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May 7, 2020 33 min

The United States is the only western nation that continues to make a practice of executing its own citizens. Of late, the death penalty and the prevalence of wrongful convictions have been under the white-hot light spotlight in everything from our political discourse to our popular culture. Governor Gavin Newsom recently put a moratorium on the death penalty in California, based on research that estimates one in 25 condemned prisoners are not guilty of the crimes for which they were sentenced. 

“Dear Governor” is an open letter introducing listeners to one such death row inmate, Jarvis Jay Masters, who has maintained he is not guilty of the crime for which he was sentenced almost 30 years ago. In this episode Jarvis poses the question, “how many guilty people must be put to death to justify the execution of one innocent man or woman?,” and, he invites listeners to answer this question for themselves. Jarvis also weighs in on the Coronavirus behind bars.

Meet Samara Gaev, a friend and mentee of Jarvis, and the Founder & Artistic Director of Truthworker Theatre Company, a social justice based, hip-hop theatre company. Samara and her team worked hand-in-hand with Jarvis to produce the original hip-hop musical, “Boxed in and Blacked Out In America,” which examines the impacts & practices of solitary confinement in US prisons, tracing Jarvis’s remarkable capacity for liberation within the walls of death row. 

Have a question for Jarvis that yo"u’d like to hear him answer on the podcast, please leave a message on our hotline: 201-903-3575 or

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