We use our own and third party cookies to improve your user experience; by continuing to browse, we understand that you accept their use. You can get more information on our cookies policy.

Rome Reports

You are using an outdated browser

In order to deliver the greatest experience to our visitors we use cutting edge web development techniques that require a modern browser. To view this page please use Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox or Internet Explorer 11 or greater

Be pen pals with an inmate on death row

Receiving a letter is a symbol of hope that someone has you in mind, even for those sentenced to death row.

Stefania Tallei from the Community of Sant’Egidio, explains that there are many good reasons for becoming pen pals with someone sentenced to death row. 

My family doesn’t write me, so I feel very lonely... 

Community of Sant’Egidio
[This project] was born like that, from letters, out of simple instruments such as pen and paper, which are also very personal instruments. The Community of Sant’Egidio started receiving requests from young people locked up on death row that said, ‘I know you cannot do much to help me, but you can at least write me a letter.’” 

She explains that the suffering of the victims’ families is a common issue. Many of them, joined together in organizations, do not support this type of condemnation, saying the death of one who has committed a crime does nothing to make restitution for their actions. 

Community of Sant’Egidio

They are persons [primarily] sentenced in the United States. Fortunately, we do not have [the death penalty] in Italy, nor in Latin America or Europe. A large portion of Africa is abolishing the death penalty. In Asia and the Islamic world, the issue remains a bit difficult. Central Asia has abolished it. There are people sentenced to the death penalty who are afraid of being executed every day.” 

For this reason, receiving a letter represents a connection with the outside world. Oftentimes, it's also the possibility of forming a real and lasting friendship, even during difficult moments like the pandemic. 

Community of Sant’Egidio
They heavily follow news about the countries in which they have a pen pal on the outside, free. Worried letters were coming in concerning the situation in Italy, one wrote to me, 'Please, stay healthy.' They worried a lot after hearing the news, since Italy was the first European country to suffer from the pandemic.” 

Take, for example, this card that arrived during quarantine. 

Community of Sant’Egidio
They say to me, 'Find me a friend, a pen pal, who can understand me, who can listen to me, who does not get fed up with me.' This is important because you must not be weighed down by them, by their situation which remains the same or could get worse.” 

For the Community of Sant’Egidio, this initiative represents opening prison bars to affection, and helping those behind them not lose hope. 

Get involved in the project “Write a death row inmate” through www.santegidio.org. 

Daniel Díaz Vizzi
Translation: Melissa Butz