Read a Messenger article on the Death Row Support Project (PDF)
Will you write to a person on death row?
The Death Row Support Project (DRSP) will send you the name of a death row prisoner with suggestions on how to begin writing. Letter writers are asked to commit to writing at least one
PO BOX 600
You may also call 260-982-7480.
Sending first-class stamps will help support the work of the project, which is run entirely by volunteers.
Death Row Support Project
"I wish we could challenge church people...to take it upon themselves to get the names of some death row inmates and write them. It's important to come in contact with them and know them as people, not just criminals awaiting execution."
In 1978, concerned Church of the Brethren members formed the Death Row Support Project to facilitate one-to-one correspondence with persons sentenced to death. Since then, thousands of people from all over the country and around the world have responded to the challenge of connecting with death row prisoners.
Letters can bring a ray of hope to the darkness of death row isolation. For those on the outside, learning to know just one prisoner can dispel some of the misconceptions and fears about prisons and the people locked away inside them.
Jesus' call for us to visit those in prison is clear. Perhaps correspondence can be a form of visiting. And perhaps you will be led, as others have been, to go beyond correspondence and will want to visit face-to-face. That is up to you. We ask only that you begin by writing a letter, and that you keep up your part in the correspondence with openness, as faithfully as you can.
Those writing to people on death row have said:
"Penpals are really lifelines to those in prison, especially on death row. It is my prayer that I can help them realize that they are created in the Image of God and that no matter what our culture says, Christ loves them and wants them to know it."
"I am finding it a continuous source of learning and a challenge to almost everything I have learned, mislearned, and believed about crime and punishment, good and evil, perceptions of death row, and the media and political machinations surrounding this issue."
"Nearly three weeks ago, a friend of mine, Jesse Walter Bishop,was executed by the state of Nevada. In the 11 months or so we corresponded, I have been privileged to become aware of his deep humanity and insight into life. I am not trying to portray Jess as a saint, but just as a person. But now another family has lost a loved one, a brother, a son. All this done in the name of instilling respect of human life into people.
"I don't think it is for everybody. There have been times when I felt like quitting - but hung in there anyway. I believe God has honored my persistence in many ways. Phil and I have learned much from each other. It has been a give/take kind of thing."
Prisoners with DRSP correspondents have said:
"This is to tell you of the joy your project brought to my life and time on death row. You gave my name to a lady named Jackie. She wrote to me, which became a very joyous friendship."
"I received a letter from a penpal by your help and wanted to let you know your efforts are appreciated. Groups like yours help us trememdously and we - I - am glad you are there."
"At first I thought that everyone had forgotten all about me, but I was wrong. The Thompson family has really lifted my spirits. It's nice to know that there are people who care."
"I have been corresponding with Betty and her family on a regular basis and few things in my life have given me more pleasure. It is most gratifying to realize there are people who will offer a helping hand to us who society has condemned, while knowing we have violated those standards they hold sacred. To me that is truly love for your fellow man."