While on Texas Death Row for 27 years, inmate Roger McGowen declared his innocence from the start. He undertook, alone, a long spiritual journey that led him from rage at the system and victimhood to compassion, forgiveness, freedom, and unconditional love, which he shares in his correspondence with writer and sociologist Pierre Pradervand. Since the publication of the French edition of this book, Pierre has worked with an international group of supporters and a legal team that got McGowen off of Death Row and into a general population Texas prison while continuing to work to prove his innocence.
Messages of Life from Death Row shows the often deeply flawed functioning of the American criminal justice system and its arbitrary application of the death penalty.
A unique juxtaposition of carefully selected texts next to the heartfelt and memorable letters written by McGowen from his cell on death row gives readers a historical, ethical, and pragmatic overview of American criminal justice, and reminds us yet again that an imperfect system which takes the lives of innocent men and women cannot continue to exist. Thousands around the world have already been deeply touched by the French and Dutch versions of the book.
Read a letter from Roger in this article ~ “We can change the world one heart and one mind at a time”
After over 30 years in a Texas prison (for a crime, that those who know his case, believe he did not commit) Roger McGowen has demonstrated the power of love and brotherhood to rehabilitate and transform the lives of prison inmates and an entire prison culture – perhaps providing a model for the world. With the financial help of an international network of supporters, Roger helps to organize monthly fellowship meals called a “Spread” on many different cell blocks at the Wynne Unit Prison in Huntsville, Texas.
THIS LETTER IS ONE OF THE MOST REMARKABLE THAT I HAVE RECEIVED FROM PEOPLE WHO HAVE READ ROGER’S BOOK “MESSAGES OF LIFE FROM DEATH ROW”
The Bangkwang Central Prison prison is nicknamed “Big Tiger” (because it has the reputation of “eating up” inmates who are imprisoned there.) Many inmates still wear ankle shackles. It also has the reputation of being by far the worst prison in Thailand and even in S-E Asia.
The author, Cedric, is a Cameroonian citizen who was arrested on what he claims are false charges of drug trafficking and received a 25 year sentence. Spiritually speaking, Roger’s book saved his life.
A book that puts our life in perspective!
Reading this book helped me to see how my life is full of wonderful things that I have so often taken for granted! Roger’s ability to feel empathy and to send blessings to the staff at the prison, regardless of what they were doing to him, was inspirational! I love books that help me think about things in a new way, especially when that way is full of more love. This is one of those books that if everyone read it, the world would be a better place!
Amazon Customer – October 8, 2018
I cry as I read this book which touches my soul. A man of great courage and faith show us just how unjust is our penal system and capital punishment. Read this book and join all of us who shout, “No more!”
From a Kindle reader
Heart wrenching. his book has made an amazing impact on my human experience. When I get down, on myself, or just in general, I think of Roger and his human experience. He is doing good right where he is, his life pulls me up, strengthens me, gives me the impetus to go on. Read this book and make it your own
Thank you for a beautiful book! Roger McGowen’s letters are the perfect example of the power of forgiveness and of the decision to stop seeing oneself as a victim of life’s circumstances. It is a magnificent plea for unconditional love. Thank you, Roger McGowen! I will pray for you to be free one day, a day as close as possible.
This book opened my eyes to so much that I have taken for granted. The simple freedom to look out my window and see a beuatiful tree, the flowers, children playing, — Roger does not have. Roger’s message of what he experiences as life on death row will make you look at your life, your freedoms, the simple pleasures from a new perspective. In that sense, it increases one’s appreciation for life & gratitude for one’s freedoms, — this, in itself is a profound thing for a book to do. Although the most simplest of freedoms are deprived from Roger, there is no complaining, – yes, occasional frustration, — but he has found a way to overcome even this frustration and be at peace even in his surroundings. Surely, his message can help us do the same. The book, The Gentle Art of Blessing, became his tool to chisel his way out of his mental prison & find the beauty & joy of life right within the present moment. He has found the freedom to bless others and does bless others — including those who are the most hate-filled. In this way, he is perhaps freer than those of us on the “outside”. Roger’s books & letters are an inspiration to us all. They will open your heart to a greater appreciation of your life — regardless of where you find yourself today. I highly recommend it, along with the book, The Gentle Art of Blessing, also by Pierre Pradervand.
Thank you Roger for your light. I have just finished reading the book of your story this morning and I’m overwhelmed by Love you share, by your decision for humanity. I want to change my view on my small painful world and I hope never forget walking in your shoes. I live near Grenoble in France and I talk about your example with a lot of friends. Deepest gratitude to make me understand the art of blessing. Thanks a lot !
Claire ALEX HIBON