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Written by Death-Row Prisoners

140 W. South Boundary Street · Perrysburg, Ohio 43551 January 2006, Volume 7, Issue 28 (Bimonthly)

The Master's Call

Take the time to touch the morning Feel the sun upon your face And as day turns to evening Watch the stars fall into place... Measure the moon as it hangs above you Let its tranquility fill your heart For the world is God's canvas And you His living work of art... Every person has a spot And they fill that spot with life Some will struggle under heavy burdens Others' walk will be light... Just remember "Life" the mystery Man will never unravel all But if you listen, really listen You will hear the master's call... Let not the journey overwhelm you Or set yourself too fast a pace Take the time to touch the morning Feel the sun upon your face...

Only a Fool Has No Fear

On many occasions, I have heard a so-called tough inmate say, "I'm not afraid of anyone or anything." Such a person reminds me of the fearless goat. There once lived a big and powerful goat who claimed that he wasn't afraid of anyone or anything. He attempted to prove himself by beating up some of the "baddest" goats in the territory until all the goats were afraid of him. But he was still not satisfied with his accomplishments and wanted to do something that was more extraordinary to demonstrate his courage. So, he ordered all the goats to go to the railroad tracks with him. When he heard a train coming, he stepped in between the railroad tracks with his head bearing downward to await the train that was approaching him. The train collided with the fearless goat and scattered pieces of the goat everywhere. The fearless goat was dead. The other goats that were watching the demonstration said, "He was the bravest and the most fearless goat that we had ever known. But he was also the dumbest." Respectful fear and courage are normal emotions for any civilized person to experience. Courage is doing what you're afraid to do. There can be no courage without fear. This is not a cowardly fear, but a driving fear to encourage you to fight even harder to achieve your goals as a servant of God. Without fear, a person would walk in front of a speeding car, believing that it would bounce off of him. He would walk off the roof of a tall building, thinking the ground would save him. He would put a loaded gun in his mouth, believing that if he pulled the trigger, the bullet would only miss. Fear warns us of danger, but a fool has no fear. James Jones Pennsylvania Death Row Waynesburg, PA

Steve Moody Texas Death Row Livingston, TX

The Master's Call, Only A Fool Has No Fear............................................................................ Editorial- No Time To Say Goodbye, Luqman's Prayer-The Magnificent..................................... Mental Motion, Letters to the Editor- A Better Way For Me, Inspiration...................................... A Special Tribute to Lewis Williams, Jr., Scholarships Available, To Our Readers.......................... Donate Art for Scholarships, What God Has Done For Me Through Christ.............................. My Adoption, A Number, Keep Faith Alive, Spring Essay & Poem Contest.............................. Sponsorship/Participation Form, Send Us Your Article or Letter....................................................... Today is Your Day to Do It Like Never Before, An Appeal to the Outside Community..................

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No Time To Say Goodbye

Letters to the Editor are welcomed from all prisoners (this includes non-death row prisoners) and the outside community. In submitting letters, we ask that compassionate and introspective guidelines apply to your communications. Limit size to 400 words or less. Letters may be edited for clarity and space considerations. CONTACT US AT: Letters to the Editor COMPASSION 140 W. South Boundary Street Perrysburg, OH 43551 COMPASSION OUTSIDE COORDINATOR: Email: [email protected] TEL 419-874-1333 FAX 419-874-3441 WEBSITE ADDRESS:

PUBLISHER Compassion EDITOR Dennis J. Skillicorn ASSISTANT EDITORS AL Cunningham, Abu Ali Abdur-Rahman, Konstantinos Fotopoulos, Siddique Abdullah Hasan, George M. Lopez, and Michael Toney COMPASSION ADVISORY BOARD Death-Row Prisoners CONTRIBUTING WRITERS

Anthony Bankston, Thomas Anthony Battle, Ronnie Lockhart Bay, Herbert Blakeney, Al Cunningham, Donny Fell, Carl Hyde, James Jones, Steve Moody, Melvin Speight, Janie Turmonlen, Marcus Wellons

