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Pen pals with signed death warrants?

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mjuran's picture
Pen pals with signed death warrants?

My DR pen pal has been on DR for 30 years, far longer than most, but I'm wondering how long that situation can continue.  As far as I can understand, DR inmates have a certain number of appeals they can exhaust, and then when or whether their sentence is actually carried out depends on when the governer decides it's time to proceed with execution.  But when might that happen, and what factors play into the decision?  I don't really want to ask my pp about his execution date just yet, and I am confused by the info I find online about the process in general.  I know many states had halted executions until further notice back some decades ago;  but some states continue to execute a handful of prisoners every year, and some had been picking up the pace in the last couple years.  My pen pal's appeals do appear to be exhausted, he's in Florida, and I know executions do get carried out still at his facility.  His best friend was executed there three years ago, he just marked that anniversary.

Is there any way to understand how likely it is that my pp's death warrant will be signed soon?

Has anyone here ever had a pen pal executed?  

Anne marie HH
Anne marie HH's picture

There should be stuff online..
A schedule , if he is on it. But hopefully now with President Biden the DP might be halted all over for good

Farfromhome's picture

Honestly, that's good going for him given he's in Florida. 
The appeals process takes years for each appeal. I believe they get 3 but don't quote me on that!

My DR pp is in AZ and he's on his last but it'll be a few years yet. Since they messed up the Joseph Wood execution in 2014, they haven't carried out anymore there although it's heading that way. However, as Anne Marie stated; Biden is against the DP so there IS hope there.

I think generally, at this point, once you're pp gets a date; the only thing that will stop it is an exceptional circumstance unfortunately. 
It's worth bearing in mind though that many DR inmates die of natural causes before an execution date is ever set for them.

It'll be many years before my pp potentially gets a date  and no, never had a pp been excuted. It's a tough thing to accept. I never planned on writing anyone on DR - we met through friends. However he's like a brother to me now and IF this day ever comes I'm going to feel so many emotions from anger to sadness. 


Farfromhome's picture

I'm not entirely sure on the process for setting the dates though. As some only do a few years before they're executed and some, as you know, do decades.

Carmen163's picture

I found this article on DPIC and I thought it might give you a bit of hope...

I wonder why you don't want to ask your PP? Of course, it is not the most cheerful topic, but I think it might help him to know that you don't shy away from it. You are probably the one person he can talk to about this subject. Especially since he is not a young man anymore and most likely has worked through a lot of fear around this topic. You can ask him if he is comfortable writing about this future threat and in that way you can leave it up to him. 

I cannot imagine how it would be to have a PP executed, I would be devastated. It's why I chose to write to DR inmates in California and Nevada. But you never know, so I might be in your position one day. I really hope this human rights thing will play out right!

mjuran's picture

Thanks for all of your responses, I appreciate them!  Yes, I also hope things will start going in a differenet direction under Biden.  And Farfromhome, I'm so sorry about your own PP.  It is such an awful thing to contemplate (our own death, someone else's death) even in the normal course of things, to contemplate it happening as execution and seeing it carried out methodically before one's own eyes is still beyond my imagination.

Carmen, you're right I could venture to broach this subject with my penfriend.  The reason I haven't yet, and feel hesitant (reluctant) is because we have a rather odd sort of conversation with each other, that seems to stick to a lighthearted, joking, abstract level of discussion.  Both he and I have at times interjected something "serious" or "emotional" or "difficult to broach", it's not that I feel we can't talk about serious things in a serious way also, but I get the general feeling that he's not inclined to pursue those things much deeper than mentioning them and then skittering away.  How do I explain it?  I almost feel as though he shares things to let me know where his mind or mood is at, and I respond in kind, things get mentioned and followed up on a little, and then it's back to fun and games.  I'm not sure what I think of it all, and not sure I even understand a lot of the things he says.  Almost like he speaks in riddles, and relies on my to know what he's talking about.  In the end I feel unsure of what he wants and what level of transparency and honesty he wants, and I'm just following what I think is his lead.  I guess I feel able to ask him anything, but I don't want to force him to answer questions that will make him dwell on things he'd rather not.  Even if he's spent 30 years knowing about his death sentence, he strikes me as preferring to think about other things, and I want to respect that.  If I were in his position, I can imagine preferring to avoid certain topics, too.  Maybe I'm just projecting.  I have never felt comfortable, the few times we stumbled on a topic like his own crime or his own execution, I guess the reason I don't want to ask directly now is that his past responses haven't given me any assurance or "green flag" to go ahead, that I could detect.  So I have abstained from venturing further.  But I may reconsider.  Thanks for the suggestion, your thought process about it all sounds very reasonable to me.

