I have been writing to
Dennis since 1997. What can I say about him? First, let’s get this out of the way; he has been convicted of a terrible
crime. But he is paying the ultimate penalty, and the Dennis I know has shown patience and courage in the most terrible of
circumstances. In his letters, he has expressed frustration at the slowness of his legal process, but he always has time to
ask me about my family, how my job is going or comment on something I have written about. Dennis’s friendship is an
important part of my life; I am going to miss him.
Dennis is a generous man.
He has so little, but when my daughter sent him a picture, he sent her a painting he had done. He has sent me magazine cuttings
he thought I would be interested in and always remembers my birthday. He is in hell, but he still shares what he has. He also
has a keen sense of humour!
Dennis has a strong sense
of his responsibility towards his daughters, he has done his best to keep in touch with them whilst in prison and he is a
very proud grandfather. He was overjoyed at the
news that he was to become a granddad, and when his first grandson was born, the joy in Dennis’s letters was so real
it brought tears to my eyes.
Dennis is someone who
appreciates a good thriller, but knows bad writing when he sees it. There is not much scope for trying new things on death
row, but Dennis will try a book by an author he hasn’t read before and give me an honest opinion. He didn’t much
like Terry Pratchett but he’s getting to grips with Barbara Kingsolver. I’m really going to miss sending him books.
Giving a gift to someone you like is one of life’s pleasures, and I am always happy to log on to Amazon and work through
one of Dennis’s book lists, sneaking in a couple of my own favourites.
It is sometimes hard for other people to understand why I write to Dennis, or why anyone
would write to someone in Dennis’s situation. I volunteered to write to a death row prisoner as I feel the death penalty
is wrong and I wanted to help someone stuck in this particular type of hell. I don’t know what I was expecting, but
I met a friend in Dennis and I am proud to have known him.