Please keep in mind that this blog often has comments and statements directly from the women on death row. Statements of grief, statements of innocence, statements of regret and sorrow. If bearing audience to these women's feelings, my opinions or those of commenters offends you please do not read on.

College Guild: Respect Reduces Recidivism But What is Respect in Prison?

I am all for anything that will improve the life of an inmate no matter their crime. This is for purely selfish reasons, believe it or not. Do even the tiniest bit of research and you find that improving the conditions in prison drastically cuts crime rates on the outside. It is one of the biggest reasons that crime is so high in this country as compared to other places. We cant seem to get our fat, American heads around the concept that prison must be a place of rehabilitation and not a money-making venture. Our politicians have a strong hold on the weakest of minds and keep feeding them false information and statistics to gain popular support for this farce despite the rising crime rates.

The few enlightened folks who attempt to do something about it are usually vilified by the village idiots who are happily drinking the Kool-aid from the prison powers that be. Because of this, I hate to knock any organization for trying but sometimes it seems things just haven't been all the way thought through. I had one such experience with College Guild.

College Guild is a free nontraditional correspondence college for inmates. From their website:

Our mission is to stimulate in prisoners an interest in life long learning by providing a selection of free, non-traditional correspondence courses. College Guild is not affiliated with any religious or political group. Our courses are designed to be both thought provoking and fun while encouraging objectivity and creativity. They relieve the boredom of prison life with an opportunity to spend time constructively. For many inmates, our courses are the only contact they have beyond the prison walls.

I first found them 5 or 6 years ago and was ecstatic to help. I signed up to be a teacher with high hopes of using my advanced degrees for something so worthwhile. There are courses in arts, dogs, poetry, justice, drawing, mythology and more. I was immediately saddened however when I heard from the director who told me we dont really teach anything. The students get the information to study and are given a test. Readers receive those tests and are instructed to only give positive feedback. Regardless of the responses from the inmate.

I tried to understand this. They say right on their website that the purpose is no to actually receive a credit but to stimulate a lifelong love of learning. I was confused how to impart this without actually teaching. College guild does not allow readers to talk about their own experiences or lives in relation to the course for fear of a relationship developing although no last names or addresses are even exchanged.

While I admire the effort of College Guild I had to stop volunteering when I received a test from an inmate that was full of racial hate and obvious historical misinformation. I stared at it for so long before I answered, knowing full well that I wasn't allowed to do anything but play along. College Guild advises to write "not suitable for college guild" near anything sexual or violent etc but I find that response sadly lacking both morally and civically.

I really wanted to open up a dialogue with this guy who was either an asshole trying to bait me and dillydally away his opportunity to learn something, however small, or a really confused person who had no clue his thinking was askew. I did correct his ideas to a degree, nothing confrontational, but once I sent it to College Guild, they never sent me another page to grade. I was kind of glad. I didn't feel like I was helping by letting bad behavior slide and obvious misinformation stand in the hopes that he would develop a love of learning. That isn't respect in my book. In fact, its quite the opposite.

Don't get me wrong. College Guild is a wonderful opportunity and it makes a difference for a lot of inmates. I did not find it was for me and I kept looking for a program to make a difference in the way I think is most helpful.



When Families Reach Out

Several times per month I get email requests for help for inmates. Someones mom, sister, brother, cousin - whatever. I try to dedicate most resources to the women on death row but do what I can for anyone in need.

Everything I do here comes out of my own pocket. I have no fund or benevolent benefactor to help me in these endeavors. I depend on you guys. My readers. I get a pittance each month for Google ads which goes straight to inmates, as well as the revenue from my articles and books. I also get about $50 a year in donations from the little box in the left sidebar.

The money I receive does not come anywhere near enough to cover what families and friends ask me to do for their inmates. Therefore, I thought I would list the most recent requests here in the hopes that someone out there will donate a few bucks for a book of stamps or a paperback. It really is less than a cup of Starbucks.

