Posted In: News, Investigative Reporting,   From Issue 633   By: David Asher

08th March, 2007     0

J. Conway
Attica Correctional Facility
Exchange St
Attica, New York 14011-0149

Dear Sir,

I am writing to express my concern over one of your most infamous inmates. The person I am referring to is Mark David Chapman, the murderer of former Beatle John Lennon.

It has come to my attention through an online mailing list that Mr. Chapman is signing in prison, copies of "A Catcher In the Rye", the book he was holding when he killed Mr. Lennon in cold blood.

It has also come to my attention that Mr. Chapman is somehow distributing copies of this "collectable" through others outside of prison that are offering it for sale for profit on the internet. 

Below is the information:

166 - Beatles: Chapman, Mark David Signing the modern classic he made infamous. Description: Assassin of ex-Beatle John Lennon (born 1955). Among the more notable details associated with his crime was the fact that he was carrying a copy of J. D. Salinger’s classic The Catcher in the Rye at the time of Lennon's murder. Signed book: Catcher in the Rye by J. D. Salinger. NY: Bantam Books, 1981. Paperback, 4.25 x 7, 214 pages. Signed in ballpoint on the half-title page, Mark David Chapman, The Catcher in the Rye.' The signature was originally obtained by a Riker's Island prison guard in the first year of Chapman's incarceration, expected light toning to interior, small edge tear to front blank, creasing, rubbing, and small tears to covers, and spine slightly cocked. R&R COA.

Please investigate this situation at Attica and stop this individual from furthering his sick desire for fame and attention. At this time I would also like to express my displeasure at Mr. Chapman having twice-yearly conjugal visits from his wife. Mr. Lennon is unable to visit with his wife and sons in any form, so it seems very unfair to say the least that Mr. Chapman is allowed any of these visits for himself. Thank you, I await your response.

Sincerely, David Asher
Review Magazine

Dear Mr. Asher;

This is in response to your above referenced letter regarding Mark Chapman. Please be advised that inmates in New York cannot profit from their crimes and do not have Internet access.

The online advertisement is referencing a book that inmate Chapman is alleged to have signed at Rikers Island in 1981. I can assure you that he is not marketing these items while at Attica. As to the conjugal visits, he meets the eligibility criteria and his program adjustment has been satisfactory. I am hopeful this addresses your concerns. Inmates are here as punishment not for continued punishment.

Very truly yours,
James Conway
Attica Correctional Facility


Editor's Reply: 

Your response to our concerns underscores the breakdown of moral standards in a society where punishment for convicted felons affords such broad latitude of compromise. While it is encouraging to know that Chapman may not profit from his criminal acts while incarcerated within your facility, this does not explain the breakdown in a chain-of-command that would allow money to exchange hands in any federal or state correctional facility without tracking and garnishment of any and all funds paid for this item.

 The issue is not where Mr. Chapman is situated, nor should it be a jurisdictional matter.  The issue is why such a 'collectible' is allowed to be marketed on the Internet in the first place.

As for your notion of 'punishment', so long as Mark Chapman is incarcerated for his deplorable act of violence, conjugal visits should be suspended throughout the duration of his 'sentence', for the very reasons Mr. Asher states.

It amazes me how acts such as murder, lacking any compassion for human life, deserve any human benevolence to the contrary. Supposedly we reap what we sow, but apparently at Attica that is not the case. I wonder what signals this sends out to those meditating murder?

Robert E. Martin


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