Lawrence Foster

Help family members attend the CEDP convention

I am the grandfather of Kenneth Foster Jr., who was saved from execution one year ago in Texas.

I am writing to ask you to donate to the Costella Cannon Scholarship Fund so that myself and other family members of death row prisoners can afford to come to the Campaign to End the Death Penalty's annual convention this year.

Kenneth, who many of you have come to know, lived with me for many of his formative years, and I brought him up as a son. On the day he was born, I was at the hospital in Austin. For some reason, I just fell in love.

I took responsibility for bringing him up in my environment, but Kenny happened to get in the wrong peer group one particular time. It doesn't take but one incident to destroy a person's life. A young man who Kenny was out with one night shot someone. Kenny was in a car 80 feet away, but this is Texas, and he got the death penalty.

I had been searching for organizations that would be of assistance, and Kenny notified me of the Campaign to End the Death Penalty. The death penalty is such an atrocity for not only the person, but also the family, and I was moved to get involved in whatever way was necessary.

If it had not been for the Campaign, Kenny would never have gotten off death row. But something else was instrumental--the family itself. My brother, my sister, the nieces the whole family tree was involved. At my family reunion, some got involved who I didn't know. At our church, we had petitions. We prayed, we wrote letters to congressperson, and to the governor, asking for clemency for Kenneth because he hadn't done anything. We were stressed and strained for 11 years.

It's difficult to put into words the joy we felt when we learned he would not be executed. Family members are really the people with knowledge of the feelings of the individuals being executed. The family knows that it's quite an ordeal to go through. And when they bring it to the public, people realize that the death penalty is not the solution to our problems.

Working together, we become stronger. The more we break into the attention of the public, the more justice can be performed.

But the death penalty isn't going to be eliminated if we sit on our laurels and do nothing about it. That's why family and friends of those on death row have to come together to talk about how we can get rid of it. I hope you'll give generously. On behalf of myself and other family members, I thank you.

Lawrence Foster
Grandfather of former Texas death row prisoner Kenneth Foster Jr.