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Hello,
My niece has been in prison since 2007.  Her live in boyfriend beat up her baby daughter (13 month old) while she was at work.  Proven she was at work and didn’t ever hurt her child.  But she was sentenced to 20 years because she “had a knowing” that her bf could hurt her child because she was a victim of domestic violence.  She knew he was violent so she was sentenced.  She was 19 yrs old when her 18 year old live in boyfriend hurt her child.  The child is a perfectly healthy thriving young lady now with now physical issues from when the boyfriend shook her and hit her.  The boyfriend (Chris Good) shot and killed himself instead of going to jail.  Now Elizabeth has been sitting in jail for 10 years on a 20 year sentence.  She could really use your help and expertise if you would please.  We are a tiny family and we are not in Oklahoma to visit her.
It would be so appreciated if you could help her.  Thank you so much.  -Linda

Elizabeth Crafton #556399
MBCC   C-2-C    #215
29501 Kickapoo Road
McLoud OK  74851


Can you please help out my husband?

Simon Peter Kasawa, 371650
PO Box 2308
Mount Clemens, MI 48046

Hello my name is Gayla Mills and my baby sister is in prison I was wondering if u could help her on reading material.
Cheyenne Bowmanher 2016821
Lockhart Correctional Facility unit 78644
1400 industrial Blvd Lockhart TX   

My Macabre Masterpeices

As one would think, I have accumulated a lot of strange treasures in this line of work. I have a goatee from accused cannibal, Gregory Scott Hale- a gift to remember him by when he was arrested. I have origami animals from spree killer Eileen Huber. I have hair from the notorious Charles Manson. I have poems and drawings galore. I have also been gifted less savory items I’ll save you from.

While some of these inmate gifts do indeed have a special meaning to me, I also have the incredible advantage of making the acquaintance of some very unique and talented craftspeople.

Despite crime writer stereotypes, I am a very girly girl. Shoes and jewelry and things that sparkle make me smile. My spiritual beliefs bring me close to nature and things that are pure and real. During the course of my career, I have purchased or been gifted some really amazing items that fit my personality to a T. Let me show you.


Check out this gorgeous Richard Ramirez necklace I bought a few years ago. I cant find the girl I bought it from anymore. She was in a crafty group on Facebook and went by the name Jenny Mae Decay. The only contact info I can find for her is here. She has since disappeared but she made all kinds of cool shit like this. Also, please disregard that shitty hair style I had last year.

These shoes! OMG, I adore them. They are 6 inch stilettos with blood dripping down the heel. They are covered in pictures of Richard Ramirez, a man I knew personally who was dubbed The Night Stalker, Jeffery Dahmer, Charles Manson and Ted Bundy. I love to wear these to public appearances. They are great conversation pieces. They were handmade by Samantha Josephine. You can find her shop, Frenchie Monroe Designs, on Etsy.









This little dandy is a necklace I picked up when I appeared at the Dark History Convention in Illinois one year. It is from Poking Dead Things. Morgana Grimm makes all sorts of neato jewelry out of animal bones. I don't know what type of bones they are but they are super tiny and there is a bit of greenery in there too.


I LOVE when people ask me about this necklace. I received it as a gift from Stacey Gaither, wife of famous artist Jeff Gaither, who I bought some cool ass art work from. She told me the words and phrases behind the doll were cut from a very old ruined Bible she found. (I think that's what she said. Its been a few years) But I enjoy the look on people's faces when I tell them that.



Being in this line of work allows me to come in contact with some pretty amazeballs artists and craftspeople. I love the way they make things with their whole heart and allow something fantastic to emerge from what some would see a dark or depressing. Give these guys a look and I'll bet you'll find something amazing too. 

Jessica McCarty, Florida Mother Kills All Her Children

We talked about Jessica McCarty a while back. She admitted to the murder of her three small children. She took a life sentence to keep from having a trial and more than likely a death sentence. Police say that Lacey McCarty, seven, was drowned in a bathtub, and that Phillip McCarty, six, and Christopher Swist, five months, were strangled.
She'd had a lengthy history of drug abuse but it was her mental illnesses that the defense blamed for the murders.

