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On October 18, 2002 my college English class was given an assignment to write a short research paper on the reasons why we are against the use of capital punishment. This was a difficult assignment for me because I have always been in favor of capital punishment. We were given a number of websites to visit in order to collect our research material and I stumbled on your column - Deadman Talkin'. I was curious to hear what you had to say and was not surprised to read that you are opposed to the death penalty.
With less than an open mind, I read through about half of the articles that you have written. I had a pre-conceived notion that you wouldn't be able to form a complete sentence or convey any other view point than proclaim your innocense.
I was surprised at the number of your statements I agreed with. I wanted to thank you for opening my eyes, actually, not just you but the assignment in general. Although I don't see myself as an anti-death penalty activist I have had to re-evaluate my own opinions on capital punishment.
I was able to argue a different perspective than the one I started with. One of the points you made in Column 33 reinforced an opinion that I have had - that people with money are not subject to the same severity of punishment as those without. Regardless of the seriousness of the crime I have seen this time and time again in the administration of local justice. I never thought of the affect that this has on the fairness of capital punishment. During the course of my research I uncovered some very disturbing facts to support your statement.
I wanted to share my "closing argument" with you . . . Until we can be certain that everyone, regardless of race, sex, or financial means is treated equally and judged fairly and not fall prey to overzealous prosecutors and incompetent defense attorneys it is critical that we re-evaluate our method of punishment.
I wanted to let you know the impact your column had on me.

My Name is Eric I am 33 years old and a single father of three girls. My wife died giving birth to my youngest doughtier. 
My wife and I decided that if she had problems in child birth that she wanted to save the child over her self. Never thought it would come true. When the doctor came to me and said that We saved the baby I was happy but when he told me my wife had died I fell to my knees sobbing. I loved my wife with all my heart. We met in high school I spent 11 wonderful years with her. She was my best friend. 
Life to me is so very special. 
I wish you the best. 
Keep up the good fight . . . 

I am writing my senior thesis on capital punishment. I am writing it on being FOR the death penalty. 
I believe that everyone has a right to life. 
Once someone takes that right of someone else's away, what right does that person have anymore? none. 
Killing is wrong. Everyone knows that. So why do people get so angry when people are put down in the electric chair?
The person they killed could be someones mother, sister, dad, uncle, brother . . .  so if you are saying that it is unfair to put people through this process, you are wrong. They should have thought about that before they killed someone, and they deserve everything they get. 
An eye for an eye. 

I just got your message. I am confused. You say you are FOR the death penalty, then you say everyone has a right to life.
Then you say Killing is Wrong so why do people get angry when people are put down in the electric chair?
I hope your thesis makes better sense than the points you made in this message.It sounds like you have selective reasoning.
Either killing is wrong or it isn't. I hope you figure out what you believe, in time.
Take care,


My name is raphael. I' m french and i don't speak very well english but i'm sure you can understand my bad english.My english teacher is american, he comes from Providence and he wants me to do a presentation. Last year, i' ve done my presentation on guns in America and i talked about the Columbine massacre and this year, i've decided to do it about the death penalty because of you . In a letter, you said that european people have to talk to american turists and even if my teacher is not a teacher, i think it 's necessary for me to give him my opinion. I study law and i'm strongly opposed to the death penalty but even it doesn't exist in France, many people are for the death penalty in this country. Luckily, it's impossible to install again such a silly and barbaric practice. I question: Is there any american politician who fight for the abolition of the death penalty? I know that the Clintons aren't not opposed to it, Bush is a dangerous cow boy who decides to kill a man in 15 minutes in his office, but is there anyone in the US politics arena to have a different opinion on the question?
Take care of you, i think about you.

I used to live in San Rafael and passed by your home frequently. Brother, you have my sympathy. This is not a good country to allow oneself to be apprehended by the authorities. You have reinforced some of my own ideas regarding the quality of justice we can expect in this country at the present time. I have enjoyed reading your articles and found them informative and descriptive and interesting. Thanks for the insights. The food thing really does sound bad. I thought the food would at least be as good as military food, but, it doesn't even sound close. Beans . . noodles . . . I didn't recall your mentioning fruit or salads . . I don't mean to be petty in my focus, but something about the blahness of the food description caused me to get a glimpse into the tediousness of your present circumstances.
There has to be a better way Dean, I mean they convict people on the most flimsy evidence imaginable. Shadow of doubt really does fly out the window when an intimidating and persuasive prosecutor gets rolling at his pulpit. What happened to blind justice. These courts should be passionately interested in making certain that every guilty person is convicted and on the flip side should be just as passionate to make certain than an innocent person is not punished.
In short, prosecutor reputations should not be dependant on convictions, but, should be indexed to a more lofty and noble idea of justice. To mitigate as much human misery as possible should be our goal. Why compound the problem. Start out with one victim and in an attempt for justice victimize another innocent? It seems like a simple idea. I can't figure out how things got so deranged and convoluted. It must have something to do with ruthless ambition and the fact that inside prison or on the outside the candle of mankind's consciousness is not very bright.
You know I used to always stay up late at night on execution days. I suppose it was a morbid fascination. It would be all over the radio and television and in the morning the papers would always run multiple pages on the various aspects . The last meal. The witnesses. Weather the condemned was brave or cowardly. Now I notice in the last few years with the exception of Tucker an Mc Veigh they seem to stonewall the whole thing anymore and usually all the info you get is merely a couple columns in the second section of the newspaper. I guess that it is best if you are not going to change the policy to kind of keep it low-key. I think that it doesn't take many executions that a person really gets into, to change forever ones attitude regarding the ultimate penalty. When I used to check out these executions I was usually pretty impressed with the courage displayed by these people about to pay the supreme penalty. These people in spite of the heinous crimes they may have committed usually, although not always exhibited poise that I found surprising and caused me to be humbled by the human condition and spirit prevailing in spite of all.
please forgive my lack of punctuation and spelling mistakes. I have become tired and if I do not send this now, I probably won't , so, I won't bother correcting anything.
Good luck to you Dean and best regards,

