Death Row Letters: Correspondence with Donald Ray Wallace, Jr

Front Cover
University of Delaware Press, 2008 - Biography & Autobiography - 236 pages
These letters provide access to the reflections of a brilliant mind grappling with existence on death row, dramatizing the spiritual and social void created in our prisons. They demonstrate the way that our justice system may incarcerate a confused twenty-year old and later execute an altogether different man. Donald Ray Wallace, Jr. passed twenty-four years on death row learning languages, teaching himself to play classical music on the guitar, reading classic literature, and delving into an encyclopedia sent to him by the author. Perhaps because of his suffering, the convict often seems more broad in his appreciation of literature than the professor. His hunger for some understanding of the human condition plays a central role in his redemption and lends his character its Dostoyevskian quality. Charles Leslie is Emeritus Professor of Anthropology and the Humanities in the Center for Science and Culture at the University of Delaware.

From inside the book

What people are saying - Write a review

User Review - Flag as inappropriate

Dr. Charles Leslie's book and letters touch upon a variety of subjects familiar to the prisoner known as Donald Wallace. Making these letters public, exposing a view dramatically at variance with the newspaper articles and the victims' comments, is a boon to everyone that reads them and a credit to Professor Leslie. I was fortunate enough to have met Charles Leslie and Zelda, his wife, after Donald's passing. Though the two of us were friends of the very same man, our perceptions were often at odds--sometimes irreconcilably so.
I knew Donald through another medium than academia, that of hermetic science. Our letters and conversations were steeped in that Light. For decades, Donald studied every aspect of Magick available to him. More importantly, he was a sincere practitioner. Provided by the State of Indiana with the temple space and seclusion necessary to facilitate deep meditation and ceremony, he addressed The Great Work. He wrote prolifically on the subject, his concepts and vision couched in subtle language, archaic and strange, alluring and brilliantly enlightening. Baqi and I spent some 8 hours with him before his final walk and terminal injection. We watched him shine forth for every being he met the inner joy and sincere pleasure practice had wrought within him. I received the distinct impression that he consciously transformed his being into a vessel of healing, of blessing, and of love. Although I was not permitted to behold Donald's death (felony convictions prohibited me from attending), Baqi was there to see him off--to bid farewell to an intrepid soul--to witness the ultimate transformation of a spiritual alchemist. The twenty-some years that Donald Wallace served on Death Row guaranteed that the man who received the shot was definitely not the young ruffian that was sentenced to death.
Go here: <> page 11, to view Donald's obituary. Sincerely, Harry Olsen


Myths and Reason

11 other sections not shown

Other editions - View all

Common terms and phrases

About the author (2008)

Charles Leslie is Professor of Anthropology and the Humanities at the Center for Science and Culture, University of Delaware. Allan Young is Professor of Anthropology in the Department of Humanities and Social Studies in Medicine, McGill University.

Bibliographic information