‘Jessica was failed by the mental health profession, where she desperately sought help, but it was never given,’ Patricia Null, McCarty's mother, said. ‘Now we are all paying the price for that.’
McCarty’s treatment was a complete failure of the mental health system.  McCarty sought mental help just days before she killed her children.

The two fathers of McCartys children.



Alexandria Duval, New York, Killed her Twin Sister


This twin’s trouble returned on the double.
Alexandria Duval, 38, was arrested Friday in Albany, New York, on a murder charge for the death of her twin sister, Anastasia, earlier this year.
The Duval sisters were in a fatal car crash in May, when their SUV plummeted off a 200-foot cliff in Maui, Hawaii. Alexandria was behind the wheel. Anastasia died at the scene. There was no evidence of braking, and witnesses claim the sisters had been arguing prior to the crash and that Alexandria had deliberately steered the car off the cliff.
Alexandria was arrested for second-degree murder, but at a preliminary hearing, a judge ruled there was no probable cause and dropped the charges.
However, in October, a Hawaii grand jury indicted Alexandria for second-degree murder, according to The Associated Press. Maui police issued a warrant, and authorities tracked down Alexandria at an Albany home. She’s now awaiting extradition to Hawaii.
The sensational nature of the story caught the country’s attention. The twins, also known as Alison and Ann Dadow, were “known for their once glamorous lifestyle,” The Palm Beach Post wrote.
The two ran a successful yoga business in Florida and later opened a yoga studioin Park City, Utah. But financial problems and run-ins with police reportedly caught up with them.
From the Huffington Post

Transgender Woman Murders Two Gay Women & Their Child

A San Jose transgender woman is accused in the brutal killings of an Oakland woman and her wife and son after the trio were found in their home early Friday morning.
Dana Rivers, 61, who's in custody in Santa Rita Jail, has been charged with three counts of murder in the deaths of Patricia A. Wright, Charlotte Kuulei Reed, and Benny Wright.
People who knew Patricia Wright described her as peaceful and said they couldn't imagine why anyone would harm the family. Authorities haven't discussed a motive.
According to Oakland police, at 12:21 a.m. November 11, officers were dispatched to the 9400 block of Dunbar Drive to investigate reported gunshots. There, they found Benny Wright in front of a home. He appeared to have been stabbed.
Two women were inside the home with apparent gunshot and stab wounds. The fire department came and tried to render aid, but the victims died.
A probable cause document says, "As officers were [providing] aid to the victim, the officer heard a loud bang coming from the garage. Moments later [Rivers] walked out of the residence," and the officer saw that she was "covered in blood."
Officers detained Rivers, and when they searched her, they found "ammunition in her pocket along with knives," according to the document. She also "began to make spontaneous statements about her involvement in the murders."
Alameda County Sheriff's Department records indicate Rivers was arrested about nine minutes after police were dispatched to the home, which Rivers allegedly set fire to. She's being held without bail.
Police have declined to provide more information about what happened at the family's home. Along with the murder charges, Rivers also faces counts of arson of an inhabited structure and possession of metal knuckles, and special allegations including using a knife and a firearm, prosecutors said in a criminal complaint. The complaint lists Benny Wright's name as Toto M. Diabu.
Rivers was set to be arraigned Tuesday, November 15, but her case was continued to the next day in order to determine which attorney would represent her.
Rivers made headlines in the 1990s when she transitioned while working as a teacher at a Sacramento-area school.
Outside the courtroom Tuesday, Khari Campbell-Wright, Wright's surviving son, said he knew Rivers.
"I didn't know the confines of what was going," but "she was involved in a motorcycle gang," Campbell-Wright said.
"My mom had no part of it. My brother had no part of it," he said, adding that his family had been in the "wrong place at the wrong time."
Campbell-Wright stood with Richard Wright, Patricia Wright's brother, as he talked. Neither man would discuss the case further. People who knew Patricia Wright said Campbell-Wright has been away at college and wasn't living at the home on Dunbar.
Michael Campbell, Campbell-Wright's father, said he didn't know what had happened Friday morning.
Campbell said Wright was "very smart" and "quiet. She was a good mom."
He didn't want to talk about Reed.
"We were not friends," Campbell said. "I really don't want to go into why."
However, he said, "She loved Khari," and with her veteran's benefits, "she was responsible for him being able to go to school."
Campbell said that Benny Wright, who was Patricia Wright's adopted son, was originally from West Africa.
He was "real quiet," Campbell said. "He had been through a lot."
Wright had just graduated from high school and planned to become a nurse, Campbell said.
"He wanted to help people," he said.
Pamela Mack, 56, of Oakland, Patricia Wright's first wife, was also at the courthouse Tuesday. In a phone interview beforehand, she called her ex-wife "a quiet spirit" who was creative and enjoyed traveling.
"She was a beautiful woman with a beautiful spirit, and an amazing mom," Mack said. "She was just a really good person that didn't deserve anything like this to happen to her."
"It's hard to even think about, to wrap my mind around how someone could do something so vicious," Mack said.
The neighborhood where Wright and Reed lived appeared to be a quiet one. Several neighbors said they didn't know the family, who'd lived in the house for a few years, and they didn't know of any previous trouble at the house. A couple neighbors said there had been problems including burglaries and at least one car break-in in the area.
Sheets of plywood had been placed over the garage door at the house, but there were otherwise no signs of fire. A sign next to the front door said "Char's hair design and a place for change."
Michael Campbell said that in her hair business, Reed focused on LGBTs, especially transgender people.
A motorcycle was parked in a small shed next to the house.
Plans for a memorial weren't available as of Tuesday morning.