Hello Bud,
I should have mentioned it, but we usually get an apple twice a day and when they pass out the nighttime food, they usually have a 'salad' that is shopped up lettuce, usually brown on the edges.
Thanks for your message.
Take care,


Dear Dean,
Thank you for giving of yourself, to educate those of us which too easily ignore those things which do not directly affect us. (sorry for the awkward phrasing) We are in general, very apathetic in society.
I am in the beginning stages of correspondence with another San Quentin death row prisoner and I am learning so much! I am proud to be a Canadian in that we have a guarantee in our constitution against capital punishment. All of our over-zealous conservative politicians would have to ratify the constitution to change our Charter of Rights and personal freedoms. The US tells it's people that they are the freest people in the world; yet they treat their own like animals and slaughter them for political reasons.
Please don't mis-understand me, this isn't about being anti-American, because I'm not. It's about the sanctity of human life; a second chance and forgiveness. This is senseless! I pray for all of you every day. I hope that the US will come to it's senses soon and get in line with the rest of the civilized world. I am an eternal optimist.
Please take care,

I have read your work and it left me with this sinking feeling in my tummy. I am twenty-five and I do NOT support the death penalty. I am outraged at the number of people who post and shout that he should be killed. 
By allowing the death penalty. Are we not breaking our own law to not kill? Are we not inflicting an act of violence on the convicted's friends and family who have done nothing and yet become victims? I am sure you have heard this and possibly thought this but it scares me to read that people actually look forward to someone dying. When someone commits the act of murder. There are no winners. 
I agree with you so very much about the mispresentation of the word "closure". Does closure truly even exist? I doubt it. How the death penalty is closure in some people's eyes gets me. The person who is convicted of the crime usually has family. Regardless whether they are close or not. These people get hurt in a battle that was not theirs. 
As I write this I have mixed emotions. So please excuse the topic jumping but a part of me is a bit concerned at having taken the risk of writing you and if I choose to continue keeping up with your words. The sadness that may come if one day your words stop due to execution. It is horrible to think about even this short distance into knowing about you. 
I get the prison reform packet and I see the statistics you speak of. I see how repeat offenders are often those who were in the system for quite some time. It is true that prison is a survival camp. My opinion. The way of life in prisons is comparable to the roughest neighborhoods police will not patrol. Stabbings, rapes, gangs, cutting, favoritism with guards who only cause more conflict, guards killing someone without a weapon but all it takes is the guard's words that he did and society is ok with it. It was only a prison inmate to them. 
Someone posted on the site how they were outraged at a place called cellpals.com and how prisoners were allowed penpals and a site to find prisoners looking for penpals. I made a huge post about the lack of reform and how society looked at prisoners as animals. How life inside prison was violent and without reform these people are a big endangerment to society for when they are released. 
There are so many things I can say. So many things I am aware of that goes on inside prisons. I have never been there but that does not mean I am not aware. I am scared of my society. The eagerness in which they have for the death penalty scares me. How can they be human? 
Take care of yourself inside of you. 

I read a couple of your columns and I want you to read this with an open mind. I am an 18 senior in high school. I am currently writing a paper on the death penalty and came across your web site while researching the topic.
I am for the death penalty but I am only for the death penalty if there is a definite confirmation that the person to be executed is guilty, which I know does not apply to you, or so you say because I would deny everything too if I was in your position. I don't agree with the police or the penal system either, but I think you are trying to make people feel sorry for you and other death row inmates. I don't give a #### how bad prisons treat death row inmates because you better than I do that too many people in prison will do whatever it takes to get out (IE making a shank out of a tooth brush handle or shaping knifes out of excess metal in the cell).
My out look on the death penalty is if you kill a man intentionally, just one man, and there is no doubt you did it, you should be put to death no questions asked, period. I don't give a ####. Why should my tax dollars pay to house and feed you "normal," as you say, murderers when I am working my ass off in the real world and people are not getting covered by medicare, medicaid, etc. that deserve that money?
I would assume that you agree with me when I say that prison overcrowding is the governments own fault. I don't think anyone should be in jail for drug use or sales. But I also don't believe anyone should be in jail waiting for their appeals to go through to try to get a death sentence changed to a life sentence. That's #### stupid.
I don't agree with what you said when you try to make it look like the government reverts to violence to solve problems. When a person kills another person they know what could happen if and when they get caught. At least they got due process, the person they killed sure as hell didn't. And what about the remaining family and friends. How would you like to hear the man that killed your son will get out of prison in 25 years (for example), in 25 years your son isn't going to climb out of his grave and start his life over, is he?
I know this was poorly thought out and shit. Know I truly don't want to sound like an ass, but this is reality. Neither you or I got to decide how the US in ran, but we both have to deal with the consequences.