Marlin Gray had no way of knowing that Sept. 26, 2005, would be his last day in the prison where he laid his head for so many years. Suddenly, like 64 men before him, he was swept away, moved to another facility without even the briefest opportunity to say his goodbyes. He spent what seemed a lifetime with the same people, sharing in the joy, sadness and despair of all the brothers in this struggle. Years of building friendships, gone without the simple luxury of a "So long." Marlin was my friend, and being around him was always a positive experience. He lived his life consistent with a man of good character and integrity. We worked closely together on Compassion, and his contribution as assistant editor was to write encouraging letters to those who sent us submissions. His humility in his work, and the way he walked the walk, were representative of what defines compassion. As a law clerk, he was always ready to help others with various legal issues. Even in his last few days, his focus was to lift others up. He was very supportive of our goals at Compassion. He took part in the selection of every scholarship recipient, and he took to heart every word sent to us by the applicants. His philosophy was that he refused to allow the negative influences of prison life to deter him from making a difference. Even though he didn't agree with the views of some, he did what he could to maintain an objective perspective. All who came in contact with him came away a better person as a result of knowing him. On Oct. 26, 2005, Marlin was executed. His desire was, if he must be executed, he would be the last. He will be missed and remembered daily by all those who loved him. I f he would have been given the chance to share a word with us before being taken away I'm sure it might have been something like, "Press on in your effort to help others and restore the justice that so many have lost."

Dennis Skillicorn Missouri Death Row Mineral Point, MO

Luqman's Prayer The Magnificent

I pray in the morning, noon and at night. As you already know, at times I pray right through to the twilight. You are the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. Those who do not respect this cannot comprehend. The vastness of your power is truly irresistible. Even if the whole world tried, you are truly unbribable. So I humbly beseech you in my daily prayer I zealously hope I'm written in your good book as a righteous obeyer. So this simple supplicant petitions for your mercy that you offer to all For to not accept it would be a great pitfall. So in closing this prayer, I will remain devout at my best So I can be accepted in your Paradise as a trusted guest. A-men.

Herbert Blakeney aka Luqman Bilal Abdullah Mohammed Pennsylvania Death Row Waynesburg, PA


Mental Motion

Through the spoken word My thoughts become verbs Transcending the stillness Of paper and ink Thoughts that think Penetrating like the beat Of a bass drum African Diaspora We're all one Though split and pitted Against each other Acting like we don't recognize The next brother Like suckers we sleep Unconsciously we weep For what we keep Can't be kept In the pocket or the hand Collectively We carry the very essence Of man Yeah Through the spoken word I'm heard Rejected by the respected I'm proof Of the neglected.

A Better Way For Me

Dear Compassion, Truly, "Compassion" is an appropriate theme for the life of a man. However, growing up in the city of St. Louis, I never actually encountered compassion in its true essence, outside of that which I experienced in my mother's and grandparents' home. Compassion was not a word uttered in the community in which I was raised, and to show it meant that you were "soft." A full-fledged abecedarian to life, yet I chose to live as if I knew the answers, like most children. And so, as I began to grow in size, so did my responsibilities increase when it came time to make life-changing decisions. I wanted to be part of the "hood," so I had to denounce what I knew to be right, or at least what I figured to be so. By the age of 12, I was deep into the street life, selling drugs, gangbanging, etc. Eventually, that lifestyle led me to incarceration two months after my sixteenth birthday. And here I sit now at the age of 27, serving a life sentence without the chance for probation or parole. In the early stages of my incarceration, I started to hear the "Still Small Voice" that I believe speaks within all of us. I began to notice at times that, when all was serene, and there I was lying on my bunk, vividly acidulous at the world for being where I was, my soul began to reproach me. It was then that I knew it was time for a change. Unsure, and afraid of what my "homies" might think, I was reluctant to change that what I knew wasn't right in my life. Being raised in a Christian family, I knew there was a higher power than man. But who was He or what was it? I began to change by disassociating myself from certain people who did not want to do something better than what we had been doing. As I began to change my heart, GOD began to make a better way for me. I was invited to attend a meeting held by the Moorish Science Temple of America by a guy that I had known from the streets. Still torn between both worlds of right and wrong, reluctantly I went. And praise GOD! It was there that I eventually found my purpose. I began to change my childish ways and began to grow as a man. I became a member of the Moorish Science Temple of America at the age of 17 and have been there ever since. Islamism (the study and practice of Peace) has been my beacon light and guide, showing me what GOD wanted me to do with the talent that He blessed me with. If GOD can change me, surely there is hope for all. Ronnie Lockhart Bay Potosi Correctional Center Mineral Point, MO


