Jarvis Masters was convicted of participating in the killing of a prison guard, Sergeant Howell Burchfield, despite the fact that he was in another part of the prison when the guard was killed. Another prisoner was convicted of actually stabbing Sergeant Burchfield, and a third man of ordering the killing. We have deep sympathy for the Burchfield family’s loss, and while we respect their desire for justice, we believe that Jarvis is not guilty of the crime for which he alone was given the death sentence.
This website provides
an introduction to Jarvis Masters' life and work. You can find out about
Jarvis's background. We have provided a
summary of how and why Jarvis was sentenced
to death, and an update on his appeal.
We also set out why we believe Jarvis is innocent.
While living on death
row, Jarvis has become an eloquent writer.
Read about his highly-praised books That Bird Has My Wings: An Autobiography of an Innocent Man on Death Row
(how to order it) as well as Finding Freedom -- Writings From Death Row (how
to order it). Both books have been praised
by such important figures as Desmond Tutu, Sister Helen Prejean, and Angela Davis.
An important aspect
of Jarvis's life on Death Row has been his Buddhist practice. Read about
how Jarvis became a Buddhist,
and how meditation
has changed his life and affected the lives of his fellow prisoners.
We in the Committee
join the Catholic Church, numerous Protestant denominations, Amnesty International,
and people of conscience around the world in seeking an end to capital
punishment. We have included pages discussing abolition
of the death penalty, and offer suggestions on how you can join in this
work and assist in the effort to free
Many people have responded
to Jarvis's situation. We will post some of the feedback our Committee
has received from supporters. We also provide a way for you to respond
to this website and to support the campaign to free Jarvis Jay Masters.
Pema Chödrön is one
of America's best-known Buddhist teachers, and is a personal teacher of
Jarvis Masters. This is what she writes about Jarvis:
is an easy man to respect and an easy man to love. What I learn from
him all the time is what it really means to keep one's vows of not harming
and of helping other people in whatever ways one can. I always think,
'If Jarvis can do it in those most challenging and difficult situations,
I can do it too.' It is a continual aspiration from my heart that Jarvis
Masters not be killed and that I have the pleasure of knowing him as
a free man; a free man who I know will benefit all the people he encounters."