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


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DRSP News, Issue 18, November 2017

By Tara Collum

"The degree of civilization in a society can be judged by entering its prisons." - Fyodor Dostoyevsky

"No civilized society would insist upon maintaining the anachronism of the death penalty. An imperfect system cannot ask for a perfect punishment which is death. Therefore any country that maintains the anachronism of the death penalty by that very fact is an uncivilized society." - Rubin "Hurricane" Carter, who spent almost 20 years in prison after being wrongfully convicted of murder

The list of those on death row who have never been assigned a pen pal through DRSP is down to 224!

Many opponents of the death penalty are people that saw its workings firsthand, like former San Quentin Prison Warden Jeanne Woodford. In her 25 years working at the prison she saw death row swell from 6 to over 700 prisoners. After leaving the California Department of Corrections she became a vocal capital punishment abolitionist. She has said, "The death penalty serves no one. It doesn't serve the victims. It doesn't serve prevention. It's truly all about retribution. There comes a time when you have to ask if a penalty that is so permanent can be available in such an imperfect system. The only guarantee against executing the innocent is to do away with the death penalty."

For more information on the California death penalty, visit

San Quentin News is a newspaper produced by prisoners, professional advisers, and community volunteers.

In Pennsylvania there is a moratorium on all executions, in wait of a report from the Pennsylvania Advisory Committee and Task Force on Capital Punishment. Let Governor Tom Wolf know you support his moratorium. His office telephone number is 717-787-2500; e-mail at The mailing address is
Office of the Governor
508 Main Capitol Building
Harrisburg, PA 17120


This month one of our pen pals wrote us, "I would like to say thanks once again to those involved in the DRSP. The information I found on the Church of Brethren's website was clear and it helped me to take that leap and volunteer last year. The whole process was very straightforward. At the time there was a huge influx of people signing up so there weren't enough prisoners to go around. I was kept up to date on the matter and eventually was given the option to reach out to John who was randomly selected by yourselves instead. In the beginning I was a little nervous at the prospect of writing to someone who hadn't requested a pen pal; therefore I had a lot of questions. My mind was put at ease after messaging with Rachel via your Facebook page. Although I was very lucky and had no trouble corresponding with John, I felt confident that if any issues should arise or it didn't work out then someone would be there to help me and eventually assign someone else. It pleases me to see the stats on your website of how many there are on death row and how many of them now have someone to write to."

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