You are so full of it. i fly the american flag every day and stick my chest out and say i am proud to be an american the #1 greatest nation in the world. i vote in every election, voted for bush in the last one, and if he runs again will vote for him. no lie, our nation is back to where it was in the 80's, after what we have been through i'm surprised we aren't further back than that. seems you are so knowing about the world affairs, although you sit in your small cell every day, don't know how you know so much. your scare tacticts remind me of some preachers. they try and scare you to death about going to hell. i believe our great nation can pull together and come out of this. i think it has done remarkable for what it has suffered, and we, even you dean, should be positive. no nation is going to be governed without mistakes, but i'm telling you dean i believe it is the greatest nation in the world.
take care,

Hello Sarah,
You should not confuse patriotism with nationalism. There is nothing wrong with loving your country, but you should know the difference between loving your country and loving what your Government does. But it sounds like it will not matter to you. Voting for Bush and saying the way it was in the 80s is good, pretty much shows where you are coming from. The 80s is when so many of the problems in our country started when Reagan stripped the entire social program in our country. Ever since then it has been a downward spiral. I do not expect you to agree with that, maybe you will change your mind about voting for Bush by the time that comes around. Probably not though.
Take care,

Hi Dean, 
I was not too sure about becoming a penfriend for Lifelines, (an organisation that supports Prisoners on death row by providing penfriends). You have completely convinced me that it is the right thing to do.
Please continue with your column if you can. 
Thank you

For those who don't know, Lifelines is a group from England that provides support and friendship to people on death row. 
There are also other groups like Human Writes and Inside-Outside who do this. 
There are links to these sites on the linkpage.


Hi Dean, 
Yes I was able to find your reference. 
I am not surprised by the BUSH history, although I did gather much information I didn't know before. 
For instance: How can anyone be A. W. O. L from an Air Force reserve unit, unless daddy covered it up?
What you may find interesting to note is this: The other evening I was engaging in a discussion about the people in Washington D. C. and a comment I made was that perhaps I had unfairly judged our politicians as sociopaths rather than narcissists; however someone else, (with a doctorate in psychology) interrupted and mentioned that she didn't find it to be unfair. In addition she added that she herself really believed BUSH and CHENY are sociopathic personalities. She expanded by citing some very concrete examples that you had already referred me to. I doubt that I need to cite them to you.
What did disturb me a bit is the headline that Senator Lieberman found that the war in Iraq was a JUST war. I was always taught that something could be JUSTIFIED only if three conditions were met. If any one of the three conditions didn't exist the act was unjustified. 
The three conditions are as follows:
(1) Means, (2) Circumstances, and (3) End.
To give an example would be this: A man's family is starving, ( CIRCUMSTANCE ), he steals a loaf of bread in order to feed them, (MEANS), and he saves them from starvation, (END). It will never be MORAL to steal, but under certain CIRCUMSTANCES it can be JUSTIFIED.
Another example would be the police-officer, (or anyone), that kills another human-being in self-defense. KILLING is still immoral; however it could be justified under those circumstances. Justification and morality are two entirely different aspects. 
We, (human-beings), can never change MORALITY. It is our knowledge of what is good or evil and how it can be applied to our ETHICAL standards, or our integrity, that determines right from wrong. I realise that doesn't agree with most psychologists, but then again if the death-penalty can be justified in this day and age. I don't I give a damn if their definition of what is moral comprises leadership.
Very sincerely,


Let me quote Joseph Paul Goebbels, (Adolf Hitler's minister of propaganda ):

"The greater the lie the easier it will be to make people believe it".

I quoted that because it reminds me of the media's technique today in the U.S. (not Nazi Germany). As long as you are able to instill fear in the people you are able to control them. It seems like it worked real well for Hitler. This is the same way I look at the death-penalty. As long as an administration can make people believe that a monster, (a Ted Bundy), will POSSIBLY be set free to continue his actions the easier it is to control their minds. That isn't the primary reason why I'm opposed to the death-penalty, but it is an obstacle in the path of repealing it.
Perhaps you might offer something to overcome that obstacle. Like yourself I do believe that harsh punishment should be met out to compensate the crime, but I will never believe that the death-penalty is an answer. Perhaps two consecutive terms of 49 years would be appropriate. What are your thoughts about that? Thanks too for helping me think more clearly about the "Washington D.C." sniper incident.
No you're right the death-penalty shouldn't be considered as an option. It would send out a message that for certain people the death-penalty is the only answer. Who are those CERTAIN people?

The reference Michael talks about is at: http://www.clamormagazine.org/features/issue14.3_feature.html
Michael and I have been talking about President Bush traveling to Auschwitz in Poland and his not apologizing for the contribution his family made to it, nor did he refer to it in anyway. It seems hypocritical. All Bush did was sign the questbook and wrote something like "Never Forget." It seems he forgets where his family money comes from though.

