I just received a letter today from one of my pals and in it he explained all the things he wants me to be in charge of.
It's a rather complicating situation. He is on Death Row and actually has a chance at a reduced sentence or even life in prison. Either way, anything is better than death.
His family are far away and are unable to do certain things for him. Such as create websites for fund raising and so on.
He writes many people. I don't mind, as we all are friends. He has more pals than he has told me about. He has given them all my address and told him that he wants me to handle the finances from all the things we are going to promote and sell and so on. He wants me there at his appeal hearings and so on.
I think this is going to frustrate the other pals. They all have done so much for him as it is. I feel in a way that I am taking over when thats now really what it is.
He and are simply friends, like brother and sister. The thing that seperates me from the other pals and why he wants me involved is that I am bilingual and can help him and his family understand more of what is going on.
I feel like I could be hurting the other pals though. I don't think anything of him writing others. He is locked in a cell for 23 hours a day. I would like for more people to write him. To keep him busy. I just don't want the pals he has to hate me in the process.
Esperanza, this makes completely sense, as I am in a similar situation, but I am one of the other pen pals. I also have a pp at death row and he is appealing his sentence at the moment. My pp has lot of European pen pals and we all know from eachoter. There is one pen pal who has lot of money, she has the chance to visit him very often, she also has contact to his attorneys, collects money for him and so on. We are all very thankful that she does so much for him, but there is one thing at least I am a bit angry about. It seems as she has our pp under her control. She tries to give us advice what we should write to him. Hey, I write to my death row pp what I want and not what the other one thinks I should write to him. She does as if she were his mother, treating him like a baby and treating at least me (I don't know how she treats his other pen pals) like a child as well. If she would tell my pp: "Don't write Marita anymore" I think he would listen to "Mommy" and would not write back to me again. That's why I don't want to have arguments with her, but keep my mouth shut and don't tell her that she makes my angry. And another thing she does all the time is this mystery-mongering about our pen pals case and progress of appealing as if his other pen pals were too dumb to get what it's all about. My wish would be that all of my inmate pals friends would work together, even if one of his pen pals is the leader. Therefore, what is very important, Esperanza, is that all the pen pals get information about what's going on and everybody should get the feeling that they are worth the same and that there are no secrets between you and your death row friend. Just my opinion
Well it's one thing to be open about having other pals/friends. But to be honest, even if I were writing to someone on a friendship level only, I would still want it to remain 'personal'. Anytime 2 people are corresponding, sharing their lives with each other, etc...it is very personal. When you say he has forwarded your address to them are you meaning, if they are sending him money then they are to start forwarding the money to you now?? ummmm, nothing personal to you but that i would not do. I dunno, i guess you will ALL have to do what's best for you, as an individual person.
No, they would not be sending me money. He does have a savings account and that money is strictly for his defense fund. There are only 2 people who can access the funds in the account him and his mother.
We are making things to sell at art galleries and such and all the proceeds will go towards his defense and in the event he dies the money will go toward helping other inmates who are in his situation.
I don't mind helping so much as the language barrier is something he is still trying to overcome. I know what it is like not to be able to understand a language and that language be the primary language in the country where you reside. So... that I can relate to.
I am afraid his other pals will think we are more than friends, but we aren't. I wouldn't ever let it go past that. I cherish the friendship the way it is.
What I meant by handling finances is that we will be having fund raisers and selling items online and at a local art gallery, most of which will be all of his work.
He wants me to make sure that the deposits are properly made into the savings account and so on. Noone will be writing me checks or sending me money, it will all be made out to his defense fund and will benefit his defense and those who are in his situation.
I don't know if this makes sense.
He wanted there to be limited amounts of ppl making deposits so nothing looks shady.
There are many men and women in prison who are very talented. If you can offer him the opportunity to display his art/talent and the funds are going towards attorney fees and such, I wouldn't think his other pals would feel 'threatened' if they too,have his best interest at heart as well. But i am not them and won't speak on how they 'should' feel.
Pardon me for playing 'Devil's Advocate' here, but you might want to check with the State laws where your penpal is incarcerated. The State DOC may be able to clarify things for you.
Many States have legislation that prohibits a prison inmate from engaging in any commercial enterprise, REGARDLESS OF THE PURPOSE OF SUCH ENTERPRISE, while incarcerated, unless such enterprise was in existence prior to such incarceration, and such pre-existing business is not a criminal enterprise, or established by the profits of a criminal enterprise.
The laws are very strict in many States, and the inmate could be charged under the RICO (Racketeering Influenced Corrupt Organizations) Act for that particular State.
Many of the State laws are based on a decision made by the United States Supreme Court in "Simon & Schuster v. NY Crime Victims Board", 502 U.S. 106 (1991) which held that a convicted felon cannot PERSONALLY PROFIT from the sensationalism of his own crimes (i.e., Movie or book deals) upon conviction for a felony or admission to an undicted felony. [Often referred to as the "Son of Sam Law"]
There are clearly some First Amendment issues here (freedom of speech, expression, etc.) that cannot be intruded upon unreasonably by the State, but some legal research needs to be done before engaging in such a commercial enterprise regardless of where the profits are to be directed.
The other thing I 'd like to bring up is the possibility of his sentence being reduced from death to life in prison. I am writng someone on death row and have written to two death row inmates previously. All of them believed their sentences would be reduced. Perhaps death row inmates do have legitimate reasons to think their sentences will be reduced, but maybe these beliefs are unrealistic. I just want to say that don't expect that just because he told you he might have the sentence reduced that it will actually happen.