Guest Author - Lisbeth Cheever-Gessaman
In our brave, new world, much emphasis is placed upon the inherent sanctity of life. The death penalty is now considered by nearly every civilized nation to be both cruel and inhumane, and statistics show that it has been abolished de jure or de facto by 106 nations, with an additional 30 countries having done away with it in the last 15 years.
The death penalty continues to be practiced in at least one country to be considered by most as 'civilized': The United States.
More than 3700 people are currently condemned to death in America. And many of those will spend years on Death Row before they are summarily executed. Chances are good that they will be given a dozen or more execution dates before the final one, sometimes coming within hours or even minutes of execution, abandoned by nearly everyone - society, loved ones, family and friends.
Human Writes, ironically a UK organization, is neither a political, partisan or religious group; but rather a humanitarian organization which dedicates itself solely to the mission of befriending Death Row inmates in the US. Their philosophy is neither one of judgement nor gushing sentimentalism, but instead seeks to provide a way to alleviate as much suffering in the condemned as possible through the simple gesture of written human communication, provided to Death Row inmates by its members.
The only criteria for inclusion is a minimum age requirement of 18 years of age along with a willingness to befriend a condemned criminal.
A visit to their website explains their mission in greater detail, and features the art and poetry of several inmates, which struck me as profoundly touching. After all, these are the tried and convicted examples of the very worst that society has to offer - so unredeemable that the judgement of death has been pronounced upon them. And yet, there are sketches of Spanish Ladies, Roses and Puppies with hearts. Poems of raindrops and dawn and 'climbing the azure vault of the sky'. That such beauty co-exists with atrocity is a necessary element in understanding the many facets of what it is to be human, and assists greatly in not simply following the trend of discarding citizens deemed horrific, but fundamentally realizing that beauty and terror are often not so easily separated, and that every soul, no matter how atrocious, still possesses the capacity to be redeemed.
It might go without saying that this is no decision to be entered into lightly, for the obvious reasons. There is an entire page dedicated the consideration of several key factors before making a decision as to whether writing a convicted Death Row Inmate is a good match for you. Understanding that many of the inmates are depressed, disturbed and/or mentally ill is only one factor to weigh into account.
There also exists the very real possibility that your penmate will eventually be killed.
However, it is an opportunity which requires little investment other a small membership fee, your compassion and a stamp, with returns that no amount of money can possibly buy: the knowledge that you are truly affecting another persons life.
Costs of membership to join range from 7.50 Pounds Sterling to 18.00 Pounds Sterling, dependent upon earned wages.
For further information, contact firstname.lastname@example.org
Or, visit their website at http://www.humanwrites.org