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A Letter from Safekeeping – Part 2

John Lee, 12 years old

John Lee, 12 years old

You know, Joanna, a lot of my past is what motivates me to become successful in life one day. My past makes me hunger for lots of knowledge and deeper wisdom so I can one day go back to all of those in my past and teach and speak to them about what they helped me do in life.

I thought about you and the family on Thanksgiving Day, but it was not hard on me. Every year I think about you and the family, but I think that Christmas is the hardest for me.

I have never been a part of a family for Christmas, and have never had a Christmas gift except the bike my grandmother bought for me in 1980. (That bike got stolen after just one week!)

I ran away from home every Christmas. I think the only Christmas I didn’t run away was when I was with my grandmother. I even slept under the house one Christmas while it was snowing outside.

My life was a hard one all because of my white blood and light skin as a child. But it have made me a stronger person and a better human being. Lots of mix-blooded children went through this.

I can’t wait to meet Joe! Just knowing that your husband supports me means a lot to me! All my life I have been without strong support, and I have always known that I was and still am a very good person, and to have this chance means a lot to me.

Tell Joe I love him! (I don’t care if men don’t suppose to say this to other men.) I love him for caring!

I can’t wait to get away from this place, and live in a clean place that smells good. You know it will all be new to me, right? Having my own place and car and bills to pay.

I have never had these kind of responsibilities before, and I look forward to it, smile! I understand a lot more about the world than I did years ago, and the more I educate myself about the world, the more responsibilities I will be able to take on, right?

Prison is a very dangerous place. Every day I wake up and step out of this cell I must keep my eyes open and my ears open for the first sign of trouble. I need to be able to relax for once in my life, mentally, physically, and emotionally.


Joanna, I do not think about myself no more now. I think about you, Andy, Katy, Ashley, Lil-man, Joe, and all of those who have shown me that they care, and getting my freedom is so important to so many others.


I am just glad that I have a chance to get away from here!

A Letter from Safekeeping

John and JoannaWhen John Lee’s sentence was overturned, the court stipulated “Retry or release within 120 days.” He was then moved off Death Row to the Safekeeping section of the prison. Sixteen months later, he wrote this to Joanna:

I do not know what is going on throughout the universe, but I have been walking around this hell-hole with a very funny feeling, and I do not like it.

It is like I am not sure of anything any more, like waking up for the very first time in a long time, and seeing everything around me for the very first time in years. I am afraid!!

One cat here on the block with me, about two cells down from mine, have hanged himself. They cut his body down this morning.  Can you believe this? Why would someone hang themself?

I have been here too long, I need to get away from here. I talk with this cat every day and he goes and hangs himself! Just shows you never know what’s going on in someone else’s mind. The cat did not have a big charge or anything, and had a chance to go home again. So sad.

A lot of these new cats here on Safekeeping who have never been locked up before and never saw a person hang himself is messed up by this deeply, mentally and emotionally.

Joanna, I am doing all I can to keep this cat off my mind. I can’t believe I was just talking to him the other day, and after my visit with you he asked, “How was your visit?”

I said, “It was a very good one.”

He said, “That’s good.”

Now he is dead.

When I am free, I want to go to the woods and just sit down and hold your hand for hours, OK?