From the Bay Area Reporter.

Lisa Graham, Alabama, on Death Row for Her Own Daughter's Murder

It was exactly this time last year that Lisa Carpenter Graham was handed a death sentence for hiring a hit man to kill her daughter, Stephanie Shae Graham.  Graham was convicted of coaxing longtime family acquaintance, Kenneth Walton, to kill her 20-year-old daughter who went by Shea. Walton said Graham met him at the Columbus Public Library on the evening of July 7, 2007, and loaned him her gun, a pistol for the job.

Later, he caught up with Shea at a gas station, where she left her car with friends and rode off with him in his truck. He took her on a long, night drive down Alabama Highway 165 then pulled off on Bowden Road so they could pee.

When Shae got out to squat beside the truck’s open passenger door, and Walton pulled out the gun and shot her in the head from the driver’s seat. He then got out, walked around the truck and shot her over and over again. He left her half-nude, bullet-riddled corpse where it lay, and drove away, running over her arm in the process. He lured Shea Graham from Columbus with the ploy that he could get her a car in which to leave town. She was charged with aggravated assault for a drive-by shooting in Columbus and was due in court the next morning. Her parents had put up a $100,000 bail bond to get her out of jail.

That was Lisa Graham’s primary motive for wanting her daughter dead, per prosecutors: The mother feared the daughter would flee, and her parents would lose the bond. Also, witnesses testified that Lisa suspected her daughter and husband of having an affair and had expressed an interest in killing her herself. In court, when asked how his fatal betrayal of a young woman who trusted him made him feel, Walton responded, “I felt normal.”

Witnesses saw Shae leave the gas station with Walton and so investigators focused on him immediately. He confessed, and told them of Shae’s mother’s involvement, particularly of the gun he had returned to Graham the day after the shooting.

Lisa Graham then incriminated herself when police came looking for the pistol. She had given it to an elderly neighbor she called “Papa” to clean, but told investigators she didn’t know where it was, and allowed them pointlessly to search her house before her husband told them “Papa” might have it.
Finding abundant evidence of her participation, investigators charged her with murder, and it was announced the death penalty was on the table. And she got it. 

She still has appeals and appeals and appeals to go through and she’s on the ball. It will be a very long time, if or when, she sees a lethal injection.