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A Life Being Stolen Year by Year

My name is Eddie R. McMurray and I have been a penpal of Ken C. Strickland for over 18 years.  I wish to express my sincerest condolences to the Thrash/West families and extended family for their loss, their grief and their pain.  None of us are strangers to grief.  Nonetheless, if there is anyone that knows Ken C. Strickland as well as a person can be known, that person would be me.

Ken Strickland is up for parole sometimes in February 2011 and were I a native of Mississippi, I would vote for his immediate release without probation.

While I mean no disrespect to the Thrash/West family, I do take issue with their desire to keep Ken Strickland incarcerated as a deterrent to him hurting someone else.  I, nor Ken, have any qualms about admitting his guilt or the brutality of what he did.  When I first began writing Ken back in 1992, he was as bitter and angst filled as any teenager I h ave ever known.  He was indeed a rebel without a clue and we had some contentious time between us that resulted in a period when I refused to write him.  Even then, I saw good in him, but knew that it was buried beneath a panoply of male bravura and misplaced allegiances.  He was following the lead of "older, more seasoned" criminals who warned him of every demon, real and imagined, and Ken though himself wisely armed with their perceptions.

Ken Strickland has worked through all of that.  His mistakes were and are his own, and no one is to blame but Ken Strickland.  Had the Thrash/West families accepted his invitations to meet, they would have discovered this, but they have been consistent "no-shows" in this situation and have held to their guns in suggesting that Ken Strickland remains an imminent threat to the world at large.  Were I as "afraid" of him as they suggest that they are, I would want to confront this person who fills me with such fear just to see what manner of man he really is.  I assure you, he is a far, far cry from the evil, brutal, senseless, potential serial murderer that he is portrayed as being.  Humanity abounds everywhere and were Ken inclined to hurt anyone, he could easily do so, even in prison. Had they met with him, the Thrash/West family would easily surmise that Ken Strickland does not have the inclination to hurt anyone else and his grief and remorse at what transpired is extremely profound.

We speak of redemption, we speak of letting bygones be bygones, we speak of forgiveness, and then we hold those whom we loathe as inferior to a line of justice and punishment that we ourselves would be wont to toe.  I am no bleeding heart liberal, but what I have seen transpire in Ken Strickland over the past 18 years has given me pause.  Ken Strickland is a changed man.  Ken Strickland is a danger to no one.  Ken Strickland has grown up. Ken Strickland is facing his demons. Ken Strickland has taken advantage of every program afforded him during his tenure as an inmate in the Mississippi Prison System and improved himself.  In the larger scheme of things, this should mean something.

Now, Ken's life is being stolen year by year because we are not men and women enough to allow people to change and we lack the moral and ethical standards necessary to make the death of Gary Thrash amount to something more than a footnote to the incarceration of Ken Strickland.  Is this what Gary Thrash lost his life for, to keep someone incarcerated?  I dare say, from all I've read, the life and death of Gary Thrash is deserving of something much more substantial. To see his death as the catalyst that transformed Ken Strickland from a misguided, reprobate teen, into a productive citizen, to me is a much more fitting epitaph. My ardent prayer is that the Thrash/West families will find their footing in something more substantial than the lack of forgiveness disguised as the benevolent concerned for the welfare of others.  Gary Thrash deserves better.  So does Ken Strickland.

Please join with me and the Strickland family in petitioning for the parole of Ken Strickland.  Your Signature will be greatly appreciated.

Thank You,

Eddie R. McMurray

The Family of Ken Strickland





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