Tuesday, December 12, 2006

A Request from a Friend

Yesterday I received the following email from Prill, a friend:

Hi Nick,

I have a question for you, first a readers digest version of a very long story:

I have a friend who lives in the State of Georgia and has been on Death Row in Jackson for over 32 years; he is the longest serving Death Row prisoner in the United States. I became a pen friend of his nearly 18 years ago and over that time have come to believe that the State of Georgia is about to make a huge mistake.

His name is Jack Edward Alderman. He is a highly articulate and deeply spiritual person. His case is one of lost evidence, including the co-defendant’s admission of guilt on a tape, now missing; only one witness; the co-defendant, a known drug addict, who changed his story three times, and then Jack’s own lawyers who omitted key character witnesses from giving evidence at his trial.

Despite of all these facts, Jack Alderman has lost his appeal and faces execution in May of 2007.

The opinion of the court was that he did not fit the profile of a man who would commit murder but the judgment cannot be reversed because the lawyers have not been able to show that the lower court was erroneous in its findings. Jack has insisted his innocence throughout even though he was advised that a guilty plea would guarantee life without the possibility of parole. He wrote in a letter to me, “I would rather die than lie to save myself.” His codefendant pleaded guilty and was a free man after 12 years. He committed suicide shortly afterwards and was the only person who could have set the record straight.

He is not afraid to die and in fact would prefer it to being locked up any longer. I know everyone in prison is innocent… but I’ve known him for so many years and he is so consistent, his father tells the same story, guards at the prison are willing to testify on his behalf. For many years he would not allow anyone to make a media circus out of him, but now that all appeal are over he has agreed that if any of us that know and love him want to we can tell his story. I have sent letters to The Whitehouse, Geraldo Rivera, Oprah, ABC, CBS and NBC news people. I don’t watch TV at all and don’t know names of people that may have an interest in this case.

Finally my question, do you have any ideas of anyone else that I could bother with an email or letter?

Thanks for your thoughts


I have long opposed capital punishment for both moral and theological reasons. I shall not go into those reasons in this blog post, beyond the video below.

My request of you is, if you have any suggestions for Prill, please post them as a comment and I shall forward them to her.


  1. You could email the governor of Georgia.

    Anyone know of any specific human rights groups who would make some noise?

  2. Hi Nick ~~ What a sad case but I have no idea how to help. Thanks for your comments and I hope you have not been trying out that Crown Royal Recipe.
    Good Monday jokes, as usual.
    Take care, Merle.

  3. I looked him up online, and found this.

    I am also against the death penalty, but after reading it, he sounds pretty guilty to me. I don't think there's really anything left to try at this point.

    Appealing to a Southern governor for mercy would be a waste of time.

  4. I also oppose capital punishment and always have. But I am not sure how to help.

  5. Thanks to each of you for your comments. I received this email from Prill a few minutes ago:

    “Thanks Nick!
    I read your blog several times weekly so will check back. I’ve sent messages to the Gov of GA, the White House, the three links you sent, Geraldo Rivera, Oprah and the three major news stations. Know of any celebrities that could be contacted? They seem to have the most power in the US today! Jack has a friend in London that is an artist and is doing a show with a portrait of Jack’s 80 year old dad holding a picture of Jack in the center and I believe 12 or 15 other paintings that depict Jack and his spirit and beliefs, she has been making quite some noise from the other side of the pond and seems to have some good contacts, she has also written the white house, and Jimmy Carter. We hope to fly Jack’s dad to London for the opening of the show and we’re hoping for some good publicity. Here is a link to her website:
    Personally I prefer her commissioned portraits over her other work!

    LYNN: An excellent suggestion. I don’t know if Prill has considered contacting the governor.

    I have suggested to her that she contact Amnesty International, the American Civil Liberties Union, and Death Penalty Focus.

    MERLE: I have read that in 2003 John Howard gave the green light for State governments to reintroduce capital punishment. How is it going in Australia?

    THOMAS: Your located the document on his appeal. There are no definiutive documents I can find on the Internet on the evidence. Of course, the issue of guilt or innocence is not what opposition to capital murder is about. Rather, it is the government—you and me (supposedly) in the U.S.A.—taking a human life. Alderman has been in prison for about 33 years, since he was 21 years old. Were he in a civilized nation, such as the E.U., he’d not have spent half that time locked away and would not now be facing the end of his existence as a human being. Unfortunately I live in a blood thirsty nation where “justice” is confused with “revenge.” That’s the issue for me.