Dear Compassion, Many thanks to the death row prisoners for the poems they compose. You guys have given me the courage to attend college to study creative writing. I will think of you, pray for you, and light candles for you. You have touched my life in a positive way and I can't thank you enough. You have set my spirit free. I needed a message from God and He sent you to me. I will never know you, but you will always be my unknown friends. God Bless All of You. Janie Turmonlen Stendol, IN

Melvin Speight Pennsylvania Death Row Waynesburg, PA



New college scholarship award recipient(s) will be announced in the March issue of Compassion. Half the funds from subscriptions and undesignated donations to Compassion are given as college scholarships to immediate family members (parent, grandparent, child, grandchild, sibling) of murdered victims. If you or someone you know is a U.S. citizen and is either attending or planning on attending a college or university(academic or religious) as a student and had a family member murdered, please submit an application. To obtain an application, write to Compassion at 140 W. South Boundary St., Perrysburg, Ohio 43551, or call (419) 874-1333. Please ask for Compassion's office. Or visit our website at compassion/id3.html Thank You


A Special Tribute to Lewis Williams Jr.

Dec. 26, 1958 ­ Jan. 14, 2004

Dear Compassion, Though Lewis Williams Jr. is no longer among us physically, his execution remains in the minds of members of the abolitionist movement in Ohio and around the world. One-and a-half years have passed since his execution, yet two questions remain in the minds of many who try to make sense of his demise. One, who was Lewis Williams Jr.? Two, what was his departing message and legacy? Since Lewis and I had fairly extensive correspondence, I feel that I knew him and may be able to answer these questions. Lewis impressed me as a sincere, intelligent, articulate and able individual. He used his extensive knowledge of the law to Lewis Williams, Jr. help others on death row. He had much to offer society. After his execution, authorities reconsidered the unprecedented practice of allowing witnesses to observe guards preparing a prisoner for lethal injection. The Ohio House passed a bipartisan bill calling for a commission to study all capital cases. (The bill died in the Senate, but efforts continue.) How did Lewis achieve this legacy? When all legal efforts had failed to secure a fair trial and preserve his life, he turned his attention to the one who gave him life ­ God. He pled for divine intervention. As he was being strapped to a gurney, he cried out at the top of his lungs, "I'm not guilty! God, please help me! I didn't commit these crimes!" When asked by the warden if he had anything to say before being put to death, he cried out, "God please help me! God please hear my cry!" His pleas shook the soul of his elderly mother, who stood sobbing, observing through a glass window. In addition, it shook the soul of his lawyer, reporters, executioners and all who witnessed his demise. It was quickly reported to us who stood in the parking lot bearing witness. His attorney, Stephen Farrell, exited the prison and spoke to us in the vigil, thanking us for being there. He said, "Not only was it horrible, but I can't help but feel like an accomplice, because there was nothing I could do to stop it." As a Quaker and an advocate of nonviolence, I had to do some thinking about Mahatma Ghandi, who once said, "Nonviolent resistance to evil is best..." Welch poet Dylan Marlais Thomas (1914-1953) wrote, "Do not go gentle into the good night..." In Lewis' memory. Carl Hyde Yellow Springs, OH 4

To Our Readers

Anything death-row prisoners write may jeopardize their future appeals. For articles Compassion wishes to publish, we request prisoners furnish us with their legal representatives' names and a d d r e s s es, if possible, s o t h e y m a y review their submission. Knowledge of these facts may limit the s c o p e o f a p r i s o n e r ' s expressions.