Dear Dean,
I had a friend who served some time in San Quentin and that interested me in finding out more about prison but more so about San Quentin. As I was searching I stumbled upon your website and became interested immediately. I read all 34 of your entries and was fascinated to learn more about a corrupt system than I already knew. 
I would also like to say that before reading this article I wasn't to sure about the way I felt about the death penalty and to tell you the truth I'm still not sure what I think. I can definitely say that if they (the government) are executing innocent people on accident or on purpose then they should stop the whole damn thing. But I doubt like you said Americans are more focused on quick solutions and results than they are the truth. If you show an average American person the statistics of crime in their community and then asked for a solution they are going to tell you to make more arrests make more prosecutions. And the law makers and law enforcers in order to get elected and make everybody happy will do just that. They will go out and arrest x amount of people so they can go back to the same person and say look there was a crime problem so we took x amount of people of the street. The crime didn't go down but that person is happier knowing that there are x amount of people off the street. That person doesn't care how you did it, why you did it, what you had to do to do it just so long as you did it. Proving my point that Americans want results not the truth. By breed we are a very greedy blood thirsty people and this is a ruthless world. 
I wish I could tell you that we will as a whole wakeup someday and realize how shitty things have gotten but I don't see it happening. But websites like yours make a contribution and I think everybody should read them. There is a lot to be learned Dean and that's just it the more people you can educate about how corrupt the judicial system is the better the more people you can influence to vote the better, the more people you can convince to write their congressman/senator the better, that is how things will get changed. I hope you don't give up hope you are in a very powerful position to influence people and make changes wether you believe that or not you are, you changed my perspective a little and you can change others perspective too. It has been two days since Ive read your entries and since then I have started discussions with family, friends, coworkers etc. about the death penalty and the judicial system and me giving them your insight on how prisons make more criminals than they rehabilitate and how innocent people are being executed 
I have changed the opinions of probably 10 people. That's 10 people in 2 days by word of mouth. People aren't as cruel as they are ignorant the more people you can teach with a non-bias opinion the better. You said it best when you quoted that the person who gives up freedom for security deserves neither. And there is no better time than now for that to apply.
I guess I had better go I just wanted you to know that you are making a difference and to keep the faith. I hope all is well for you, please keep in touch.
PS-thank you for showing me life in your shoes.

Among the reasons I m opposed to the death-penalty are the following:
1 ) Advoates of the death-penalty propose that it provides losure for the victim's family. There s no such thing as closure. It does not resurrecte the loved one. It just provides a convenient excuse to justify REVENGE. 
2 ) Unless a person loves to watch a human being die there can be no other reason. How can anyone say that 15 minutes watching someone die brings an end to one's grief? Who is left to HATE? Who is left to BLAME? If HATE and BLAME describes someone's personality then there is something wrong with the accepted definition of "human-being". 
3 ) What crime did the family of the death- penalty victim commit? Don't they have feelings too?
Don't mistake that I am not in favour of harsh punishment for particularly heinous crimes. I just believe there is another answer. I killed a man in self-defense and I watched him die. I didn’t enjoy it at all. Besides it is against my own code of ethics for another human being to take another's life without good reason, eg. self-defense, in times of war, protection of another human being, etc.

Hey There,
I am in complete agreement with that article about prisioners that have done their time being able to vote. especially after completing their time, and then to go back into the society, and they will go and get jobs, pay their taxes like every other person that work, and to strip them of their rights to vote after being released is kind of hypocritical. If they can fit back into society and get off parol, then they have paid their dept to society. and if they go to prison to get rehabilated, and they do, and then turn to an honest day, week month, or year working man or women, then why punish them with taking their rights to vote……some of those people have been wrongly accused, and released later……some have seen the errors of their ways, but who has the right to say that they do not have the mental capabilities to vote, they probably have had a long time to do nothing but watch the changes going on in the world, and to say they have nothing left to offer their country is wrong, I believe many of the prisoners today have been badly affected by the war in viet nam, they came back to people condemning them for even fighting that war, but it was not their decision to go to war, and like the war in at the desert storm war……and back to the issue of viet nam……..the government put our men in danger mentally as well as physically with the agent orange that was misused, it has caused many women and men to lose children at birth, me being one of them…….and now some of the chemicals that were in the desert storm mission, the men have been exposed to another type of chemical that is causing the nervous system to go berserk, the death rate amoung their babys is high……..they are now not the same people who was sent over there, and now if they somehow go beserk, they are charge with crimes that was induced by the governments bad judgments in the places and chemicals that we used on them…….and now after fighting for their country, losing it mentally as I said a lot of it induced by our government, say because you had a mental crisis, and they did something that was not of their nature before fighting for our country…….you lose your right to vote……….I think someone somewhere should look into the statistics somewhere and find out what we have inflicted on our fellow country men and women………..this is my thoughts, and I hope someone takes this from my heart not as judgemental, but at something that needs to be looked into, and maybe get a petition going on what we can do for those who have made mistakes, and by making them feel a part of society after paying for their crime……..it may give an ex-con a little more reason to feel some self worth to himself or his country if they would reconsider this law…….and it may make it a safer and better country to live in……….thank you for reading this, and I pray someone takes my suggestion to heart, most criminals have had a rough time in life, in which making the wrong choices easier because they didn't have the right opprotunities in life as a youth to get the education and a jump start on life because of financial difficulties…
Once again, I thank you for at least reading my opinion on how we can benefit our country by not making someone pay with the rest of their life for a mistake they made, especially when we don't try to dig and find out how they went down the road they went…Also, we don't even know how much of abuse, mental physical, sexual, that went unidentified by family services that could of helped a child not have such a bad out look on life that there was no other way of making it in this world except to steal, rob, or repeat the abuse that was done to them that may of went unreported………..people, individuals like that deserve all rescorses that we have to find out what went wrong in their lives for it to end the way it did…….I believe if you give more respect, and more interest in how these things are happening to our children that we would have a much smaller prison rate…….and I imagen that some think that I am just niave, but I believe it is insight……thank you once again for hearing me out……….

Hi Dean,
The old perennial "religion" issue! It is so paradoxical that the very issue called religion is that which still causes so much pain and hurt in the world. I find to amazing that religious people can still cling to their beliefs when even in their own churches / mosques or whatever there is just living out that which is professed. On the macro scale, it is frightening to observe the ongoing damage and destruction being accomplished in the name of religious deities. I guess there is much of the schizoid in us all.
An accomplish on Death Row? Is it the opium that drugs the mind; dulls the senses and helps people to live in a fantasy escapist world to deaden the realities around them?
Thanks for replying!


