Jarvis Jay Masters: Finding Freedom. Writings from Death Row

introduced and engcouraged by Melody Ermachild Chavis, Padma Publishing, Junction City, 1997 (1991)

* 1962

Charge: Conspiracy to killing of a prison officer
Prison: San Quentin. California, USA (Map)

This book is a deeply moving, life-affirming memoir written from the netherworld of San Quentin's Death Row. Offering us stories that are sometimes sad, funny, poignant, revelatory, frightening, soul-stirring, painful, and uplifting, Jarvis Masters traces his spiritual growth in an environment where despair and death are constant companions.

"I usually write with Jarvis, not about him. When we write together at the prison, we take a break from discussing the appeal of his case. I take off my wathc and put it where he can see it on the ledge between us and one of us says, "All right, ten minutes, OK? Go!" [...] We just write, sometimes about a particular topic, such as "A Conversaiton Overhead" or "Rain". Sometimes we write whatever comes, just keeping our pens moving. He on his side of the thick wire mesh, and I on my side, the side with the door to the outside world - we both of us put our heads down and scribble away. We are breathing the same stale prison air. [...] I have only an ordinary balloint pen, but he has only the innards of one; he's not allowed to have the hard plastic case, so he writes with the flimsy plastic tube of ink....", Melody Ermachild Chavis, p.xvii

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