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
Arthur Burton
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 : "You are so right, people like Helene don't come along too often in this crazy world. I just replied to her letter. She stood by my side when darkness set upon me and gave me warmth when life felt so cold. I'm forever grateful for her love and support."

Art and Writing From Death Row

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An Essay By Kevin Brian Dowling

Founding Fathers, Lost Sons

In the 1st century BC, Coll-Vuias reigned as the 121st Monarch of all Ireland. He was the progenitor of the Highlander Clan McDonald, whose members invaded and took possession of the western coast and islands of Scotland in 262 AD. They were known as the 'Lords of the Isles'. Over the ensuing centuries the McKean branch of the family spread back to Ireland and England.

In 1725 William and Susannah McKean immigrated from Ireland to Chester County in the Pennsylvania Colony. Their grandson, Thomas McKean, was born there in 1734. He went on to sign the Declaration of Independence and the Constitutions of Delaware, Pennsylvania and the United States of America. During the Revolutionary War he simultaneously served in the Continental Congress for Delaware and as the first Chief Justice of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court. He established the legal system still used today.

He was the President of Congress when General George Washington sent a despatch rider announcing the surrender of Lord Cornwallis at Yorktown, Virginia. His good friend, John Adams, described him as 'One of the three men in the Continental Congress who appeared to me to see more clearly to the end of the business than any others in the body'.

He was a pallbearer for the funeral of another friend, Benjamin Franklin. He went on to serve three terms as the second Governor of Pennsylvania.

In 1738 his cousin James McKean was born in London, and soon immigrated to Orange County in the New York Colony. James McKean was my fourth great grandfather. His son Jesse begat Josiah, who begat John William, who begat John Frederick, who begat Christine Ann McKean in 1919. She was my mother.

I worked hard to make my mother proud. I had a successful marriage and three wonderful children. I built a solid twenty year career as a manager and investigator, protecting the lives and property of clients, customers and employees alike.
It has been said that people with destinies often die old and unhappy, or young and unfinished. Destiny can be thwarted by persons and events completely unrelated to your fate, or chosen path.

In 1997 my life was taken from me and my family destroyed. My destiny was derailed by bad people with bad motives. Being an innocent man on death row in the same state where my ancestor was the first Chief Justice of the Supreme Court and the second Governor seems a cruel irony.

When the police spoke to a man who supervised me for five years he said "Dowling was an Area Manager in my district. He was a very meticulous person who would always have his I's dotted and T's crossed. He was a go-getter with a good nose for dishonest people."

A lost son is what they believe me to be, but a lost cause I am not. Men steel their resolve in battle or in the face of impossible odds, often by recalling the courage and exploits of their ancestors

There were many prominent McKeans throughout American history, but none more prominent to me than my dear late mother. I am the Son of a McKean and I inherited all of her Scot-Irish work ethic and determination.

As I sleep, I smell the salty freedom of the Irish Sea. I march into battle to the beat of ancient Celtic drums and the primordial urgings of ancient Celtic pipes. I seek the strength of all my Highlander kinsmen, whose blood flows through my veins. I endeavour to persevere.

Kevin Brian Dowling,

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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