Here are some things I feel you should be privileged to know:
1 ) I can not imagine a worse penalty than for a man/woman to spend their entire life in prison cell thinking about what they have done.
2 ) Mine and others (and I assure you there many others), that share my thoughts about the dp. The Holy Father shares the very same feelings.
3 ) I admit that I have different feelings about the WASHINGTON SNIPERS. My struggles with this particular case are:
A ) This is a young boy that he to HATE in such a heinous manner.
B ) No time in prison will change his thinking.
C ) The boy himself will always look to him as a martyr trying to live up to an ideal.
4 ) A man/woman does not think the same when they are thirty as they did when they were twenty. They don't think the same when they are forty, fifty, sixty, etc. etc. It's a thing called wisdom, which is eaned and not a given.

Hello Dean,
It was good and bad reading through your columns. I read with some interest the letter from Caroline. 
I don't believe in people having to go the Hannibal Lecter route, but it's people like Caroline (or whatever idiot is pretending to be a "Caroline") that would make it worthwhile. It would be truly ironic - a moronic person being put out of her misery by a moronic government! 
Quite honestly, it doesn't matter whether she's being mean, because her husband was gunned down or her kid was beaten up - whatever it is, she is no better than any one person on death row. Maybe, with her convictions, that's where she will end up, one day.
A request - please consider not wasting web space publishing idiotic responses - it's a waste of time for you to do and us to read.
Anyway, how are you doing? Have you had any progress on the personal front? There is a saying that it's more easier to find a pin in a haystack than to find American justice (as the Iraqi's and Palestinians are finding out) - so I wish you good luck.

'The candle that burns twice as bright, only burns half as long'  

You have done extraordinary things - just like everyone else, some are good and some bad. But you have made a mark upon society. You have highlighted the American bloodlust, not just aimed at foreign countries but also towards it's own people. America has reverted back to a stage in human evolution when watching Gladiators killing each other was considered entertaining. If this is man . . .
(Primo Levi).

Dream as if you'll live forever, live as if you'll die today.
(James Dean).

Take it easy.
George Blair, MD.
nb. If you ever meet this Caroline person, kick her arse for us, would you?

Hello George, 
Thanks for writing.The reason I put the letters like Caroline's on this site is so people can see what sort of people support the death penalty. I think it makes the point on the ignorance it takes. I got a reply from her with more idiotic blather, but I figure one from her on the site is more than enough.
Take care,

just found your site by accident, I'm writing a philosophy essay on Punishment and i have to say that i have changed my views about a lot of things. I have absolutely no pretence at understanding the laws in the US, (I'm in Scotland, but I'm Australian) and it seems so crazy to me that a 'civilised' country can still use such archaic methods of punishment. It just seems so wrong to me that anyone can take anyone's lives, and surely murder is murder whether it is committed by one person or the state. 
The fact that the only way this government (that wasn't even elected) of yours has power is by all the ignorant bastards that are too busy to think, but just support it without looking at what they're actually supporting. 
But hey, i bet that the people that support the death penalty are the ones that agreed with the war on Iraq that didn't quite distract from the fact that Osama Bin Laden is still around somewhere. And since when has it been the US's job and right to go into other countries and force the people there to live the American way? I am completely pacifistic and so i just don't understand how anyone can justify war or the death penalty. 
I understand there have been several legal cases which Law students have studied and found to be a case of mismanagement and of wrongful conviction. I shudder everytime i think about it. 
I just wanted to let you know that there is a whole generation of people growing up devotedly anti-deathpenalty, and anti-war. 
Peace love and a ray of sunshine
georgia xx

Maybe Americans like Bush because he makes them feel smart? I agree with what you have to say.
Take care,

Dear Dean,
I just came across your website and started reading some of the columns you've written. First of all, I wanted to thank you for giving us this insight of the death row. I realize that my words are awkward, I know you'd rather not be the one letting us know how it is in there but I thank you for speaking your mind and fighting the system while it tries to break you. There's always hope and your words are read, shared and echoed. That will be the case until justice breaks through.
I just turned 20, it hit me that instead of whining about the world, and complaining I don't fit in and am not strong enough to face it, I should fight for my mind and attempt to change what's wrong. And your writings represent that hope, hope that lingers even when some are trying to kill it. Please be sure that there are tons of people outside supporting you, struggling to end injustice, and I do believe that good always wins. It's a decision I made not long ago, because otherwhise, if I'm too pessimistic, then I tend to think life is just worth living and there HAS to be a meaning behind everything. There has to be a loving God. But that's something I won't get into, I am not trying to preach to you and besides I am far from being the perfect catholic girl, I am in the process of making peace with life and that's about it.
Your last column about the flag wavers mass struck me. I am not American but French. When I was a kid I had this image of America as being the promised land (I know... too much tv) and wanted to settle in California, live the American Dream and all that stuff. As I grew up I found out that this dream like picture conveyed by the media does not quite match the reality. Before you start thinking "Here's the French critisizing America as always" I want to make it clear that I am not anti American, not more than I am anti French or anti any government for that matter. I believe there's good and bad in everything and it doesn't make sense to take a stand and stick to it no matter how misinformed you are, or how biased you've been made.
I went to Boston for the first time about a year ago, and I was amazed by the overwhelming number of flags displayed EVERYWHERE. I wasn't sure what to think of it. Sometimes it made me smile, others it angered me. ! I talked with a lot of people and was surprised upon discovering that some had no clue of what was going on outside Good ol' America. They're fed patriotism and accept it, without seeing that they're fooled. I wanted to scream when I heard people state that the whole world was grateful to the US for being the super power it stands for, and spreading its Mc Donald's all over the planet. And I do realize that in every country, the leaders are hungry for power and try to conceal their bad sides, but I had never seen anywhere else people so convinced that they were fighting the good fight, doing the right thing, that they belonged to the best nation in the world that only meant good to the rest of the world.
And what you said about prisoners not being able to vote does make sense in this sense. Why would politiciens want people who have seen the truth, have suffered injustice, have been broken by this oh so great government, to speak up and show the masses that they've been blind. I really do hope that someday the truth will be dug out, and that day you'll be free. In the meantime, I wish you a lot of courage, send you all my affection. And remember, people can change the world, it will happen.
Take care

