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Open Letter From A Buddhist On Death Row

The Clear View Blog (a site for “Engaged Buddhism and Beyond”) has published a thoughtful open letter from Buddhist author and death row inmate Jarvis Jay Masters.

An Open Letter on California’s Proposition 34 — “SAFE California”— to Death Penalty Focus from Jarvis Jay Masters, an innocent man on San Quentin’s Death Row

The 2012 election is over, with its victories, defeats, candidates, and propositions.  California’s Proposition 34, the so-called “SAFE California” initiative failed, falling short with 47.3% of the popular vote.  A large percentage, for sure, but not enough to win.  Where I live, on San Quentin’s East Block Death Row, the election night defeat of Prop 34 was met with loud cheers and with fears.

Read the whole thing here. There are so many engaged Buddhists working to end the death penalty; what do you all think of Masters’ letter?

Take good care over the weekend, BPFers!  See you on Monday.

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Comments (5)

  • Mushim Ikeda

    Thanks for posting this. I read Jarvis Masters’s entire letter on the Clear View Website just now, and emailed Death Penalty Focus to ask what their response to this open letter is. It might help if others did as well, not in order to attack Death Penalty Focus based on the open letter, but instead to respectfully request their position on the issues that Masters puts forth in his letter. Here’s their contact email address: And here’s the text of the email inquiry that I just sent to them: “Dear Death Penalty Focus staff,

    I’m a member of Buddhist Peace Fellowship, and just read Katie Loncke’s Turning Wheel Media blogpost, , which links to this article:

    I’ve read Jarvis Masters’s writing for many years, and appreciate his willingness to share what he can of his experience as an incarcerated person on death row. I think of him as a powerful and thoughtful writer and a person of deep spiritual convictions. I’m also aware that the political process is complex, and that initiatives and campaigns to change legislation sometimes involve strategies for incremental change that may be far from inclusive of, or even seem to be against, the interests of all of the people most affected by the proposed change in legislation. In this case, I’m very interested in hearing Death Penalty Focus’s response to Jarvis Masters’s critique of your organization’s actions supporting California’s Prop 34, and his report that the San Quentin East Block Death Row men loudly cheered the defeat of California’s Prop 34, the so-called SAFE California proposition.

    Thank you, “

  • Katie Loncke

    That’s a brilliant idea; thanks for taking the initiative to do that. I’m curious what DPF will say; hope they get back to you. Thanks, Mushim!

  • janis Kobe

    We visited Jarvis Masters this month and he was in very good spirits and positive.
    He is so grateful for the support he has on the outside. We will visit again soon.

  • Katie Loncke

    So good to hear! Thank you, janis.

  • Lisa Jennings

    Because I live in EUrope I did not know what a profit making thing prisons and death row are. I think that this has to be looked at when we are wanting people released. Who loses the money and what monetary interests keep this horror going.
    THis is not a clean way to see that justice is being done.

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