In my previous post, I wrote that when I was seven, Brandon had sent me a set of coloured pastels after my mum had told him I liked to draw. What I didn’t say was that I wasn’t very good at it. It was a number of years later that I used the pastels to draw him a kestrel, or what was supposed to be.
At the time, Brandon wrote a column called Looking Out for a newspaper called Green Left Weekly. For his next column, he decided to send them the picture and have it published there. In the column, he writes how our correspondence went from “…stick figures, to letters using printed words, to cursive writings and various artistic sharings.” Unfortunately that was about the pinnacle of my artistic endeavours, but there are not many children that get to say one of their drawings ended up published in a newspaper. I wouldn’t go on to produce masterpieces, but that feeling, as a child, was wonderful.
Perhaps you see Brandon, or men like him, as monsters, irredeemable, and better off dead. This is not that man. Brandon is a man who, knowing he would never be free, cared enough about a small child on the other side of the world that he wants to send him something to draw with, and then keep writing to for sixteen years. He watched me grow up, using a pen through the bars of a prison cell.
Most people put children’s drawings on a fridge. He didn’t have a fridge to put my pictures on, so he used a national newspaper. He had no reason to write to me, or even think about me at all, but he did. He was so happy with a wonky picture of a dead-eyed bird that he felt many thousands of others should see it, too.
Over the past few days I have watched, as I have tried to draw attention to Brandon, as people have argued and fought in a hateful way against him. “He made a choice. Now time to lie in a bed of his own making”, said one. “Get rid of him”, said another. Even “he’s playing you”.
Perhaps you believe that Brandon should die, and that people are incapable of change, and that killing a man will bring peace. If you do, I am sorry for you, that you will never experience seeing how fully changed a man can be. But if like me, you believe that people can become something better than they were, I urge you, please write a letter and appeal for clemency. In one week’s time, there will be a clemency hearing for Brandon, which is his last chance to live, and continue to do good and inspire others. Don’t let this thoughtful, kind-hearted, changed man die. One life was wasted, 38 years ago. Don’t let another be wasted now.
Write or email here – Katrina Conrad is the mitigation specialist working on Brandon’s case:
Katrina Conrad, LCSW
Staff Investigator, Capital Habeas Unit
Federal Defender Program, Inc.
101 Marietta St. NW, Suite 1500
Atlanta, GA 30303
If you choose to do it, thank you from the bottom of my heart.