First off i want to thank you for your site. It is very interesting and if more people read it i think that they would understand more what the death penalty is and how it can affect people. Not just the person on death row, but the victim's family and the family of the person on death row. I'm against the death penalty. I'm 14 and i had never really thought about it wether it was right or wrong until in english class we decided to do a debate on it. The media plays such a big role in the lives of all people it is almost unbelievable. Most people realize that they don't always tell the truth but they rarely second guess what they hear. This world doesn't really make sence to me right now. How people are entertained by watching other people eat things and have contests. Its like everything is one big contest, who can be the best.
i would you like you to read the beginning of the speech that i am going to read. You don't have to like it i just want you to read it.
There are some of you that are for the death penalty and say it gets the killers off the street. But if it gets them off the street then why are people still murdered? We cannot teach that killing is wrong by killing. This concept is similar to how some people may teach to a small child that hitting is bad by hitting the child. By doing this the child does not feel that hitting is bad because you hit them. They learn to hit. America is simply telling everyone that murder is ok by using capitol punishment.
Thats all i have so far. Nothings ever fair, it should be, but you can never satisfy everyone.


Hi Dean,
I did not read many "posts" on your site, I don't think I could sit through all the accusatory, ignorant, close minded, misinformed letters that remind me how Americans take a snippet of what they hear on the sugar coated 11 o' clock news and run with it without researching the issues or questionning the source. Personally, I have wrestled with the death penalty issue, and am not taking a stand as I feel I am not sufficiently informed and truly have conflicting thoughts as what a just punishment for a guilty plea entails in any given transgression.
However I will take a stand on a related isssue, our flawed justice system. I have been a casual user of the court system compared to you, and have witnessed first hand the injustice of its justice. As a working mother I was awarded $150 a month child support for three children based on the fact my ex-husband lied and did not report income. I then was made to pay $2000 to get my name off a lawsuit that involved my ex husbands' breached lease, on which he had forged my signature. He even admitted to it. In both cases I wanted to pursue the issue but was "counseled" it would cost several more thousands of dollars which I did not have for research and accountants. My son was taken from my home and transfered to another school while in my custody and the police could not help me get him from his Dad's, as they did not get involved in domestic matters, but if I tried to pick him up I could be arrested if his Dad called the police on me. Finally I appealed to the principal's senses and upon furnishing divorce decree, and doing lots of explaining, was allowed to take him from his new school, hoping his father would not interfere. The divorce decree has been breached dozens of times, but to enforce it another deposit to attorneys would have been needed.
Excuse the ranting, it was frustrating for me, but I can only imagine what you went through! I venture to guess you were not bankrolled by special interest groups, were proven guilty before the trial started and are not a celebrity. Yes, all the cliches, but to think for one minute the attorneys are not the winners in any court action, to believe money is not a factor in the quality of defense, is ignorance, and ignorance is bliss! So let the fools run with that idea. I feel extremely narrow minded by expressing such a popular opinion, but I have been valitated by the system in my beliefs.
Do you know anything about the actual management of the prisons? I understand the guards are union and have a strong, powerful lobby in Sacramento. Hence with a 34 billion dollars deficit, California is building a state of the art prison at the tune of $220 million. I heard something about the prisons being privatly owned or managed. Any clarification on that?
I wish you the best of luck. Continue to read and write, and like me accept the fact that life is not fair, something I wish had been passed on to me instead of the old "all men are created equal" frat creed.
The death of our dreams and ideals is our biggest lost, the beginning of our end.

It never ceases to amaze me at the letters that you receive. I mean to hear them spew on and on about how they are Pro Death and that a person should be murdered right there on the spot after a conviction. These nitwits talk about all the crime and how the death penalty has actually lowered the crime rate. Just look at today and compare the rate today to the rate 20 years ago. And let them tell me that this is a deterrent to crime. 
How many innocent people are sitting at this very moment watching the minutes of their lives tick away? I am in Kansas City Missouri. Not too long ago a man who was serving time in Jefferson City for burglary I believe it was, was wrongfully convicted for killing another inmate. Sentenced to death. On several occasions he came within hours (and when I say hours I mean single digit hours) of being put to death. 
Without going into all the details, it was finally proven that he was innocent! Innocent! Look and listen all you conservative death mongers, the death penalty will not now or ever stop or even put a dent in the crimes of today. Not only that but it is much cheaper to keep a person in jail for life than it is to put them to death. If you want to start quoting the Bible about an eye for an eye maybe you should read on to the New Testament. Now I am not going to get into a long debate about biblical issues. 
I can tell you this much that I would be a defense attorneys dream juror. I am pro-defense all the way. I have a very hard time trusting the man and the system. 
So people we all should open our eyes to what is happening today. It could very well happen to you. Think about it. 

