has abandoned; lost souls who have given up since they no longer believe they have any semblance of value whatsoever. They lack direction, think they have no purpose and think themselves to be all alone in this world. [Why wouldn’t they? Nobody truly cares whether they live or die!] Society no longer wants to deal with them so it’s simply easier and convenient for them to cast labels on them: “Scary, Dangerous, Evil, Monsters, etc.) Again, in REALITY.. being treated like that for so long takes most (if not ALL) fight out of them and leaves the majority in severe states of chronic depression
[You want a real “visual”?]: Tune in to any anti-depressant medication commercial. Do you ever see the sad guy in the bit all violent, angry and beating up everyone around him? NO! Most of the time you’ll be lucky if the dude has a reason to get out of bed in the morning. In all my time I’ve known just a couple of fatal attacks in prison; all of which were active gang members handling a ‘snitch’. Yet I’ve known (personally) AT LEAST 50 who have died either by suicide, overdose or medical issues. THIS the sad reality that prison truly is…THIS is the Real Problem that nobody is doing nearly enough about!
I hope you don’t think me to be insensitive to what people “out there” think of me. I’m sorry they feel that way and would gladly take on their burden if there were such a way to do so. Nobody’s quite figured out how to accomplish that yet (but please let me know if you do). At this point I don’t know how to change their warranted feeling for me. But for now I do find myself in a position of doing something unprecedented that’s never been done before. This PROP 66 action CITPP is complete uncharted territory (for everybody). It’s still prison!
I can only continue doing what I feel is the right thing to do at this point. The one thing that prison lacks is HOPE; especially for those who don’t truly deserve to even be here [NOT ME!]. To create it sometimes you have to be the change you want to see. It’s now become both the reason & answer to my daily paradox: To bring light where you only seem to find forgotten darkness. If it’s changing and making a difference in the lives of many others in here, whom the world has forgotten and wants nothing more to do with – I’M SORRY! But I do not see the value in ceasing what I’ve been doing for years now, if it now seems to upset some people who are ALWAYS going to hate me NO MATTER WHAT! People in here need to know that they should continue to have something to hope for and the more who know this fact, the better off this whole thing will be for everyone. I’m only one man and don’t presume to think I can fix this…but it continues to be a problem that exists and I’m in a position to actually do something about it! Making a difference is one of the few living amends I can offer for the damage I’ve caused.
(Editor’s note: End of transcription.)
I hope readers found this interesting. I promise to pass your substantive comments on to Daniel… as long as they are not just hopes for Daniel’s death and the like.
Addendum, September 14, 2021
I recently had direct contact with a reader who would like to remain anonymous but had some interesting and informative questions and comments about Daniel Wozniak’s letter to readers. This reader does have a strong personal connection to this case.
This person pointed out that Daniel used the word “fix” when discussing California’s Proposition 62, but the removal of the death penalty in California would not be a fix for the many people who support keeping the death penalty.
The anonymous commenter also wanted to make sure people understand that Proposition 66 was, overall, meant to speed up the legal process so death row inmates wouldn’t have years and years of appeals. Allowing DR inmates to transfer to other prisons so they could have jobs is actually just “cherry picking” from the less important point of the proposition.
The reader also wondered why death row inmates were moved from San Quentin to be able to work, but didn’t already have jobs set up before even leaving DR? They asked, “It is true that Daniel still has not been assigned a job at Salinas Valley State Prison, but he is enjoying the benefits of not sitting on death row?”
What irked the anonymous reader the most was Daniel’s comment that he has “accepted full responsibility” for his crimes. According to the reader, “It’s obvious that Daniel has not been honest with the police about the involvement of other people in the murders of Sam Herr and Julie Kibuishi. And until Daniel comes completely clean about all the details of the killings and who was involved – he has no right to claim he’s accepted full responsibility.”