    NINA: If we come up with a way you can personally help, we’ll contact you.

  6. Just a thought...but playing politics might work...what about the opposition party in Georgia and the Democrats in Washington?

    They might not actually do anything...but they may raise awareness in the media.

  7. PINK: Thank you for the suggestion. I'll pass it on to Prill.

  8. Maybe it would help if you mimicked what Mumia Abu-Jamal has done.

    I have doubts whether the "make noise" strategy will work. It didn't for Tookie or Karla.

    I brought up guilt/innocence because I believe that the only realistic chance of saving his life now will be to prove his innocence, and I don't see that happening. I hope your friend has not got her hopes set too high.

  9. THOMAS: Thank you, my friend.

    Abu-Jamal’s website is of import to those who have an interest. It still has not obtained him his freedom though. Jack Edward Alderman has less than 6 month to live; I doubt that much concern for him could be developed in that time.

    Tookie and Karla are both dead, which is what, if I were a gambler, I’d bet Alderman will be next May. Of course, Karla’s death warrant was signed by Dubya and I understand he got a real rushes out of signing death warrants, even those of 38-year0old born again Christians. Conservatives do not believe that people can grow or change—or that God could have any concern for anyone not born a millionaire.

    I do understand why you brought up the innocence issue. I do not know if Alderman is innocent or not. I can’t find a transcript of either of his trials online. From what I have found, however, I wonder: the only evidence against him seems to be the testimony of the guy who confessed to the actual murder and who received a life sentence rather than death because he testified against Alderman. That, in itself, has me wondering.

  10. I wish I had something to suggest, but I don't.

  11. What a sad story. I don't have any idea how to healp. But my thoughts are with Prill and her penfriend.
    Hope your week is going well.
    Take care, Meow

  12. I empathize with your friend, Prill. As you and I discussed years ago, one of the problems with the death penalty is that it is imposed under different standards throughout the United States.

    Here in Arizona the are ten statutory aggravating circumstances set, at least one must be met before death can be imposed:

    1. The defendant has been convicted of another offense in the United States for which under Arizona law a sentence of life imprisonment or death was imposable;

    2. The defendant was previously convicted of a serious offense, whether preparatory or completed;

    3. In the commission of the offense the defendant knowingly created a grave risk of death to another person or persons in addition to the person murdered during the commission of the offense;

    4. The defendant procured the commission of the offense by payment, or promise of payment, of anything of pecuniary value;

    5. The defendant committed the offense as consideration for the receipt, or in expectation of the receipt, of anything of pecuniary value;

    6. The defendant committed the offense in an especially heinous, cruel or depraved manner;

    7. The defendant committed the offense while in the custody of or on authorized or unauthorized release from the State Department of Corrections, a law enforcement
    agency or a county or city jail;

    8. The defendant has been convicted of one or more other homicides, which were committed during the commission of the offense.

    9. The defendant was an adult at the time the offense was committed or was tried as an adult and the murdered person was under fifteen years of age or was seventy years of
    age or older; and

    10. The murdered person was an on duty peace officer who was killed in the course of performing his official duties and the defendant knew, or should have known, that the
    murdered person was a peace officer.

  13. I wish is wasn't so easy for the government to kill people. That;s scary.

  14. You can find the trascript of the Alderman appeal at

  15. Two-thirds of Americans (68%) support the death penalty for people convicted of murder, according to a July 2005 poll by the Pew Forum and the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press. However, public support for the death penalty was somewhat stronger in the late 1990s (74% in 1999). Most Americans continue to oppose the death penalty for those convicted of offenses when they were under age 18 (54%-37%), and the Supreme Court cited a national consensus when it abolished the death penalty for minors in March 2005. More white Protestants than white Catholics favor capital punishment for adults (80% compared with 66%), but this gap disappears when it comes to minors. Only 38% of white Protestants and 39% of white Catholics favor applying the death penalty to those convicted when they were under age 18.


  16. don't know if you've seen it or not, or if it has any useful information or not, but i occasionally rant about the death penalty at my "serious" blog.