All stories are subject to editing for grammar, sentence structure and clarity.

Please Donate to our Scholarship Fund...

What God Has Done For Me Through Christ

Today, 3/26/98, as I am beginning my fast, I feel moved by the Holy Spirit to write about what Christ has done for me. I begin by pondering my whole life from as early as I can remember up until today. I see my life beginning as a seed planted by my parents, and God breathed life into me and made me grow. I started as roots that grew into a big tree, and now birds of the air can lodge, be fed and find safety. While growing up, some of the twigs and branches were broken and grew crooked and undeveloped. They were perverted by the world, the environment in which I grew up, the movies, TV and my own experiences. I was without God in the world, even though I went to church. I grew up a broken man, childish, and underdeveloped in some areas and overdeveloped in others. When I really accepted Christ in my heart and made Him Lord and Ruler in my life, my life changed ­ and is continuing to evolve as I become more like him. I'm dying to self, the world and sin. As I continue to surrender the old man I used to be, I'm finding the broken and malformed twigs and branches of this tree are being repaired. The old heart, or the root of this tree, has been totally removed and killed, and I was given a brand new one. I found myself unlearning the things I learned. Or, simply put, I stopped doing them. Most of my interests changed. Some of the things that once amused me are now abominations. Some of the things that I found funny are now sad and very serious. I realize I'm no longer my own servant. I was bought with a price - Jesus' blood. I, myself, died. I was reborn by a different seed ­ God's seed. Now, as I reflect on my life, I can see all the childishness, mistakes, the broken limbs and twigs. I was a man in age, but a child in spirit and mind. When I was a child, I thought as a child. I understood as a child. But when I became a man of God, I put away all those childish things. I realize this world is not my permanent home, but that I am a stranger, pilgrim, ambassador, king and priest. God's servant, just passing through. The broken twigs on this tree have been fixed. The malformations have been corrected, wherein I no longer have to grow or walk humped over, but circumspectly and upright. Not as a fool, but wise. The apostle Paul said, "Let a man be a fool that he becomes wise." I have been foolish in the past. Now as I ponder and look back on my life, I can see the whole tree then, and the tree now. I see it all so clearly and marvel at God's miracle still being performed in my life. I wonder why He didn't do it sooner? Maybe He was trying, but I was uncooperative. I realize it's not His fault, for I felt Him pulling and tugging on my heart years ago, but I didn't have the sense or wisdom to run to Him. Instead, I ran away. Still, He's never closed His arms. All I need now is His best robe and His ring (seal) and to hear Him simply say, "Welcome home, son. Enter into the joy of your Lord." Hallelujah! Marcus Wellons Georgia Death Row Jackson, GA



For Scholarships


Donated by Khristian Oliver Texas Death Row Livingston TX

Death Row Prisoners Donate Art for Scholarships

Compassion is accepting original art donations from death row prisoners. When enough items are received they will be sold with proceeds going to award college scholarships to family members of murder victims. Mail your artwork contribution to: Compassion 140 W. South Boundary St. Perrysburg, OH 43551

My Adoption

Sin and crime (were) my demon friends, Setbacks and woes resurfaced again. But I tried to push the saints away, and then the Lord indwelt me one day. Mastering man-made laws exposed the condition this world is in. Asking God for guidance brought freedom from within. Perverted kings, perver ting justice, will be revealed at Judgment Day! To know the Lord and share our gospel, is why I'm still here today. Immersing myself in the Bible, is now my ultimate best friend. In October 2003, I became a newborn babe again. Not to do it my way, is what I wrestle with every day! Obedience `til death, I now know is the only way!

