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


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DRSP News May 2018

By Tara Collum

Email comes to Florida prisons

For those of you with pen pals in Florida: It should soon be possible to communicate via secure email. Prisoners who can afford them will be able to purchase tablets to use for sending and receiving email messages. Any prisoner can use a kiosk for sending email; however as of a few weeks ago, there was only one kiosk available -- you can imagine there's a long line at that kiosk!

Email correspondence must be initiated by the person on the outside; then those inside can respond. The cost of e-stamps is US$4.40 for 10 letters, $12 for 30 letters, and $21 for 60 letters. (These costs are a bit misleading as each page of the email requires an additional stamp, with no guidelines for what constitutes a page. Image attachments or the addition from a selection of e-cards are an additional stamp.) Email will be monitored and the turnaround time should be about 3 days. I have yet to receive a response to my email from my pen pal after receiving a letter from him instructing me to set up a JPay account to send him a message. If anyone has any experience or comments about this new system please let us know!

Sending snail mail to prisons

Some prisons have strict rules about mail. I've had letters returned by Oklahoma and Florida prisons because I put a Canadian flag sticker on the envelope. Generally, prisoners can receive only letters (with no enclosures). If your pen pal doesn’t know the procedure, for example, on how a book can be sent, you can refer to the state's department of corrections website. Generally, books can be sent, but they must be softcover, and can only be sent directly from a publisher or online bookstore.

Information about executions

Lately we have been asked by volunteers how to check on the status of scheduled executions. One excellent resource is this database from the Death Penalty Information Center:

It can be an extremely difficult time if a pen pal receives an execution date. If you have any questions, comments, or need support, please reach out to us!

From the desk of DRSP Director Rachel Gross

After a lull at the end of 2017, this year has seen a large number of people signing up to write to someone on death row. That is very exciting, but at the same time tests the capacity of DRSP's very small volunteer staff. To those of you who have been waiting more than a month to receive your pen pal assignment, thank you for your patience! Please know that you will receive an email when your assignment has been made. If by chance you have moved since signing up, please send your new address to

Pen pals assigned this year:
January - 50
February - 56
March - 192
April - 81

Our thanks to each of you who is faithfully writing to someone on death row!

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