Once again, the title explains itself, and this post is definitely going to rattle and confuse a few people, if you do disagree with this controversial topic id politely ask you refer from the hate comments and just swear to yourself or something, either way, don’t aim it at me because this is just one person’s opinion.
I first joined Death Row Support Project (DRSP) after i enrolled on my Uni Course when someone i know posted their experience and i found it mostly intriguing. From there i did my own research in what i could do, despite being housebound for periods of time, in order to gain some kind of work experience in relation to my chosen qualification which is Forensic Psychology. Fittingly, i decided to get involved in the Death Row Support Project seen as my career will (hopefully – if i ever pass) be picking into the minds of some deranged psychopathic killers and unfortunately watching Netflix crime documentaries I don’t think will quite cut it. DRSP is a christian charity (you don’t have to be a christian or religious to join, i myself am an atheist and i still found this eye-opening) that pairs you with a death row inmate. You become pen pals with a convict in America and speak to each other around once a month, establishing a relationship over pen and paper. You sign up for a minimum of a year and can talk about whatever you like, you can be as open or as private as you want and are able to even send your penpal certain gifts like stamps and money – just to add, I don’t mean like a few grams of coke or anything because the prisons do thoroughly check, they aren’t stupid. Also they do go through your letters first so if sending nudes to your inmate is something that’s up your street, do keep in mind a whole load of prison officers will also get that luxury. (Again, just to clarify I have never sent anything, I’m just being open-minded here). The DRSP is pretty much as clean-cut as that and I’ve attached a link if anyone wants to take a further look at their website. Also, check out my friend Heidi’s post on her experience with DRSP, her post is what inspired me to write mine.
With that said, I know a lot of you will be completely against this and think why the f**k would you ever give someone the time of day who has committed such horrific crimes, they deserve to be punished. Which, quite frankly I agree with, these people need to be punished for what they do and so they have been sentenced to death and I must admit that the reason I first applied to write to someone on death row was not out of compassion or empathy or even sympathy, it was out of pure interest and curiosity into what goes on in that person’s head. What is life like for them now they’ve done the unforgivable? And what do they think about dying? Are they just like a normal person? Do they feel remorse? There are a billion questions I wanted to know the answers to and so honestly i began writing to my inmate purely to gain knowledge and kind of poke into his vulnerable mindset (in the nicest way possible). It was from then on I got paired with my inmate and we began forming a relationship, and now I can say I look forward to hearing from him, not just out of curiosity because he is very open and tells me a lot about his experiences but because I now like to hear what he’s doing and how he is feeling and each time I get to know more about him. I do not and will not ever forgive him for what he has done but I compartmentalise him into the man I speak to and the man who committed the crimes in which he will be dying as a result of. Which I can say is fairly easy because if you read his letters and didn’t know what he had done, you would never think that it would be the same person, he writes with such emotion and passion you wouldn’t ever expect such a heinous crime to come from the author. And yes, I know some do it on purpose in the hope you might feel sorry for them and help them out with money etc but im not an idiot im not gonna be one of those crazy women who fall madly in love with their penpal, fly over to America, get married behind bars and dedicate my life earnings to getting him off death row.
I have since got permission to talk (briefly) about said inmate as his case was a fairly high-profile one in america back in 2008 and so is traceable on the internet anyway. However despite him being public knowledge, i still cannot say his name and so I shall refer to him as ‘A’ for the remainder of this post, although I will be brief with the information about him. A was born in 1969 and has served the majority of his life behind bars, he tells me that his parents are both deceased and he has 6 other siblings but he doesn’t see them, he thinks if he had a better childhood and hadn’t gone through certain trauma (i cannot mention) he wouldn’t have committed crimes and would’ve had children and a happy marriage which he has always wanted. In 1993 he was charged for kidnap to commit or facilitate commission of felony and sexual battery with the use of a weapon to incapacitate the victim and then charged again in 1994. I am utterly disgusted and horrified that a person would do this sort of thing to a person so me and A refrain from talking objectively about the crime and more about his mentality in regards to the crimes. He was serving a life sentence for these crimes where he became a skilled metal worker within the prison facility of Tomoka and often tells me how much he loves to play chess and basketball and reads all sorts of literature. In 2008 A was working at the facility when he waited in the storage room, jumped out and strangled, and then stabbed the prison officer to death. I don’t want to go into detail as I have read the entire court manuscript and it isn’t pleasant, out of respect to the victim and their family I would rather not publicly share these details although if you really wanted to know you can find them online. A knows that I know what he has done and that I cannot forgive him for that but will continue to talk to him until he is eventually killed. He was in solitary for 23 hours a day untill 2012 where he filed a civil law suit against the court for illegal confinement and now is allowed contact and outdoor recreation. Like I said, I don’t want to talk much about A in a personal manner because a lot of what he says is private and i also don’t want to make him out to be someone he isn’t. At the end of the day he committed those crimes and words cannot take that back.
In regards to myself I have found it eye-opening talking to A, learning about him as a person and about the lifestyle he lived/now lives. It not only helps with my course (although at the moment it’s boring af) as I know a fair amount of people on the course use it as experience for their future profession but it also gives me something to do in the days aswell, it is exciting when you see a letter arrive in the post and i’m eager to read what’s changed in the past few weeks. It also brings me comfort to know that someone who is lonely, desperate and in need of some form of hope (whether they deserve it or not) is getting that from me. It feels nice to think that someone looks forward to hearing from me (Sounds like i have no friends and so trapped someone who literally cannot escape me), and that that is all they have to hold onto before they die. Dying is a terrifying thing and whatever you’re opinion on capital punishment or convicted criminals, i don’t think anyone deserves to die alone and terrified.
As I said at the start, I know that this will divide opinions and everyone is entitled to their own opinion but I ask you not to be offensive in regards to my own opinion.
If you are interested in talking to a death row inmate then click the link above and just sign up, there is a waiting list at the minute but pen pals are always needed, it takes around 1 – 3 months to be matched with an appropriate inmate and receive your first letter. Once again thank you for reading and making it to the end and if you want, click here to read my previous post!