As preparations for a man’s execution begin, his pen pal is hoping she will be able to speak with him for the last time tonight.
Rita Linhardt of Missourians for Alternatives to the Death Penalty is part of a pen pal program where people can write to inmates on death row. Linhardt was paired with Earl Ringo Jr. who was convicted of killing two people while robbing a restaurant in 1998. Ringo is scheduled to be executed in Bonne Terre at 12:01am September 10th.
Lindhardt describes the incident, which occurred at a Ruby Tuesday in Columbia, as a robbery gone wrong.
“He told me that he prays for the victim’s family, and I believe that he does that,” Linhardt said. “He is not the same person that he came into prison as 16 years ago. So, I think he would want people to know that he is genuinely sorry for what happened, and if he would have the chance again that would never happen. He is trying to make his amends as best he can.”
Jim Kemna, who works with the Residents Encounter Christ retreat program, said many inmates decide to become devoted Christians for atonement while in prison.
“I visit the prison fairly regularly,” said Jim Kemna. “I know men who are murderers. Some of these men are really doing some good in prison despite the fact that they got there in a very bad way.”
In prison, Ringo makes cards and paintings for his loved ones and inmates to instill encouragement. Linhardt says Ringo is a talented, copywrited artist.
“You can never restore a life,” said Linhardt. “But you certainly can try to bring joy and healing and hope to other people. I think he would have the ability to do that through his artwork.”
The prison asked Ringo to paint a mural, but he declined fearing he wouldn’t finish it before his execution. Linhardt adds Ringo would have gladly taken on the job if he had the option of completing it.
“I think he understands he needs to be held accountable,” said Linhardt. “But, the death penalty is just not the way.”
Ringo shared many of his thoughts with Linhardt, including admitting he was not innocent.
“I got much more out of the relationship than I gave to him,” said Lindhardt. “So, its been a unique blessing in a lot of ways for me.”
Lindhardt said Ringo appreciated having an outside contact, and wanted to know what was going on in the world.