Friday, 15 August 2008

Dennis Skillicorn

Editor's Biography

Dennis Skillicorn

Potosi Correctional Center

Dennis Skillicorn, 44, was named editor of Compassion in March 2003 after serving as assistant editor the previous year. As editor, he focuses on victims and reconciliation. He also encourages other death row inmates to make positive contributions to Compassion, society, and their own environments.
His involvement in a cross-country crime spree put Dennis on Missouri's Death Row in 1996. Since his arrest in 1994, Dennis has dedicated his life to God, restorative justice efforts, and helping youths avoid his own mistakes. He has earned his way to a cell in the prison's honor dorm (death row inmates may live in general population in Missouri). He is active in several organizations and programs including:

  • Volunteer in the prison's hospice program, where he cares for terminally ill inmates
  • Full-time worker for the Set Free Ministry, a prison ministry that reaches thousands of inmates in Missouri and Illinois annually
  • Founding member of award-winning 4-H L.I.F.E. (Living Interactive Family Education), a family-strengthening program that features a 4-H club at the prison for the whole family, along with parenting classes for incarcerated fathers, brothers, uncles, and grandfathers.
  • Leader and founding member of the Christian Men's Council at P.C.C.
  • Active participant in restorative justice efforts at the prison and in conjunction with community and school groups, including Special Olympics and Relay for Life fundraisers
  • Instrumental in getting visiting room improvements for children and families
  • Coordinated efforts to reinstate marriage seminars and marriage support for incarcerated men and their wives at the prison
  • Facilitator of Full Circle, a comprehensive life skills program that teaches positive alternative thinking and actions to inmates who will be paroled.
Media may contact Dennis through the prison at 573-438-6000.


Lindsay said...

I am not a violent person, nor a death-penalty, cruelty-loving Republican.

But . . . a sentence is a sentence. To change a person's sentence because of deeds after the fact -- deeds which, I might add, one cannot prove were done for any other reason than to avoid the death penalty -- is analogous to a parent giving in to a child's whining or "bribery" after a punishment has already been meted out. It seems counterproductive for society to be led to believe through the example of Mr. Skillicorn that legal judgments are not final (and yes, they are sometimes amended or dismissed, but are generally final provided said judgment is properly conducted and no contradictory evidence is introduced after the fact, etc) and that one can, in essence, bribe one's way out of a punishment.

I simply fail to see the pressing reason to fight for Mr. Skillicorn's case in particular, when he committed his crime with full knowledge of the penalties if caught, and was caught and subjected to the penalties. He is not being unlawfully detained, he was not ignorant of the consequences of his actions, and is only after the fact attempting to rectify the situation. Yes, death penalty opponents feel that the consequence is unjust -- but energy is better put towards changing the law and saving hundreds of lives, working for the innocent on death row, and ending murder in ALL of its forms.

This, instead, encourages a single case above all others, sends a mixed message on murder, and is guaranteed to provoke an inflammatory crusade by the pro-death penalty faction.

If Skillicorn is freed, I predict that it will lower the public's support for ending the death penalty - the case will become a scapegoat for ridicule and a catalyst to action for otherwise uninvolved people.

Come on. Seriously.

Anonymous said...


While I agree with some of thoughts let me set a few things straight. First, the attorneys and supporters of Mr. Skillicorn are not trying to get him set free, they are only asking for a life sentence without the possibility of parole.

I agree, with you when you say a person who is criminally sentenced should serve the full sentence. However our United States Constitution protects us all (Mr. Skillicorn included) from "cruel and unusual punishment." The fact that Mr. Skillicorn was involved in a homicide, does not automatically qualify a person for the death penalty. While a homicide by it's very nature is traumatizing, there are certain motives for such behavior. With that being said, I am not condoning or providing a reason for Mr. Skillicorn's involvement. But it is the burden of the state or such other entity to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that a murder occurred and certain aggravating circumstances occurred (in death penalty cases). After familiarizing myself with the case, I feel that the state did obviously prove a murder took place and some aggravating circumstances were presented, while the courts actually witheld the most important mitigating circumstances. In cases like these courts weight the aggravating and mitigating circumstances. With the absence of most of the mitigating circumstance, the court passed the sentece of death by lethal injection.

Mr. Skillicorn has done numerous things while in prision, more so, than some of his non-incarcerated counterparts. Is there an alterior motive for these actions? I cannot definitively say. But to do what Mr. Skillicorn has done takes willingness, courage, persistance, and compassion. All traits which seem very drastic and hard to emulate for someone just trying," avoid the death penalty."

We as human beings by our very nature make mistakes, even if we know the consequences. We make decisions everyday that affect ourselves and everyone around us. The saying, "to err is human, to forgive is devine," holds true in this case especially. Why kill a man who has done so much for others, not just other inmates but victims families and the community. Who does that benefit? The goal of the death penalty is to right a wrong, to restore balance, and to preserve justice. If this execution proceeded would we right a wrong or would we cause an even geater wrong to occur? Would this execution restore balance? Would we as citizens governed not by a dictator, but by our own people being doing our part in preserving justice? Everyone has their own opinion about everything and this is mine.

I am in law enforcement. Thus far I have seen two very eye opening years on the streets. I am a supporter of the death penalty in certain circumstances. This is not a slam to anybody's opinon or belief, but maybe an eye opener. Sorry if the spelling or punctuation is off a little, it has been a long day. :-)