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Thread: How did you go about choosing your DR pen pal?

  1. #1
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    Default How did you go about choosing your DR pen pal?

    I really want to write a death row prisoner but I don't know how to choose one. I read the crime details for each individual one and I get scared. I know deep down, we're all the same and I bet they are lonely and scared themselves. I need someone to assign me one. (Jk).

  2. #2
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    Default Re: How did you go about choosing your DR pen pal?

    In my experience the person you should write is the person's ad you keep going back to. If at this moment you're not regularly checking out one particular ad, then I think it means that you have to continue your search until you do.

  3. #3
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    Sporadium's: Snobbish

    Default Re: How did you go about choosing your DR pen pal?

    Quote Originally Posted by Teacuplittle View Post
    I read the crime details for each individual one and I get scared.
    Well, that's why they are there I guess. It is a sentence applied with little consistency, but they do tend to be the ones that did the most horrific crimes. I thought about writing one long ago but chose not to. Having read profiles and then read the crimes and the stories, I just couldn't do it. Having thought about that, it made it clear who I wanted to write to - people who I can relate to in some way. By this I mean people who did something that I can imagine myself doing in certain situations, and are now paying for it. I could never imagine butchering my own grandparents, riding with a race-hate gang and murdering someone or killing several people in multiple shootings.

  4. #4
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    Default Re: How did you go about choosing your DR pen pal?

    Quote Originally Posted by Sporadium View Post
    Well, that's why they are there I guess. It is a sentence applied with little consistency, but they do tend to be the ones that did the most horrific crimes. I thought about writing one long ago but chose not to. Having read profiles and then read the crimes and the stories, I just couldn't do it. Having thought about that, it made it clear who I wanted to write to - people who I can relate to in some way. By this I mean people who did something that I can imagine myself doing in certain situations, and are now paying for it. I could never imagine butchering my own grandparents, riding with a race-hate gang and murdering someone or killing several people in multiple shootings.
    I like the point you're making, Sporadium. As a matter of fact, we are not all the same deep down. I think that is an assumption most people with a conscience make, but there really are people who don't have it and do not relate to their fellow human beings as the majority does. I am not sure what that means for a potential correspondence with someone like this. A further obstacle for me personally would be that all (well, almost all) death row prisoners are in the process of automatic appeal and therefore always deny culpability. As such, the conversation lends itself to a lot of denial right out the gate. The only time I've ever entertained the possibility of writing to a death row prisoner was when he was candid and forthcoming with his guilt. I remember one such case in Texas (cannot recall the prisoner's name now), and, as I recall, even though it was a very bad crime, my take-away from reading on the case was that the guy truly did not intend to kill the police officer. I thought that, of most of the DR guys, he should have been the first in line to get a break. It was ironic that he ended up having one of the shortest stints on DR due to his refusal of the appeal process.

  5. #5
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    Default Re: How did you go about choosing your DR pen pal?

    Quote Originally Posted by Zosja View Post
    In my experience the person you should write is the person's ad you keep going back to. If at this moment you're not regularly checking out one particular ad, then I think it means that you have to continue your search until you do.
    Yes, I so agree.

  6. #6
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    Default Re: How did you go about choosing your DR pen pal?

    I hope she's found somebody to write to. Regardless, I think this thread is quite important - I feel like a lot of people want to write but don't for being scared. I was, too. It took a lot of acceptance, patience and ongoing correspondence to establish trust. Once I stopped being scared of what I read in the news about something that happened almost a decade ago, I was able to see the human behind all that 'propaganda'. There are just under 780 DR prisoners in California alone. It's extremely lonely and sad (that's California, conditions in Texas DR are 10 times worse) and once I grasped some stuff, the reason why these sentences are handed out in certain cases, for instance, I realised A LOT of those people are there only partially for the crime they committed - a lot is due to unfair trials, bad legal representation, lack of evidence, racial/class bias, 'sending a message' to try to impose deterrence, corrupt prosecutors, the flaws of the legal system itself... My point is, people should really give them a chance, because chances are, if you are scared by reading one or two adverts on this website, you probably will be scared of all of them. The really famous criminals aren't allowed to get ads up and the really violent are not really looking for a penpalship.

  7. #7
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    Sunnysideup's: Thinking

    Default Re: How did you go about choosing your DR pen pal?

    Hi Izzi, I've written to a DR prisoner, not heard back yet as it's early days. I may never hear back.