I don't know your situation. I do know my personal opinion on the whole death penalty though. 
When I was younger, I was abused sexually and physically. I am sharing this with you, because even though these things were done to me and I hate him I am glad he went to jail and im glad they didnt give him something more severe. I believe it is worse to live for the rest of your life knowing what you have done and knowing what you are capable of and knowing the hate people feel for you, rather than to die without choice or naturally. 
I don't believe death should be put into someone else's hands. I believe some of you, possibly even you and I don't know you so I am taking your word on it and hearing you out, are innocent and should not be there. None of you should be there. Innocents should be let go, and the guilty should serve life in prison with no parole. 
I know if I was to commit murder or something remotely bad enough to end me up in a situation like yours I would beg them to send me to life in prison rather than to end my life. Because if they wanted to punish me they would make me live with what I had done, rather than giving me an easy break in ending my life, so I don't feel what I did, who I hurt, or the pain of never having my life back. 
I just want to say I think it is horrible what they do to you guys. I have only read up to column 3, but I could not read anymore. It is immoral and wrong, the system is just as bad as every murderer out there, because that is what they are doing, they aren't helping they are becoming what they are putting to death.

Hi Dean,
I ran into your site by mistake and am glad I did. I am Canadian and very disgusted that a so called civilized country can terrorize people with the death penalty.
Even worser there seems to be no justice in law because people like that multimillionaire who just admitted to killing and cutting up a guy into pieces, gets off scott free. I'm sure a lot of people will mention him when they write to you.
Just wanted to tell you that there are people who care out here.
take care,

Hi Dean,
I've read your story and I'm glad that I found your site. I'm Frank, I live in the Netherlands, you know that country? We've a football team over here with the name Ajax. That's the name of a God. 
Anyway, I want to say to you my opinion about good and bad. Maybe it's a little bit philosophical sorry about that in that case.
In this world good and bad things are depending in time and place. I mean what is good at this moment was not good 100 years ago. What is good at this place, is perhaps not good 10.000 km away. So good and bad are not absolute things. Remember that. In the after live is no good and bad either, so don't be afraid for punishment after your dead.
I don't know if you believe in something and I don't want to talk with you about that. The only thing I want to say is, things are ok the way they are. In fact there's no pain, there is no sadness, that's all an illusion. I really hope that you understand the meaning of my words.
See you,

Dear Mr. Carter,
You spoke of the trial process, and it amazed me, just how right you are. My son was convicted of a crime back in 1996 and went to prison in 1997. The judicial system is screwed up. They would not give my son a public defender, because of the fact that because he lived under our household, even though he was working and paying his own bills, including paying us rent, he wasn't eligible for a public defender. They based that on my husbands and my income, which to me wasn't fair to begin with. We didn't have the money to go out and hire a defense lawyer for him, (guess that's another example of "Money talks, and bullshit walks") so he had to plea no contest. Had we been able to spring for an attorney the case would have gone to court, in the hopes of finding a not guilty verdict, hence my son would not have a felony record to follow him around for the rest of his life.
It doesn't seem fair to me that these men and women who have been released from prisons, who have paid their debt to society cannot get decent jobs. How does society expect these people to lead productive lives, when they seem to want to know everything about these people?
I believe the judicial system and the prison system needs to find a way to rehabilitate these inmates, educate and train them for reentry into society, so that they can live productive lives.
Although my son only spent 3 years behind bars, and 2 years on parole, it was very difficult for him, and for us as well. I can't believe the humiliation that prisoners go through, not to mention humiliation that family and friends go through when visiting their loved ones in prison. I understand that the prison guards want to ensure that no contraband is brought into the prisons, but to not allow a person to visit because their shorts might be to short, is ridiculous, or for having a hole in your pants at the knee ! ! !
On one particular visit to my son, we were getting ready to leave on a Sunday to go back home, it was a 4 hour drive, we went to the local grocery store to buy a 30 dollar money order and went back to the prison to give it to the guards so that they could put it on our sons books, so he would have money to buy from the prison canteen. We were denied leaving the money order there for him. I was told I had to send it through the mail. This made no sense to me, what was the big deal? I wasn't asking to see my son again, so i could slip him the money order, I just wanted them to take it and put it on his books. To this day I still don't know why, if any, they couldn't do that.
Although my son wasn't confined to his cell, he was allowed to work in various parts of the prison, and he did get some degree of education, i.e. learning some electrical things, and plumbing, it still didn't prepare him for how he was going to be treated by society once he left the prison.
I believe there is the "strong possibilities" that there is corruption within police departments, along with judges, and prosecutors, all willing to get a conviction regardless of the overwhelming evidence that someone might truly be innocent. I am grateful that I had the opportunity to read your columns, I came away with having a better understanding of the way our society actually is, even though 1 already somewhat knew, you just helped confirm what I already believed.
I am not in favor of the death penalty. But I do agree with you, that if we as a nation intend on keeping the death penalty then the so called Jurors, Judges and Prosecutors who have put that person on death row, should be the ones to carry out the execution, not leave it -for someone else to do, and it should be televised. I don't believe in an eye for an eye, executing someone for murdering a person WILL NOT BRING THAT PERSON BACK ! ! I believe that a person who commits murder, and it has been proven without a shadow of a doubt, they should remain in prison for the rest of their natural life.
I also believe that there are several men and women who are in prison who are innocent. Like I said earlier in this letter my son went to prison, and I know for a fact that the charges against him was a lie, he was innocent, but because we didn't have the money or resources to hire an attorney to defend him, he plead no contest and wound up in prison.
Thank you in advance, for taking the time to read my letter. I want to wish you the best of luck on your journey to have your conviction overturned, or at least retried. I would be more than happy to respond back to you if you care to write back.
Mrs. K.

