Human Writes is a non-profit, humanitarian organisation which  befriends people on death row in the USA
There are prisoners on Death Rows all over the States who are in need of help to live like a human being for the time they are here.
Prisoners' Art
Daniel Crispell
Articles By Human Writes Members

Thoughts on being a Human Writes penfriend.

In Memorium of Prisoners Executed in the United States
In memoriam of prisoners executed in the United States

Prisoners executed in the United States in 2016


Postcards For Sale

Postcards for sale

Prisoners' artwork postcards available for sale.

I Just Want To Stay

"The volunteers of Human Writes seek to hold out the hand of friendship to men and women facing the death penalty. I am pleased to encourage them in their writing"
Most Reverend and Rt Hon George L Carey, former Archbishop of Canterbury

"No matter its circumstances, dying is one of the most important things we ever do. I applaud all who offer compassion and hope to those facing death, especially in the terrible circumstances of Death Row. May God bless your work."
His Eminence Cardinal Vincent Nichols, Archbishop of Westminster

A Prisoner Testimonial : "I already answered Sally's first letter, but not just a letter of words. I wrote letting her know I want to be her friend forever. I can already see she is a very sweet person, full of smiles and happiness and my heart is very full of care and respect for her."

Becoming A Penfriend

If you would like to go ahead and write to someone then you can apply to join as a full member.  The only stipulation we have is that our members must be at least twenty-one years old.   However, it is not something you should go into lightly.  We ask people to make a definite commitment to writing, barring exceptional circumstances, because it can be devastating for a prisoner if their penfriend stops writing for no apparent reason.  It should also be borne in mind that some prisoners can become disturbed owing to the pressures of life on Death Row, and there is also the possibility that your penfriend could be executed, although of course our office holders within Human Writes will always support you through these circumstances so you would not have to go through this alone.

If you decide that you would like to support Human Writes but that you would prefer not to become a penfriend at this stage, you can join us as an associate (non-writer) member at a reduced rate.  This way you can still receive a newsletter, attend conferences etc. and be part of the organisation.  Should you decide to become a penfriend at a later stage, full membership can be applied for.

Information on our membership database will not be passed to any other organisation and will be kept entirely confidential. We ask that you include a letter about yourself and why you have decided to join us;  we just want to be sure that you have thought things through and we feel obliged to screen applicants to protect the people on Death Row from those who are in search of excitement rather than making a serious commitment of being a friend to someone who is desperately in need of one.

Read our frequently asked questions

For an application form that you can print out, click here. Requires Adobe Acrobat, which can be downloaded here.

If you would like to contact us regarding membership, please visit our contact page.


Human Writes Patrons

"The very essence of the death penalty is to tell people that they are somehow sub-human, not fit to live. Yet even those people I have represented who did what they were accused of - a surprisingly limited number - have always been much better people than their worst fifteen minutes, as are we all. Those who recognise this by reaching out to the men and women on death row are true heroes, though I suspect they gain as much as they give to the relationship."
Clive Stafford Smith OBE, Founder of Reprieve and Patron, Human Writes

"As a journalist who has lived and worked in the United States, the horror of death row is one of the issues that never leaves you. The thread of humanity that Human Writes manages to sustain with men and women on death row is a profound contribution to keep alive the hope of life. Capital punishment is now on the retreat in America, but the numbers awaiting their fate are still very considerable. I am very honoured to have become a Patron of Human Writes and will hope to do my best to put my shoulder to the wheel".
Jon Snow Broadcaster and journalist, Patron, Human Writes

"In such an inhuman system small moments of human contact make a big difference. That's why I support Human Writes and why I would encourage you to do the same."
Gary Younge, Author and US-based feature writer for the Guardian, Patron, Human Writes

"I know what it is like to live in a cell for decades and feel that the whole world hates you. I never expected to be able to live again as a contributing member of a community. Prison life was precarious and unpredictable but I met people who worked there who wanted to help me and people like me - and I'm lucky that I live in a society graceful enough to offer me a second chance. At least I had hope. Hope for many of the people supported by Human Writes has all but been extinguished. Letters to people on Death Row let them know that however low they may have fallen, they are still human beings. They still have value and are worth caring about and letters might just help to keep hope alive. That is why I am honoured to have been invited to be a patron."
Erwin James, author and Guardian columnist, Patron, Human Writes