Anthony Bankston California Death Row San Quentin, CA

A Number

Beyond the ticking clock within the steel, I slumber The life I thought was mine, now reduced to a number God called my name at birth: He inscribed it in a star He places them in the heavens, to remind us who we are Those moments, those memories, every minute that was mine Never an indication that I was running out of time The water seemed to freeze, the winds they all stood still As if I walked within a dream, where none of this was real Like the turning of a page, it slipped right through my hand A thousand tiny pieces, an hourglass of sand Gone tomorrows and yesterdays, I could grab hold of only one But before I could catch up, it was all said and done Who am I today and of what have I become? Just what will I feel, when I give up being numb I thought to pick up the pieces, but there was nothing there of me They all scatter like ashes, into an empty sea You can trap me in this body, and you can place me behind a wall But my star, it still will shine, and you cannot make it fall. And you can call me by my name Because my soul, it will remain It's in the heavens, where I slumber So you can't reduce me to a number There are places I still go, places where I'm still free And there's more to all of this in me, than your eyes will bear to see So you can look past me now, as I also look past you But when the ticking stops the clock, which one of us was true? No matter anyway, because I don't intend to stay Within the clouds that surface now, is where I intend to lay Maybe next time around, I will find my solid ground This time, I'll miss the trip. This time, I will be found. Yet our souls they echo on, I've already taken my place I can see it in my son's eyes: You can see it in his face But for now I'll take my presence, and I find peace as I slumber And write my name up in the sky, Because you can't reduce me to a number

Share Your Life Lessons In Compassions Spring Essay & Poem Contest

What were your choices and how did they affect your dreams? Each of us has a story to tell, a history of hard-earned personal experience. Sharing those life lessons is a virtual treasure of insight. What we have to say can have a lasting impression on our youth and change their life's direction. We should all have a desire to prevent others from making the same mistakes we made. Children need to know how the decisions they make today will ultimately impact the rest of their lives. Our words of wisdom can make a positive contribution. The type of legacy we leave is up to us. Compassion invites death row offenders to enter its Spring Essay & Poem Contest to help educate young people about the snares in life and the importance of their choices. We are looking for essays about how your choices affected your goals. Compassion guidelines will apply with the exception of the essay length. Submissions may be up to 1,500 words. Essays must be postmarked by April 15th, 2006. The editorial staff will select the winner, who will receive a book or magazine subscription of their choice pending staff approval. Compassion will print the winning essay in the March issue. All the material submitted to this contest will be combined into an anthology titled "Today's Choices Affect Tomorrow's Dreams." This material will be distributed throughout the country as a form of restorative justice.

Thomas Anthony Battle California Death Row San Quentin, CA Thomas Battle with his son Marguis Aaron

Our previous essay winner will be announced in the March issue.


When I first came to prison, I was rotten. I hated the world and everything in it. I worshipped the devil, and even have Satanic markings on my skin. All this changed the day I turned to Jesus. I cried out to him and confessed my sins. I pled for forgiveness and received assurance from the Holy Spirit. The Spirit came upon me and comforted me and gave me peace. Since that day, I have not turned back. I have been through some hard times in the four-and-a-half years I waited for trial. I have slipped up on occasion (after all, we're only human). Yet I begged for forgiveness and there is was. I have kept my faith alive. I've been blessed with wonderful friends, and I now love instead of hate. I take each day with a smile. Why? Because I know that no matter when I die, whether it be tomorrow or 50 years from now, I have kept my faith alive. Every time I open my Bible, I learn something new and wonderful. There's so much to learn, yet so little time. When you are young, you think you will live forever. The world is your playground. There's nothing you can't do. When you learn the truth, you realize that life is but a passing phase. There is only one choice ­ open your heart to Jesus and be washed in the blood of the Lamb. For the Bible says, "Behold, the Lamb of God who taketh away the sins of the world." With Jesus by our side, we can face anything. We can push aside any fear. We can out love any hatred. We can overcome any trial or temptation. And as we do now, my brothers, we can look in the face of death and know it has no power over us. All because we have kept the faith alive. With much love for the world and my brothers on the Row, this is dedicated in memory of Jesus and Donald "D.J." Jones. Donny Fell Federal Death Row Ray Brook, NY


Please mail your writings to: your writings to: COMPASSION





Write a compassionate article about someone else. Write something about yourself that would interest others. Write about an experience that had an impact on your life. Write about something positive you have done in prison. Compose a poem to share with others. Your article or letter does not have to be religious in nature. Try to limit your article to 400 words or less. If possible, enclose a photo of yourself and your attorney's name & address.