I have been reading Dean's Columns off and on for sometime now . . . and i just wanted to make some commits.
First i want to express the fact that i am against capital punishment . . . reason being i don't think taking the life of one for the other is right . . . 2 dead people doesn't make a right. Further more it is a fact that it does not deter crime . . . there's facts that show in the states where capital punishment is paracticed . . . that there are more crimes in those states . . . for instance Texas has the highest murder rate of police officers than in any other state in the United States . . . 
I mean when people commit a crime . . . they don't sit and think . . . well i may get the death penalty for this maybe i shouldn't do it . . . usually murder is a thing that's done on impulse . . . out of rage. When your inraged you don't think . . . . also this thing about giving closesure to the victims families . . . what does that really mean . . . did it bring there loved one back to life? no . . . it only took another life . . . and cost the people a lot more money . . . the best deterence for crime is education . . . put criminals in jail . . . make them talk to our juvenile delinquent . . . tell them what crime does . . . 
I watched a show once on HBO called scared straight . . . i think that is what we need to do with death row inmates take them out of death row and make them really pay by making them talk to our kids and let them see what you get when you commit a crime . . . 
anyway i will close . . . i just wanted to give my opinion on capital punishment.
Keep writing . . . 


Dear Dean:
Today, I discovered your column and was quite touched by your honesty and insight. I may be a little different from most of your correspondents. You see, my cousin was on Death Row in Georgia for over 25 years. He was executed by lethal injection January 2002. I was one of 2 family members that did not cast him away after his sentencing. I wrote and visited through all those long years and was with him through 2 death watches.
He had received a warrant in March 2001 and received a stay just seconds before we were to leave the visiting room from final visitation. The basis of the stay was whether the electric chair was "cruel and unusual" punishment. He would have been the last person electrocuted in Georgia had he not received the stay. I was struck by your comments of how easy it is for us to kill someone "humanely". This has been my argument for the last 2 years. You see, since we retired "Old Sparky" as the inmates nicknamed the electric chair, we went from an execution every 3 to 5 years to 12 in less than 2. You are dead right on that one.
I do have to tell you . . . Jackson GA is levels above San Quentin as far as inmates are concerned. It is one of the cleanest places I have ever been in my life. It smells like a hospital, it is to antiseptically clean.The cells here are 6' x 8'. The cots are a little longer and have a shelf unit on the wall with a pull down leaf for a writing desk or table. There are even drawers for storage of personal items. The visiting area is pleasant under the circumstances and you are allowed physical contact (hugs). visiting hours are 9-2 on Sat. and Sun so we only have 2 days a week.
Now since Ron's death, I am visiting one of his friends, after swearing I would never go back. Like you, I know how important mail and visits are and I am privileged to be allowed to give comfort and friendship to another person with a bleak existence. As a result of my personal involvement, I am working hard for a moratorium and eventually abolishment of the death penalty. Strangely, Georgians seem to be turning away from support of it and our last several D. P. Trials have not resulted in the death penalty. There is hope on the horizon, I think.
Prayers and peace,

US gov. must be insane and the people too, which allows this to continue. Viva Europa.

Dear Dean
I'm writing this from work, so I can't write much - I'm sorry I haven't been able to read more than a couple of your columns.
I'm from the UK, and I thank God we don't have the death penalty over here. I am vehemently against the death penalty - whatever the crime. I feel that state mandated murder is no better than any other.
I'm not religious, but I sincerely believe that people can learn from their experiences, and change their behaviour. I'm a drunk - a recovering alcholic - and a number of my friends have committed crimes while drunk. The beautiful thing is, since they have sobered up, they change. And become 'productive' members of society. The death penalty would deny their second chance at life, and the benefits that their newly sober life brings to those around them.
I heard recently the US government is building an execution chamber at Guantanamo Bay - in order to execute so-called 'terrorists', who have been denied access to legal representation and the comfort of their friends and family. It's absolutely rotten.
 There's so much that we - the citizens of the world - are not being told about what is going on, particularly about what has been going on since 9-11.
But life is still beautiful, not all people are as corrupt as the US government and its' friends!
Good luck to you and all at San Quentin with you, Dean.
Best wishes

Hi Dean
This is my second e-mail in the past few months. I have been reading the responses you receive and post for public viewing. I am surprised at the ignorance of some people who e-mail you. 
Prisons are not a deterrent, let alone the death penalty. United States has more prisoners per capita then any other Western nation in the world. 
In addition, more Americans kill each other per year then any other so called "civilized" nation. Ironically, United States has some of the toughest criminal laws in the world. Obviously the American prison system, the death penalty, and the criminal laws are not working too well. 
I believe some people respond with ignorance as they have bought into the American ideology of individuality and normality. What these individualistic people don't understand is the role they play in shaping and supporting the corrupt system that socializes its individuals (yes, even the criminals). The American society is pumping out more criminals then Bush pumps out oil.
It's bad enough to be waiting on death row, why do you put with the abuse of people who just don't get it?
Take care,

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