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        Kelly Gissendaner
            Georgia's Death Row

    
On November 18, 1998 I was found guilty of a murder which I did not commit or have anything
to do with, the murder of my husband.  November 19, 1998 my youngest son turned five years old
On the very same day I was sentenced to die in Georgia's electric chair,
making me the
only woman on Georgia's death row.

Have you ever stopped to wonder what was wrong with our justice system? 
Our so-called "justice system" has killed over 530 people since 1977 when official state executions began again. 
In 1972 the case of Furman v. Georgia, in a 5 to 4 US Supreme Court decision,
said that the mandatory death penalties for various offenses lacked "due process". 
Then in 1976 the case of Gregg v. Georgia, in a 7 to 2 Supreme Court decision, allowed the resumption of the death penalty. 
But now it requires a separate sentencing hearing after someone is found guilty;
a hearing during  which both aggravating and mitigating circumstances would be considered. 
Do these aggravating and mitigating circumstances really make a difference? 
In most cases, the answer is no! 
The death penalty today is still lacking in due process and is just as unconstitutional as it was in Furman v. Georgia in 1972.

On November 20, 1998 I was shipped from the county jail to Metro State Prison in Atlanta, Georgia. 
When you are put into the prison system you are stripped of everything. 
Not just your clothes, though that's one of the first humiliations.  Everything is taken from you. 
Your rights, your freedom, they'll even try to take your hope.  You'll only have what the state gives you.

There are people on death row who have been and  will be executed who were and are innocent. 
Wake up people !   This country of "God fearing folks" is killing innocent people !

So what is their punishment ?  Answer - there is not any!

It doesn't take long to get into the tedious routine you follow day in and day out. 
You're told when to get up in the morning, when to eat, when to shower, when to go to bed at night.

No longer does it matter what you feel or what you want. 
You have to learn to eat what they give you or do without. 
After awhile you get used to what you are given. 
You forget what food from places like McDonalds, and all the other
places you used to take the kids to make them happy, tastes like. 
Those are the places you hated then, but find yourself longing for now. 
You forget what its like to get up and go to the kitchen and eat "whatever." 
But then you realize that its easier if you do forget.

This country of "God fearing folks" also feels the need to execute the mentally ill and the mentally retarded. 
Oh, as long as they are poor, of course.  Let's not forget that !  You won't find a rich person on death row. 
More than 34 offenders with some kind of mental retardation have now been executed.

Keeping in touch with the outside after a while will drive you crazy, because the outside is not yours anymore. 
You see the seasons changing but they belong to the outside and have nothing to do with you any longer. 
You belong to the "inside," the prison system now.

Since 1970, seventy nine people have been released from death row due to evidence of their innocence. 
Seventy nine people !  Those were the lucky ones. 
How many are sitting on death row right now that are innocent and will become
"the unlucky ones" because they can't afford to prove their innocence.
Innocent people are going to die because they are poor and this country says the death penalty isn't biased?
 Yeah, right! 
Don't look for fairness in the justice system as there is none !

You soon learn that you can't be who you were on the outside of the prison walls anymore.
You become someone else or something else just to survive. 
You ache for companionship, but you try not to get close to anyone,
because people come and go so much inside the system.

People need to learn about the death penalty; they need to find a way of educating themselves. 
Here is a fact most people don't know : capital punishment costs more than life imprisonment. 
Various state governments estimate that a single death penalty case,
 from point of arrest to execution, ranges from 1 million to 3 million. 
Other studies have estimated the cost to be as high as 7 million per case. 
In contrast, cases resulting in life imprisonment will average around 500,000 each,
and that's including incarceration costs.

You learn not to keep up with the passing days, because those days turn into weeks,
weeks into months, months into years. It becomes simpler for you to focus on the routine.
The loneliness becomes the deepest punishment, not the slamming of the cell doors.

Here's yet another fact : 
Governments that have enacted the death penalty continue
to have higher civilian murder rates than those that do not.

If you are one of the lucky ones, you'll get visits from family and friends. 
You'll learn you want to see them no matter how much you hurt from missing them once they are gone. 
During the time you spend with them, you might even start to feel human again. 
But as soon as you do, it's time for them to leave without you. 
You watch your children grow older over the years.  That becomes your calendar. 
The days drag, most of the time leaving you with too much time to think,
and you hope and pray that the day will come when someone will see that maybe there was a mistake
and something will be done to set you free before you take that final walk that will end your life.

The death penalty is not a deterrent. 
So the justice system needs to stop using it as such. 
There are innocent people on death row.

How do I know? 
Because I am one of those innocent people. 
And I am fighting for my life.

May god have mercy on all of our souls.

KELLY GISSENDANER, GEORGIA DEATH ROW, AUGUST 1999
 
Ms. Kelly Gissendaner  Ev#405001
Metro S.P  DC-207
1301 Constitution Road SE
Atlanta, Georgia
30316  USA

    

KELLY'S PEN PAL REQUEST - Write to Kelly:

I am a gay white female, looking for the same to share letters with and to get to know one another. 
And learn more about each other.  I am 5'10 1/2",
160 lbs, brown eyes and black hair. 

I am on Georgia's death row for a crime
I did not commit.  

I'm looking for someone to write who loves to read, loves the outdoors, and who loves to write.

If you would like to write me the address is:
 
  Ms. Kelly Gissendaner  Ev#405001
Metro S.P  DC-207
1301 Constitution Road SE
Atlanta, Georgia
30316  USA



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Last updated December 24, 2010  Canadian Coalition Against the Death Penalty
This page is maintained and updated by Dave Parkinson and Tracy Lamourie