Va. death row inmates seek enhanced visitation

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Mr. Traylor said the department also must take into account the feelings of victims’ family members, some of whom have complained that inmates get to visit with their family the day they are executed.

“I don’t get to hug my mother, either,” said Richard Phillips, who found his mother Ruth dead after going to check on her when she failed to show up for church.

“Prison is not a pleasant place. It’s not the idea that it’s a country club,” he said. “It’s too bad that these people do things that get themselves in trouble, but that’s the way it is.”

Mikhaela Payden-Travers, a friend of Jackson’s who wants to visit him, said she understands why victims’ family members would feel that way, but that it’s “never OK to not let someone say goodbye.”

“Being on death row, it’s a very difficult place to be. It’s a place to despair,” she said. “Most people are coming to terms with themselves, what they’ve done with their lives. … In order for men on the row to be able to grow, they need to have contact with their friends and family and the people who are going to support them and dealing with all those emotions.”

Ms. Payden-Travers started writing to Jackson several years ago when she was working for Virginians for Alternatives to the Death Penalty. She now lives in San Diego, and tries to keep in touch with her friend through letters and the occasional $50 phone call. She wants to see him one more time before he’s put to death.

“What’s hard is that I’ve come to care for him like a brother, and I won’t be able to say goodbye,” she said.

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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