Why Write?

I got this e-mail a few days ago.

It concerns a guy in California I'd written an OpEd about.

Hi David,

Last February you wrote a piece, "A prison without hope is a dangerous place" regarding California's unfortunate supreme court decisions surrounding "lifers"

Just wanted to follow up with you and let you know that today, John Dannenberg received a parole date. Of course, we will find out what that means over the course of the next five months, but it is a welcome start. As his daughter's husband, I was allowed in as a 'support person', and was pretty amazed at what I saw. John, with a 20 year record of no discipline action, was BARELY given a date. It does not look good for the other lifers in prison, who do not have as clean a record.

I look forward to reading Indefensible...


Now let's be clear: I don't think John Dannenberg got a parole date because I wrote some OpEd in the LA Times. But I do think that the sustained attention that this issue has received recently has helped. And the fact that his family saw fit to let me know means a lot to me. It suggests that writing can have a genuine impact on the world--something I've really missed since leaving direct service work.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I babysat for John Dannenberg's son Mark when Mark was just a newborn around 2 months old in the Summer. Linda, John's wife whom he murdered, at that time, was scared of John and warned me not to disturb John at home while I babysit. I guess John worked in his home office. I saw John a couple of times while babysitting at the house and John showed no interest in his infant son while I babysat. I also helped out at their daughter's birthday party which was held at the home. Again, I witnessed Linda afraid of her husband and John showed little interest in Mark. Linda deserved a life free of her husband's abuse and was a loving, dedicated Mom. She picked me up in my Los Altos Hills home and during our ride to and from her home, Linda talked about some of the problems she had with John and the love she had for her son and daughter. Hopefully, the kids will know that she was so excited to have Mark and his older sister and wanted to be a great Mom to them. John was cold, and I witnessed John being emotionally abusive towards Linda. This was in the early 1980's a few years prior to Linda's death. Personally, I don't think he should be paroled, model prisoner or not, his wife's life ended because of him.