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."

Art and Writing From Death Row

< See more Art and Writing

An Essay By Kevin Brian Dowling, Pennsylvania

The Visitor

A brief shower left a misty fog in its wake, as an orange sun dipped to the horizon. Around 8.00 pm, a bird alit on the ledge outside the second floor window of my death row cell. Normally, birds would quickly flee as soon as they saw movement inside my cell, but this was a special visitor. I slowly advanced my face until I was inches away. Not a young bird, I reckoned. A brownish-grey female finch, I think, member of the oscine family.

My cell window is a narrow 16 inches wide separated by two wide bars on the inside, and three narrow bars outside the glass. A bright security light illuminated my ledge during the night, offering the bird some sense of warmth, I believe.

She turned to face me, our eyes met, as she cocked her head side to side. She flew at the window and made several futile attempts to squeeze between the bars and glass. Perhaps she thought the bars were branches in some strange kind of tree, as she sought shelter for the night.

She eventually faced out as she preened her feathers for a very long time. We watched the sun set together, before she hunkered down and closed her eyes. Featured by the security light, she stood like a sentinel in the night. I assumed she would leave, but she remained when I went to sleep at 11.00pm.

The next morning I awoke at 5.30am. I was pleasantly surprised to find ladybird still there. I again pressed my face to the glass as she turned to stare at me. No, dear friend, this is not an aviary. You live amongst the trees of life. These brown bars are part of the tree of death.

All told, ladybird stayed nearly eleven hours. As the rising sun burnt away the morning fog, she sang her song for a special someone. Shortly afterward, a male bird landed. obviously her mate separated during the rain last evening. After a short conversation, they flew off together.

I had studied ladybird’s weather-worn face and confident manner. I am glad you have a companion, my avian friend. I thank you for your visit.

Kevin Brian Dowling, Pennsylvania

< See more Art and Writing

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