Carmen163's picture

I can totally understand now why you don't ask your PP. Although my PP and I write about very serious and deep matters, we've never discussed his crime. It's like a silent agreement between us; all I know about it is what I've read and seen when his case was overturned by the Supreme Court. But that was because his Miranda rights were violated, not because of crime related things. 

As far as your question concerns, I thought maybe you can ask some organisation about it. You could email the Death Penalty Information Centre, or the Florida department of corrections. Pretend you are a schoolgirl who needs this info for some project. I mean, don't mention his name so no one gets an idea about putting him on a list or so....

mjuran's picture

Thanks, Carmen!  Good tips. Maybe I will end up talking to my PP about it, but I want to feel sure I'm on solid ground and my question would be welcome, first.  

I looked up the execution schedule for Florida for the next few years, and he's not on it yet.  But it seems his name could be added just about any time, since Florida does carry out executions every year and he's well exhausted all his appeals long ago.  I just wonder how often and by what process of selection prisoners get added to the schedule as time goes on, and, once they've been added (had their death warrant signed by the governer), if they are generally executed very shortly thereafter, like within a few weeks or a month?  Three months?  (I'm not asking, just wondering aloud).  I'd definitely fly to be there if I was allowed to have a pre-execution visit with him, but I suppose they don't allow that either.  :(

Kirsten's picture

There were two guys (from what I have seen) who had ads on here and dates.

But one of them got his sentence commuted (if I mention the sate many will no who he is because it's so uncommon, so I don't) and he's now serving LWOP.

The other should have been executed this January, if I remember correctly, but he wasn't, because he did not use all his appeals.

I had been astonished anyway, because he wasn't on the row for long, but then I looked up the crime and yeah, been a tough one. Maybe that was why. (To the one/s who may be writing to him: You have my admiration. I had seen the profile like ages ago, 2018 or 2019, but I couldn't bring myself to grab the pen. I couldn't get over myself with the crime in that case. 

But these are the only ones I've seen having dates and an ad on here. But I know of three others who were executed but had ads and pps from here. But that was before me being on here.

Farfromhome's picture

I've never discussed it with my DR penpal. However I only really just realised this whilst reading all your responses. It's easy to forget his situation when we just chat away like old friends. 
I would also find it a difficult topic to approach him with. I know he has it hanging over him constantly but I would find it difficult to know that I'm reminding him of the fact - even though he will surely never forget. 
I just find the death penalty hard to accept. I feel that it only increases the number of victims. This man has a loving family, including his children, and I don't understand how killing him can be seen as justice. 
And too many times have we seen the State murder these inmates only to later have their innocence proved.  
I also watched Trial by Fire the other night. That was a difficult watch! 
I believe when Arizona resume executions they have 35 days to execute the warrants. I believe in most cases it's 90 days. I may not be correct on either of those however! 

Hrb96's picture

Hi there. My pen pal is also on DR in Florida (Union) , i'm planning on visiting him in January, i believe you commented on my post about visitaion i posted a week or so back. My pen pal also has an appeal in the courts at the moment, from what me and him have spoken about as i directly asked him about his appeal, not his crime as i don't feel it's my place and want to try and 'look' past it, but he explained to me that appeals can go on for a while as i believe his current one has been going on for 6 years. He obviously explained that once you have argued something for example DNA and that isn't successful then you can't go back and argue it again, or at least his lawyer won't. It may be worth asking him about his appeals and seeing if there's anything at all they could argue to give you guys more time without the worry of an execution date. 

I'm really sorry to hear about your LO's friend and your situation. I just try and keep us both hopeful as mentioned now that Biden is in power and i am forever hopeful that maybe one day something will come of his appeals. 

motor's picture

he just marked that anniversary.

Firefeather's picture


I have often wondered the same but feel unsure about approaching the subject with my pp. He was put on DR, UCI, FL in 2018 but the actul crime was committed in 2015. He has not been on there very long but from the time he committed the crime up until now, it is around 6 /7 years. I know he had a legal visit last month but he has not shared any information on that (even though he said he would). 

I have been searching for good scource material that can shed any light on the topic but havent found anything that directly relates to what I want to know. I know this is an older post but did any of you find anything out about the process?