Church of the Brethren
Rachel Gross, Director
P.O. Box 600
Liberty Mills, IN 46946

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DRSP News, Issue 9, December 2016

Dear Friends of DRSP,

2016 has been an interesting year for the death penalty in the United States: a time of both great optimism and setbacks. Watch for a report on those dynamics coming next month.

And 2016 has been a record- breaking year for the Death Row Support Project. We have assigned over 1200 pen pals, double the previous record of 600 in 1998.

We continue to hear positive and encouraging stories from pen pals about their experiences.

Ray O’Boyle of Rheems, Pennsylvania, captured the purpose of DRSP when he wrote to us earlier this year:

"Albert and I have exchanged several letters this past year and I would say we are friends. We have different challenges and share them just as two friends would. We have things in common and things we are working on trying to understand from the other's perspective. I have begun to understand incarceration and I hope I have provided him with a window to an appreciation of the outside world through my eyes and experiences. Albert's reflections have provided me with a sense of gratefulness for what I have and often take for granted. I have no idea where this experience is going to lead us but I am committed to continue the dialogue."

Philipp Heinau of Berlin, Germany, wrote about what a life-changing experience writing to someone on death row has been for him:

"As I signed in for DRSP, I felt the urge to support someone in big need for help. Now that I started communication with James, I discovered just how great and fulfilling it is to support people voluntarily. This is especially valuable to me, since I used to work in sales for the last 10 years and became increasingly unhappy by gaining wealth and reputation. This seemed very strange to me as I thought that this is all what life is about: having a career and a good life for oneself.

As my paradigms started to change, I began to rediscover my belief in God and realized just how foolish I was to think that it was me being in charge of everything. I came across the idea of an actor on a stage, trying to be in charge for the whole scene with thousands of other actors and wondering why this would not work out. I am trying to understand that life is about letting go and put ourselves in the Hands of our Creator.

Now, as I started writing to James, I begin to feel how wonderful and important it is that Projects like DSRP exist and people like you do this very important job. Various ideas started coming to my head, like going to visit James, getting contact to more DR inmates, interviewing them and writing their stories. Just to give them a name and not letting them be forgotten."

We are grateful to the Church of the Brethren, Inc., for its continued financial support of DRSP. You can contribute to that support by donating money at (look for the word "give"). US postage stamps are also much appreciated (especially since postage rates are going up in January); they may be mailed to DRSP, PO Box 600, Liberty Mills IN 46946. In addition to regular first-class stamps, we use lots of postcard and international stamps.

Those of us who volunteer our time to make DRSP possible are grateful to those of you who faithfully write to persons on death row: You are the heart and soul of this project.

May the mercy and justice of Christmas increase in all our lives this coming year.

Rachel Gross, Director
Dina Milito, Follow-up Coordinator
Lois Good, Mailing and Filing Guru
Tara Collum, Writer

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