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Death-row blogs outrage victims' families

July 17, 2008 12:00:00 AM PDT
Death row inmates may be confined to a cell, but some of the most notorious convicted killers are still reaching out to the outside world. They are posting blogs, looking for pen pals and raising money.Prisoners do not have direct computer access; however they do have U.S. Mail privileges. So they send out their artwork, photos and mailings. Those items are then posted on the Web.

California's more than 600 death row inmates have postings on the World Wide Web.

Murderer Scott Peterson is among the convicted killers reaching out. He and scores of other notorious prisoners are using the Internet to try to connect with the free world.

"This is really offensive and distasteful to people who knew and loved Laci," said attorney Gloria Allred.

Allred called the trend disturbing. She represented Peterson's girlfriend, and witness, Amber Frey, in the trial that convicted him of murdering his pregnant wife Laci. Allred said she feels as though the Web site is a way to reinforce his claim of innocence.

"Meanwhile victim's family members see this and know that Scott Peterson appears to be having a good time on his Web page while their loved one is six feet under and will never return," said Allred.

The list of inmates reaching out is growing. Richard Allen Davis, the man convicted of killing Polly Klaas, is seeking pen pals. Serial killer Charles Ng is selling his sketches. There is also a pen pal posting from Randy Kraft, a man sitting on death row for killing 16 young men.

Civil libertarians have defended the prisoners. They have cited free-speech rights. However, others have said free speech should not be at the expense of victims' families.

"Inmates are not supposed to be doing business on the Internet...'murderabilia'...other souvenirs," said Allred.

Many inmates utilize sites in the United States, but there is one nonprofit called the Canadian Coalition Against the Death Penalty. That group creates Web pages for free for dozens of California death row inmates.

 

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