    I never expected to be doing this, but a change in my life around Xmas had a profound affect on me and a month or so ago, by chance came across WAP. I kept thinking, what am I doing, what am I doing... I decided however I wanted to write to people who were in for life... I then kept going back to this one profile, DR Inmate, and I knew I had to write. So, I will see what happens.

    I couldn't have done this at your age, that would have required a strength I didn't have then.
    "Light a few candles and burn a few bridges. Not everyone deserves to be a part of your journey."
    Pavana Reddy

  8. #8
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    Default Re: How did you go about choosing your DR pen pal?

    Quote Originally Posted by Sunnysideup View Post
    Hi Izzi, I've written to a DR prisoner, not heard back yet as it's early days. I may never hear back.

    I never expected to be doing this, but a change in my life around Xmas had a profound affect on me and a month or so ago, by chance came across WAP. I kept thinking, what am I doing, what am I doing... I decided however I wanted to write to people who were in for life... I then kept going back to this one profile, DR Inmate, and I knew I had to write. So, I will see what happens.

    I couldn't have done this at your age, that would have required a strength I didn't have then.
    Hi Sunny(is it ok if I call you Sunny?)

    I think that is really brave and I can only imagine it took you a lot of courage to write to this person, as it sounds like it was quite out of your comfort zone to reach out to somebody in that situation. I can sympathize with that, very much so. However I disagree with you that in my case it, too, required a certain strength at a certain age (But thank you) I feel I was just naive when I embraced the idea at 17. I dwelled a lot on it and expanded my thoughts and possibilities since, and started writing at 20 (I'm 21 now). I am lucky to have found the person I found, and have my pp's family's support too. I don't know how I would cope without that possibility of sharing their pain, and also me and my pp connected really well, he is one to be wiser than me in every sense. If I had made a bad choice when I found him a year ago, I wouldn't have known any different

    But, regardless, just want to congratulate your bravery in doing something so selfless and that may require quite an input from our side, as penpals on the outside. You're very brave and I think it's an amazing thing, really. Like I said, there's so much stigma around death row, not just the legal system, but society has given up on these people, which is why I personally think they are so deserving of support.

    May I ask, why is it that you say you may never get a reply? Are you worried that the person you wrote will not write back for whatever reason? As someone who has been communicating with death row constantly for over a year, I feel I need to alert you that their mail is heavily scrutinized. It gets held back in the mail room sometimes for a variety of reasons, and it can stay there for weeks until the prisoner finally gets it. Also, if your pp ends in the hole (for DR it doesn't really matter who started, who's the victim or who just stood by, sometimes they will all end up in the hole, just because) their mail sometimes needs to be sent to a different address, specifying the hole, otherwise it just gets held back in the mail room forever, or until they leave the hole, which can take months or sometimes, years. When I first started writing, my pp wrote to me saying he had just been thrown in the hole and not only he didn't have the information as to where his mail should be sent to, he wasn't sure if the letter I had written him just a few days before was going to ever arrive, because I mailed it to the prison as usual, not writing whatever block the SHU is, on the envelope. Luckly the staff where he is is very nice, at least to us, so the mail got to him, it just took significantly longer.

    Another thing is that they can't really complain, or plan any demonstrations to show their lack of satisfaction, since they have little time to socialise and there's enough space to just send them all to the hole. Recently though, there was a hunger strike in the prison by the general population inmates in an attempt to speed up the mail room, and it worked. My letters would take between 3 to 5 weeks to arrive to him (the royal mail guarantees delivery within 10 working days) and another three weeks at least, for his response to arrive, and that's because he always replied as soon as he had my letters. Now (I know since we have phone calls luckly) my letters have been taking between 3 to 5 days to arrive, which is brilliant. His letters come quickly too, usually within a week. So if you're wondering, give it time because it's tough for them. There's so much people do to try and get contraband inside, tampering paper for example, that mail room just takes its time with it, understandably so, but frustrating for us waiting for the mail to arrive. I hope you get your response soon!

  9. #9
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    Sunnysideup's: Thinking

    Default Re: How did you go about choosing your DR pen pal?

    I don't think of it as being brave, Ive been through worse situations that required bravery. But...it does require resolve and commitment and being there for someone in their worst moments. I don't see it as being selfless, for me it's a privilege. Not sure if that's the word I'm looking for, sounds too twee...

