The Lamp of Hope Project
Newsletter, September, 1999, from the Executive Director, Karen Sebung
P O Box 305, League City, TX 77574-0305, Tel. 281-334-6543, E-mail:

Changes at the Lamp of Hope Project

In June, 1999, the board of the Lamp of Hope Project voted to move the board positions to the free world.  Since the Gurule escape in November, 1998, it has been impossible for the board of death row prisoners to meet.  It has also been noted that it is more difficult to get funding for an organization whose board is made up entirely of death row prisoners.  For these reasons, a free world board is being appointed to govern the organization.  The goals of the organization remain the same as in the past.  We will continue to publish The Death Row Journal and maintain the LHP website in our efforts to give a voice to death row prisoners.  A new brochure is being enclosed with this newsletter showing some of these changes.

Also due to the many changes affecting Texas Death Row at the moment and our lack of clerical help, the DRJ hasn’t been published in quite a while.  We are hoping to remedy that situation within the next month.  Please be patient.  Prisoners or free world members who would like to submit articles for publication in the DRJ may send them to me or to Billy Hughes, Jr. #556, Ellis Unit, Huntsville, TX 77343.

The Lamp of Hope Project’s Web Site

Thanks to Susan Hudgen’s, our web site received a new look this spring.  We appreciate Susan’s help.  I am now struggling to keep the site looking great as I begin to update it by myself.  Please be patient.  Priska Jaeggi has volunteered to help with typing for the web site and that is helping tremendously.  We are receiving letters of interest from around the country and around the world.  (Please see the article “Reaching Out…” that begins on page 2.)  The website address has changed to:

How Can Death Row Prisoners Best Use the LHP Web Site??

We are in the midst of making web pages for prisoners, as well as continuing to post pen pal requests.  The web pages do not seem to bring in lots of money so using them as a forum to solicit funds is probably not the best way to build a legal defense fund.  But it is a place where prisoners can inform the world about their case, post their writings, etc.  If you put together a brochure to be distributed by family, friends, and pen pals, this can include the “address” of your web page.  You can refer people to the site to read large amounts of information that would cost a lot to print and mail.  It is a good source of information.  Personal writings can also reflect the person that you are.  Many people see death row prisoners as only “the crime”.  The writings that you have posted can reflect the person and the situation.

If you have anyone who can type your material and then e-mail it to the LHP or send the diskette to me, you will get the material posted much more quickly.  If the material must be typed, it will take longer.  If you have sent material to the LHP that hasn’t yet been posted, please drop me a note.  I am trying to get organized and up-to-date—which is a challenge considering the amount to be done and my “volunteer” status.  I still have a HUGE stack of material that needs to be typed and posted.  I am working on this daily.   I will include a brief overview of the web site as it is currently posted in the next issue of the DRJ.

If you have your own web site that is being maintained by someone else, please send the “address” to me and I will post links on our site.

I appreciate everyone’s patience as I struggle to get things current.

Page 2

LHP Membership

Our membership continues to grow.  We have increased the number of free world members over 900% in the last two years.  This is tremendous news for us.  We need to work on continuing to grow and expand.  I would like to update the membership list from Death Row.  Prisoners will find an enclosure in this mailing that will allow them to choose a level of participation in the LHP.  Please return the form to me as indicated.  I will be including a financial statement on our last fiscal year in the next issue of the DRJ.

Hepatitis C

A report released in June, 1999, by the Correctional Managed Health Care Advisory Committee indicates that an estimated 28.8% of Texas prisoners carry the hepatitis C virus.  The estimates are based on studies of incoming prisoners.  Hepatitis C is caused by a virus  and can lead to serious, permanent liver damage, and in many cases, death.  Hepatitis C is very difficult for the immune system to overcome.  For this reason, most Hep C infections become chronic.  The symptoms are  typically mild in its early stages.  The most common early symptom is fatigue.  Other early symptoms include mild fever, vague abdominal pain, and sometimes diarrhea.  Often these symptoms are mistaken for a flu-like illness.  As the disease progresses, the symptoms reflect liver failure—jaundice, abdominal swelling, etc.  Hep C is a slowly progressive infection.  Infected patients have long life expectancies and, with proper treatment, many of them can recover completely.  Prisoners should be tested if they show signs of infection.

Protect yourself.  With so many prisoner carrying the virus, all prisoners should use protective measures.
? Use caution and wear gloves when touching or cleaning up blood
? Clean up spilled blood with a strong disinfectant and keep skin injuries bandaged
? Don’t share razors, toothbrushes, or other personal items with anyone
? Do not have unprotected sex
? Don’t share chewing gum or food or drinks that have been in another person’s mouth
? Make certain that sharp implements for manicuring and hair cutting are properly sterilized.  Don’t tattoo—especially with instruments that have not been sterilized

The next issue of the DRJ will have more information on this subject and a list of resources.