Thank you to our donors who are making this publication possible.


Catholic Diocese of Toledo, OH Ken & Elizabeth Green, Kansas City, MO Ken Cappelletty, Perrysburg, OH GOLD DONORS ($2500 OR MORE): SILVER DONORS ($1000 OR MORE):

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Niki Schwartz, Esq. Molly C. Ott St. Michael Ridge Catholic Church, Defiance, OH St. Francis DeSales Parish, Toledo, OH Rev. Daniel Ring Sisters of St. Francis, Sylvania, OH St. John Evangelist, Lima, OH Martha Baldoni GL & Lanelle Spence Friendship Services Peace Foundation Grace Universal Community Church Catholic Diocese of Youngstown Arizonans to Abolish Death Penalty Oblates St. Francis Mission Gesu Church, Toledo, OH Sts Peter & Paul, Sandusky, OH St. Mary's Junction, Defiance, OH Father John Graden Word Consultants An Anonymous Friend


St. Rose Peace & Justice The Redemptorists of Lima St. Girard Sisters of St. Francis of Tiffin, OH St. Patricks Heatherdowns, Toledo, OH St. Joseph Church, Sylvania, OH

People of Faith Against the Death Penalty Rev. Francis B. McDonald Holy Trinity Church, Dayton, OH Lima Sierra Club St. Charles Borromeo, PT. Charlotte, FL St. Patrick Church, St. Charles, IL Rev. Earl Loeffler Dr. & Mrs. Steven Fox Margy Paoletti Corpus Christi Parish, Toledo OH Jin & Shirley Mann Rev. Leo P Riley . Charles Shaw James Peiffer Rev. Robert Dendinger Ramona Ripston Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet Sisters of Notre Dame, Toledo, OH Sue Schroeder Rev. James Peiffer Rev. Robert Lamantia Martha May





Donation/Participation Form



enclosed is $_____________ for the donation/subscription checked above. _____ keep my gift anonymous _____ I (we) Would be interested in attending meetings For COMPASSION. Would you or members from your organization be willing to assist with mailings or help in the Communication needs of COMPASSION? YES_____ NO_____ Name ___________________________________________________________________________________ Organization____________________________________________________________________________ Address ________________________________________________________________________________ City_________________________________________ State ______________ Zip ___________________ Day Phone _______________________________Evening Phone_____________________________




St. Rose Parish 215 E. Front Street Perrysburg, Ohio 43551

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An Appeal to the Outside Community

Half of all subscriptions and undesignated donations are given in college scholarship form to family members of murdered victims. Please help us. Contribute now so that we can maintain free distribution of Compassion to all 3400 death-row prisoners. See form on page 7. Thank you.

Today is Your Day to Do It Like Never Before

This day is yours to live just once, yet that is more than enough. For you can fill this day with love, with effort, with beauty and with joy. You can put purpose and meaning into every moment. · You can live this day in such a way that you'll be forever thankful for having known it. · You can do things today that will positively affect your life and your world from this point forward. · The rapid passing of time works against you only if you waste and abuse that precious time. · If, on the other hand, you make full and joyful use of your time, each passing moment becomes your forever friend. · This is a day to create treasures that will last a lifetime and beyond. · Imagine that oppor tunity and imagine the possibilities. · Then, step forward and bring those possibilities to life. · Today is your day to do it. The question is, "Will you take advantage of today to further your life in a positive direction? Or will you allow the sun to set without taking any action to move forward along your life journey? Al Cunningham California Death Row San Quentin, CA



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