    I've always been someone who's needed to be needed (I should have been a nurse or something similar but wasn't to be)...as a child even I was always fighting for a cause, bringing the attention of people to tragedy and injustice. At 15 or so, at school, I organised sending Xmas cards to soldiers in Vietnam, I've been a letter write for AI, at a time when it was snail mail...now it seems a text is enough.

    Anyway, without rambling on too much, and without giving too much personal info out on a public forum, something happened late last year which made me realise that some
    where along the way I had lost something in me. It's not possible to do voluntary work, health issues, even though I was looking at volunteering abroad I realised I had to get fit first...lol...which is a job in-itself...

    I don't want to come over as if I'm self sacrificing, I'm not...I'm hoping I can bring some light into a person's world, but I hope I also receive some light. I hope it will be a reciprocal relationship, albeit at times very different percentages.

    You asked why I thought I would not get a reply...a good question, because I realised I thought and said it, because I was thinking of all the negatives of writing to me, I'm in my mid 60's, don't lead an exciting life, and so on. Having said that, I won't be upset if I don't hear back...but I will be glad I always tried.

    My potential DR inmate has a birthday coming up, so taking on board all you have said, I will send a card. Thank you for your very helpful description on DR which is also horribly sad. My PP is in prison with a bad reputation anyway I will let you know *when* I get a response.

    And yes, it's ok to call me Sunny, I always shorten user names, not sure if people are happy about it, but it's my thing. I think being naive has it's disadvantages, but also can open doors that wouldn't otherwise open.

    Sunny







    Quote Originally Posted by Izzi View Post
    Hi Sunny(is it ok if I call you Sunny?)

    I think that is really brave and I can only imagine it took you a lot of courage to write to this person, as it sounds like it was quite out of your comfort zone to reach out to somebody in that situation. I can sympathize with that, very much so. However I disagree with you that in my case it, too, required a certain strength at a certain age (But thank you) I feel I was just naive when I embraced the idea at 17. I dwelled a lot on it and expanded my thoughts and possibilities since, and started writing at 20 (I'm 21 now). I am lucky to have found the person I found, and have my pp's family's support too. I don't know how I would cope without that possibility of sharing their pain, and also me and my pp connected really well, he is one to be wiser than me in every sense. If I had made a bad choice when I found him a year ago, I wouldn't have known any different

    But, regardless, just want to congratulate your bravery in doing something so selfless and that may require quite an input from our side, as penpals on the outside. You're very brave and I think it's an amazing thing, really. Like I said, there's so much stigma around death row, not just the legal system, but society has given up on these people, which is why I personally think they are so deserving of support.

    May I ask, why is it that you say you may never get a reply? Are you worried that the person you wrote will not write back for whatever reason? As someone who has been communicating with death row constantly for over a year, I feel I need to alert you that their mail is heavily scrutinized. It gets held back in the mail room sometimes for a variety of reasons, and it can stay there for weeks until the prisoner finally gets it. Also, if your pp ends in the hole (for DR it doesn't really matter who started, who's the victim or who just stood by, sometimes they will all end up in the hole, just because) their mail sometimes needs to be sent to a different address, specifying the hole, otherwise it just gets held back in the mail room forever, or until they leave the hole, which can take months or sometimes, years. When I first started writing, my pp wrote to me saying he had just been thrown in the hole and not only he didn't have the information as to where his mail should be sent to, he wasn't sure if the letter I had written him just a few days before was going to ever arrive, because I mailed it to the prison as usual, not writing whatever block the SHU is, on the envelope. Luckly the staff where he is is very nice, at least to us, so the mail got to him, it just took significantly longer.

    Another thing is that they can't really complain, or plan any demonstrations to show their lack of satisfaction, since they have little time to socialise and there's enough space to just send them all to the hole. Recently though, there was a hunger strike in the prison by the general population inmates in an attempt to speed up the mail room, and it worked. My letters would take between 3 to 5 weeks to arrive to him (the royal mail guarantees delivery within 10 working days) and another three weeks at least, for his response to arrive, and that's because he always replied as soon as he had my letters. Now (I know since we have phone calls luckly) my letters have been taking between 3 to 5 days to arrive, which is brilliant. His letters come quickly too, usually within a week. So if you're wondering, give it time because it's tough for them. There's so much people do to try and get contraband inside, tampering paper for example, that mail room just takes its time with it, understandably so, but frustrating for us waiting for the mail to arrive. I hope you get your response soon!
    "Light a few candles and burn a few bridges. Not everyone deserves to be a part of your journey."
    Pavana Reddy

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