The information for this article is taken from The Dallas Morning News, June 18, 1999, and from the J. Everett Koop web site, sponsored by Dartmouth University at

Murder Victims’ Families For Reconciliation (MVFR)
Begins a Chapter in Texas

This summer MVFR began the organization of a chapter in Texas.  Carol Byars has been elected president of the chapter; Ron Carlson, vice president; and Linda White, secretary/treasurer.  The group is still in the early organizational phase.  We will keep you  up-dated as this chapter of MVFR makes a statement in Texas that all victims’ family members do not support the death penalty.

Page 3
The following article was send to me by a visitor to our web site.
Reaching out...

By Judith Gregory, England.
How long have you been on Death Row? A month? A year? Ten years?  I can't begin to imagine what your life is like, but I can begin to picture, perhaps, some of your world, thanks to the articles on the Lamp of Hope Project website that I tapped in to recently while sitting at my desk in a big office block in England.

From the window near my desk as I'm writing this I can see right over the grey skyline of the city of Manchester. There's a constant hum of traffic outside and the bustle of shoppers and office-workers on the pavements below. In the distance church spires and trees bring a sense of timelessness to a scene that seems to be constantly on the move - constantly changing.

How far can you see?  The walls of your cell? Bars perhaps?  Or out into the wide blue sky?  Let me tell you friend - you have a vision that has stretched beyond all those boundaries.  Your lives have touched the lives of others living in distant parts of the planet. Your thoughts have stretched around the globe.

If The State treats you as if your life is worthless - as if you are just so much garbage awaiting disposal, well then The State is wrong. Totally wrong.  Your life is valued and important. You can change how people think, how people see the world, how they feel about their own lives as well as yours.
How do I know this?  Well, you have changed the way I think. Your thoughts have reached out far beyond the bars of your prison cell and have helped me in a way that I would never have imagined.

I have recently made a major decision in my life. I am about to give up my well-paid job in this nice cozy office, give up my house in a quiet sub-urban area, my car, my television, my credit cards. I am about to leave all this to go to seminary and train as a priest with the Anglican Church.  My sense of vocation and calling is strong - but I'm ashamed to say my resolve in practical matters is far less firm. I will miss those  holidays with friends. I will miss buying new clothes or bottles of decent wine.

I found myself reflecting on these material changes in my life while I was searching the internet on my computer recently.  I wanted to find the names of those with scheduled executions pending so that I could include them in my daily prayer  list and pray also for the end of the death penalty in your country. I found the list - and pray for those people and their families daily.  But I also found something else. I found people of courage and hope with a vision and a passion to build a better world.

I found prayers by Alvin Kelly and Martin A Draughton. I found an amazing article called Sorrow and Joy by James E Session. I found moving articles by Darlie Lynn Routier and Michael Sharp and many others. Then I found a piece called "A Change of Heart: A Gift of God" By Anthony "Tony" Cook who was executed on 11.10.93. The account tells of how his conversion to Christianity sealed his fate - admitting his crime took away the right to his appeal. He did not want to die, but he died with the love of Christ and with the freedom of Christ.
After reading such powerful writing I no longer cared about the loss of my TV ! Your writing has strengthened and renewed faith and made me profoundly aware of the privilege it is to share in the body of Christ with brothers and sisters around the world - whether here in a small parish church in England, or there on Death Row in America.  Thank you.

I came to the Lamp of Hope website looking for ways that my prayers may sustain you. Instead I found it was your prayers and thoughts that were sustaining me.  I will take them with me as I start this new period of my life and along the continuing journey that we all make in our own lives with God.

So thank you to all the people who have contributed to LHP - not only the prisoners who write for, and help run the scheme, but to friends and supporters around the world. The power of prayer cannot be contained behind walls or bars. It reaches out on eagles wings beyond all boundaries. Beyond the boundaries of time, beyond legal statutes, beyond physical distance, and in the truth of the resurrection beyond life itself.

Thank you for reaching out to those who are reaching out to you.

Support for Death Row Families and Friends

At least once a week, I get requests for support from death row families and friends.  For this reason, I am trying to collect information that will help us determine the needs and the best ways for meeting these needs.  Please complete the form below and return to me at:  The LHP, P O Box 305, League City, TX 77574-0305.  All information will be kept confidential.

Name______________________________            Address___________________________________________

Tel._________________   E-mail_________________________________

Status:  ____death row family                 ____friend of a death row prisoner

Check your preferences:
___I would participate in a support group that met in the Huntsville/Livingston area on Saturdays before evening visitation.
___I would participate in a support group that met in my home area.
___I would participate in an on-line support group on the internet.
___I am willing to facilitate a support group for death row family/friends.